2021 graduation rates released by Indiana DOE

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) released the 2021 state graduation rates, with data showing 86.69% of students in the Class of 2021 graduating.


"Across our state, our educators, families and community leaders are working to be difference-makers in our students' lives, preparing them not only for graduation but for the rapidly-changing world that awaits,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “Looking ahead into 2022 and beyond, we must continue to work together to ensure our students earn their high school diploma and have access to intentional post-secondary credentials in high school. This mission takes all of us as we strive to make an impact on our students' lives, now and well into the future."


State graduation rates 

Rochester - 93.28%

Tippecanoe Valley - 91.79%

Caston - 93.48%

Argos - 89.80

Culver Community - 81.63%


A spreadsheet with statewide-, corporation- and school-level graduation data is available here.


These graduation rates correspond with research that shows that the academic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are substantial. According to research from IDOE and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc., the academic impact ranges from moderate to significant across schools, academic subjects and demographic groups. In response, IDOE launched several accelerated learning programs, which are still underway and will be joined by additional efforts planned for next year.


This year, nearly 40% of Hoosier students graduated with a Core 40 honors diploma (academic, technical or both) or an International Baccalaureate diploma. Additionally, more than 78% graduated without requiring a waiver from passing the Graduation Qualifying Exam – an increase of nearly two percentage points from 2019.


Due to differences between federal and state accountability equations and standards, IDOE also released 2021 federal graduation rates. In 2021, Indiana’s federal graduation rate was 85.75%.

Peru man and son, age 1, killed in Grant Co. crash

A Miami County man and his young son were killed in a Grant County car crash.


Braden Kaylor, 23, was driving a Toyota Scion on Indiana 37 just after 7:30 am on Christmas Eve.  Kaylor's vehicle crossed the center line and struck an oncoming GMC Yukon.


Kaylor’s vehicle went down into the ditch and caught fire. Kaylor and his one-year-old son were pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma injuries.  The child was in a car seat.


Four of the passengers in the Yukon was treated and released from the hospital.  A fifth was airlifted from the scene with a leg injury.


Results from blood tests are pending as the investigation continues.



Supreme Court ruling on special session power months away as legislature begins session

As the Indiana legislature returns to the Statehouse next week for the upcoming session, the lawsuit between the governor and lawmakers hangs over Indianapolis after the legislature overrode Governer Holcomb’s veto of a bill that allows lawmakers to call themselves into a special session to deal with an emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The legal fight over the increased power Indiana legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies will be going before the state Supreme Court.  But that's months away.


Previously, only the governor could convene a special session. Holcomb's lawsuit argues that the Legislature is "usurping a power given exclusively to the governor" under the state constitution.


A Marion County judge upheld the new law.  After reviewing the ruling, Holcomb's lawyers filed an appeal asking the Indiana Supreme Court to take up the case in order to get “clarity and finality on this important issue.” 


So, what effect, if any, on the session that will begin and conclude before that?   


Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch doesn’t think it will get in the way of lawmakers duty during the session.



Crouch says unprecedented times sometimes lead to disputes such as this one.



The Lt. Governor says it’s good the issue is going before the state’s highest court.



The Supreme Court's order sets an April 7 hearing for oral arguments in the case.

Public's help requested on campsite reservation scam

Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating a potential scam where unsuspecting Hoosiers are being duped when booking campsites.

The public’s assistance is being sought in the investigation where a third party fraudulently advertises and rents campsites to Hoosiers, who then upon arrival, find the site they paid for not available.

Instances of this scam could date back as far as July 2021. 

If you have utilized a third party on social media for reserving a site for this upcoming year, you may be a victim of this scam.

State properties of interest include Trine State Recreation Area, Spring Mill State Park, Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Greene Sullivan State Forest, and McCormick’s Creek State Park.

If you believe you have been or are currently a victim of this scam, please contact our Indiana Conservation Officer Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

Hoosiers are reminded to only make reservations for DNR properties via the official DNR website at Camp.IN.gov or the DNR Reservation Line at 866-622-6746.     

Sentence handed down for man convicted of woman's beating in Pulaski Co.

A sentenceof 28 years was handed down in Pulaski County court for a man charged with the severe beating of a woman.


Pulaski County Prosecutor Kelly Gaumer says Billie Minix was sentenced after being found guilty last month by a jury for aggravated battery, confinement and intimidation.  Gaumer presented evidence that Minix brutally beat a woman for no reason in November of 2018.  Evidence stated that the woman entered a mobile home she was rehabbing with the permission of the owner.  Minix was inside and beat the woman with a bat, a steel-toed boot and a broom handle.


The prosecutor says the woman could not positively identify Minix as her attacker.  However, DNA from the victim's blood on Minix's clothing proved to be the decisive factor in identification.


The victim sustained permanent brain damage, a broken leg and other injuries.  


Gaumer says the jurors were not told about Minix's prior offenses.  Minix has been to prison six times for different offenses.  That includes a felony battery conviction in Starke County for beating another woman with a pipe.  


Minix was also convicted for breaking a TV and other equipment at the Pulaski County Jail while awaiting his trial.  He was transferred to the Department of Corrections for the remainder of the trial.


With credit time, the 59-year old Minix will serve nearly 21 years in prison.


