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WROI News Archives for 2021-08

IRS criminal investigation sees surge in scams tied to Economic Impact Payments

The Internal Revenue Service received a record number of complaints about Economic Impact Payment scams in June and July 2021 not seen in more than a decade.

 

“Criminals will look for any opportunity to take what they are not entitled to and this is no exception,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell, of IRS Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office. “While this is not the first time that EIP payments have been targeted, this increase in scams is alarming. This payment is meant to help those that are struggling to get by as a result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Be wary of any phone calls, emails, or text messages asking for your personal information or offering a deal that seems too good to be true,” said Campbell.

 

“The protection of our citizens from fraudsters and their schemes requires two things. The unflagging efforts of federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these criminals but also the awareness of all people that these scams exist, what they look like and how they work,” stated John E. Childress, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “When faced with those two things, most fraudsters will think twice before attempting to victimize another unsuspecting individual.”

 

Phishing scams attempt to mirror legitimate IRS communications with the goal of convincing unsuspecting taxpayers to enter personal information or submit a payment. This information is then exploited by scammers.

 

Recent scam reports include:

  • Text messages stating that a taxpayer is eligible for a “stimulus payment” and they must click on a link to complete the necessary information to claim it.
  • Phishing emails claiming the IRS has calculated a taxpayer’s “fiscal activity” and they are eligible for an Economic Impact payment in a specific amount.

Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not threaten individuals with jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards or via cryptocurrency.

 

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for grammatical, capitalization and spelling errors in emails and texts, which serve as fraud indicators. Taxpayers should also exercise caution when clicking shortened URLs, which can lead to fraudulent web pages.

 

Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.

 

Taxpayers can report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.

 

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft as a result of a scam, visit the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft to know what steps to take.

 

To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes, visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.

 

Samples of IRS Impersonation Emails

 

 

 
 

Justin Miller charged with murder in child's death

A murder charge has been filed in the death of 11-month old Mercedes Lain.  The charge against Justin Miller, 37, was filed in Starke County.

 

A probable cause affidavit previously included information that Miller led authorities to a rural wooded intersection where Mercedes body was found in Starke County.

 

An autopsy led to the ruling of a homicide in the case and cause of death  - blunt force trauma to the head.

Logansport's Sanchez among those killed in Kabul bombing

A Logansport high school graduate was one of the 13 U.S. military members killed in the bombing Afghanistan’s Kabul airport.

 

The death of Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, was confirmed Saturday by the Department of Defense.

 

Sanchez was a 2017 Logansport graduate.  He played on the school's varsity soccer team.

 

Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement regarding U.S. Marine Corporal Humberto Sanchez who was killed in the terrorist attack in Kubul, Afghanistan. 

 

I ask all Hoosiers so inclined to send prayers to the family of one of America’s finest, U.S. Marine, Corporal Humberto Sanchez.

Few among us answer a call of duty so dangerous as Corporal Sanchez volunteered to do. In doing so, he made the ultimate sacrifice so others could live and find freedom.

While Janet and I mourn his loss, we hold up his incredible legacy of service above self and vow to honor him in every way we know how.

 

 Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch offered the following statement regarding U.S. Marine Corporal Humberto Sanchez who was killed in the terrorist attack in Kubul, Afghanistan.


“I join Logansport, Cass County and Hoosiers across the state in mourning U.S. Marine, Corporal Humberto Sanchez. His bravery for answering the call to protect Americans, our freedom and our nation should always be remembered. I am praying for his family, friends and community that loved him and his selfless sacrifice."

 

The U.S. military said it was the most lethal day for American forces in Afghanistan since 2011.

 

 

Rochester schools superintendent letter addresses quarantines, masks

Rochester Superintendent of Schools Jana Vance released the following letter Monday afternoon pertaining to COVID-19:

 

Thank you for a wonderful start to the school year in what continues to be very trying times due to Covid.

 

On Friday, August 27, 2021, the Indiana Department of Health released very specific information around close contacts within schools.  Included in that information was the fact that schools “Must” quarantine unvaccinated students and staff for a minimum of 8 days.  Many will likely be quarantined for more than 8 days.   Vaccinated students and staff do not need to quarantine unless they are showing symptoms.  If you would like information around schools having to quarantine you can find all of the information here:

 

https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/INDOE/2021/08/27/file_attachments/1918263/School%20webinar%208-26.pdf

   

Please note that Webb’s Family Pharmacy, CVS, Kroger’s and Walgreens do have vaccines available for students should you want to get your child vaccinated. 

 

Also, if you are interested in Rochester Schools providing a vaccine clinic, please reach out to Jana Vance at jana.vance@zebras.net and express your interest in a vaccine clinic.  Should we have enough interest, we will work to provide that for those within the district who are interested. 

 

Also, per our reopening plan which was adopted during a school board meeting on June 21, 2021 and which can be found on our website or by accessing this link:

 

school-safety-reopening-plan-2021-2022

 

Students will be required to wear masks in certain instances where social distancing can not reasonably occur:  any lab settings, reading groups, small group learning……..

 

The school will have surgical grade masks available for all students. 

 

Again, we appreciate your support as we continue to navigate the many changes from the state and local level. 

Governor Eric Holcomb directs flags to be flown at half-staff

Governor Eric J. Holcomb is directing flags to be flown at half-staff to honor and pay our respects to the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack on August 26, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

 

Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Monday, August 30, 2021.

 

Gov. Holcomb also asks businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff.

Fulton County Health Department to open Rochester testing site by September 7

As the COVID-19 Pandemic marches on and the Delta variant ramps up this back-to-school season, Rochester is getting prepared. 

 

The Rochester City Council approved funding $50,000 to the Fulton County Health Department Tuesday to do just that. With local testing sites being shut down after the first big wave of the pandemic was over, the first thing the funding will provide will be a testing site.

