Local News Archives for 2022-03

POWER OUTAGES REPORTED AFTER 60 MPH WINDS

(Whitewater Valley)--High winds overnight have brought down trees and power lines across the area.  Two Richmond police department cruisers sustained damage when a tree came down near Waterfall Road and Sheridan Street at around midnight.  No officers were injured.  The largest single outage has been in the Lewisburg area, where 916 AES customers lost power at midnight.  Another 216 were out on Eaton’s north side.  138 Duke Energy customers in Connersville were out Monday morning with full restoration not expected until sometime Monday afternoon.  Richmond reported a wind gust of 60 miles per hour at just after midnight.

KENTUCKY JAIL ESCAPEE THOUGHT TO BE HIDING IN CONNERSVILLE WOODS

(Connersville, IN)--Police in Connersville are warning residents Thursday morning to be on the lookout for a Kentucky jail escapee.  Joey Payton is a known drug trafficker who escaped late last week from a jail cell near Lexington.  Payton is thought to have come to the Connersville area and thought to have been living in a wooded area next to the Babe Ruth Baseball Complex.  Residents are being warned not to approach Payton if they see him.

AMTRAK'S 15-YEAR PLAN WOULD BRING HIGH-SPEED RAIL THROUGH AREA

(Whitewater Valley)--Amtrak has released a 15-year expansion plan that would impact parts of our area.  It would establish high-speed routes nationally, including one that would allow passengers to board a train in Connersville or Oxford bound for Chicago at speeds that would reach 150 miles per hour.  To take part, states have to apply for infrastructure funding.  Applications for grants are expected to open in mid-May.

GAS PRICES FALL...BUT LIKELY TO RISE AGAIN

Average gasoline prices in the area actually fell an average of 4 cents a gallon over the past week, but could be increasing again soon.  A GasBuddy analyst thinks that consumers in the area could see gas prices jump back up after having fallen for the last week or so.  After declining under $100 a barrel as recently as a few weeks ago, oil prices have held above that mark recently so expect a mix of slight decreases and some potential increases mixed in.  According to Triple A, while prices have creeped just under $4 a gallon, the average price in central Indiana was $4.18 a gallon Monday, with a national average at $4.24 a gallon. 

INDIANA DNR SURVEYING ANGLERS

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources to Survey Anglers.  The Indiana Department of Natural Resources wants to hear from you.  Beginning next month, it will e-mail a survey to anyone with a current email address within the DNR licensing system.  The survey will focus on fishing and the information will be used to develop programs to better serve Hoosier anglers.  To make sure you get the survey, you can update your information at www.in.gov/access/

CAMDEN MAYOR TO STEP DOWN

The village of Camden Ohio will soon have a new mayor, following the resignation of Mayor Karen Moss.  Moss announced that she was stepping down in a Facebook post late last week.  Camden Council member Toni Keesler, current president of the village council, will step in to fulfill her term.  In her post to her fellow residents, Moss identified her new position as executive director with the Preble County Chamber of Commerce as her reason for resigning as mayor.  Her resignation will be effective this Friday, April 1st. 

FORMER RICHMOND FOOTBALL PLAYER, COACH AND EDUCATOR TO SPEAK AT YMCA GOOD FRIDAY BREAKFAST

A member of Richmond high school's 1967 state championship football team will speak during the Richmond family YMCA's Good Friday breakfast, April 15th, at Elks Country Club. Steve Helmich was a player under legendary RHS coach Hub Etchison, winning the state championship in 1967, before playing at Indiana University, where he earned Big Ten all academic honors. He would graduate and go on to a career as an educator, as well as coach football at West Lafayette and Noblesville high schools. Helmich is now president of Cathedral High School and the Indiana High School Athletic Assocation Foundation. The community-wide, faith based buffet breakfast on Good Friday will be held between 7:30 and 9:30 am at Elks Country Club. Tickets are available at the YMCA.

SCHOOLS RAISE QUESTIONS OVER NEW LAW TO LIMIT VIRTUAL LEARNING DAYS

Virtual learning, or e-learning, has become a popular option for schools over the past few years when facing closings due to inclement weather or the recent pandemic. But a new law will limit schools to using just 3 virtual learning days each year. School leaders are surprised by the change - as lawmakers added the language during the final steps of the legislative process. The current law does not restrict how many e-learning days schools are allowed to have each year, but the new law says if schools need more than 3 virtual days in a single school year - because of extraordinary circumstances - they will have to apply for a waiver. The new law also includes requirements for what a virtual learning day must look like, and the Indiana Department of Education will be required to build a virtual learning day certification process for schools.