Minix announced his intention to appeal the conviction after his sentence.

Man killed by falling branch in Cass County accident

A Peru man was killed Thursday by a falling tree branch.

First responders were called to the 6000 block of Cass County Road 1100 South.  Jason Johnston, 47, was struck by a falling tree branch while cutting and dragging logs with a co-worker for the Conner Saw Mill of Walton.

The accident happened about a quarter mile off the road.

The Cass County Sheriff’s office, Walton Police Department, Logansport Police Department, Galveston Fire Department, Walton Fire Department, Logansport Fire Department, Cass County EMS and Cass County Coroner’s Office were at the scene.



Unemployment drops in Fulton and neighboring counties

Fulton and four surrounding counties have unemployment rates less than the state average in the latest report from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.


Indiana's unemployment rate in November was 2.1%.  (According to the map below) Fulton County's 2.0 percent is down four-tenths of a point from the previous month.


Wabash, Kosciusko, and Marshall counties also dropped four-tenths of a point from October to November.  Pulaski was also below the state rate, down three-tenths of a point.


Cass (2.2%), Starke (2.4%) and Miami (3.0) counties also experienced individual decreases from October to November but stayed above the state's rate.




CANCELLED Silver Alert: Madisyn Merrill, 12, Logansport

This has been cancelled.


The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the disappearance of Madisyn Merrill, a 12-year old white female, 5 feet tall, 120 pounds, blonde hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a black sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, and light colored tennis shoes.


Madisyn is missing from Logansport and was last seen on Thursday, December 23, 2021 at 3:32 am.  She is believed to be in extreme danger. 


If you have any information on Madisyn Merrill, contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Department at 574-722-6060 or 911.

Fulton County Solid Waste District reminds community to sort their recycling

The Fulton County Solid Waste District reminds the community to please sort their recycling.




The holidays make for an even busier time for the district's employees. Executive Director Stacy Hart asks everyone tp pay extra attention to the signs posted and rinse all their items before throwing them in the bins.


Also, Hart asks everyone to keep in mind that ribbon, bows and foil wrapping paper are not recyclable and belong in the trash. 



Hart says those not following directions can contaminate the entire bin, ruining everything. If in doubt, please call and ask for more information at 574-223-4939.



Hart said they appreciate all the ones who do do their part in sorting and rinsing their recycling. They have eight drop-off sites throughout Fulton County. 



The site that seems to keep giving them the most problems is the site on Wabash Ave. Hart says cameras have been installed to try and discourage problems.  Footage of those dumping at any of the sites can be turned over to police. 



Fulton Co. Airport awarded funds by FAA

Area airports will share in a portion of nearly $34 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration from funding made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


63 Indiana airports received funding that can be invested in runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.


Fulton County Airport, Rochester - $110, 000

Arens Field, Winamac - $110, 000

Peru Municipal - $159, 000

Wabash Municipal - $110, 000


This is the first of five annual rounds of funding Indiana airports will receive.



Several cows killed in crash, rollover on interstate

18 cows were killed in an interstate crash Monday.


About 4:30 pm, a tractor trailer was attempting to enter the westbound lanes of I-80 from the Indiana Toll Road (I-90).  The preliminary investigation revealed that the driver entered the curve at a speed too fast and lost control of the truck.  The truck, a 2013 Peterbilt operated by Kash Livestock Express, of South Dakota,  and trailer then entered the westbound lanes of I-80/94 where it rolled over.  The vehicle rolled into the path of a van which resulted in the van striking the overturned vehicle.


As a result of the crash, approximately 18 cattle were released from the trailer with the remaining 72 trapped inside the trailer.  16 cows died at the scene, some of those were due to injuries as a result of the crash and some had to be euthanized by the veterinarians that responded to the scene. 


The driver of the truck, Jared Kroeger, 25, from Lennox, South Dakota, was cited for driving at a speed greater than is reasonable.  Neither driver was injured. 


The cattle were being transported from Ohio to Nebraska.


Interstate lanes were shut down for approximately 6 hours with only one lane of traffic open.


Precision Towing was contacted for removal of the vehicles. Veterinarians were contacted from the Westchester Animal Clinic located in Chesterton, for assistance with the injured animals.




Indiana reports first COVID-19 case involving Omicron variant

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced that it has detected the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in a specimen collected from an unvaccinated Indiana resident. No additional details about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.

The variant was detected through the IDOH Laboratories’ variant surveillance program. The specimen was collected Dec. 9, and the patient was notified of the positive test. The sequencing to detect a variant was then conducted, and the Omicron variant was detected this weekend.

Indiana was one of just seven states in which Omicron had not yet been detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Omicron variant is the latest mutation of the virus that causes COVID-19. The World Health Organization labeled it a variant of concern on Nov. 26. Studies have shown that the variant spreads more easily and faster than the Delta variant.

The CDC says COVID-19 vaccines are expected to continue to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from the Omicron variant. Evidence shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received a booster dose are best protected against this variant.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said the latest mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus underscores the importance of getting vaccinated and taking other steps to prevent the spread of illness, especially as Hoosiers move indoors during the colder winter months and gather for the holidays.

“COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Indiana, and we do not want this variant to increase the burden on our already stressed healthcare system,” Box said. “While we are still learning about Omicron, we already have the tools and knowledge we need to protect ourselves and the people we love from COVID-19. I urge eligible Hoosiers to use those tools as soon as possible to limit the further spread of disease.”

The following steps can help protect Hoosiers from COVID-19, including the Omicron variant:

  • Get fully vaccinated if eligible, and get a booster if you are age 16 or older
  • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings
  • Get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid crowds

Individuals aged 5 and older are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To find a vaccination site, visit www.ourshot.in.gov. Pediatric sites are marked with a red pin on the map. For testing information, visiting www.coronavirus.in.gov.

Information about the Omicron variant will be added to the COVID-19 dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov this week.




Rochester schools superintendent addresses national TikTok threat; increased police presence Friday

A post that has been recognized by school districts across the nation as a threat to school safety is being scrutinized locally.


Rochester Superintendent Jana Vance posted the following letter regarding the situation:


Rochester Community School Corporation has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.


The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.


Additionally, the district has been in contact with local law enforcement regarding the post. We will have an increased police presence in our buildings on Friday as an added precaution.


This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online. 


If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away.


As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.

Gov. Holcomb announces all Hoosiers taxpayers to receive a tax refund

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced an estimated 4.3 million taxpayers will receive a $125 refund after they file their 2021 taxes.


“Despite a pandemic, Indiana exceeded all expectations and closed the state fiscal year with an unprecedented amount in reserves,” said Gov. Holcomb. “We have an obligation to put this money back in the hands of taxpayers instead of leaving it in the hands of government.”


An estimated $545 million will be returned to Hoosiers after taxpayers file their 2021 state taxes. The Governor is working with leaders of the general assembly on legislation that will streamline the process and make an additional 910,000 taxpayers eligible for the credit. The typical taxpayer liability is approximately $1000. This payment represents a 12-13% one-time tax cut.


Once legislation passes, the Department of Revenue (DOR) will begin processing payments for taxpayers.


The form of taxpayer payments will be based on how the 2021return was filed. Taxpayers who apply for an extension will receive the payment after filing their return.


DOR expects to complete refunds for taxpayers filing by the April 18, 2022, filing deadline by May 1, 2022. Once the details are finalized DOR will provide additional information in 2022.

Pulaski County Council public hearing brings in residents, farmers concerned about job loss

The room was packed Monday evening at the Pulaski County Highway Department Garage during the Pulaski County Council's public hearing regarding the Economic Revitalization Area request for purposes of tax abatement. 



The hearing itself lasted over two hours and followed a joint meeting with Pulaski County Commissioners and County Council members where a resolution was considered by the commissioners which would authorize them to execute the Economic Development Agreement with County Attorney Kevin Tankersley.


The agreement has yet to be finalized, but will address the cost benefits of  business in Pulaski County, the return on investments, and what advantages their development will bring financially through the county. 


The resolution was approved by Commission President Chuck Mellon and Commissioner Mike McClure.  



Local farmers, residents and many members of the group 'Pulaski County Against Solar,' voiced their concerns about the solar farm affecting the small community. Out of the almost two dozen people speaking, only four were in approval of the project.


The solar project will include the installation of panels on several thousand acres of agricultural land in Rich Grove, Jefferson, Franklin, Monroe and Beaver Townships in Pulaski County, with a $1 billion investment. The utility property abatement would be for 20 years which would result in an estimated property tax savings of over $40 million, but Mammoth Solar would provide $34.6 million in minimum Economic Development payments to the county over a 20-year period.


One negative impact pointed out during the meeting by Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer was that the project could cause a decline in jobs and wages in the county. 


Local resident and farmer Chris Brucker was among those who spoke during the hearing.



Others like resident Edward Cottinger were short, but to the point. 



The Pulaski County Council ended the evening with a normally scheduled council meeting, where members agreed, by majority vote, to delay a decision on the Economic Revitalization Area resolution until their January 10 meeting. The delay was given for more time to process all of the financial information presented by Baker Tilly, the impact analysis conducted by Impact DataSource, LLC, and public comment given during the public hearing. 


The council also unanimously voted to approve a resolution that moves a public hearing and final determination of an ERA designation for the Moss Creek Solar project to the next council meeting on January 10. 

$30 million READI funds awarded to Fulton County and NCIRPC group

Fulton County's regional partnership in the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council (NCIRPC) has resulted in $30 million awarded during the  Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) announced Tuesday.


The North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council (NCIRPC) included six counties:  Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami and Tipton.


Seventeen Indiana regions submitted a READI Vision and were awarded a total of $500 million.  The maximum for a region to receive was $50 million.  Five regions received the max including a region of northwestern Indiana and clusters in the Evansville, Fort Wayne, South Bend and New Albany areas.


Fulton County plans to leverage their portion of funds for quality of life and workforce attraction opportunities including new multifamily housing opportunities, a long sought-after hotel development and other infrastructure developments within the county.


Fulton County Commissioners and the Fulton County Council committed the funds necessary to joinother cities and counties in the region in retaining Indianapolis-based HWC Engineering. HWC led the process, compiled the plan, and completed the successful final application.


