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WROI News Archives for 2022-02

Steve Moore Insurance moves to Ninth St drive up location

Open in the Rochester area since 1974, the Steve Moore Agency has officially moved to its newest location, 602 East Ninth Street, in Rochester.

 

From auto, home, life or business insurance, Steve Moore Agency has a little bit of everything. 

 

 

Owner of the business, Brody Moore, says the new drive-up option at the newest location is something that was inspired by his  mother, who previously had the dream while she helped run the business with his father.

 

 

Assisting the local community for their easiest convience is a top priority to the agency. Strong roots to the Rochester community make Steve Moore Agency that much more important to Fulton County. 

 

 

Jarrety's Place celebrates grand opening under new owners

Members of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration Monday morning at Jarrety's Place in Rochester. 

 

 

Brice and Katie Romine and their daughters, Sloane and Quinn, made it official by cutting the ribbon and switching hands with former owner, Dawn Nicodemus. 

 

Fulton County Chamber of Commerce Director Jillian Smith led the ceremony. 

 

 

With a room full of support from Chamber members, employees, family, friends and other important members of the community, the crowd welcomed Brice and Katie to the Rochester business community. 

 

 

Katie says the family is honored to carry on the Rochester tradition.

 

Their soft opening hours are from February 28 to March 2 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm. Starting March 3, they will be open Monday to Saturday from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. 

 

 

Pursuit of stolen car ends with rollover crash, arrest

Indiana State Police tried to pull over a car that failed to move over for stopped law enforcement alongside the roadway.  That resulted in a crash and arrest of the suspect.

 

Just before noon on Thursday Trooper Jeff Wampler attempted to stop a 2018 Chrysler 300 after it failed to move over or slow down, as required by law, as it passed by him on a traffic stop westbound on US-30, just west of CR 500 West.

 

When Wampler caught up to the Chrysler he was able to determine that the license plate did not match the car.  When he turned on his red and blue emergency lights on his unmarked Dodge Charger the driver of the Chrysler refused to stop and sped up to speeds of over 100 miles per hour as it continued westbound on US-30, eventually entering Marshall County.

 

A trooper was successfully able to deploy a tire deflation device (stop sticks) near Iris Road, flattening both driver side tires.  This did not stop the driver of the Chrysler and he continued to flee westbound.  Troopers and deputies with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office again deployed stop sticks near King Road, deflating the front passenger tire. 

 

The driver of the Chrysler continued to flee westbound while driving on three rims.  The driver of the Chrysler hit another set of Stop Sticks near the overpass for SR-17 but continued to flee westbound.  Near Oak Road, he tried to pass a semi on the right side and lost control of the Chrysler.  The Chrysler went into the ditch to the right, hitting two signs and rolling onto the roof.

 

The driver, Merieal Tolbert, 28 of Chicago, was safely taken into custody.  He was transported to a local hospital to be medically cleared.  Further investigation revealed that the Chrysler was reported stolen out of Ft. Wayne, IN earlier today.

 

Tolbert was transported to the Kosciusko County Jail after being arrested for Resisting Law Enforcement and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle

 

OrthoPediatrics Corp. named one of the 2022 Best Places to Work in Indiana

OrthoPediatrics Corp. (“OrthoPediatrics” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: KIDS), a company exclusively focused on advancing the field of pediatric orthopedics, today announced it was recently named one of the 2022 Best Places to Work in Indiana.

 

This is the 6th time the Company has been recognized by the annual program created by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group.

 

OrthoPediatrics President & CEO David Bailey reacted to the announcement, saying “I’m so proud of our company and our associates for being named one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana for a 6th time! It’s been a difficult few years, but the resolve of the OP team and our ability to move forward together is a testament to our strong culture. We take the feedback from this survey very seriously and look forward to continuing to advance our positive work environment and our cause of helping KIDS.”

 

This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize, and honor the participating employers in Indiana with the leading workplace cultures. The list includes up of 125 companies.

 

“We have many tremendous employers in the state, so it’s great to see more and more companies take part in this effort to evaluate their workplace culture and gain the recognition they deserve,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “These companies consistently demonstrate to their employees how much they value their contributions.”

 

To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government entity
  • Be a publicly or privately held business
  • Have a facility in Indiana
  • Have at least 15 employees working in Indiana
  • Be in business a minimum of 1 year

Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in Indiana. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Indiana, analyzed the data, and determined the final rankings.

 

The final rankings will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 12, 2022, and then published in the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine after the event.

 

For more information on the Best Places to Work in Indiana program, visit: https://www.bestplacestoworkindiana.com/

 

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 37 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.

Silver Alert: Victor Greene, Knox

The Knox Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Victor Greene, a 66 year old white male, 6 feet 2 inches tall, 220 pounds, red hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a camouflage jacket with dark blue sweatpants and a hat, and utilizing a wheelchair.

 

Victor is missing from Knox.  He was last seen on Thursday, February 24, at 12:00 pm.

 

He is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

 

If you have any information on Victor Greene, contact the Knox Police Department at 574-772-3771 or 911.

Peru teen arrested for shooting death of girl in Miami County

A shooting death of a teenager in Miami County has another teenager in custordy.

 

An Indiana State Police investigation into the shooting death of Hanna Cox, 18, of Bunker Hill, led to the arrest of Jeremiah Smith,18, of Peru. Smith is incarcerated in the Miami County Jail facing preliminary criminal charges for involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, and pointing a firearm. 

 

Just after 3:30 pm Thursday, officers from the Indiana State Police, the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, and the Maconaquah Police Department responded to a possible shooting, inside a parked car in the 2700 block of Capehart Street, Peru. When officers arrived, they found Cox, suffering from a gunshot wound. Despite life-saving measures performed by first responders, Cox died at the scene. 