OHIO MAN CREATOR OF THE .GIF HAS DIED

(Ohio)--An Ohio man, credited as the creator of the '.gif', has died.  Stephen Wilhite, the man behind looping animated images known as "Graphics interchange format" or gif, was 74.  Wilhite is acknowledged as the creator of the .gif in the late 1980's while working for CompuServe, a commercial online service provider.  At the time, the world wide web didn't exist as we now know it, but wilhite was able to create a way to share a color image file without it taking up too much space in emails or transferring files.  The gif has since become a popular way for social media users to express emotion, or share short bits of video.  Wilhite received a lifetime achievement award in 2013, and during his acceptance speech confirmed that it's pronounce "Jif" not "gif" to settle the long-standing debate on the acronym's pronunciation. 

ESTIMATED 4.3 MILLION INDIANA TAXPAYERS TO RECEIVE A $125 RETURN

(Indiana)--Indiana taxpayers can look forward to a tax refund.  The refund is a result of Indiana’s “use of excess reserves” law that governor Eric Holcomb announced last December.  An estimated 4.3 million taxpayers in the state are set to receive a $125 tax refund in 2022.  What’s not known, is how they distribute the funds.  The department of revenue is working with the governor’s office to determine how to administer the tax credit refund.  And more information will be forthcoming… 

MAN MISSING IN OXFORD OHIO

(Oxford, OH)--Oxford Ohio Police continue to search for a 26-year old man with autism who was reported missing a week ago.  Nathaniel Coffin was last seen last Tuesday in Oxford when he could not be found to leave for a family trip.  His mother, who reported him missing alerted police that he was wearing sweatpants, a black zip-up fleece jacket, moccasins and possibly welding-type goggles. He likes to be out in nature, so police say he may be somewhere in the area near water.  This is not the first time Coffin has gone missing.  Last September he walked out of his home in Oxford and didn't return until over 2 weeks later. Officers say Coffin avoids talking to people, and those who see him are asked to contact the Oxford Police Department. 

RICHMOND MAN, 31, PLEADS GUILTY TO RAPE

(Richmond, IN)--A 31-year old Richmond man learned his sentence for rape yesterday in a Wayne county courtroom. Justin Caine Croucher, pleaded guilty to level 3 felony rape through a plea agreement with the Wayne County prosecutor's office days before his trial was to begin. As part of the plea agreement croucher was sentenced to 9 years with 3 suspended to probation. The agreement dismissed charges of domestic battery and interference with reporting a crime from the rape case, plus another case charging him with dealing marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance. Croucher has already served a large amount of his prison sentence.

WAYNE COUNTY COMMSSIONER FACES $800,000 MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

(Richmond, IN)--A Wayne County Commissioner is the subject of foreclosure efforts by a local bank totaling nearly three quarters of a million dollars.  Early this month, First Bank filed a foreclosure notice against Ken and Linda Paust and Paust, Incorporated.  Ten years ago, Paust’s wife, Linda, signed a promissory note of $800,000 connected to a tract of land on Salisbury Road.  The loan was to be paid back in monthly installments with a balloon payment due in 2016.  First Bank alleges that the Pausts did not make monthly payments and is exercising its right to call for the entire amount, which now stands at $733,000.  Ken Paust offered an explanation Sunday night.  Paust said that he had sold part of the land on contract and that the buyer had failed to make payments.  He said that allowing the loan to go through the foreclosure process was the easiest way to allow First Bank to obtain a clear title.  The nearly  foreclosure case has been assigned to a special judge.  Last week, Rush County Judge David Northam was assigned to hear the case.  Wayne County Clerk Debra Berry had been notified that every Wayne County judge would recuse him or herself based on Paust’s status as a county commissioner.  Paust last week was given until April 28 to respond to First Bank’s filing. 

NEATHERY TO BE SENTENCED MONDAY

(Richmond, IN)--Sentencing is set for Monday morning for Austin Neathery.  Neathery, by his own admission, shot and killed Richmond teen Tremell Carpenter nearly four years ago.  Earlier this month, a murder charge was taken off the table in exchange for a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter.  During that hearing, Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Shipman said there were evidentiary issues with the case, including the unwillingness of some witnesses to testify.  The terms of the plea deal call for Neathery to be sentenced to 30 years in prison with ten years suspended.  He has already served nearly four years after being on the run shortly after the shooting.