The award followed four months of planning and collaborating with others within the region. Representatives most involved in the process included Interim Director of Fulton Economic Development Corporation (FEDCO), Tiffany Futrell; Director of Development for the Fulton County Community Foundation,Brian Johnson; Former Executive Director of FEDCO, Terry Lee; Fulton County Council member, Randy Sutton and Rochester Community School Corporation Superintendent, Jana Vance.  The Fulton County Steering Committee listed above would like to thank all Fulton County employers and residents who participated in the planning of the plan.


Following administrative processes that are required, it is anticipated that work on projects will begin in 2022.

Sheena Pearson opens Lakeside Design Company on Rochester's East Ninth St.

Lakeside Design Company opened its doors for the first time last week. For owner Sheena Pearson, it's a passion that has turned into a career. 



Lakeside Designs Company provides design services, homemade gifts, refurbished furniture and more. 


Sheena's eccentric style and inspiration is always blooming and she can't wait to see what the future holds for her little store.


The store is open Monday thru Friday from 10am-6pm and Saturday from 9am to 4pm. 


Person killed in Kosciusko County crash identified

The victim of a fatal one-car crash and fire in Kosciusko County has now been identified.


Just before 5:30 am on December 4, emergency personnel were dispatched to a single vehicle collision on CR 500 E, approximately one-half mile north of CR 650 N.  A passerby located a vehicle with significant fire damage.


The preliminary results of the investigation, conducted by the KCSO Fatal Team, indicate that Makensie Thomas, 17, of Syracuse, was the sole occupant of a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze that was traveling northbound on CR 500 E prior to the impact.  The Cruze left the east side of CR 500 E and struck a tree, in the heavy fog conditions.


Due to the damage extent, nontraditional identification methods using DNA were subsequently used to identify Thomas as the crash victim.

Kosciusko Co. Sheriff's Office looking for Thomas Moore

The last contact with Thomas Walter Moore, Jr., of Syracuse, occurred on December 9, 2021, in Goshen; when he left work in his 2018 Kia Soul.


Moore’s whereabouts or potential destination are currently unknown.


Anyone with information is urged to contact their local law enforcement agency or the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office at (574) 267-5667. 

Caston's Delaney Strasser receives Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship

Delaney Strasser, a Caston High School graduating senior has been named the 2022 Fulton County Community Foundation Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.


Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are known for their community involvement,academic achievement, character and leadership.


Delaney is the daughter of Adam and Scarlett Strasser and plans to study Veterinary Medicine. Delaney has been member of Key Club, Fulton County Youth Leadership Academy, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Yearbook Business/Chief Editor, National Honor Society, HNAC English Team, Student Advisory Committee, Caston Christian Club, Cross County, Track, and Basketball while in school. She also participates in a number of volunteer programs throughout the county.  


The other students who were finalists and interviewed for the scholarship were Reagan Becker of Rochester High School, Elena Bode of Rochester High School, Cheney Canada of Tippecanoe Valley High School, and Peyton Hiatt of Rochester High School.


Each Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university.Lilly Endowment Community Scholars may also participate in the Lilly Scholars Network (LSN), which connects scholars with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. Both the scholarship program and LSN are supported by grants from Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).


During the selection process, the identities of the applicants are removed from the applications before the Committee scores applicants on academic performance, volunteer and paid work, school activities and honors, as well as essays. Five finalists are then selected to write an impromptu essay and invited to a personal interview with the Scholarship Committee. The Committee submitted the top finalists to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. (ICI) for the final selection of the recipient. 


The quality of applications this year was amazing, you can tell these students dedicate a lot of time and effort into theirschoolwork and extracurricular activities.” – Alison Heyde, NICF Scholarship Coordinator.


Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Programfor the 1998-1999 school year and has supported the program every year since with tuition grants totaling in excess of$439 million. More than5,000 Indiana students have received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship since the program’s inception. The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are: 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.


Lilly Endowment Inc.is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development,educationandreligion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.


Since 1997,Independent Colleges of Indianahas administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates. 



Hunter hospitalized after boat sinks on Webster Lake

A hunter is hospitalized after his boat sank on Webster Lake Saturday morning.


Kosciusko County Dispatch Center was contacted by a residential alarm company after they were alerted to an unauthorized residential entry to a home on Webster Lake.


Despite frigid temperatures and wind gusts forecast to reach up to 50 miles per hour, Trenton Stackhouse, 27, of Milford, and Darick Stiles, 27, of Warsaw, set out to waterfowl hunt on Webster Lake near Epworth Forest.


After getting underway, the men quickly realized the conditions were too difficult to overcome.  The men attempted to gather their decoys and return to the boat ramp, when large waves overtook their jon boat and it began to sink.


Moments before their boat became fully submerged, Stackhouse and Stiles unsuccessfully attempted to don their lifejackets and were forced to grab several waterfowl decoys and a floating gun case for buoyancy to swim the several hundred yards to shore.


Once on shore, Stackhouse became unresponsive due to severe hypothermia. Stiles then entered an unoccupied home to find shelter to save Stackhouse.

Stackhouse was transported to Kosciusko Community Hospital with severe hypothermia.  


The incident is still under investigation.


Indiana Conservation Officers remind the public that Indiana law requires life jackets to be readily accessible and in good condition for all boat occupants while underway.  Hunters utilizing watercraft should also plan for severe environmental conditions associated with strong winds and storms.


