Local News

RICHMOND WOMAN SENTENCED FOR KILLING UNION COUNTY HIGHWAY WORKER

(Liberty, IN)--A Richmond woman who drove under the influence of drugs and killed a man who was a Union County Highway Department worker and Franklin County School Board member was sentenced Monday.  40-year-old Gina Price was sentenced to 12 years in prison in a Union County courtroom Monday.  Justin Moore was working on Clifton Road in October of 2021 when Price hit Moore.  He was killed and another worker, Douglas Skaggs, was seriously injured.  Moore’s brother said at sentencing yesterday that no prison sentence for Price would ever be enough.

WAYNE, PREBLE COUNTY 12-TIME RAPIST FROM 1990's UP FOR PAROLE

(Columbus, OH)--He raped 12 women on both sides of the state line in the 1990’s, and, this week, he’s up for parole.  Steven Barker is now 61 years old.  Either Tuesday or Wednesday, he will go in front of an Ohio parole board.  He had accepted a plea deal in Ohio in which he was sentenced to 135 years.  But, even if he’s paroled in Ohio, he’ll go straight to an Indiana jail cell for rapes in Wayne County.  Barker preyed mostly on elderly women who lived alone.  After he was caught, he and a cell mate escaped from the Preble County Jail in 1994.   He was captured in Houston six months later and has been behind bars ever since.

STATE ROUTE 122 SET FOR RESURFACING

(Preble County, OH)--The Whitewater Valley’s first significant highway project of 2024 is about to get underway.  It’s on State Route 122, which connects Boston and Eaton.  Beginning in a couple of weeks, crews will completely remove all layers of highway and replace it.  The project is an extension of one that began last year’s repaving, moving from west to east.  122 will be reduced to one lane for about a month and a half.

REID RESUMES SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS BEYOND ANTHEM DEADLINE

(Richmond, IN)--Reid Health has updated information as negotiations continue with Anthem.  A deadline to reach an agreement with Anthem and prevent 44,000 area residents from going out-of-network is now less than a month away.  On Friday, Reid updated information with statistics about the financial challenges all hospitals are facing.  In 2022, more than half of all hospitals nationally operated at a financial loss and that trend continued into last year.  Reid indicated in its update that there has been an overwhelming response from the public and that they will now resume scheduling all patients with Anthem Insurance for appointments beyond the March 17 deadline.  They say they’re hopeful Anthem will continue negotiations.

DEALING SUSPECT BONDS OUT OF JAIL AFTER SW 17th STREET INCIDENT

(Richmond, IN)--The primary suspect in Sunday’s incident on South West 17th in Richmond has already bonded out of jail.  Officers were called to the 400 block on a shots fired call Sunday morning.  One victim who had been pistol whipped was outside and told police multiple people were still inside.  Officers set up a perimeter and called the occupants out.  A search warrant was executed inside, where investigators found 19 grams of cocaine and other drugs.  31-year-old Sharae Jackson is charged with dealing and was out of jail Monday morning.

AUTOPSY RESULTS PENDING ON SHOOTING VICTIMS

(Richmond, IN)--No new information was released over the weekend after two people were found dead from gunshot wounds on South 6th in Richmond last Thursday.  62-year-old Carl Mullen and his 48-year-old wife Laura were identified as the victims.  According to a gofundme account established to help the couple’s adult daughter, Carl Mullen had recently retired to spend more time with his wife as she battled a chronic disease.  RPD investigators indicated that they believe it to be an isolated incident and that there is no immediate threat to the public.  Results of autopsies are pending.

RICHMOND HOTELS BOOKING UP FOR ECLIPSE DAY

(Richmond, IN)--Thursday, Kicks 96 and 101.7 The Point News reported that the Hueston Woods campgrounds has completely sold out on April 8 – the day of the total solar eclipse.  But how about Richmond hotels?  We’re now 52 days away from the eclipse.  We checked at Fairfield Inn at the state line Friday morning to see if there was any availability.  "It looks like there is not," an employee said.  Then, a check of the nearby Hampton Inn.  "As of right now, I don't have any availability at this property," a clerk said.  Finally, a little luck at Richmond’s Holiday Inn.  "We have eight (rooms) left," the employee explained.  Wayne County officials have predicted up to 100,000 visitors that day.

SMITH HILL PROPERTY SOLD TO REID LLC IN '21 FOR NEARLY $500,000

(Richmond, IN)--Plans are continuing to advance a project known as Smith Hill in Richmond.  It would create 178 single-family homes near the intersection of Backmeyer Road and South 37th.  A Reid Health-involved LLC actually purchased that property three years ago from Paul Lingle for just under half a million dollars.  At that time, they indicated on sales forms that it would be a continued agricultural use.  But, last month, Reid said it was to development mid-range house to attract and retain employees.  Right now, roughly 43% of Reid Health’s employees live outside of Wayne County.  Friday morning, homes.com lists only 27 houses on the market in Richmond with an asking price over $250,000.

