Toyota hosting ceremony for new plant groundbreaking

Toyota Material Handling is planning to break ground later this month on a major expansion along Deaver Road in Columbus, with estimates of a $100 million dollar investment.

The company says it is planning to expand at the 65-acre site across the road from its existing Walesboro location because there is not enough space there. The expansion will allow the company to meet growing demand for its products, especially electrical forklifts.

Company executives told city officials earlier this year that the company has four manufacturing sites in North America, and evaluated all of them for the project, but would prefer to grow here. The company is planning a 295,000 square foot expansion and would start production in June of 2026.

Toyota has nearly 2,100 workers in Columbus and the new factory would start with 85 employees.

Earlier this year, Columbus officials approved the rezoning of the property from agricultural to industrial use and annexed it into the city limits.

The groundbreaking ceremony is set for the morning of Wednesday May 29th.

Master Gardeners planning Saturday plant sale

The South Central Indiana Master Gardener Association will be hosting its annual plant sale on Saturday.

Organizers estimate that there will be around 900 plants for sale including including perennials, annuals, houseplants, vegetables, and herbs. The Association is the local chapter of the Purdue Extension Master Gardeners program, providing the community with educational opportunities and events.

The plant sale will be at the Bartholomew County Public Library plaza on Fifth Street from 9 to noon on Saturday. A rain date is set for Saturday, May 25th.

Inaugural pitch competition set for Catalyst Columbus

Catalyst Columbus will be holding an inaugural pitch competition next month so local entrepreneurs can showcase their business ideas and are looking for businesses to take part.

The competition is open to businesses in Bartholomew, Jackson or Jennings counties with an annual revenue of less than $200 thousand dollars.

Each company will have five minutes to make their pitch, followed by a three minute question and answer session with expert judges.

Cash prizes are sponsored by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Duke Energy.

Applications are due by June 1st. You can get more information by contacting Dan Nash at the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. His email is [email protected].

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 15th at the Columbus Learning Center on Central Avenue. It is free and you are invited to attend.

Catalyst Columbus provides access to resources, expert coaching, and support dedicated to empowering startups and entrepreneurs.  It is supported by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Columbus, and Heritage Fund: The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

BCSC announces new assistant superintendent

Bartholomew Consolidated Schools are announcing a new assistant superintendent of human resources.

According to the school district, Dr. Erin Stalbaum will start her new role on July 1st. She most recently worked in the Monroe County Community Schools and previously worked at Kokomo Schools, the Indiana Department of Education and was a teacher in Greenwood for nearly a decade.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in elementary education, a masters in education leadership from IUPUI and a doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana State University, where she also serves as an adjunct professor.

Group giving away pet food Thursday at Columbus airport

A pet food pantry distribution is set for Thursday afternoon at the Columbus Municipal Airport.

Friends of Columbus Animal Care Services will be holding their Furry Friends Food Bank giveaway from 4 to 5:30 p.m. or until the food runs out. The pet food will be distributed in the airport parking lot at 4770 Ray Boll Boulevard in front of the Charlie 119 cargo plane.

The purpose of the pantry is to assist community members in need to keep their pets in their homes and out of area shelters. If you take part you should stay in your vehicle and the food will be brought to you.

Cat food will be distributed in 4.5 pound bags and dog food in 14.5 pound bags.

Friends of Columbus Animal Care Services is the non-profit partner of the city-operated animal shelter.

State Road 7 in Jennings County to close for months for road work

State Road 7 south of Vernon will be closing for up to seven weeks, starting Monday.

According to INDOT, contractors will be replacing a small drainage structure just south of the State Road 7 and State Road 3 junction. The official detour will take traffic from State Road 3 to State Road 256 and to State Road 62.

The work schedule is dependent on the weather.

The Paul H. Rohe Company will be the contractor for the project.

INDOT urges you to slow down, to drive without distractions, to use extra caution and to be alert to worker safety in all work zones.

Cummins and Isuzu to bring electric powertrain trucks to North America

Cummins will be launching a battery electric powertrain for Isuzu trucks in North America through its Accelera business segment.

The Columbus based engine manufacturer announced today that the F-series medium duty vehicles would be powered by Accelera’s lithium iron phosphate battery technology. The trucks are expected in 2026.

Shaun Skinner, President of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada said that the collaboration will help the company “deliver a variety of solutions for our customers that help reduce greenhouse emissions.”

Amy Davis, President of Accelera praised the partnership saying that collaboration is critical to supporting customers through the energy transition. She said Accelera will provide customers with safe, reliable zero-emission solutions.

Isuzu and Cummins signed the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership in May 2019 to develop next-generation powertrains. Yesterday the companies announced a new 6.7 liter engine collaboration for Japanese highway use.

In 2023, Cummins combined its various zero emissions programs under the Accelera brand, which is under the New Power business unit.

Holy Cow: Community members reflect on Sam Simmermaker’s legacy

White River Broadcasting’s Sam Simmermaker, the dean of Indiana sports broadcasters, has announced his plans to retire at the age of 92 after 64 years on the air in Columbus.

Community members are talking about Sam’s legacy.

Bartholomew County Commissioner Tony London reflects on Sam’s long career. He says that Sam has been the voice of local sports since before he was alive.

London says that he even briefly competed with Sam as a sports broadcaster, when London was in high school.

London reflected on his time listening to Sam during important games.

London reflected on Sam’s legacy

Sam’s last daily sports updates will be Friday, May 24th. There will be a special AM Columbus broadcast that day from 11 to 1 to celebrate Sam’s career. You can check it out on News Talk 1010 WCSI and 98.1 FM.

North Vernon man arrested after 120+ mph police chase

Kenneth C. Redkey. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

A driver is facing a slew of charges after a police chase in Jennings County.

According to the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department, the incident started at 11:51 a.m. Monday morning when a deputy tried to pull over a speeding vehicle on North Base Road.

Instead of stopping, the driver took off passing other drivers and sideswiping another vehicle. The chase continued north into Decatur County at speeds of up to 120 mph. During the chase, deputies discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Jennings County. A tire deflation device was used to end the chase, and the driver jumped out of the vehicle and tried to run away. Police dog Axel grabbed onto the man as he ran through a pasture and into the woods.

43-year-old Kenneth C. Redkey of North Vernon was taken into custody on charges including possessing a stolen vehicle, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and on foot, reckless driving and for possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

One dead, nine injured in Shelby County highway crash

One person is dead and nine others injured after a crash yesterday afternoon on Interstate 74 in Shelby County.

According to the Indiana State Police,. troopers were called in to assist Shelby County deputies at the scene of the crash at about 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Troopers say that a van crashed into the rear of a charter bus and the driver of the van was killed. Police determined that 52-year-old Jason Huber of Boggstown was driving the van eastbound when he came upon stopped traffic and crashed into the rear of the bus. Police say that the reason the traffic was stopped on the interstate is unknown.

Huber was pronounced dead at the scene by the Shelby County coroner’s office. Nine passengers in the bus were taken to the hospital to be checked out, but no one was seriously injured, troopers say.

The eastbound lanes of the interstate were closed for about two hours while the crash was investigated and cleaned up.

Also assisting at the scene were Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Inspectors, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Shelbyville Fire Department.

The investigation is ongoing.