Responding agencies include North Webster Police Department, North Webster Fire Department, North Webster EMS, and Indiana Conservation Officers.

Rochester Police asking public's assistance in VFW burglary

Local authorities have released the following contact information as they seek the public's assistance investigating the recent break-in and burglary at VFW Post 1343 in Rochester.


Original story on Fulton County Post and GIANT fm News

Rochester Police are investigating a break-in at the VFW Post in Rochester.


The incident happened overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, possibly early Wednesday morning.  The Rochester Police report that some money was taken from the VFW, 1703 Federal Road.  Damage to some windows was also reported.


Rochester Police tell GIANT fm News and the Fulton County Post that they are still gathering information from different workers at VFW Post 1343 to verify anything that may be missing.


The break-in was reported by someone who had arrived there on Wednesday to open the building.









North Judson woman crashed into police car; BAC nearly twice legal limit

A Starke County woman was arrested after crashing into a police car.


About 11:00 pm Thursday Indiana State Police troopers responded to I-80 / 94.  Preliminary investigation shows that a Lake Station Police car was traveling eastbound when it was rear-ended by another vehicle.  Both vehicles pulled over to the right shoulder. 


The Lake Station Police Department contacted the Lowell Post to take a crash report.  During the crash investigation, troopers determined that the driver of the 2017 Mazda had consumed alcoholic beverages and administered field sobriety tests.  The driver, Ashley Kretchmer, 20, from North Judson, was later transported to the Lake County Jail where she failed a certified chemical test for intoxication.  She registered .17% B.A.C. (Blood Alcohol Content), the legal limit in Indiana being .08%.  She is preliminarily facing the following charges:


  • W.I. Endangering- Class A Misdemeanor
  • W.I. .15% or Above- Class A Misdemeanor
  • Minor Consumption of Alcoholic Beverage- Class C Misdemeanor

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash. 


The 2019 Dodge Charger sustained minor damage to the rear bumper area but was able to be driven from the scene.

Suspect arrested after Culver pursuit spans three counties, damages police vehicle

A man was taken into custody Monday after leading police on a 30 minute pursuit that spanned three counties.


A report was made to the Culver Police Department around 5:30pm Monday about a hit and run by a silver passenger car in the Culver area. The victim of the hit and run was said to still be following the suspect. 


After a Culver Police Department officer attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver reportedly fled. Officers were led on a half an hour pursuit that traveled through parts of Fulton, Pulaski and Marshall counties. During the chase, officers deployed tire deflation devices multiple times, which partially disabled the suspect's vehicle but still did not stop him. It was reported the suspect's vehicle also came into contact with a Culver officer's vehicle three times during the chase, causing damage. 


The driver, identified as Christian Sanderson, 21, of Monterey, was eventually taken into custody at the intersection of State Road 10 and Lakeshore Drive in Culver. He was booked into the Marshall County Jail on preliminary charges of resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license, and leaving the scene of an accident.


Sanderson is also being held for another agency for an active felony warrant. 


Rochester VFW Post reports break-in, money missing

Rochester Police are investigating a break-in at the VFW Post in Rochester.


The incident happened overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, possibly early Wednesday morning.  The Rochester Police report that some money was taken from the VFW, 1703 Federal Road.  Damage to some windows was also reported.


Rochester Police tell GIANT fm News and the Fulton County Post that they are still gathering information from different workers at VFW Post 1343 to verify anything that may be missing.


The break-in was reported by someone who had arrived there on Wednesday to open the building.




Covid cases, hospitilizations on the rise

References to Indiana county - coded reds and oranges and coronavirus dashboards have been fewer in recent days.  That appears to be changing as half of Indiana’s counties are now in the highest-risk level of COVID-19 spread and hospitalizations are reportedly up 25% in the past week.


The Indiana Department of Health says 46 of the state’s 92 counties are in the highest-risk red category.  All other counties in the state are listed as orange except for Crawford in extreme southern Indiana which is in the lower-risk yellow.


Nearly all counties in the state’s northern one-third have red ratings, including Fulton and surrounding counties of Pulaski, Starke, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami, Cass and Wabash.


It's the largest number of high-risk counties since last winter when 73 had red ratings in early January.  Indiana only had three counties in red when the month of November started.

Probationary troopers assigned to the Indiana State Police Peru Post

29 probationary troopers from the 81st Indiana State Police Recruit Academy graduated at a ceremony held in Indianapolis. Three members of the class, Blake Sarver, James Wilkinson, and Dustin Powers were assigned to the Indiana State Police Peru Post.


During their 25 weeks of academy training, the trio received over 600 hours of classroom instruction, as well as nearly 400 hours of hands-on practical scenario-based training. Some of the training included criminal and traffic law, crash investigations, emergency vehicle operations, defensive tactics, firearms, and a host of other subjects related to modern policing. They will be assigned to train with veteran troopers for the next 13 weeks before being released on solo patrol.


Sarver is a Miami County native and 2017 graduate of Maconaquah High School. He is a 2020 graduate of Indiana University in Kokomo, having earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.


Wilkinson is also a Miami County native and a 2016 graduate of Maconaquah High School. He is also a 2020 graduate of Indiana University in Kokomo, having earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.