MISSING UNION COUNTY WOMAN FOUND

(Liberty, IN)--A missing Union County woman has been found and is  morning.  On Friday, the Union County Sheriff’s Department appealed to the public for help in locating Kerri Hershner.  Hershner had last been seen in Richmond three weeks ago.  On Sunday, the department indicated that she had been located.  There’s no word on where she had been.

COUNTY CONTINUES TO CONTEMPLATE MORGUE MOVE

(Richmond, IN)--Wayne County leaders continue to weigh the pros and cons of moving the county’s morgue to the basement of the courthouse.  This week, Commissioner Mary Anne Butters expressed one stomach-turning concern.  "There's great concern about cadaver bugs getting into the public building known as the courthouse," Butters said.  She also worried about a proposed canopy that would be added to the outside of the courthouse.  "It would have a great deal more visible impact on the exterior view of this historic structure."  The discussion of the move of the morgue is included with digital scanning of county records.  That project would cost close to a million dollars.

MAN ARRESTED FOR CHILD SOLICITATION

(Richmond, IN)--A Richmond man has been arrested for child solicitation .  58-year-old Ron Reid was arrested Thursday at Richmond Police headquarters following an investigation.  Reid was being held Friday morning on a $15,000 bond.  Details of what he is alleged to have done have not been released.  Reid was critically injured last summer when he was stabbed in the chest by his wife, Sarah.  She’s scheduled to go on trial for that at the end of May.

IU EAST CHANCELLOR ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

(Richmond, IN)--The Chancellor of IU East announced Wednesday that she will step down at the end of the academic year.  Kathy Girten has served in the leadership role for the last nine years and was the first female chancellor in the school’s history.  Girten is retiring and is not pursuing another role.  She’s also serving as acting chancellor at IU Southeast in New Albany.  Girten indicated that she plans to remain in Richmond upon retirement.

FORMER WAYNE COUNTY DEPUTY CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE FELONIES

(Wayne County, IN)--A western Wayne County man is facing some serious charges after an incident Wednesday in the 5300 block of Sugar Grove Road.  The Indiana State Police responded there and located 43-year-old Shawn Lahrman.  Lahrman has been charged with felonies that include domestic battery with a deadly weapon, strangulation, and confinement.  Details of what led to the incident and the condition of the victim have not been released.  Lahrman is a now-former employee of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and had received an accommodation in 2015 for helping to control unruly inmates.

PREBLE COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH RAPING YOUNG GIRLS

(West Alexandria, OH)--A West Alexandria man has been charged after allegedly raping two girls and threatening one at gunpoint.  The alleged incidents happened over a one-year period from 2017 to 2018 and involved girls who were nine and ten years old at the time.  52-year-old Carl Bechtol is now facing charges that include rape, sexual battery, and gross sexual imposition.  Investigators say the two girls were known to Bechtol.

FORMER IU EAST CHANCELLOR TAGGED FOR FEDERAL EDUCATION ROLE

(Richmond, IN)--President Biden has nominated former IU East Chancellor Nasser Paydar to serve in an important federal role.  Biden tagged Paydar to the Assistant Secretary of Education for Postsecondary Education.  Paydar served as the IU East chancellor from 2007 to 2012.  A federal statement said that Paydar will work to provide students with more affordable postsecondary learning opportunities, either through college or technical programs.

SERIES OF "BEAT THE HEAT" MEETINGS BEGINS WEDNESDAY NIGHT

(Richmond, IN)--Wednesday night kicks off a series of four meetings addressing heat in the city of Richmond.  It’s called the Beat the Heat program.  "Beat the Heat program helps the city of Richmond deal with the public health impacts of extreme heat," said Mayor Dave Snow.  It’s part of a two-year program that funded with a grant through Indiana University.  Results of a study will be presented and ideas from the public will be taken.  "It really comes down to the summers getting very hot and the heat lasting later into the day and the fact that buildings and people need the opportunity to cool down in the evening," Snow added.  According to the National Weather Service, only three of Richmond’s hottest 38 days on record have occurred in the last 20 years.  Wednesday night’s meeting begins at 7 o’clock.

AREA EXPECTED TO REMAIN BLUE AS COVID-19 CASES DWINDLE

(Whitewater Valley)--Wayne County and the rest of the Whitewater Valley will remain in the blue when Indiana’s color-coded Covid-19 map is released Wednesday.  Our area’s numbers continue to improve by the day.  There were only three Covid-19 patients at Reid Health Wednesday morning, and none were ill enough to be in the ICU.  Wayne County has had only three cases since early Monday.  Fayette and Randolph County have had only two each, and Union County hasn’t had any at all.

