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TROOPER CLAIMS TO HAVE REACHED FOR CAT WHEN TOUCHING GIRL

(Eaton, OH)--Testimony continued at the Preble County Courthouse Wednesday in the case of former Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Christopher Ward, who is accused of multiple sex crimes – some while on duty.  In one case, a 15-year-old friend of Ward’s daughter, who was spending the night at his house in Eaton and sleeping in the same bed as his daughter, claims Ward came into the room and touched her inappropriately.  Ward, in the initial investigation, claimed he was reaching for a cat.  "I go to the head of the bed to grab it.  And, in doing so, her friend that was staying all night, rolls over toward me," Ward claimed.  The trial continues Thursday.  Ward is expected to take the stand.  He faces up to life in prison if found guilty.

CRASHES TIE UP EAST MAIN STREET TRAFFIC

(Richmond, IN)--Two unrelated accidents not far apart in terms of both distance and time affected traffic on East Main in Richmond Wednesday afternoon.  One driver suffered a broken collarbone when he took out a light pole and rolled over onto eastbound Main Street at the intersection of South 37th.  He was treated at Reid Health and released.  East Main was shut down for a time.  That intersection sees more crashes than any other in Richmond.  Shortly before that occurred, there was a multi-vehicle crash when a car slammed into the back of another at the light just east of Elks Road.  No serious injuries were reported.

NETTLE CREEK, TEST MAKE HIRES AT WEDNESDAY BOARD MEETINGS

(Hagerstown and Richmond, IN)--Nettle Creek Schools has a new leader.  On Wednesday night, the Nettle Creek Board approved the hiring on Dr. Kyle Barrentine.  Barrentine was one of 15 candidates to be interviewed for the position.  He will start on January 6.  Barrentine had served previously in various roles in the Anderson and Kokomo area.  Test Intermediate School in Richmond now has a new assistant principal.  Jamie Thomas has taught and coached in various roles with Richmond Community Schools for the last 15 years and is currently the Program Director for Every Child Can Read.  Thomas will begin her new role at Test on January 2.  Meanwhile, a trial date has now been set for February for the previous Test assistant principal, who is charged with driving drunk and fleeing police on Halloween night.

TROOPER REJECTED PLEA DEAL; TRIAL CONTNUES

(Eaton, OH)--The trial of a former Ohio Highway Patrol trooper got underway Tuesday at the Preble County Courthouse.  Christopher Ward is charged with five counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of sexual battery after allegedly forcing female victims to perform sex acts while he was on duty and in uniform.  A prosecutor indicated Tuesday that Ward had previously rejected a plea deal.  He now faces up to life in prison.  Ward’s defense attorney called the charges "phooey."  The trial is a bench trial, meaning there’s no jury and the judge alone will decide Ward’s guilt or innocence.

TWO JAILED, JUVENILE RELEASED IN DRUG BUST

(Richmond, IN)--At least three young Wayne County residents, including one who is underage, were involved in a drug bust Wednesday morning.  It happened in the 1500 block of Holsapple Road.  23-year-old Kyla Gabbard of Richmond now faces charges that include possessing narcotic drugs, controlled substances, and marijuana.  18-year-old Brooklyn St. Clair was also behind bars Wednesday morning, charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  At least one juvenile was released to a family member.  Quantities of drugs recovered have not been released.

CHARGES FILED AFTER BODY FOUND IN SCHOOL PARKING LOT

(Brookville, IN)--In June of last year, a dead body was found in a van in the parking lot of a Brookville school.  Now, two men have been charged.  Prosecutors say that William Garrett died at a Brookville home from a heroin overdose.  Two other men – Benjamin Herd and Michael Presley, put the body in a van, drove it to the school parking lot, and left it there sitting in the passenger seat.  Both are charged with alteration of scene of death, which is a low-level felony.  There’s no word of why they allegedly drove the body to the school.

SHOTS FIRED REPORT PROMPTS CLASSROOM SECURE STATUS

(Richmond, IN)--There were reports of shots fired at three different locations in fairly rapid succession Monday afternoon, and one of those reports brought reaction from a school.  There was a report of a man running down an alley in the area of North West 2nd and Randolph Street after having fired multiple shots.  That report prompted Dennis Intermediate School to go on classroom secure status.  There were no reports of injury and no arrests were made.  A woman had also reported that her window had been shot out in the 400 block of North 10th and a resident of Tingler Road reported finding a bullet hole in a kitchen window.

ANONYMOUS DONOR GIVES NEW PARIS

(New Paris, OH)--The village of New Paris has received an incredible Christmas gift.  "It's a miracle for Christmas.  It was wonderful," said New Paris Mayor Kathy Smallwood.  For years, New Paris leaders have worked to demolish the former CR Coblentz K-12 school building and redevelop the land into a park.  The village had come up with $250,000, but that will still well short of the estimated cost.  Then, this happened..."We had word that there was an anonymous donor who was going to give us $100,000 to finish the project.  We are ecstatic," Smallwood said.  Smallwood knows they may never know who the donor is, but wants to thank that person or family.