Powers is a Wabash County native and a 2012 graduate of Wabash High School. He is a 2014 graduate of Vincennes University having earned an associate degree in criminal justice.  

Gov. Holcomb announces state's first-ever naloxone vending machine

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced the placement of Indiana’s first-ever naloxone vending machine at the St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend. The machine is one of 19 to be placed statewide and will be available for use by the public.


“There is no single solution to ending this epidemic that has taken the lives of thousands of Hoosiers,” Gov. Holcomb said. “We can, however, take thoughtful steps to help shake the scourge of addiction from our communities. Naloxone vending machines are a practical tool to prevent overdoses and save lives.”


Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication approved to reverse an overdose from opioids and is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose to block the deadly effects of the overdose.


The vending machines are manufactured by Shaffer Distribution Company and programmed to dispense free naloxone kits. Each kit includes a single dose of naloxone, instructions for use, and a referral to treatment for substance use disorder. The machine holds up to 300 naloxone kits and is free to access.


Overdose Lifeline, Inc., an Indiana nonprofit dedicated to helping those affected by substance use disorder, is partnering with the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to identify jails, hospitals, and other community sites interested in a vending machine to distribute the lifesaving medication. Machines are confirmed to be placed in public areas of the Wayne and DuBois County jails.


Overdose Lifeline will purchase the vending machines using federal grant funds totaling $72,600 made available through DMHA. There is no cost to entities that implement a vending machine.

Douglas Huntsinger, executive director for drug prevention, treatment, and enforcement for the state of Indiana, unveiled the vending machine at a public event Tuesday. Huntsinger was joined by St. Joseph County Sheriff William Redman and Overdose Lifeline Executive Director Justin Phillips.


“We must continue to ensure widespread access to naloxone, given the lingering impact of COVID-19 and the increased supply of fentanyl in our 92 counties,” Huntsinger said. “Every life lost to a drug overdose is one too many. Naloxone offers the opportunity to get individuals with substance use disorder on the path to long-term recovery.”


Indiana reported a 32% increase in fatal overdoses during the 12-month period beginning in April 2020 and ending in April 2021, according to provisional data released in November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


“This machine gives St. Joseph County residents and our recently released inmates zero-barrier access to a medication that could mean the difference between life and death,” Sheriff Redman said. “St. Joseph County Jail is proud to be the recipient of the state’s first naloxone vending machine, and we applaud Governor Holcomb’s commitment to address the drug epidemic.”


To learn about Overdose Lifeline’s naloxone distribution opportunities or to request a free naloxone kit, visit www.overdoselifeline.org.

Pulaski County Commissioners move forward with Pulaski County Courthouse renovations

The Pulaski County Board of Commissioners approved a contract Monday allowing renovations at the county courthouse.


On December 3, Pulaski Co. Commissioners held a special meeting to talk more extensively about the new contract. Baker Tilly representative Caitlin Cheek and Barnes and Thornsburg representative Kimberly Blanchet participated in Friday's meeting, where they discussed the county revenue component, and how the original General Obligation Bond capability is no longer an option for the county. In order to move on with the Pulaski County Courthouse renovations, because of recent inflation and increasing costs, the county would need to move to a new lease revenue bond. 


Pulaski County Community Development Executive Director Nathan Origer explained the increased cost from the project getting delayed over the years, partly due to the pandemic.  Origer stated that the updated project cost from Baker Tilly was estimated to be about $6.1 million in total.



The project should now take about eight months to complete the design, bidding and financing process. The public was given the opportunity to comment during Monday's meeting. An official public hearing on the decision will be set later in 2022. 


Detectives with the Delphi investigation seek information

Indiana State Police are asking the public's information as the search for a murderer of two young girls in Delphi continues.


ISP report that while investigating the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, detectives with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana State Police have uncovered an online profile named anthony_shots. This profile was being used from 2016 to 2017 on social media applications, including but not limited to, Snapchat and Instagram.


The fictitious anthony_shots profile used images of a known male model and portrayed himself as being extremely wealthy and owning numerous sports cars. The creator of the fictitious profile used this information while communicating with juvenile females to solicit nude images, obtain their addresses, and attempt to meet them. Pictured below, you’ll see images of the known male model and images the fictitious anthony_shots profile sent to underage females.


Law enforcement has already identified the male in these images that were used by the anthony_shots profile. The male that is in the photos is not a person of interest in the investigation. Detectives are seeking information about the person who created the anthony_shots profile. 


Investigators would like any individual that communicated with, met, or attempted to meet the anthony_shots profile to contact law enforcement by utilizing the tip email/phone number: abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com or 765-822-3535. Please provide as much information as you possibly can. For example, when you communicated with anthony_shots, how you communicated with the profile, what social media applications the account used, and if anthony_shots attempted to meet you or obtain your address. If you have saved images or conversations with the anthony_shots profile, please attach them to your email.


Please view the attached link to the Indiana State Police YouTube Channel to view a video version of the press release.



Rochester's Schnabeltier and Bourbon dairy farm help produce annual Purdue Ag Alumni Swiss Cheese

A Purdue tradition has returned to its roots, thanks to an Indiana creamery, while also gaining a new look. 