MAN JAILED AFTER SHOTS FIRED TUESDAY MORNING

(Richmond, IN)--Shots were fired in Richmond Tuesday morning.  It happened at around 3 o’clock Tuesday morning in the area of the 300 block of South West 4th.  According to scanner traffic, the suspect shot at someone and then fled down D Street.  Richmond police officers arrived quickly and took 25-year-old Christopher Lady into custody at Lady’s home on South West 3rd.  He’s charged with criminal recklessness.  There were no initial reports of any injury.  There’s also no word on what led to the shooting.

PREBLE COUNTY RAILROAD CLOSURES REMAIN UNDECIDED

(Preble County, OH)--Preble County Commissioners heard more Monday about the controversial closings of numerous railroad crossings on north/south roads between Campbellstown and Eaton.  Norfolk and Southern is considering permanently closing crossings along a stretch of several miles to install a second set of tracks where trains would sit idle for an extended period of time.  No final decision was reached Monday.  Roads that face potential closure include Daily, Oxford-Gettysburg, Conley, and Toby.

WANTED RICHMOND TEEN LOCATED WITH STOLEN HANDGUN

(Richmond, IN)--A wanted Richmond teenager was located Monday.  And, when she was found, she was allegedly in possession of a handgun.  19-year-old Jalynn Christian was found near 17th and East Main.  Christian had been wanted since being charged with multiple counts of counterfeiting last November.  She was also charged Monday with theft of a firearm and resisting arrest.  Christian was sentenced to seven months last year for criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.

WAYNE COUNTY PASSES TWO-YEAR MARK SINCE FIRST COVID-19 CASE

(Wayne County, IN)--It’s now been two years and five days since Wayne County had its very first case of Covid-19.  Since then, there have been 18,809 local cases.  324 Wayne County residents have died with - but not necessarily because of - Covid-19.  On Monday morning, though, Wayne County’s numbers continued to improve.  In the last week, there have been only 15 cases.  That’s the lowest Monday-to-Monday total since last July.  There were also only five Covid-19-positive patients at Reid Health Monday morning.  That’s also the fewest since last July.

COUNCIL TO ADDRESS VANDOR EXPANSION

(Richmond, IN)--The Vandor Corporation in Richmond is making a significant investment.  Vandor comes before Richmond Common Council Monday night to ask for five tax abatements associated with an expansion that’s expected to create millions in estimated new value.  Council will also address a $300,000 grant from the FAA for the Richmond Municipal Airport.  Monday night’s meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. and can be seen live on WCTV.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER ALLEGEDLY BREAKING INTO WAYNE COUNTY JAIL

(Richmond, IN)--Hearing about someone trying to break out of jail isn’t all that unusual, but it’s not every day that you hear about someone breaking into jail.  That’s what happened at the Wayne County Jail over the weekend.  29-year-old Braylon Gipson allegedly entered the jail through a non-public exit door and went into an area where visitations occur.  He then began to disrobe until he was stopped by staffers.  Gipson is now charged with criminal trespass and public intoxication.

WAYNE COUNTY JOBLESS CLAIMS CONTINUE TO DROP

(Wayne County, IN)--Earlier this week, Kicks 96 and 101.7 The Point News reported that unemployment rates across the Whitewater Valley have shot up substantially.  But, new numbers released Thursday show that jobless claims have dropped by a significant amount.  Wayne County had just 26 jobless claims filed in a week.  By comparison, in just one week last year shortly after stimulus payments were distributed, there were 763 claims filed in Wayne County in just one week.

REID, McCULLOUGH-HYDE PENALIZED FOR HIGH RATES OF READMISSION

(Richmond, IN)--Two area hospitals are being penalized with reduced payments from the federal government based on high rates of readmission or inpatient-developed infections.  Those two are Reid Health in Richmond and McCullough-Hyde in Oxford.  Reid is being penalized by .85% and is also being penalized by high rates of complications for the first time in at least seven years.  McCullough-Hyde’s penalty is slightly over one percent.  Nearly half of the country’s hospitals are penalized annually.

RCS BOARD UNANIMOUSLY EXTENDS WRIGHT'S CONTRACT

(Richmond, IN)--The RCS Board met Wednesday night and approved an extended contract for Superintendent Dr. Curtis Wright.  "I think the Board is trying to show our commitment to Dr. Wright and feel that (he has made) good progress," said the RCS Board President.  Wright’s contract now runs through 2027 at a base salary of $150,000 annually.  Wright said he likes the district’s direction.  "It's a collective effort from the team that we've assembled and continue to have in motion on a daily basis."  He took over as superintendent last summer.

