Local News

RICHMOND FIREFIGHTER, VETERANS' ADVOCATE, DIES AT 57

(Columbus, OH)--Richmond firefighters on Wednesday morning were mourning the loss of one of their own.  Pete McDaniel died Tuesday at an Ohio State medical facility following a two-year battle with cancer.  While McDaniel served a long stint as a firefighter, he was also well known for his efforts to advance local services for veterans.  Services are pending.  Pete McDaniel was 57.

WATCH PARTY SET FOR LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

(Hagerstown, IN)--The Hagerstown Little League team will take part in opening ceremonies Wednesday for the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in advance of Thursday afternoon’s opening game.  Now, a watch party has been set for people who won’t be able to travel to the games.  A large screen will be put up in the gym at Hagerstown High School.  Members of the public are being invited to gather at the gym to watch the game together.  Doors open at 2:45 in advance of the 3 o’clock game.  There is no charge for admission.

RANDOLPH COUNTY WOMAN DIES IN CRASH

(Randolph County, IN)--There was a fatal crash in Randolph County Tuesday.  Sheriff Ken Hendrickson said that 28-year-old Kelsey Smith had been driving in the 1400 block of Union City Pike when she lost control, went off the side of the road, and struck a tree.  First responders worked for 25 minutes to extricate her.  Smith was taken to St. Vincent Randolph Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.  There’s no word on what caused her to lose control.

32 STUDENTS ESCAPE SERIOUS INJURY SCHOOL BUS CRASH

(College Corner, OH)--32 students escaped serious injury when a school bus crashed into a house in College Corner Monday morning.  It happened just off of State Line Road in College Corner at around 7:30 a.m.  The bus went into the house of John Sibert.  "When I came to the back out the house and looked out the front window, then I seen (sic) the school bus up on the front porch," Sibert said.  First responders and school officials helped students off the bus and checked them out.  "School did an excellent job of accounting for the kids...taking care of the kids," said Fire Chief Don Jackson.  The crash happened because the driver suffered a medical incident.  He was taken to Reid Health.  There’s no word on his condition.

DOT, VANDOR ANNOUNCE EXPANSIONS

(Richmond, IN)--Two Wayne County companies are expanding.  One of them is Vandor.  The Wayne County EDC announced Monday that Vandor is adding a new product line into facilities at both Progress Drive and Rich Road.  It represents an investment of $2.8 million by the end of the year and the creation 28 new jobs in the next three years.  Vandor is getting a $38,000 EDIT grant as part of the expansions.  Dot Transportation is the other company.  Dot is growing its semi-truck driver training program called Earn to Learn.  Dot will invest five-and-a-half million dollars over the next three years to expand office space at its location in the Gateway Industrial Park near Cambridge City.  The EDC is helping with an $86,000 EDIT grant.  The EDC says a driver for Dot can earn $80,000 in their first year and then a six-figure income in subsequent years.

MAN GETS 25 YEARS FOR CAUSING TWO FENTANYL DEATHS

(Brookville, IN)--A Brookville man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday for selling drugs that resulted in the overdose deaths of two people.  25-year-old Seth Donohue admitted to contributing to the deaths of two other Brookville residents – 23-year-olds Jacob Berting and Garrett Johnson by selling them drugs laced with fentanyl.  The two deaths occurred a month apart in 2020 but were both tied back to Donohue.  Trial is pending for a second suspect in the case.

NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES REPORTED IN OFFICER BURTON'S CONDITION

(Richmond, IN)--There’s been no significant change reported by the Richmond Police Department or family in the condition of RPD Officer Seara Burton.  She remains in critical condition Monday morning at Miami Valley Hospital after being shot last Wednesday.  Mayor Dave Snow talked about Seara during a prayer vigil attended by a thousand people on Friday night.  "If you know Seara, she's an absolute warrior."  Over the weekend, customers of numerous businesses donated to help Seara and her family.   Richmond City Employees Federal Credit Union is continuing to accept donations.  On Sunday, Seara’s fiancé posted on social media to thank everyone for their support.