 

Dawn Risten from the Fulton County Health Department says the goal to have a testing site open is September 7. The location is still to be determined, but Risten says the future preferred location will be a place larger than the space they had previously, so they can eventually also open a vaccination clinic as well at the same location by October 1. 

 

Risten said they are very grateful for the funding and will utilize it to pay employees, get a location for the testing and vaccination site, extra supplies, and anything the health department might need in the future.  

 

The Fulton County Health Department is currently accepting applications to hire three testers and a supervisor for the testing site that will open in September. The job description includes handling greeting, screening questions, informing of the procedure, and swabbing.

 

Proficient computer knowledge is a plus. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. 

 

Applications are available at the auditor's office in the Fulton County Annex Building, located at 125 E 9th St in Rochester.

'Let There Be Light 2021 Recovery Event' Wabash September 5 at 13-24 Drive-In

The Christian Fellowship Church of North Manchester is hosting the second annual “Let There Be Light: Finding Hope In The Darkness” at the 13/24 Drive-In on Sunday, September 5 from 7 pm-11 pm.

 

Pastor Jacob Good, of Christian Fellowship Church of North Manchester, said it's something that was inspired during the dark times the pandemic brought last year and caught attention from the surrounding communities. 

 

 

Pastor Jacob says the idea has really taken off and hopes it shines a light on every corner of the community. 

 

 

Rochester city water rate adjustments explained

A recent public hearing was held to address changes regarding the City of Rochester's city water ordinance.

 

Eric Walsh, a partner for Baker Tilly, explained changes and tried to clear up concerns about the newest city water ordinance, during an othe hearing at the Rochester City Council meeting Tuesday, August 24, in the Rochester City Building Complex.

 

Walsh specializes in serving local governments and public utilities. 

 

 

Mayor Ted Denton agreed with Walsh, saying Rochester was behind the times by not having a developmental fee for incoming businesses. Walsh says the fee would be much less for housing development than it would for commercial property, essentially making it growth paying for growth. 

 

 

Other changed items in the ordinance include updated fees, which increase the call-out rate for after-hours or weekend calls, an increased rate in commercial sprinkler rates that will depend on the size of the sprinkler system, and a slight increase for outside city customers. 

 

 

Rochester City Council approves Covid funds to ramp up testing

The City of Rochester is being challenged by Covid concerns.

Mayor Ted Denton says the city is fighting through a stretch of Covid impacting staffing.

 

 

The mayor notes that testing slowed with the break before the Delta variant became prevalent.

 

 

Now, Mayor Denton says the city council has approved using funds dispersed due to Covid to help fight it.

 

 

 

'The Grounded Coffee House at the Depot' coming to Akron in 2023

Akron Chamber of Commerce President DeLynn Geiger and his wife, Lori, are making things go into motion in Akron with their newest project and upcoming coffee shop,  'The Grounded Coffee House at the Depot.'

Paperwork was signed on August 19 that will allow the couple to move forward with their vision of moving, preserving, and renovating the former Akron Depot into a coffee house that will and moved to the lot where the old Opera House once stood in Akron, on State Rd 14 at the corner of Rochester and Mishawaka Street.

 

Lori said it was an idea they picked up one day and never put back down. 

 

 

Lori is thankful for the community support that has started already. Everything will fall into place as the time comes, but for now, they're hoping to have everything up and running by the spring of 2023. 

 

Kirk Robinson, who represents Pike Lumber and the Akron Revitalization Committee, says the coffee house will take Akron in the right direction.  He has faith in the Geiger's vision. 

 

 

 

Crash, fire, two deaths in Plymouth car - semi accident

A fiery crash in Plymouth resulted in two deaths.

 

Marshall County 911 received a call of a motor vehicle accident on US 30 west of Oak Dr., just west of the railroad crossing. Plymouth Police responded to find an accident involving two semi-tractors and a passenger vehicle.  All vehicles were in the right eastbound lane of US 30.

 

 It was found that Inderjit Singh Sidu, 28, of Stockton, California, was driving a 2019 Freightliner that rear-ended a 2009 Nissan Rogue that was stopped in traffic. The Nissan Rogue was then pushed into a third vehicle, a 2021 Peterbilt semi tanker, operated by Thomas Lewis, 61, of Wanatah, IN. 

 

The Nissan Rogue was operated by Patric Mcglynn, 19, of Enfield, Connecticut.  A passenger in the Nissan was John Paul David Eckel, 21, of LaPorte.  Both Mcglynn and Eckel were pronounced dead at the scene by the Marshall County Coroner's Office.

 

The accident remains under investigation. The Plymouth Police Department was assisted by the Indiana State Police, Marshall County Sheriff's Department, Plymouth Fire and EMS, and the Marshall County Coroner's Office.

Rural Logansport man arrested for child molestation dating back to 2011

On Friday, a criminal investigation by Indiana State Police Detective Wendell Beachy resulted in the arrest of Gregory Berkshire, 57, of rural Logansport.

 

Berkshire surrendered to sheriff’s deputies at the Cass County Jail. He was served a Cass Circuit Court arrest warrant alleging two class A felony charges for child molestation.

 

On July 29, Beachy started an investigation after receiving information that two girls had possibly been molested in Cass County. During the investigation, evidence revealed that Berkshire had allegedly, on multiple occasions, molested a then five-year-old girl and a six-year-old girl.

 

The purported crimes occurred in 2011 in Cass County.

 

Indiana State Fair FAIRs Care Food Drive 2021 Winners Announced - Cass #1, Miami #3

Since 2013, the Indiana State Fair has partnered with the Indiana Association of Fairs (INAF) and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) to implement the FAIRs Care County Food Drive program. The goal of FAIRs Care is to raise awareness of local hunger needs and help feed hungry Hoosiers.

 

This year, participating counties have collected 33,548 total pounds of food and raised $74,240.21 for local food pantries this year. Using the Feeding American calculation, dividing the total pounds collected by 1.2, the donations collected this year equate to 27,957 meals – enough to provide about 77 Hoosiers with a meal every day for an entire year.