ENTIRE WHITEWATER VALLEY NOW BLUE ON COVID-19 MAP

(Whitewater Valley)--The entire Whitewater Valley has now moved into the blue on Indiana’s color-coded Covid-19 map, which was updated Wednesday.  It represents the lowest level of spread and is the first time since last summer that the entire area was blue.  Wayne County’s positivity is down to 1.9%.  The number of new daily cases has been in the single digits for the last three weeks, including just three new cases Wednesday.  There were only five patients with Covid-19 at Reid Health Thursday morning.

REID HEALTH RANKED AMONG TOP EMPLOYERS NATIONALLY

(Richmond, IN)--Reid Health has been named as one of the country’s top midsize employers by the business news outlet Forbes.  More than 60,000 people working for companies nationally that employ at least a thousand were surveyed anonymously on questions like how likely they would be to recommend their employer.  Reid employs 3500 people and is far and away Wayne County’s largest employer.

TWO ARRESTED AFTER SHOTS FIRED, POLICE CHASE

(Richmond, IN)--Two people were taken into custody Wednesday morning after shots were fired in what continues to be a problem area of Richmond.  At just after midnight, shots were fired and shell casings were found in the 100 block of North West Fifth.  The investigation then led to a short chase.  19-year-old Xzavion Potter was caught on North West 18th and charged with criminal recklessness – shooting a firearm into an inhabited structure.  Potter also had outstanding warrants for weapons charges.  19-year-old Shakiah Tevis was caught on North West 13th.  She’s charged with felony resisting.  There were no initial reports of any injury.

LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATES SKYROCKET AS WORKFORCE SHRINKS

(Wayne County, IN)--Not only is inflation running rampant, now there’s also been a huge jump in unemployment rates across the Whitewater Valley.  After record lows last month, unemployment rates have more than doubled in some area counties in the last 30 days.  In Wayne County, the rate has spiked from 1.4% last month to 2.5% today.  And, the local labor force continues to shrink.  Since this time last year, 527 people have dropped out of the workforce inside the city of Richmond.  County-wide, the workforce has shrunk by 812 people.

HENLEY ROAD CRASH TURNS FATAL

(Richmond, IN)--The crash on Henley Road in Richmond that occurred on Monday afternoon has now turned fatal.  Police said Tuesday that 36-year-old Emily Poundstone of Richmond drove left of center and struck Mark and Jane Frech.  Poundstone was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where she has now died.  Investigators have not been able to determine what caused Poundstone to go left of center.

MAN STRUCK, KILLED BY TRAIN

(Hagerstown, IN)--One person was struck and killed by a train just outside Hagerstown Monday.  It happened at 10 o’clock yesterday morning on North Jacksonburg Road.  Investigators say 61-year-old Daryl King of Centerville appeared to have been filling a tractor trailer with grain and that he likely did not hear the oncoming train due to other noise on the property.  King was pronounced dead at the scene.  All railroad safety and warning systems appeared to be functioning correctly.

RESULTS OF HEAT WATCH CAMPAIGN RELEASED

(Richmond, IN)--Results of last summer’s Heat Watch Campaign for Richmond were released Monday.  On one day last August, volunteers took more than 34,000 temperatures across the city.  Among the results:  both the downtown and east-side shopping areas were identified as heat islands.  Temperature differences were attributed to factors like tree abundance and level of urbanization.  At one point, tree-covered Hayes Arboretum was seven degrees cooler than the shopping complex which used to be part of the arboretum along National Road East.

THREE HURT IN HENLEY ROAD CRASH

(Richmond, IN)--There was a serious crash on Henley Road in Richmond Monday afternoon.  Two cars collided head-on near the intersection of South B Street.  One occupant had to be cut from the wreckage.  A total of three people went to Reid Health, and a medical helicopter had been summoned for at least one of them.  Police indicated that drugs were found at the scene.  It did not appear Tuesday morning that anyone has been charged yet.  The names and conditions of those involved have not yet been released.

NEATHERY TO BE SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS WITH 10 SUSPENDED

(Richmond, IN)--Sentencing is now a couple of weeks away for Austin Neathery, who admitted Friday afternoon that he shot and killed Tremell Carpenter in Richmond when both were teens in 2018.  Neathery’s plea deal, in which he pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for the dropping of a murder charge, means that a three-week trial that was supposed to start today is now off.  Prosecutor Mike Shipman said in Friday’s hearing that there were numerous problems with the criminal case and those problems could have resulted in Neathery’s complete acquittal.  Several members of Carpenter’s family asked that the case go to trial despite the risk.  Neathery will be sentenced to 30 years with ten suspended.