RCS BOARD EXTENDS WRIGHT'S CONTRACT TO 2031

(Richmond, IN)--This week, the Richmond Community School Board extended the contract of Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright.  In a prepared statement, the Board said that Wright has enhanced the overall performance of schools, improved student outcomes, and fostered a positive and collaborative educational environment.  Wright’s contract extends to 2031.  He will earn $175,000 annually with a three percent increase each year.

SMALL FIRE FORCES EVACUATION AT SUGARCREEK

(Cambridge City, IN)--What turned out to be a relatively minor fire forced an evacuation early Thursday morning at SugarCreek in the Gateway Industrial Park near Cambridge City.  Firefighters were called to the complex at around 1:30 Thursday morning and determined that there was a fire in the exhaust of a cooker.  There were no injuries and the plant was operational later Thursday morning.

DEPUTIES LEARN ABOUT NORTHEASTERN'S BATTERY-OPERATED BUSES

(Fountain City, IN)--On Wednesday, local law enforcement representatives got a safety briefing on the new electric buses at Northeastern.  Late in 2022, Northeastern schools received notification that the federal government was providing nearly $2.4 million to purchase six battery-powered buses.  First responders were shown details of the buses Wednesday in case one is involved in an accident.  Northeastern expects to have all six buses in use before this school year is over.

DEBRIS FROM ENCAMPMENTS REMOVED ACROSS RICHMOND

(Richmond, IN)--Some members of the Richmond Police Department have spent the last few weeks working with homeless people to help them find alternative places to live and get social services.  On Wednesday, RPD teamed up with other city departments to remove homeless encampments from several areas of the city.  Crews removed debris and trash from private property and from other areas that included South 37th, the G Street Bridge, the gorge, and Veterans Memorial Park.  The efforts have been aided by an organization called Bridges for Life.

MOTHER, INFANT ESCAPE HOUSE FIRE

(Wayne County, IN)--Fire did heavy damage to a home on Cart Road near Inke Road Tuesday.  Firefighters from multiple agencies were called to the home between Richmond and Fountain City at around 9:30 Tuesday morning.  A mother in the home discovered the fire and was able to escape with an infant.  A passerby helped to keep the infant warm until firefighters arrived.  A photo after the fire was extinguished showed the home was gutted.  There is no word yet on the cause of the fire.

WOMAN JAILED FOR DRUGS HOURS AFTER COURT HEARING FOR STRIKING HIGHWAY WORKER

(Richmond, IN)--A Richmond couple was taken into custody overnight and they now face multiple drug charges.  Joshua Smith and Katherine Potts were located in the 1200 block of North A.  They’re both charged with possessing controlled substances.  Potts’ arrest late Tuesday night came just hours after a pre-trial hearing was held earlier Tuesday in a case where she allegedly struck a highway department worker while she was driving under the influence of controlled substances.  That incident happened last May on U.S. 35 near Williamsburg.

RCS BOARD TO ADDRESS SUPERINTENDENT'S CONTRACT

(Richmond, IN)--The Richmond Community School Board meets Wednesday afternoon and will address the contract of Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright.  If approved, Wright’s new contract would run through the end of June in 2026.  It would automatically renew for one year each year through 3031.  Wright would earn $175,000 the first year with a three percent increase each year.  The meeting begins at 5:30 Wednesday afternoon.

MEETING TO BE HELD FOR DISADVANTAGED CONTRACTORS IN I-70 PROJECT

(Richmond, IN)--Tuesday afternoon, there will be a gathering at Ivy Tech in Richmond for certain businesses interested being a part of the large project to widen I-70 to three lanes through nearly all of Wayne County.  It’s a part of the federal government’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, which doles out contracts and federal funds based largely on the race and sex of owners of contracting companies.  This is audio from the DBE website:  "The DBE program remedies ongoing discrimination and the continuing effects of past discrimination in federally assisted transportation contracting markets nationwide.".  Tuesday’s meeting begins at 3 o’clock.  Construction is expected to start late this year.

AREA HEALTH FACILITY TO REMAIN IN NETWORK WITH ANTHEM

(Richmond, IN)--As negotiations continue between Reid Health and Anthem to keep 44,000 area residents in network, another local health facility has issued a statement saying it is not affected.  Neighborhood Health Center has facilities in Richmond, Liberty, and Connersville.  Their statement indicates that the dispute between Reid and Anthem does not impact their services and that they will remain in network with Anthem.