 

The top five counties with the most food and monetary contributions are:

  1. Cass County 4-H Fair – raised $31,796.00
  2. Porter County 4-H Fair – raised $31,500.00
  3. Miami County 4-H Fair – raised $11,210.71
  4. Wells County 4-H Fair – raised $10,836.00
  5. Hendricks County 4-H Fair – raised $5,183.48

To calculate these numbers, the Indiana State Fair multiplies the pounds of food collected by $1.67, which is the average cost of a pound of food. Cash donations are then added to the total. Each of these top five counties will receive a $200 prize for their hard work and generous contributions.

The other participating counties include: Hancock County Fair, Shelby County Fair, Jay County Fair, Miami County Fair, Clinton County & 4-H Fair, Hamilton County 4-H Fair, Boone County Fair, Wells County 4-H Fair, Starke County 4-H Fair, Daviess County 4-H Show, Jasper County Fair, Cass County 4-H Fair, Perry County 4-H Fair, Henry County 4-H Fair, Whitley County 4-H Fair, Putnam County Fair, Hendricks County Fair, Porter County Fair, Parke County 4-H Fair, Clay County 4-H Fair, Huntington County 4-H Fair, Fayette County Free Fair, and Vermillion County Fair.

 

Leaders in these counties worked with local food banks to secure donations during their county fairs that benefit local hunger relief efforts. Participants received an allotment of Indiana State Fair tickets to help incentivize donations at the food drives.

 

“This year we are “Celebrating the Hoosier Spirit” and I can’t think of a better example of that spirit than helping hungry Hoosiers and encouraging other counties around the state to do the same,” said Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye. “This is an important part of who we are – taking care of our neighbors and giving back to the community.”

Eastern Pulaski Community School Corp investigates rumor, soft lock down Friday

The Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation Superintendent Dara Chezem reached out to parents Sunday in an effort to provide reassurance and communication about the soft lockdown they had on Friday, August 20.

 

"Law enforcement and administration have completed an exhaustive investigation into a rumor that a student came to school with a gun on the first day. That information has no merit whatsoever and has only served to add undue stress and concern to our school community. Never, at ANY time, was there a credible threat to our staff or our students due to either situation," Chezum stated in an email.

 

Chezum also requested that parents continue to reinforce to their children that all threats are taken seriously, to report a threat if you hear or see it, and not spread idle rumors. 

Local outpour of condolences over the death of 11 month old Mercedes Lain

The community continues its outpour of condolences after receiving the devastating news that authorities found the body of 11-month-old Mercedes Lain in a rural location outside of Knox.

 

According to Marshall County Superior Court records, her parents Kenneth Lain, 41, and Tiffany Coburn, 32, both of Plymouth, are now facing charges of neglect of a dependent. The babysitter in charge of Mercedes at the time of her death was Justin Miller, 37, of Hamlet.  Miller was charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death.  Further charges may be forthcoming.

 

The exact relationship between Miller and the family still remains unclear although they have been said to be related.  The cause of death has now been ruled a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.

 

A memorial was started for Mercedes Thursday where she was found at the rural Starke County location near the intersection of 1025 E 50 N. Family members, friends, and many who did not even know Mercedes have dropped off flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, and candles in honor of the little girl. 

 

Melody Dowd, a Knox local who did not know Mercedes or her family, says the community has had a hard time wrapping their heads around the news of her death. She visited the site this weekend with her husband and several other distraught community members. 

 

 

Dowd says she along with many other community members is looking for a change. Citizens have started a petition that is currently going around to hold Child Protective Services more responsible for their cases to prevent future tragedies from happening. As of Monday, August 23 at 3:00 pm, the petition had 5,571 signatures. The goal is 7,500 signatures. 

 

 

Dead black bear found on Elkhart County roadside

DNR recovered the body of a black bear north of Bristol in Elkhart County on Wednesday.

The bear was found near a toll road and was in an advanced state of decomposition. DNR staff delivered the remains to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) at Purdue for necropsy to determine cause of death. Preliminary results revealed the bear had many fractured bones, injuries that DNR mammalogist Brad Westrich says are consistent with a vehicle collision.

“It is unfortunate that for many in Elkhart County this was their first experience observing a black bear,” Westrich said. “It’s well documented that wild animals are commonly killed on roadways, and it’s a shame that Indiana’s fifth black bear in modern history met this fate.”

DNR had not received reports of black bears in the area before finding this bear.

Hair and tissue samples will be analyzed to determine where the black bear originated. It was not the same black bear that had previously visited southern Indiana earlier this summer. Bear reports in that region have stopped coming to Indiana DNR, and Westrich says it has probably moved on to Kentucky, based on confirmed sightings received from Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.

Indiana was once home to black bears. Bear populations in neighboring states are expanding, and Indiana’s forests and hills, primarily located in the southern portion of the state, are excellent habitat for black bears.

If you see a bear, report it to the DNR at on.IN.gov/largemammal. Biologists use these reports to monitor bear activity and provide recommendations to local residents.

Scott Davis Benefit and Bike Ride Saturday at Logansport VFW

Scott Davis was a 33-year-old father of two and a lifelong Rochester resident. He passed away on August 18 after a six-month battle with esophageal cancer. 

 

This Saturday, August 21, a benefit and bike ride is being held at the VFW Post 3790, 1023 Erie Avenue in Logansport, in honor of Scott, to help with funeral and past medical expenses. A pulled pork dinner is also planned with raffles and a DJ. Everything kicks off at noon. 

 

Close family friend Joe Brady helped Scott and his family throughout his battle. 

 

 

Joe and his wife, Patti Brady, helped organize a chicken and noodle dinner benefit in late March of this year.  They said the community support was more than they expected.

The Brady's say now more than ever, the Davis family needs all the help they can get. 

 

 

Law enforcement led Wednesday night to Mercedes Lain's body in Starke Co.

The search for a missing 11-month old Mercedes Lain came to a close Wednesday night as law enforcement was led to her body at a wooded intersection at 1025 East 50 North in Starke County.