WAYNE COUNTY SEES LOWEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT SINCE LAST JULY

(Wayne County, IN)--The trend of Covid-19 cases in Wayne County dropping drastically on a week-to-week basis continues.  Since last Monday, Wayne County has added only 26 new cases.  That’s a 46% drop in the number of cases from the week before.  It’s also the lowest number of weekly cases since the middle of July of last year.  There are also now only eight patients with Covid-19 at Reid Health.  It’s the first single-digit Monday for Reid since last July 26.  Other area counties are seeing similar drops.  That includes Union County, which has not had a single Covid-19 case in the last week.

LONG-TIME RICHMOND GOLF PROFESSIONAL DIES

(Richmond, IN)--A man who played a critical role in the development and growth of Richmond golf has died.  Ron DeMao had a heavy presence with the Eastern Indiana Junior Golf Tour, but will most be remembered as the long-time pro at Highland Lake Golf Course.  He was also instrumental in the development of youth golf across the area.  Services are still pending.  Ron DeMao was 86.

ONE DEAD AFTER CRASH ON I-70 IN PREBLE COUNTY

(Preble County, OH)--There was a fatal crash on I-70 in Preble County Thursday afternoon.  It began when a semi caught fire in the westbound lanes between the Eaton and Lewisburg exits.  In the backup from that fire, a vehicle slammed into the back of a semi had had slowed for traffic.  A passenger in that vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.  He was identified as a resident of central Indiana.  Troopers shut down westbound I-70 at State Route 503.  It remained shut down for more than four hours.

MAN WANTED FOR SHOOTING WOMAN WITH ARROW FOUND AT RICHMOND MOTEL

(Richmond, IN)--Richmond police on Thursday rounded up a man accused of shooting a woman with an arrow a year ago.  46-year-old Lawrence Paddock was located Thursday at a motel near 30th and East Main Street.  In April of last year, paddock allegedly shot the female victim in the arm in the 400 block of Gardner Street.  Probable cause in the case was found by a Wayne County judge earlier this week.

WAYNE COUNTY COVID-19 VACCINATIONS CONTINUE TO DROP

(Wayne County, IN)--Covid-19 vaccinations in Wayne County have all but stopped – at least according to numbers from the Indiana Department of Health.  According to them, in the last full month, only 180 Wayne County residents have become fully vaccinated.  As of Friday morning, 31,339 residents can claim full vaccination status.  That’s only 48% of the population.  This coming Wednesday will mark the two-year point since Wayne County reported its first case of Covid-19.

NEIGHBOR COMPLAINTS LEAD TO ARRESTS OF TWO ALLEGED DRUG DEALERS

(Hagerstown, IN)--Lots of complaints from nearby residents about drug activity at a house on North Perry Street in Hagerstown resulted in the arrests of two alleged drug dealers Wednesday.  Multiple law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant and located fentanyl, methamphetamine, scales, and syringes.  37-year-old Torri Richardson and 30-year-old Roger Saylor now each face multiple counts of dealing.  Richardson has already bonded out of jail.

MAN FOUND GUILTY OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT WITH A MINOR

(Richmond, IN)--A Wayne County jury on Wednesday found a Connersville man guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor.  36-year-old Joshua Millar had been arrested for that crime nearly four years ago.  Millar was taken into custody after the verdict and sent to the Wayne County Jail to await sentencing.  That sentencing date has been set for April 1.

DOZENS OF KIDS TO BOARD BUS TO SEE DESMOND BANE PLAY

(Richmond, IN)--Lots of local kids are really looking forward to this coming Tuesday night.  At least 40 kids will board a bus at the Richmond Boys and Girls Club to watch Desmond Bane and the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Pacers.  The money for the tickets, bus, t-shirts and snacks were all raised from local businesses.

GAS PRICES SPIKE AGAIN ACROSS AREA

(Whitewater Valley)--It’s going to be much harder to find gas for under $4 per gallon on Wednesday than it was Tuesday across the Whitewater Valley.  At many stations, the price for a gallon of gas jumped another quarter per gallon at stood at $4.25 Wednesday morning.  The website gasbuddy.com showed Richmond’s lowest price stands at $4.09 Wednesday morning at a Sunoco station.  A few gas stations in Liberty, Eaton, and Greenville were holding on to $3.99 Wednesday morning.