MAN FREE ONLY 12 DAYS BEFORE METH BUST

(Richmond, IN)--Formal charges were filed Monday against a Richmond man who was allegedly found over the weekend with nearly 35 grams of methamphetamine.  43-year-old James Harris had been out of jail for only 12 days after having pled guilty to possessing cocaine in a different case.  An RPD officer found the meth when responding to a domestic situation on North 10th.  Harris denied that the meth was his.  It had a street value of about $1500.

PROPOSED SNAP CHANGES COULD AFFECT WAYNE COUNTY RESIDENTS

(Wayne County, IN)--A new work requirement could affect hundreds of Wayne County food stamp recipients.  The new rule, which has been proposed by the Trump administration, could mean adults between ages 18 and 49 who don’t have a disability would lose some or all food stamp benefits if they’re not working or enrolled in school.  There are currently 7577 Wayne County residents, which represents about 12% of the population, who receive food stamps.  Each Wayne County resident gets, on average, $128 per month.

OFFICE MAX TO REOPEN RICHMOND STORE SOON

(Richmond, IN)--A specific reopening date has been set for the last retail store in the Richmond Mall area to reopen after a weak tornado damaged it in June.  Office Max is now scheduled to reopen a week from Wednesday.  Office Max suffered damage that included a hole in the roof, broken windows, and an air conditioning unit that flew onto National Road East.

RPD SEEKS NEW OFFICERS

(Richmond, IN)--The Richmond Police Department wants you to know that it’s actively recruiting new officers.  Monday is the day that preliminary testing begins at Ivy Tech in Richmond.  Applicants have to be between the ages of 21 and 35, be a high school graduate or have a GED, be an Indiana resident, and have never been convicted of a felony.  Preliminary testing will run through January 10.

MAN KILLED FLEEING RICHMOND POLICE (UPDATED TO INCLUDE NAME)

(Richmond, IN)--One person is dead following a car chase early Friday morning.  For reasons that have not been released, officers pursued a BMW in a residential area near Richmond High School at around 1 o’clock Friay morning.  The driver fled to Abington Pike and lost control on an S curve near the city limits.  The BMW then hit a tree and caught fire.  Scanner traffic indicated the driver had initially fled the scene, but he was found in the wreckage.  The driver has now been identified as 36-year-old Phillip Casebolt of Richmond.  Casebolt's body has been taken to Dayton for autopsy to determine if drugs and/or alcohol were a factor.

AFFIDAVIT: CONNERSVILLE MURDER WAS RETALITATION FOR DRUG OVERDOSE

(Connersville, IN)--More details about the Connersville murder we told you about earlier this week have become available.  According to an affidavit, a bloody baseball bat was found at an East 5th Street apartment that 59-year-old Deborah Morphew shared with 64-year-old Michael Bunner.  Bunner was found dead inside last weekend.  Morphew told police that she had "put him down the day before."  Morphew believed that Bunner was responsible for the death of her daughter, who had died from a drug overdose a year to the day that Bunner was killed.  Morphew claims the killing was done in self-defense.  She’s being held in the Fayette County Jail without bond.

RP&L EXPLORES POSSIBLE RATE INCREASE

(Richmond, IN)--Richmond Power and Light is considering a rate increase.  It’s the result of a Cost of Service study done by an independent, third-party firm.  "They are recommending we do some kind of increase," said RP&L General Manager Randy Baker.  A letter is being distributed the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce and EDC indicating the rate increase would be $4-5 per month for the average residential customer.  One reason for the increase is the cost of remediating ash that’s been at RP&L for decades.  "Rough estimates we've got at this point go as low as $18 million and as high as $55 million depending on how the remediation goes and what you have to do with the ash," Baker explained.  The last RP&L rate increase came way back in 2005.

TWO ARRESTED FOR METH DEALING AT RICHMOND MOTEL

(Richmond, IN)--Two alleged Richmond drug dealers were taken into custody Wednesday on the city’s north side.  43-year-old Benjamin Wilks and 30-year-old Rachel Hofer were arrested in an area near the Red Roof Inn on Chester Boulevard.  Officers recovered methamphetamine, other drugs, syringes, and paraphernalia.  Quantities were not released.  Hofer has a lengthy record that includes arrests for possessing heroin, meth, and cocaine.  Wilks has a record that includes contempt and auto theft.