 

Marshall Co. Prosecutor Nelson Chipman details the case from the initial report of the child missing to the charges currently in place against three people, including the child’s parents, pending autopsy and further evidence.

 

 

'Comet Closet' gives back to Caston students

The Comet Closet had its open house Saturday, August 14 at Caston School Corporation, providing families in the community with donated clothing items, shoes, coats, toiletries and more. 

 

Normally open Monday thru Friday for Caston students, this year the Comet Closet is being run by Caston's Delaney Strasser for her senior project. She said it's a place that's open for everybody. 

 

2021 Caston graduate Micah  Colvin, who joined Delaney Saturday as she worked during the open house, said he remembers the closet coming in handy to many students at the school. 

 

 

Delaney is excited to see Comet Closet grow in leaps and bounds. 

 

 

2019 Caston graduates Hayli Brown and Johanna Sosa opened Comet Closet as their senior project. The idea for the closet was started by Melinda Shultz, a key club sponsor who teaches High School English, Speech, and journalism at the school. 

 

 

The Comet Closet gets donations from groups throughout the community and has received tremendous support. 

 

 

Melinda hopes the Comet Closet continues to grow and flourish at Caston in the future. 

 

Peru man arrested for child molesting

A criminal investigation by Indiana State Police resulted in the arrest of a Peru man on child molestation charges.

 

Frank Wright, 64, Peru, on felony charges for child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, and child solicitation.  

 

The investigation started after receiving information from the Miami County Division of the Indiana Department of Child Services that Wright had possibly committed sexual acts on two Miami County girls. During the investigation, evidence revealed that Wright had allegedly committed sexual acts on a then 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl. The crimes purportedly occurred in Miami County in July 2019 and July 2012 or 2013.  

 

Wright was arrested at his Peru home and served a Miami Superior Court II arrest warrant alleging felony charges for sexual misconduct with a minor, child solicitation, and child molestation.

 

Wright was incarcerated in the Miami County Jail with a bond of $27,000.

Rochester man sentenced for child molesting

A Rochester man was sentenced to six years in the Department of Corrections on a Level 3 child molesting charge.

 

A second child molesting charge against Sidney Ousley, 20, was dropped in the plea agreement in Kosciusko County court.

 

Relatives called Warsaw Police in April of last year after the child in the case had taken a dog for a walk and didn't come back until found by a family member.  The child said there had been interaction with Ousley and had gone to meet him in a vehicle.

 

Law enforcement says Ousley knew the child's age because of affiliation with the family.

 

Ousley received nine years in prison with three of those suspended.

 

Plymouth Police confirm search continues for 11-month old Mercedes Lain

Officers and agents from all agencies involved continue to investigate the case of Mercedes Lain. 

 

Investigators are continuing to look at various areas in Marshall, Starke, and St. Joseph counties, to include the Mishawaka area which is where Mercedes was last seen during the very early morning hours of Saturday, August 14. 

 

Anyone with information concerning Mercedes Lain is urged to contact 911 or Michiana Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-7867.

Rochester schools superintendent acknowledges Covid closures remain a possibility

Superintendent of the Rochester Community School Corporation Jana Vance released the following regarding the handling of Covid at this time:

 

Rochester Community School Corporation takes the safety of all students and employees very seriously. 

 

Working with our county health officer and local pediatrician, Dr. Reyburn, we continue to take the recommended precautions necessary to mitigate the Covid virus within the district and classrooms.

 

We have had students and staff test positive with the Covid virus.  When this happens, it is necessary for us to begin the steps of contact tracing.   Our first step is to determine at what point the positive person was contagious and identify all people who have been within 6 feet of the positive case for 15 minutes or longer during a 24-hour period of time.   We ask for your help and support when you or your student is asked to quarantine due to being a close contact as it is a measure to safeguard all involved.

 

If a person has been vaccinated and are a close contact, it is not necessary to quarantine until/unless symptoms are showing.  If you have questions as to whether or not you or your student should receive the vaccine, please contact your health care provider.

 

Please, if your child has a fever over 100, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, vomiting, nausea and/or diarrhea, do not send your student to school.  Please contact your school nurse to share this information as soon as possible.

 

Our current data is such, that it has been necessary to close classrooms and should the rate of positivity continue within the district, we may have to close entire buildings / district.

 

Any time you have questions or concerns please contact your child’s physician or the nurse at your student’s school. 

 

Mercedes Lain still missing; Child's parents and Justin Miller in jail

The man last seen in Plymouth with a missing 11-month old girl is in jail.  

 

Meanwhile, Mercedes Lain remains missing.  Reports indicate she was with Justin Miller, 37, at a hotel when she was last seen.  The FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team (CARD) and Indiana State Police are assisting Plymouth Police.

 

Miller and his vehicle were found in Starke County early Monday morning.  He had also been seen in Marshall and St. Joseph counties over the last few days. 

 

The girl’s parents, Kenny Lain and Tiffany Coburn, and Miller are in the Marshall County Jail held on neglect of a dependent.  The parents left Mercedes in Miller’s care.  It was the child’s father that filed a missing person’s report on Sunday.

 

Mercedes was last seen in a white onesie with pink trim.

 

Plymouth Police Chief Dave Bacon.

 

 

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the girl being found.

 

U.S. 421 to be closed north of Francesville

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces a road closure for U.S. 421 between Gordon St and C.R. 300 S beginning on or after Monday, August 23.

 

The road will be closed for approximately five weeks for a culvert and storm sewer line replacement. Motorists should seek an alternate route.

 

The official detour will follow State Road 16, State Road 39 and State Road 14.

Justin Miller arrested while search for Mercedes Lain continues

Justin Lee Miller, 37, has been arrested on a neglect of a dependent charge and held in the Marshall County Jail.

 

The FBI confirmed its involvement in the case that prompted a Silver Alert through the Plymouth Police Department.