FINAL PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY FOR NEATHERY TRIAL

(Richmond, IN)--Final preparations are underway this week in advance of what should be Wayne County’s highest-profile trial in the last 15 years.  Summons for potential jurors have gone out in the trial of Austin Neathery, who is set to go on trial beginning Monday for the murder of Richmond teen Tremell Carpenter nearly four years ago.  A hearing with final instructions is set to take place Thursday in Wayne Superior Court II.  The court has set aside three full weeks for the trial.

LONG-TIME WESTERN WAYNE RESIDENT FOUND NOT GUILTY OF MUSHROOM MURDER

(Noblesville, IN)--The long-time western Wayne County resident accused of murdering her husband with poisonous mushrooms was found not guilty of his murder Monday.  But, Katrina Fouts was convicted by a jury of both conspiracy to commit murder and failure to report a corpse.  A central Indiana jury deliberated for only about two hours Monday.  The jury heard testimony that investigators had found searches about poisonous mushrooms on Fouts’ computer.  Fouts now faces decades in prison when she’s sentenced in a few weeks.  Her alleged accomplice, former RPD officer Terry Hopkins, died in jail before he could face trial.

RICHMOND OPTS BACK IN TO OPIOID SETTLEMENT

(Richmond, IN)--Richmond Common Council met Monday night and, as expected, unanimously approved a resolution that allows the city to opt back into the state opioid settlement.  Here’s City Attorney AJ Sickmann explaining some of the reasons to Council Monday night:  "...to address the needs of our community and having the ability for future settlements with other defendants that weren't a part of the state suit."  The exact amount of Richmond’s portion of the settlement has not been determined.  It will be paid in installments beginning as early as next month.

FLOODWATERS RECEDE AS BROOKVILLE LAKE RISES

(Whitewater Valley)--Most of the flooding that affected the Whitewater Valley Monday has subsided.  Our area generally received between 2 ½ and three inches in around six hours early Monday morning.  It forced the closure of numerous roads, including Waterfall Road in Richmond and Pennville Road in Fayette County.  In Randolph County, State Roads 1 and 28 remained closed Tuesday morning near the Mississinewa River.  In Abington, scanner traffic indicated that there was a water rescue Monday, although details have not yet been released.  The water level at Brookville Lake has risen an incredible 5 ½ feet since early Monday morning.

OVERNIGHT RAIN FLOODS COUNTY ROADS, CLOSES STATE HIGHWAY

(Whitewater Valley)--Lots of rain has inundated the Whitewater Valley early Monday morning.  The entire area had more than an inch of rain since midnight, and there were a few lingering effects Monday morning.  In Greens Fork, water flooded South Main Street.  And, in Preble County, a state highway has been barricaded.  One car tried to cross high water on State Route 726 between U.S. 40 and Orphans Road.  The car began to float sideways, but the driver was able to get control and get out.  State Route 726 was barricaded in that area at around 5 o’clock Monday morning.

WAYNE COUNTY COVID-19 CASES DROP BY HALF EACH WEEK

(Wayne County, IN)--For the last month, there’s been a steady trend in Wayne County with Covid-19.  Each week, the number of weekly cases has been only half what it was the week before.  Here are the last four Monday-to Monday case counts.  It’s gone from 227 to 146 to 74 and now, Monday morning, just 34 cases in the last week.  The state no longer even tracks a rolling five-day average.  But, if it did, Wayne County’s would be well under ten cases per day.  The county’s positivity rate is down to just 2.2%.  And, there are only 11 Covid-19 positive cases at Reid Health.  That’s the lowest Monday total of patients in the last six months.

RICHMOND EXPECTED TO OPT IN TO OPIOID SETTLEMENT

(Richmond, IN)--Richmond Common Council meets Monday night.  Common Council is expected to approve a resolution that will opt back into a large opioid settlement through the state.  Back in December, Wayne County decided to join the settlement, and now the city of Richmond will follow suit.  Indiana stands to get just over $500 million as part of the settlement with opioid manufacturers.  Exactly how much the city and county stand to receive remains undetermined.  Monday night’s council meeting begins at 7 and can be seen on WCTV.