TEEN ARRESTED AFTER PURSUIT INTO GORGE

(Richmond, IN)--There was a pursuit in Richmond early Tuesday morning.  Police officers began to pursue a suspect later identified as 19-year-old Damon Wilson.  Wilson fled into the Whitewater Gorge and was eventually stopped near the Veteran’s Park.  A handgun was recovered.  There was another occupant in the vehicle, but that person was not jailed.  Wilson is charged with felony resisting and reckless driving.

RPD, US MARSHALS CAPTURE MURDER SUSPECT

(Richmond, IN)--A Richmond murder suspect was behind bars Monday morning.  US Marshals and RPD investigators teamed up to locate 25-year-old Erica Petry.  She was found Saturday night in the 1200 block of North West 5th.  Petry was allegedly involved in the shooting death of 33-year-old Nicholas Lakes in November of 2022.  A month later, Petry was flown to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton with what was thought to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Petry is also now charged with robbery and burglary.

TIMELINE UPDATED FOR DEPOT OVERPASS

(Richmond, IN)--The Indiana Department of Transportation has issued an updated timeline on the replacement of the U.S. 27 overpass in Richmond’s Depot District.  Crews have now finished pouring the shafts and columns for the new bridge.  In a couple of months, steel beams will be set for the bridge deck, which will be poured this summer.  The overpass is now projected to open to traffic sometime this fall, with the entire project being complete in a little more than a year.

BRUBAKER COVERED BRIDGE REOPENS

(Preble County, OH)--A Preble County covered bridge has now reopened to traffic.  A year and a half ago, a semi took a wrong turn, tried to squeeze through the Brubaker Covered Bridge and did extensive damage.  The bridge had been closed ever since.  Careful reconstruction helped the bridge survive.  It dates back to 1887 on what is now Brubaker Road near the Preble County Historical Society.

CENTERVILLE TEEN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDERING HIS FATHER

(Richmond, IN)--Guilty.  That’s the verdict of a Wayne County jury this week in the case of a Centerville teen who was on trial for killing his own father.  James Burkhart was 16 years old when he shot and killed his father, who shared his name.  Testimony at trial indicated Burkhart shot his father in December of 2020 because of alleged abuse by his father against his mother.  A sentencing hearing is pending.  Burkhart faces a standard 55-year prison term.  He also faces trial in May for allegedly punching a jail officer.

EXPLOSIVES REMOVED FROM CONNERSVILLE HOME'S ENTRANCES

(Connersville, IN)--Connersville police and State Police explosives specialists were on the scene overnight Thursday night and into Friday morning at a home in the 2000 block of Vermont Street in Connersville.  When they arrived, they found that explosive devices had been placed at both the front and rear entrances to a home there.  There was a controlled detonation of the devices after the surrounding area was secured.  Investigators are calling it an isolated domestic issue and say there is no threat to the neighborhood, schools, or the community as a whole.

COMMISSIONER RELEASES STATEMENT ABOUT MEETING ABSENCES

(Preble County, OH)--Preble County Commissioner Rachael Vonderhaar, who is on the primary ballot, is firing back after an opponent challenged her record of attendance.  Information sent to multiple media outlets indicated that Vonderhaar has missed 44 commissioners meetings in the last three years.  She responded Thursday by indicating that she was battling a serious health issue during that time, but still attended 84% of the meetings.  Preble County commissioners meet about a hundred times each year.  She attended 235 of 279 meetings over the three years in question.

REID, ANTHEM ISSUE OPPOSING STATEMENTS AS DEADLINE LOOMS

(Richmond, IN)--Reid Health released some numbers Wednesday as part of its ongoing negotiations to keep Anthem from becoming out-of-network for about 44,000 area residents next month.  Reid said that, last year, its expenses increased more than eight percent because of rising labor and supply costs and clinician shortages.  During that same time, Anthem’s rate increase to Reid was only 3.7%.  Reid cut programs, services, and positions to close the gap.  Meanwhile, Anthem increased its premiums last year to local employers by nearly ten percent and realized record profits of $5.5 billion.  More information about the situation can be found at reidhealth.org.  Anthem has now released its own scathing statement about Reid Health.  Anthem claims that a third-party research organization found that the reimbursement to Reid from private insurers in Indiana is more than four times what Medicare pays and that Reid is demanding more on top of their "already inflated rates."  The statement goes on to say that Reid has taken advantage of being the only major health system in Wayne and surrounding counties.  The statement lists other nearby providers for Anthem users.  The closest to Richmond is McCullough-Hyde Hospital in Oxford.