HAGERSTOWN LITTLE LEAGUE TO FACE IOWA IN SERIES OPENER

(Williamsport, PA)--Hagerstown’s Little League team was waking up in Pennsylvania Monday morning as it continues to prepare for the World Series.  A message was recorded for the team Sunday by attendees to a rally of sorts at the Hagerstown baseball diamond.  Meanwhile, the team got a message from Desmond Bane.  "Hagerstown, I've been watching you from afar.  Great to see people from our area doing well and having success.  Proud of you guys.  I'm rooting you on.  Go win the whole thing," Bane said.  Hagerstown will be referred to as Great Lakes and will begin play against a team from Iowa at 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon.

ACCUSED OFFICER SHOOTER TO BE HELD ON MILLION-DOLLAR BOND

(Richmond, IN)--The criminal case against Phillip Lee – the man accused of shooting RPD Officer Seara Burton – now appears in online court records.  Charges include attempted murder along with possessing meth, cocaine, and other drugs.  A habitual offender designation has also been applied.  The case has been assigned to Wayne Circuit Court.  No hearing dates have been set.  He will be held on a million-dollar bond.  There’s been no update on his condition after having been shot during his apprehension.

RPD OFFICER SHOWS "SLIGHT SIGNS OF RESPONSIVENESS"

(Dayton, OH)--Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton remained in very critical condition Friday morning at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton after being shot in the head on Wednesday evening, but there were some positive signs Thursday afternoon.  According to the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, Burton survived a surgery Thursday at Miami Valley.  RPD Chief Mike Britt said at 8 o’clock Thursday night that she has not regained consciousness but has shown slight signs of responsiveness.  There has been no update on the condition of the suspect, Phillip Lee.  But, a judge has already found probable cause.  A long list of charges against Lee includes attempted murder.  Lee is not yet in the Wayne County Jail.

PRAYER VIGIL SET FOR INJURED OFFICER

(Richmond, IN)--A prayer vigil has been set Friday night for Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton.  The vigil will take place Friday night at 7 o’clock at the south side of the Richmond City Building.  "Those of you who pray...I ask that you pray for her," said Police Chief Mike Britt.  Attendees to the prayer vigil are asked to wear blue as a sign of support.  Many other organizations around Richmond have also asked everyone to wear blue on Friday.  That includes Richmond Community School students.  "RCS would like everyone throughout our community to wear blue Friday to extend our thoughts and prayers to Officer Burton, her family, and others," said Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright.

HAGERSTOWN ADVANCES TO LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

(Whitestown, IN)--In some much-needed good news, the Hagerstown Little League team was boarding a bus Friday morning to make the roughly eight-hour trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to take part in the Little League World Series.  "It's one of those things that moves you to emotion," said Hagerstown Little League President Shawn Murphy.  The team did not come home Thursday night.  Instead, they were boarding a bus Friday morning with Coach Patrick Allred’s philosophy.  "Why not us?  We're gonna keep working and see what we can do when we get to Williamsport," Allred said.  At the World Series, Hagerstown will be referred to as “Great Lakes.”  They’ll first play next Thursday.