WAYNE COUNTY IMPROVES TO BLUE ON COVID-19 MAP

(Wayne County, IN)--Some of the Whitewater Valley moved back into blue when Indiana’s updated Covid-19 map was released Wednesday.  That includes Wayne County, which had not seen the blue level for months.  Blue means the lowest level of spread.  Wayne County’s positivity rate Thursday morning had dropped down to less than four percent.  Wayne County has had only 26 cases since Monday.  Union and Randolph County have joined Wayne County in the blue.  All other area counties are yellow.

RCS DROPS MASK REQUIREMENT FOR SCHOOL BUSES

(Richmond, IN)--The Richmond Community School system has now joined most other school systems across the Whitewater Valley and made masking on school buses optional.  RCS sent out the announcement Wednesday and it goes into effect immediately.  Even after lifting masking requirements in school, RCS and other schools required masking on buses due to CDC guidelines.  Those guidelines changed late last month.

NO MAJOR TRAFFIC IMPACT EXPECTED AS CONVOY PASSES

(Whitewater Valley)--There should be little if any impact on eastbound I-70 traffic through the area Thursday as the People’s Convoy rolls through on its way to Washington.  The convoy stopped a hundred miles west of Richmond Wednesday night.  Current estimates put the number of participants at just a hundred semis and 200 passenger vehicles.  Convoy participants are protesting mask and vaccine mandates…most of which have already been lifted.  The convoy should pass through our area sometime between 10 o’clock Thursday morning and noon.  There are no plans for it to stop in our area.

RICHMOND CHILD MOLESTER FACES NEW RAPE CHARGE

(Richmond, IN)--A convicted child molester living in Richmond now faces a brand new round of criminal charges.  53-year-old Glenn Hall now faces charges that include rape, felony stalking, and felony residential entry after being arrested at the Wayne County Jail on Tuesday.  Details of what Hall is alleged to have done, including the age of his alleged victim, have not yet become available.  Hall was convicted of child molesting back in 2014 and appears on Indiana’s sex offender registry.

CONVOY NUMBERS DROP AS IT APPROACHES WHITEWATER VALLEY

(Whitewater Valley)--The People’s Convoy continues to approach the Whitewater Valley, but its numbers appear to be shrinking as it heads east toward Washington, D.C. to protest Covid-19 mandates.  Estimates now put the number of truckers participating as of Tuesday at a couple of hundred.  The trucks are scheduled to spend the night in Monrovia Wednesday night.  That’s about a hundred miles from Richmond.  They should then pass through our area on I-70 sometime late Thursday morning.  Local officials have not made any statements about any possible traffic issues on the interstate when the convoy passes through.

HUNDREDS OF WAYNE COUNTY HOMES EXPERIENCE OVERNIGHT POWER OUTAGE

(Wayne County, IN)--A significant section of Wayne County was without power overnight.  At around 11:30 Tuesday night, power went out for nearly 600 Duke Energy customers in the area of Greens Fork, Economy, and in areas near Williamsburg.  According to Duke, the outage was caused by an object that got into power lines.  Power was restored to nearly all customers by around 4 o’clock Wednesday morning.

PEOPLE'S CONVOY CONTINUES TO ROLL TOWARD WHITEWATER VALLEY

(Whitewater Valley)--The People’s Convoy continues to roll toward the Whitewater Valley.  On Tuesday morning, the convoy will pass through the St. Louis area on its way to Washington to protest various mandates.  Here’s one of the participants on Monday:  I should not have to show a card to go buy a burger.  I should not have to wear a face diaper to get on an airplane."  The convoy is still expected in our area on Thursday.  Estimated numbers of participants vary widely, from a low of 500 trucks to a high of 7000.  There has been no word from local law enforcement of any potential effects on I-70.

BALLOONS RELEASED TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF BOY'S MURDER

(Preble County, OH)--In Preble County Monday, there was a balloon release to mark the one-year point since the murder of six-year-old James Hutchinson.  James was dragged to death by his own mother, Britney Gosney, who is now serving a life sentence.  At the release Monday, James’ father, Lewis Hutchinson, said they still hope the boy’s body can be recovered from the Ohio River.  "I want my son's body found so that we can have closure and give him a proper burial," Hutchinson said.  Gosney’s boyfriend is serving 15 years for his role in the crime.

PORTLAND MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED IN WAYNE COUNTY

(Richmond, IN)--Details of the arrest of a murder suspect in Wayne County were released Monday.  According to investigators, 49-year-old Portland man murdered his own father in Jay County last Friday and traveled to a home on Washington Road in Wayne County.  There, he knocked on a door and told a person inside that he was the devil.  That person fled and called police.  Deputies located the man on the west side of Richmond and took him into custody.  A handgun and shotgun were recovered.

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