Schnabeltier in Rochester, Indiana, opted to craft the Swiss cheese with Purdue’s decades-old recipe, but annual cheese buyers will notice this year’s batch will be missing something, said Danica Kirkpatrick, Purdue Ag Alumni Association executive director: a rind.

Proceeds from the annual Purdue Ag Alumni Swiss Cheese sale benefit the Purdue Ag Alumni Trust Fund. The cheese is being produced using the 1969 original recipe. The fundraiser, and recipe, began with Dave Pfendler, former associate dean of agriculture, who cultivated the enterprise to fund student experiences.  

To round out the Swiss cheese’s traditional roots, the milk used to create this holiday season’s cheese comes from the dairy farm operated by Purdue alumna Connie Lemler and her husband, Andy, in Bourbon, Indiana. 

“The entire production of the cheese is locally sourced,” Kirkpatrick said. “Because it’s a small creamery, everything is done by hand. We’ve been very excited for the cheese to return to its original recipe through the partnership we have with Schnabeltier.” 

The Purdue Swiss, which can be shipped anywhere through  Schnabeltier’s  website, comes in four sizes, ranging from an entire wheel down to a one-pound wedge. The holiday season’s stock is limited, Kirkpatrick said, so when the distributors run out, there is no additional cheese available. 

Getting the production and aging process for a rindless Swiss took the cheesemakers about a year to conduct, said Kori Pugh, Schnabeltier operations manager. In the end, a rindless cheese benefits the consumer. 

When cheese is purchased, it’s typically by weight, leaving the consumer to pay for the leftover rind, which is frequently tossed out, Pugh said. No rind equals more cheese for your money. 

“It’s still the same really, really good creamy Swiss, which is one of the things we wanted to make sure we weren’t giving up in the process –  the quality,” Pugh said. “We are proud of our team of cheesemakers for getting this rindless process down, because it was important for us to do for customers.” 

The Ag Alumni Swiss can be purchased at six different locations in Indiana, with three in Tippecanoe County: 

The Boilermaker Butcher Block, located at 720 Clinic Drive on campus;

D&R Market, located at 105 N. Creasy Lane in Lafayette;

and Wildcat Creek Winery, located at 3233 E. 200 N. in Lafayette. 

Other Indiana locations include the D&R Fruit Market, located at 931 W. Market Street in Logansport; Tuttle Orchards, located at 5717 N. 300 W. in Greenfield; and 50 East Garden Center & Café, located at 5233 S. 50 E. in Wabash. 

Order yours online today through the Purdue Ag Swiss website.

Fulton County Health Department COVID-19 testing and vaccine site is put to good use this holiday season

The Fulton County Health Department COVID-19 vaccine and testing site located at the Fulton County 4H Fairgrounds, 1009 W 3rd Street, is a free clinic for anyone looking to get their vaccine, booster or COVID test. Its recent uptick in numbers has kept the staff busy, but also serves as a reminder to the community that the pandemic is far from over. 


The vaccine clinic is open every Thursday and Friday from 8 am - 4 pm, excluding holidays. Dawn Risten, Fulton County Health Department Food Inspector/Emergency Preparedness Coordinator says the holiday season and Omicron, the new COVID variant, has made the clinic especially busy. 


Risten says as the positivity numbers continue to rise since the Thanksgiving weekend, making the testing site a busy place. The testing site normally sees around 50 people on Saturday and between 100 to 160 people a day during the week.


Hours for the testing site are Monday and Friday from 8 am - 4 pm, Wednesday from 12 pm - 8 pm and Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm. The testing site provides both rapid tests and PCR, with no PCR testing on Wednesday. 


The Fulton County Health Department is looking to fill two more positions for Thursday and Friday at the vaccine clinic. Those interested in applying can get applications at the Fulton County Health Department or print it off from their website and either drop it off at the auditors office inside the Annex Building or email it. 



(COVID-19 Testers, from left: Gin Sullivan, Alexys Loudermilk, Makayla Risten, Grace Koch)




(Employees from the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, from left: Misty Hopkins, Donna Smith, Dawn Risten, Pat Hoover, Beverly Fish, Karen Tislow, Alexys Loudermilk, Gerry Hornung)


(From left: Vaccine clinic volunteers Don Christianson and Jean Cloud)

Approval of no increase in room and board rates at Purdue; 11th consecutive tuition freeze

Purdue University’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved housing rates for 2022-23, including a 10th consecutive year with no increase in University Residence Hall rates on the West Lafayette campus.


Trustees also ratified six professor positions and approved a Doctor of Technology degree at Purdue University Northwest, as well as the naming of the Electrical Engineering Building on the West Lafayette campus.


Also Friday, university officials announced a series of benefits for students, faculty and staff at its West Lafayette campus, including an 11th consecutive year of tuition unchanged at 2012-13 levels; an appreciation award for faculty, staff and graduate student staff; and a 4% salary merit pool for faculty and staff for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2022.



Akron man arrested after leaving scene of accident with injury

An Akron man is incarcerated in the Kosciusko County Jail following a late Friday afternoon collision.


Emergency personnel were called to the 9600 block of North State Road 19 for a crash involving a southbound pickup and an Amish buggy. Witnesses advised dispatchers that a black Nissan Titan fled from the scene after striking the buggy.