RPD OFFICER VERY CRITICAL, "FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE", ACCORDING TO CHIEF

(Richmond, IN)--A Richmond police officer was fighting for her life overnight and into Thursday morning after being shot in the head during a traffic stop near North 12 and C Streets at around 6 o’clock Wednesday night.  28-year-old Officer Seara Burton had recently become a canine officer and was involved in the stop of 47-year-old Phillip Lee, who was riding a scooter in the area.  Officer Burton’s gave a positive indication for drugs.  That’s when this happened.."a suspect drew a weapon and fired multiple shots at the officer," said a spokesperson with the Indiana State Police, which is now handling the investigation.  Cedric Hunter witnessed the incident.  "Next thing I hear is "pow" where he shot her and then two or three other officers came running up on the side of the porch," Hunter explained.  Other officers returned fire at Lee, who was struck, taken into custody after a short chase, and then sent to Reid Health.  Evidence was still being gathered late into the night Wednesday night.  Here’s Richmond Police Chief Mike Britt.  "The thing that we do know for certain is that my officer is in very critical condition fighting for her life.  Those of you who do pray - I ask that you pray for her."  Officer Burton was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.  A Miami Valley representative at 5 o’clock Thursday morning declined to release the officer’s condition.  Despite initial reports to the contrary, Lee did not die shortly after his apprehension and he was arrested on probable cause.  His condition is also not being released.  Following the shooting, off-duty RPD officers donned uniforms to help at the scene, gather at the city building, or travel to Miami Valley.  "We've had an officer physically injured, but I also have some emotionally injured officers as well," Britt said.  Again, there has been no updated information on the current condition of Officer Burton after being described as very critical overnight.  She was going to get married next week.

ALLEGED SHOOTER OF RPD OFFICER HAS MASSIVE CRIMINAL RECORD

(Richmond, IN)--The man accused of shooting RPD Officer Seara Burton has a massive criminal record.  47-year-old Phillip Lee had been charged with child molesting last year.  That stemmed from an allegation that he was making sexual comments to a teenage girl while he was in prison.  According to Odyssey online court records, that charge was dismissed back in the spring.  But plenty of other charges against Lee stuck in Wayne and Randolph.  He had just served a four-year sentence in state prison after being convicted in 2018 for possessing drugs and syringes.  Lee has previous convictions for burglary, escape, attempted burglary, possession of cocaine, and perjury.  At the time of his arrest on child molesting charges, he was also tagged as a habitual offender.

RCS SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS WITH 64 POSTED JOB OPENINGS

(Richmond, IN)--Wednesday is the first day of school for many students across the Whitewater Valley, including those who attend Richmond, Northeastern, Nettle Creek, and Western Wayne.  In a welcome message to students, parents, and staff, RCS Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright said that the district is "equipped to combat any form of adversity that may be upon us."  Some of that adversity could come in the form of staffing - or lack thereof.  Richmond’s website Wednesday morning is listing 64 job openings for certified and classified personnel.

HAGERSTOWN NOW ONE WIN AWAY FROM LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

(Whitestown,IN)--There was plenty of excitement around Hagerstown Tuesday in advance of Tuesday’s Little League baseball game in Whitestown.  Now that the team is just one win away from a trip to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania, that excitement level is bound to go through the roof.  "We live in a community that selfless and wants to come out and support these kids," said Jay Hale, whose son plays on the team.  The championship game takes place Thursday afternoon at 4.  Some Hagerstown groups are forming watch parties for Thursday.  The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

WINCHESTER MAN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER

(Winchester, IN)--A Winchester man has been found guilty of murder following a week-long trial.  A Randolph Circuit Court jury deliberated Tuesday and determined that Monty Cook killed David Brumley at Brumley’s home nearly four years ago.  And now Cook, who is 62 years old and was also found guilty of auto theft, faces a maximum 65-year prison term.  After killing Brumley, Cook fled west in Brumley’s car and was eventually captured in Arizona.

HAGERSTOWN LITTLE LEAGUE TWO WINS AWAY FROM WORLD SERIES

(Whitestown, IN)--Don’t expect much activity around Hagerstown Tuesday afternoon.  That’s because much of the town will be either literally or figuratively in Whitestown as a group of Hagerstown kids compete for a spot in the Little League World Series.  "It's one of those situations where the town kind of shuts down," said Hagerstown Little League President Shawn Murphy.  Hagerstown now represents all of Indiana and is now just two wins away from a trip to Pennsylvania for the World Series.  "This is an opportunity that a lot of these kids are never going to get again," Murphy added).  The team takes on Kentucky at 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.