 

FBI Indianapolis

@FBIIndianapolis

FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) team assisting Plymouth PD in search for missing 11 month old Mercedes Lain. Last seen Thursday. May require medical assistance. Blonde hair Brown eyes 2 feet tall 19 pounds Call 911 or Plymouth PD at 574-936-2126 with information.

Image

 

 

 

Original Silver Alert release

The Plymouth Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Mercedes Lain.

 

Mercedes is described as an 11 month old white female, two-feet tall, 19 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.  

 

She was last seen with Justin Lee Miller, a 37-year old white male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.  Miller was driving a blue 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee with an Indiana plate of BOT126.

 

 

Mercedes is missing from Plymouth and was last seen on Thursday, August 12, 9:00 pm.  She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

 

If you have any information on Mercedes Lain, contact the Plymouth Police Department at 574-936-2126 or 911.

Gov. Holcomb signs House Bill 1006

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Monday ceremoniously signed House Bill 1006 at the Indiana Law Enforcement  Academy.

 

The governor, along with Rep. Greg Steuerwald, Rep. Robin Shackleford and other members of the general assembly, touted the bipartisan support and passing of House Enrolled Act 1006.

 

"There were many that said it couldn't be done but we proved here in the state of Indiana that we can take on tall challenges and emerge on the other side in a much better position and that's exactly what we did with the enhancements that are going to occur at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy by passing 1006," said Gov. Holcomb. "This is just a critically important step and long overdue."

 

HEA 1006:

  • Allocates $70 million to update the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy
  • Establishes a procedure allowing the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board to decertify an officer who participates in criminal misconduct
  • Creates an employee record-sharing process between law enforcement agencies.

LARE grants benefit 26 lake, stream projects, several in Fulton, surrounding counties

 

Twenty-one Indiana counties will receive funds to use to improve local water bodies, thanks to $1,450,800 in grants awarded by DNR Director Dan Bortner through the Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program.

The grants will fund projects on four lakes and 22 rivers and streams in 21 counties. Funded projects must be completed within a two-year timeframe.

Most of the projects aim to improve water quality by addressing sediment and nutrient inputs into lakes and streams. Improved water quality helps to ensure continued viability for fish and wildlife as well as improve recreational opportunities in Indiana.

Four new watershed land treatment projects provide cost-share and incentive payments to local farmers to implement practices that reduce sediment and nutrient loss. Eligible practices include filter strips, pollinator plots, fencing, and grassed waterways, among others. Watershed land treatment projects require local knowledge and relationships with producers and therefore are only awarded to Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

LARE grants are funded through the annual LARE fee paid by boat owners when they register their watercraft with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This user-funded program benefits boaters all over the state. The grants allow for the completion of projects that would be difficult for local organizations to fund on their own. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and local sponsors share a portion of the cost.

 

Chapman Lakes (Kosciusko),  Feasibility Study,   $31,600

Deeds Creek (Kosciusko),  Dam Removal,  $25,000

Dillon Creek Tributary (Kosciusko),  Stream Design-Build,  $76,000

Eel River (Cass),  Dam Removal,  $100,000

Koontz Lake (Marshall),  Wetland Enhancement,  $100,000

Lake Bruce (Fulton & Pulaski),  Water Quality Monitoring,  $46,800

Lake Maxinkuckee (Marshall),  Wetland Enhancement,  $46,400

Silver Lake (Kosciusko),  Water Quality Monitoring,  $54,800

Wabash River (Wabash),  Stream Design,  $40,000

Webster Lake (Kosciusko),  Shoreline Design-Build,  $96,900

Yellow River (Marshall),  Watershed Land Treatment,  $25,000 

 

 

 

 

Silver Alert issued by Plymouth Police

The Plymouth Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Mercedes Lain.

 

Mercedes is described as an 11 month old white female, two-feet tall, 19 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.  

 

She was last seen with Justin Lee Miller, a 37-year old white male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.  Miller was driving a blue 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee with an Indiana plate of BOT126.

 

 

Mercedes is missing from Plymouth and was last seen on Thursday, August 12, 9:00 pm.  She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

 

If you have any information on Mercedes Lain, contact the Plymouth Police Department at 574-936-2126 or 911.

Fulton County update on vaccine availability amidst rising Covid-19 cases

Fulton County Immunization Clerk Misty Hopkins released the following information regarding vaccinations and rising cases of Covid-19:

 

With the number of positive cases for Covid-19 on the rise in Fulton County we want to remind the public to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing along with hand washing.

The best way to decrease your risk of serious illness is to get vaccinated.

Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop or if you have been in contact with someone positive.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/index.html

 

Covid-19 Testing Locations

 

Woodlawn Hospital -1400 E 9th St. Rochester, 574-223-3141

*Must have a doctor’s order

 

Walgreens - 906 Main St. Rochester, is offering free, contactless COVID-19 testing for patients age 3 and up, in partnership with the PWNHealth provider network.

Appointments may be limited or delayed based on capacity.

 

Appointments preferred and can be made online or through the Walgreens app.

 

For Covid Vaccination and testing questions call (574) 223-3249 and press 1 to schedule an appointment. You must press 1 to schedule an appointment, as store staff does not make appointments.

 

CVS - 1910 Main St, Rochester, contactless COVID-19 testing for patients age 3 and up.

Appointments required. Register online or through the CVS app.

 

Free for most insurances.

 

Hours are Monday-Friday 10-5, Saturday-Sunday 11-4

 

For Covid testing questions or help acquiring an appointment please call the store

at 574-224-4304.

 

 

The Fulton County Health Department Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic is at 125 E. 9th St. Rochester, will be open 8:30-11:20 am & 2:00-3:10 pm on the following Thursdays in August and September:

Aug 26

Sept 9

Sept 23

Sept 30

Register online at www.coronavirus.in.gov  . Walks-ins welcome during open hours. Masks are required and social distancing will be practiced.

 

Moderna is available for 18 years and older.  Pfizer is available for 12 years and older.