Deputies determined that the buggy was traveling southbound along the shoulder of the roadway; when it was struck from behind by the Nissan. The force of the impact caused catastrophic damage to the buggy operated by  Wayne Hochstetler, 45, of Milford.  He was treated and released at the scene.


A juvenile female was airlifted from the scene to the Parkview Regional Medical Center.  At last report, she was in stable condition.


Concerned individuals subsequently reported witnessing erratic operation of the Nissan in southern Kosciusko County. Law enforcement units immediately converged on the area. An officer with the Akron Police Department located the suspect pickup near Athens in Fulton County. Kevin Alan Swihart, 30, of Akron, was taken into custody without further incident.



Responding agencies included Kosciusko County and Fulton County Sheriff’s Offices, Akron, Claypool and Mentone Police Departments, Nappanee Fire and EMS, Parkview Samaritan Air Ambulance.

Virtual job fair to feature four long-term care providers with presence throughout state

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development, in partnership with the Indiana Health Care Association and the Indiana Center for Assisted Living, is hosting a virtual job fair featuring four long-term care providers that are hiring statewide.

Long-term care providers American Senior Communities, CarDon, Gardant Management Solutions and TLC Management will be participating in the job fair that will run from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Human resources professionals from each company will discuss the qualifications needed, pay and benefits, and how to apply for current job openings. They are actively hiring administrators, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, personal care attendants, certified nursing assistants, dietary managers and more.

“Long-term care is a critical industry for the state of Indiana, and fully staffing these facilities is of utmost importance to the state’s well-being,” said DWD Commissioner Fred Payne. “We are pleased to partner with the Indiana Health Care Association and four of its member providers to announce these important opportunities to potential jobseekers.”

Every day, more than 2 million Americans are cared for in long-term care facilities nationwide. More Americans are expected to need long-term care services over the next couple of decades as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

Accordingly, the number of high-demand, high-wage job opportunities in the health care sector are expected to follow this growth in Indiana, with thousands of health care jobs currently posted across the state. Wages in the long-term care sector have grown approximately 20 percent in recent years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The long-term care industry offers rewarding careers with tremendous growth potential for dedicated health care workers who want to make a difference in the lives of Hoosier seniors. Our providers have numerous vacant positions that they are looking to fill across the state, offering great starting wages and competitive benefit packages,” said IHCA/INCAL President Zach Cattell. “I value our partnership with the state and appreciate Commissioner Payne and DWD for hosting this virtual job fair with us on Dec. 14, so we can hire more Hoosiers in the industry.”

Individuals who are interested in the virtual job fair but unable to attend should still register, as all registrants will receive a link to the recording.

To register, visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8907215583945992975.

After registering, a confirmation email will be sent containing information about joining the webinar.

Investigators trying to link tractor thefts to man arrested with equipment recovery in Pulaski Co.

A Rochester man was arrested for his role in stealing and damaging a John Deere tractor as investigators look to see if he was involved in another similar incident.


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department  reports two tractor thefts with damage are being investigated.  One of the tractors, owned by Jeff Foust, of Rochester, was recovered by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office who arrested Raymond Guess III, of Rochester.


The other tractor theft involved equipment from Wabash County.  That tractor was recovered on 100 South after it was driven into a concrete post.  That John Deere was undrivable with the amount of damage involved.

New housing subdivision in Argos

The Town of Argos broke ground this week on a new subdivision located on 21 acres on Kenilworth Road south of town. Argos has had a few new houses built in the last year, however, growing interest in additional housing is spurring the new subdivision.


The housing market is seeing an influx of families moving away from big cities to rural communities.


Mandy Campbell, Argos volunteer and local realtor states, “Argos is experiencing the housing upswing firsthand. Majority of new builds receive multiple offers and I currently have a waiting list of interested buyers wanting a home in Argos.”


The new Deerfield Meadows subdivision will have availability for 32 single-family houses. One of the perks of the new subdivision will be broadband fiber high-speed internet throughout the entire subdivision.


“Fast and reliable internet has expanded from being a nice feature to a necessity for many homes,” states Joe McCarter, President of RTC Communications Corp. “As we have seen in the last two years, remote work, online classes, and video calls to stay connected with relatives requires superior service.”


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of the term “Zoom towns” is expanding and those relocating with that frame of mind are exactly who Argos is marketing the new subdivision to.


“Although I think it’s safe to say no one wants to live through a pandemic again, one positive silver lining is people have re-examined what quality of life means to them,” states Mark VanderWeele, Argos Economic Development Director. “With the ability to work remotely, employees have realized they no longer have to live close to work. They can relocate to a growing community with a top-notch school district, enjoy nature in an outstanding park system and be involved in activities that bring the community together. They can now experience the sought after work-life balance.”


Campbell adds, “One common thing I hear from interested buyers is they love the activities Argos is doing and love being a part of it. Feeling connected and having positive experiences is a huge draw to buyers that bigger cities just don’t offer.”


Deerfield Meadows subdivision will be in a housing TIF District. The first of the new houses is expected to be available in Spring of 2022.


Interested buyers should contact Mark VanDerWeele at mvanderweele@townofargos.com.