LARGE CHUNK OF UNION COUNTY LAND SELLS AT AUCTION

(Union County, IN)--A huge chunk of Union County land has sold at auction.  More than 800 acres of land in the area of Clifton Road and U.S. 27 went up for auction and drew about 300 people.  The winning bid was $6.38 million.  Organizers of the auction say that the interest in the land and the selling price indicates demand for farmland in the area is strong.

DALAI LAMA ADDRESSES EARLHAM STUDENTS

A group of Earlham College students got an incredible experience Tuesday when they met with the Dalai Lama as part of the Tibetan Studies program.  One of those students asked about political polarity in Richmond.  "My name is Evan.  I am a student at Earlham College in the United States.  Your Holiness, a concern that I have for my community in the United States is the issue of political polarization."  Here was the response.  "Use human wisdom, human interest, and look through one dimension."  The Dalai Lama then wore and Earlham baseball cap and posed for photos with students.

INCIDENTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF WAYNE COUNTY CHILDREN SPIKE

(Wayne County, IN)--Sexual abuse of Wayne County children has increased dramatically in recent months.  That’s according to new numbers from the Indiana Department of Child Services.  Typically, Wayne County will have only one or two new, confirmed cases of sexual abuse in a month.  But, in October, which is the most recent month available from DCS, there were nine confirmed, new cases.  23 other cases were found to be unsubstantiated.  No reason for the dramatic increase has been given.  Wayne County now has 257 confirmed new cases of child abuse and neglect so far this year.

CONNERSVILLE POLICE LOOK FOR CHRISTMAS LIGHT THIEVES

(Connersville, IN)--Connersville police have released a surveillance image with the hope that it will help to catch two people who stole some Christmas lights and destroyed others at Roberts Park.  Two females took lights from a gazebo in the Miller Garden.  They then ripped lights from shelters and smashed them and damaged the Spartan Tree.  All of it was done in daylight and the images captured are good ones.

SMITHFOODS TO ADD 34 JOBS IN $9 MILLION RICHMOND INVESTMENT

(Richmond, IN)--34 new jobs are coming to Richmond as part of a $9 million investment.  The EDC of Wayne County announced Monday that SmithFoods will expand by adding a new production line to increase production of dairy and non-dairy products.  The new jobs at the plant on North West 11th street are expected to pay an average wage of $22 per hour, although it will be two years before all of those jobs will be filled.  SmithFoods will receive a $93,000 EDIT grant from the EDC.  SmithFoods began operations in Richmond 98 years ago under the name Wayne Dairy.

MODIFIED PEACOCK ROAD PLAN GETS COUNCIL APPROVAL

(Richmond, IN)--A modified plan to upgrade parts of Peacock Road advanced through Richmond Common Council Monday night.  Difficulty in moving utilities on Peacock from 13th Street west is one of the reasons the project is now divided into two different phases.  The first phase will address 11th to 13th Street and would include painted bike lanes.  There will now be no dedicated bike lanes west of 13th.  Four Peacock Road-area residents spoke against the project Monday night.  The city will learn in March if its grant application is successful.  Even if it is, construction won’t start for five years.

CONNERSVILLE WOMAN CHARGED WITH MURDER

(Connersville, IN)--A Connersville woman has now been charged with murder in connection with a weekend incident at Colony Court Apartments.  Officers were called there Saturday afternoon and found a man dead inside an apartment.  The victim has now been identified as a 64-year-old resident of Akron, Ohio.  Police arrested 59-year-old Deborah Morphew.  Morphew is in the Fayette County Jail.  Investigators have not yet said how the man died or how he was connected to the suspect.

HEPATITIS A CASES HOLD STEADY IN WAYNE COUNTY IN 2019

(Wayne County, IN)--When the year began, Wayne County had 142 cases of hepatitis A.  Now, as the year is winding down, Wayne County is holding steady at 143 cases.  It’s a vast improvement from 2018, when the number of cases exploded and put Wayne County in the top ten counties per capita nationally for the number of hepatitis A cases.  Some neighboring counties have seen substantial increases this year.  Randolph County has 26, Henry County has 25, Fayette County has 22, and Union County has seven cases.  Users of illicit drugs are among those most at risk.

COUNCIL TO HEAR PUBLIC COMMENT ON PEACOCK ROAD PROPOSAL

(Richmond, IN)--Members of the public will have a chance to sound off Monday night on proposed major modifications to another heavily traveled Richmond city street.  An ordinance that would allow the city to apply for a grant to modify a portion of Peacock Road is on public hearing Monday night at the Richmond Common Council meeting.  The grant would allow for the installation of bicycle paths and sidewalks on Peacock from North West 11th to North West 18th.  The grant would cover much of the estimated $3.2 million cost.  Even if approved, construction would likely not begin for five more years.   Monday night’s meeting begins at 7:30.  You can catch it live on WCTV.

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