 

 

Linda Baldwin keeps historical carousel alive with 'Carousel Fun Day' August 28 in Logansport

The annual 'Carousel Fun Day' will be Saturday, August 28 at Riverside Park in Logansport.

 

The festival was started in 2015 by Linda Baldwin, a local business owner who runs Baldwin Accounting with her husband Barry. Keeping the rich history alive at the historic carousel has been important to both Linda and her husband Barry, who are both members of the Dentzel Carousel Committee. 

 

 

Linda says the festival has grown tremendously over the years. 

 

 

The Carousel Fun Days festivities start at 10 am and will go on until 7 pm in Logansport's Riverside Park. Maps for the events and schedules are on their pamphlet that can be picked up in various locations throughout Logansport and surrounding communities, including Baldwin Accounting at 815 Main St in Rochester and our very own WROI Giant FM station. 

 

 

Linda's husband Barry, says the festival has a little bit of something for everyone this year. Their entertainment, vendors, and food are carefully chosen for the event to ensure quality and variety. 

 

Barry says the carousel is a rare, hidden gem for not just the city of Logansport, but the state of Indiana. 

 

 

 

 

Heat advisory for second day in a row

Another day of hot, humid temperatures before relief going into the weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for Thursday much of the state. The advisory is officially in effect from 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST.

High temperatures are expected to reach the middle 90's with the heat index ranging from up to 105.

Hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur. People are advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

 

 

Pulaski County fatal car accident

A man was killed in a Pulaski County car accident.

Pulaksi County Chief Deputy Coroner John R. Behny was called to the scene of a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of US 421 and SR 114 south of Francesville. Jacob A. Gutwein, 25, of Rensselaer, was pronounced dead.  

The cause and manner of death are pending autopsy and toxicology. 

The accident was investigated the by Pulaski County Coroner’ Office and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.   Other responding agencies include the Francesville Fire Department and Pulaski County EMS.

Schultz back to trial in December as prosecution seeks to amend charges

Jury selection is set for December in a second trial for John Schultz, the Rochester teen charged in what prosecutors say was a plot to shoot up schools in Rochester and Caston.

 

A mistrial last month was declared after jurors couldn’t come to an agreement on two of the three charges.

 

Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs says jury selection was a key factor in the trial’s outcome.

 

 

The prosecutor notes that he intends to amend charges against Schultz for the second trial to alleviate any confusion.

 

 

Jury selection will again be in Miami County on December 10.  The trial is scheduled to begin in Fulton County on December 13.

 

 

 

Logansport Financial Corp. announces third quarter dividend

Logansport Financial Corp. (OTCBB – Symbol “LOGN”), an Indiana corporation which is the holding company for Logansport Savings Bank, a State Commercial bank located in Logansport, Indiana, announces that Logansport Financial Corp. has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.40 on each share of its common stock for the third quarter of 2021.

 

The dividend is payable on October 12, 2021 to the holders of record on September 10, 2021.

Heat Advisory in effect Wednesday

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for Wednesday much of the state.

 

The advisory is officially in effect from 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST.

 

High temperatures are expected to reach the lower to middle 90's with the heat index ranging from 95 to 105.

 

Hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur.  People are advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

 

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

 

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.

 

Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

 

Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.

 

 

 

DNR clears most of state to again feed birds as cause of death of songbirds continues

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced that Hoosiers in 76 counties across the state can resume feeding birds but asks that residents of the remaining counties keep their feeders down while the investigation into what is killing songbirds continues.

DNR recommended a statewide moratorium on bird feeding on June 25 to slow the spread of a still-undetermined illness that is killing birds across the state. Hoosiers answered the call, removing feeders, cleaning birdbaths, and submitting more than 3,400 reports of sick or dead birds. DNR biologists believe there to be more than 500 cases in 72 counties that involve a very specific set of clinical signs (crusty eyes, eye discharge, and/or neurological issues).

Based on the data, it appears that the bird illness is consistently affecting specific areas. There is no imminent threat to people, the population of specific bird species, or to the overall population of birds in Indiana.

DNR recommends that residents of the following counties continue to refrain from feeding birds: Allen, Carroll, Clark, Floyd, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Porter, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe, Whitley.

Residents of other counties may again put out their feeders. Seed and suet feeders should be cleaned at least once every two weeks by scrubbing feeders with soap and water, followed by a short soak in a 10% bleach solution. Feeders should be thoroughly rinsed and dried before being filled with birdseed. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned at least one a week with a 10% bleach solution and rinsed thoroughly.

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center’s avian disease experts are working to determine the cause of this disease outbreak. Indiana will continue to support the effort by providing samples to the laboratory.


If you see a sick or dead bird with the above symptoms, report it at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife. Reports help DNR staff continue to track this outbreak.

New trial dates for John Schultz discussed in Fulton Co. court

A new trial date is to be set for one of the Fulton County teens arrested for a plot to shoot up Rochester and Caston schools.


The first trial for John Schultz ended in mistrial when the jury could only come to a guilty verdict on one of the three counts, a meth charge against Schultz.


Prosecutor Michael Marrs says today’s pretrial was simply about looking at calendar dates.

Marrs says they court appears to be satisfied with again seeking jurors in Miami County.

Marrs says Donald Robin, who accepted a plea agreement in the case and testified against Schultz, has returned to the Westville Correctional Center.  He expects defense attorneys to ask for bond for Schultz which he says the state will object to.

Michigan man charged with child molestation

A Michigan man has been charged with child molestation in Miami County.

 

A criminal investigation by Indiana State Police Detective Josh Maller resulted in the arrest of Thomas Brockway, 64, of Alma, MI. Brockway faces two felony charges for child molestation.

 

On August 3, Maller started an investigation after receiving information that two preteen boys had possibly been molested in Miami County. During the investigation, evidence indicated that Brockway had allegedly committed sexual acts on two preteen boys. The purported crimes occurred, on multiple occasions, starting in 2012 through 2017 at a Miami County home.  