WERNLE RUNAWAY TO BE TRIED AS ADULT FOR APRIL ATTACK

(Richmond, IN)--Back in April, an elderly woman was seriously injured when a Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center runaway broke into her home and then stabbed and robbed her.  Now, the 15-year-old accused of committing the crime will be tried as an adult.  Savanna Young is charged with felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.  Young has had numerous placements in juvenile services in the last two years.  Superior Court III Judge Darrin Dolehanty, who oversaw the case, ruled that continued juvenile placements posed a significant risk to the public.  The family of the victim is continuing to work toward a civil suit against Wernle.

POSTAL EMPLOYEE ACCUSED OF STEALING CASH, GIFT CARDS

(Eldorado, OH)--An arrest has been made after numerous people in the Eldorado area complained about their mail having been opened.  According to Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, 21-year-old Austin Stutsman began working at the post office in Eldorado last December.  Stutsman has now admitted to opening mail that appeared to contain greeting cards in search of cash or gift cards.  Investigators also found that Stutsman was issuing more than $2000 in money orders from the post office and then cashing them for his personal use.  Stutsman faces multiple felonies and is in the Preble County Jail.

REWARD OFFERED FOR SUBJECT OF SILVER ALERT

(Richmond, IN)--A statewide silver alert remained in effect Monday morning for a missing Richmond man.  51-year-old Merle Church has not been seen since last Wednesday and was last known to have been in the area of South 11th and F.  Now, a one-thousand-dollar reward has been offered for information leading to finding Merle.  He’s a 5-7 white male who would likely be wearing sunglasses because he’s legally blind.  The Silver Alert states that he is in extreme danger and may be in need of medical assistance.

SCHOOL BEGINS FOR SOME AREA STUDENTS

(Centerville, IN)--It’s hard to believe, but school was back in session Monday morning for some Whitewater Valley students.  Students at Centerville-Abington schools returned to the classroom Monday.  Centerville’s incoming kindergarten class is decidedly smaller this year.  Last year, about 140 kids entered as kindergartners.  This year, that number is only 99.  Eight new teachers are beginning at Centerville on Monday.  Richmond, Northeastern, Western Wayne and Nettle Creek are among the school districts that will return on Wednesday.

SEMI SMASHES INTO HISTORIC COVERED BRIDGE

(Preble County, OH)--A historic covered bridge in Preble County was heavily damaged and possibly destroyed when a semi driver inexplicably tried to squeeze his semi through it.  It happened at the Brubaker Bridge, which is about a quarter-mile outside of Gratis.  The semi’s trailer took out the top and sides of one end of the bridge.  The county engineer’s office has inspected the damage and said that the bridge, which dates back to 1887, is closed indefinitely.

PLAN TO CONVERT ELDER-BEERMAN INTO APARTMENTS ADVANCES

(Richmond, IN)--There’s been more movement on the conversion of the former Elder-Beerman building in downtown Richmond into apartment buildings.  This week, EDC CEO Valerie Shaffer updated county leaders on that project.  A letter of intent has been signed by the EDC from a developer than plans to convert the building into 150 apartments.  Nearly $3 million has already been allocated for the project in state funding.  Elder-Beerman vacated the building four years ago.

POLICE CHIEF, OFFICER PLACED ON LEAVE AFTER ARREST ALLEGATIONS

(Brookville, IN)--In Brookville, Town Council met Thursday night and addressed allegations that Police Chief Terry Mitchum and Officer Ryan Geiser conspired to keep a Brookville resident from running for town council because that candidate had made negative statements about police.  As a result of Thursday night’s meeting, Mitchum and Geiser are now on paid administrative leave.  Council voted unanimously for the suspension that also includes an order that keeps them off of town property.  The Indiana State Police has now taken over the investigation.  The two officers allegedly charged the candidate with rape despite an investigation that turned up no solid evidence.  The case was dropped.

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