 

Brockway was incarcerated in the Miami County Jail.

 

Brockway currently has an address in Alma, MI, but he previously lived in Miami County.

Day achieves Certified Financial Planning Practitioners Status

Alderfer Bergen & Company located in Warsaw at 122 W Market St is pleased to announce that Will Day, a certified financial planner, has been authorized by the Financial Planner Board of Standards to use the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® marks in accordance with CFP Board certification and renewal requirements.

 

Day, a Rochester resident, has been with Alderfer and Bergen since June 2019 and is the only CFP® designee in Fulton County. He has spent the past two years assisting advisors with Individual Retirement Planning, Tax Efficient Small Business Retirement Planning, Retirement Income Strategies for Prospective Retirees, Young Adult Financial Prioritization, Debt Reduction Strategies, and College Saving Strategies. He says being able to help those locally within the small community, is what drives him to succeed. 

 

 

 

Involved in the community he lives in, Day is a member of the Rochester Optimist Club and attends the Akron Church of God. Although he is currently seeing clients for the Warsaw office, he is also willing to meet Fulton County and surrounding county residents where they feel most comfortable.

 

 

Social media post claims student observed via school issued MacBook

The Rochester school administration has responded to a social media post claimed that Rochester schools could watch students via certain apps on their school issued MacBook.

The post was on a Facebook page labeled Phil and Kristina Drubert.  It read:

 

A press release from Superintendent Jana Vance issued today says the school district has been made aware of the social media that alleges misuse with school computers.  Detective Heishman and Sergeant Larry Jolley of the Fulton Co. Sheriff’s Office have been alerted.

The superintendent further writes that no school personnel have the capability to access the camera on a student’s school issued device without the student allowing the access by clicking on the “accept access” button when it pops up on the screen.

Vance says they do have technology installed on every computer which alerts the tech department if and when a student accesses inappropriate websites or are working to load a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which would allow them to access areas of the web the the district deems unnecessary to enhance their education.

Vance says they continue to talk with students individually, as groups, and during convocations to inform them of what they need to do to protect themselves while using technology.  The district also offers parent trainings on how to safeguard dependents while using devices.

House of Decor owner Bill Roe reflects on five decades of business in Rochester

It's been 50 years since the House of Decor started business in Rochester. Bill Roe says it's thanks to the great community that it's still thriving. 

 

Founded by Bob and Freda Roe in 1971, the couple started at a smaller building on East Eighth Street. 

 

Bill used his expertise to grow the 'wallpaper and paint store' into more when he started providing providing flooring, tile, drapery, blinds, and interior design services. In 1990, Bill moved the store to its current location at 401 East 9th Street. 

 

 

Having recently turned 71, Roe still has no plans of retiring in the future and enjoys his working in the office and managing his business. 

 

 

Roe gives credit to the communities support for allowing his business to thrive for five decades. 

 

Roe says the importance of supporting local is not just helping small businesses stay open, it's helping the community stay alive. 

 

 

Nickel Plate Music & Arts Festival downtown Rochester Saturday, August 28

The Nickel Plate Music and Arts Festival is a few weeks away.
 

The festival will be Saturday, August 28, from 10 am to 10 pm in downtown Rochester on East Eighth Street between Main and Madison. The event will host live music, create and take art projects for all ages and from all cultures, art, and food vendors. 

 

Director of Promotions Christine Walsh said the day will include live music from the Rochester High School band and three live bands, with several local well-recognized musicians in between. 

 

Encouraging and embracing culture and art history with hands-on activities, the festival will have crafts based on art from all over the world. There will also be face painting and henna artists, balloon art, and face cut-out photo ops throughout the block.  

 

This year's event will also have a petting zoo with a  twist. 

 

 

The Nickel Plate Music and Arts Festival is also holding a contest for someone local to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at the festival. The contest started July 19 and will end August 22.   To enter, post a video of you singing the National Anthem in the comments of the post on the Nickle Plate Music and Arts Festival Facebook page. The person with the most likes will sing the National Anthem live at noon on August 28th and be the winner of $25 Chamber Bucks.

 

Christine says they're also looking for volunteers for the festival. 

 

 

Pulaski County Tribe receives $4,850 grant from Indiana Arts Commission

The Indiana Arts Commission announced it had recently awarded the Pulaski County Tribe $4,850 through the Arts Project Support grant program. The grant will be used for the 'Art in the Park' project at Winamac Town Park. 

 

The Pulaski County Tribe, a new non for profit organization, was founded by Brandi Larkin, in an effort of building up the community to work together and make it a great place to live and 'chase the pace.'

 

 

The newest project will be focusing on investing in, restoring, and beautifying a historic artisan well on the west side of Winamac Town Park. 

 

 

Brandi says the Pulaski County Tribe's efforts have been a domino effect throughout the community. 

 

 

Brandi says anyone in the Pulaski County community interested in joining is welcome. 

 

 

 

 

Fulton County looks to 2027 road projects

You'll find plenty of local and state roads projects to keep you changing routes of travel this summer.  Meanwhile, Fulton County Commissioners are planning projects years in advance in an effort to secure federal dollars.

 

Commissioner Steve Metzger says the county highway superintendent is looking several years down the road.

 

 

Engineering consultants USI are identifying projects for the 2027 year.

 

 

The commissioner notes some areas that have already been pinpointed.

 

 

OrthoPediatrics Corp. and Mighty Oak Medical extend exclusive partnership for FIREFLY Technology

OrthoPediatrics Corp. (“OrthoPediatrics” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: KIDS), and Mighty Oak Medical, Inc. have announced the continuation of their navigation partnership, extending its current five-year deal another five years to August 2027.

 

Since August 2017, OrthoPediatrics has been the exclusive distributor of Mighty Oak Medical’s FIREFLY Technology in children’s hospitals across the United States. This extended agreement will allow the Company to continue that exclusivity through August 2027.

 

Manufactured by Might Oak Medical, FIREFLY® Pedicle Screw Navigation Guides are 3D printed and patient-specific at each planned vertebral level. FIREFLY® Guides address the clear market need for a navigation solution that does not rely on intraoperative radiation, making the technology ideally suited for longer construct cases. OrthoPediatrics regards this partnership as a great synergy and has enjoyed working with Mighty Oak Medical to make scoliosis easier for surgeons, and surgery safer for KIDS.

 

“Our partnership with OrthoPediatrics is based on a shared mission and passion to help each child who is experiencing a medical challenge. Knowing how much is at stake, the Mighty Oak team has dedicated itself to providing the most detailed concierge presurgical plans, the most exact spine models, and the most accurate patient-specific spine guides available anywhere in the world. It is an honor to work with OrthoPediatrics’ talented sales team and with the pediatric spine surgeons who have embraced FIREFLY Technology in their pursuit of improved surgical outcomes for their young patients. With this extension, we look forward to many more successful years and many more children being positively impacted by FIREFLY,” stated Heidi Frey, President of Mighty Oak Medical.

 

OrthoPediatrics Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer Fred Hite, said, “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Mighty Oak Medical. Together, we have helped children all over the world and look forward to supporting the ongoing needs of pediatric orthopedic surgeons with this technology!”

 

About OrthoPediatrics Corp.
Founded in 2006, OrthoPediatrics is an orthopedic company focused exclusively on advancing the field of pediatric orthopedics. As such it has developed the most comprehensive product offering to the pediatric orthopedic market to improve the lives of children with orthopedic conditions. OrthoPediatrics currently markets 36 surgical systems that serve three of the largest categories within the pediatric orthopedic market. This product offering spans trauma and deformity, scoliosis, and sports medicine/other procedures. OrthoPediatrics’ global sales organization is focused exclusively on pediatric orthopedics and distributes its products in the United States and 45 countries outside the United States. For more information, please visit www.orthopediatrics.com.

About Mighty Oak Medical
Mighty Oak is a medical device incubator and a leader in 3DS printed, patient-specific solutions for the spine. Our robust patent portfolio, both US and worldwide, and pipeline of patient-specific devices for the spine, is unparalleled. By combining the talents of experienced spine surgeons and biomedical engineers, spine surgeries can be made safer and more efficient. Our mission is to improve surgical outcomes in a manner that is both cost-effective and patient centered. We have the freedom to focus on innovative solutions, and our team is developing many exciting and disruptive products that meet these objectives. For more information, please contact info@mightyoakmedical.com.

More time for READI planning for partnership featuring Fulton Co.

Governor Holcomb announced an extended submission deadline for the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), providing regions an additional 30 days to submit proposals – now due on or before Sept. 30.

Each of the regions spanning participation across 91 counties will continue working to collaborate and develop bold, strategic plans to accelerate small- and large-scale growth within their communities and work to secure matching funds through the state’s $500 million initiative. Regions may be further refined or consolidated in the coming weeks. 

The North Central region is led by the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council Counties: Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton

Proposals will be reviewed throughout October and November, and first round investment decisions will be made and announced in December. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions and a map of all the identified regions, is available at IndianaREADI.com. 

Mother of three siblings killed in 2018 crash reminds drivers to watch out for buses this back-to-school season

Brittany Ingle, the mother of the three siblings killed in a Fulton County bus crash on October 30, 2018, reminds drivers that 'stop means stop' this back-to-school season.

 

Brittany hopes that the legacy of her children through the MAX Strong Act prevents future tragedies. The Act passed in 2019 strengthened school bus safety laws in Indiana. 

 

 

Brittany, now a public advocate for school bus safety, was a huge push behind the Act. 

 

The MAX Strong Act also made a law that gave school districts new deadlines for bus routes. 

 

 

Brittany hopes more people will be aware and adhere to school bus safety rules more vigilantly.

 

 

Fulton Co. Sheriff's Office to ramp up safety measures for kids headed back to school

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office announced that it will be increasing patrols this back-to-school season to protect students going to and from school.

Starting as early as next week, officers will be out in greater numbers watching for stop-arm violations and motorists driving dangerously along school bus stops and in school zones.

This is all part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement program, or SAVE blitz, which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

“With students heading back to the classroom, we need everyone to slow down, pay attention to the road and stop for buses,” said Sheriff Chris Sailors. “We’ll be on high-alert this back-to-school season and have zero tolerance for unsafe driving around buses and in school zones. There’s nothing more important to us than the safety of our children.”

The department joins more than 200 across the state that will be participating in this year’s SAVE blitz, which is scheduled to last until mid-September. As part of the effort, officers will be working with bus drivers and school transportation officials to identify areas where the high-visibility patrols are needed the most.

In the spring, departments that participated in the last enforcement campaign issued more than 5,600 citations and 1,700 warnings. Of the citations, 251 were for stop-arm violations, 309 for texting while driving and an alarming amount, nearly 1,900, were for speeding.

In Indiana, it’s against the law for motorists to pass a bus that’s stopped and has its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. This applies to all roads, with one exception. Motorists who are on a highway that is divided by a barrier, such as a cable barrier, concrete wall or grassy median, are required to stop only if they are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.

“If you’re driving and see those yellow flashing lights, slow down and be prepared to stop,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “Don’t try to beat the bus. Give yourself plenty of time or just arrive late. Rest assured, it’s better than getting a ticket or possibly taking someone’s life.”

According to NHTSA, the greatest risk to a student isn’t riding a bus but approaching or leaving one, so drivers are encouraged to slow down, put away the distractions and watch for buses at all times. It’s also important for parents to talk to their child about school bus safety.

Children should always look both ways before crossing the street and arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. At the bus stop, they should stay six feet (five steps) away from the curb, and always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and for the bus driver’s signal to board. Remind children that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.

Click here for additional school bus safety tips, or to learn more about the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, please visit www.co.fulton.in.us/sheriff.

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