 

The investigation led officers to Smith’s nearby home. He was taken into custody without incident. Cox had been visiting Smith. Evidence revealed he was allegedly inside the parked car when Cox was shot.

 

This is an active investigation. Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Indiana State Police detectives by calling the Indiana State Police Peru Post at 1-800-382-0689 or 765-473-6666. 

 

An autopsy will be conducted. 

 

The Indiana State Police was assisted with the investigation by the Maconaquah Police Department, the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, the Pipe Creek Fire Department, the Grissom Fire Department, Lutheran EMS, and the Miami County Coroner’s Office.

Death of 4-year-old Judah Morgan inspires DCS bills headed to Indiana Senate floor

A bill expanding what the Indiana Department of Child Services is required to include in their end-of-year child fatality report was passed in an unanimous vote by the Senate Child and Family Services Committee on Monday. 

 

Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus), author of HB 1247, was inspired by the tragic story of Judah Morgan. Judah was the four-year-old murdered by his biological parents last October in rural Hamlet. At the time of his death, Judah had only lived with his parents, who had a history of abuse, for six months during a home trial with DCS. Although he was supposed to be monitored during the home trial, it was believed Judah had been abused for months leading up to the October death. 

 

 

House Bill 1247 would require DCS to include if a deceased child had a prior history with DCS, including abuse or neglect, as well as the location and status of the child at the time of death. The agency would also be required to report whether a child had an open case with DCS at the time of their death. If passed, the bill will go into effect on July 1.

 

 

Jenna Hullett, Judah's caregiver and biological cousin who Judah knew as mom for the first three and a half years of his life, has made it a mission to call attention to the broken foster care system she says the state has. She testified Monday at the statehouse in favor of the bill. 

 

 

House Bill 1247 is one of several introduced this legislative session that lawmakers said was directly inspired by Judah's case. Senate Bill 410, also known as Judah's Law, was passed also Tuesday and would give kinship caregivers like Hullett’s family the right to intervene “at any stage” of a TPR case, even if they are not licensed foster parents. 

 

Although it may be too little too late for her precious Judah, Jenna hopes the changes will save another child like him in the future.

 

 

Anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected is urged to call the Indiana Department of Child Services' Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. Reports can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be anonymous. 

Winamac Town Park temporarily closed due to flooding

The Winamac Town Park was closed by city officials over the weekend due to rising river levels, after heavy rainfall and melted snow caused it to be partially underwater. 

 

For the town of Winamac and the park that sits centered around the Tippecanoe River, Winamac Town Manager Brad Zellers said the park flooding isn't uncommon for the area. Due to safety concerns, the park will remain closed until further notice and will reopen when the water recedes.

 

 

The flooding at the town park is often unpredictable. Zellers said the record flood was 15.7' in 2009, with 2018 coming in a close second. 

 

 

Zellers said unfortunately there are several homes along the river that are also affected right now by the current flooding. Residents are encouraged to call Pulaski County EMA for free sandbags or the Winamac Town Office for further resources and help.

 

Zellers said anyone interested in monitoring the river level updates can do so online at the national weather service website. 

 

 

Public asked to use Fulton County website to deliver requests for Covid recovery funds

Fulton County’s use of recovery money issued by the federal government is something many have ideas for and are presenting those to local government leaders.

 

Fulton County auditor Christina Sriver says some money has been allocated with more and more requests coming in.

 


 

Sriver notes there are several categories under which requests can be submitted.

 

 

Sriver says there are dates for allocating and spending the ARPA funds.

 

 

So, instead of calling the auditor, there is a way to submit to the committee.

 

 

 

 

 

Health department announces changes to Covid-19 dashboard

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) today announced changes to its COVID-19 data dashboard to better reflect the current state of the pandemic and a shift in school reporting requirements.

 

Effective today, the unique individual positivity rate and unique individuals tested fields will be removed from the dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov. In addition, a new Indiana youth COVID-19 dashboard, reflecting cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations in Hoosiers ages 0 to 19, will be published.

 

This dashboard will replace the current school dashboard effective Monday, Feb. 28.

 

State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said the changes reflect the evolution of the pandemic, the availability of home test kits and recent updates to school guidance.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have been committed to providing accurate and timely data to help Hoosiers make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” Box said. “Due to the increased availability and use of home tests that are not reported to the state, the unique individual positivity and unique individuals tested fields no longer provide an accurate reflection of COVID-19 testing in our state.”

 

Box noted that schools are no longer required to report cases to the state health department, making the current school dashboard obsolete. The new youth dashboard will better reflect the impact of COVID-19 on children up to age 19, she said.

 

Hoosiers in need of COVID-19 testing can find a site at www.coronavirus.in.gov. Individuals seeking a COVID-19 vaccine can visit www.ourshot.in.gov or call 211 to find a location.

Rochester schools lift mask mandate

The Rochester School Board met Monday following the recent announcement by the state's Department of health of changes in Covid-19 protocol involving masks and contact tracing in schools.

 

Superintendent Jana Vance says the mask mandate at Rochester is gone.

 

 

Vance says schools will be prepared for those who still wish to mask up.

 

 

Plans for Humberto Sanchez monument underway, accepting donations

The family of Cpl Humberto Sanchez is accepting donations for a memorial monument to be made in his honor at his gravesite in Logansport's Mount Hope Cemetery. 

 

 

Cpl Sanchez was the Logansport Marine killed in the deadly Kabul bombing August 26, 2021. His mother, Coral Briseño, hopes the memorial planned will help keep Cpl Sanchez's legacy going long after she is gone. 

 

 

 

The memorial is being done by Caldwell Monument Company out of Kokomo. Although pricing and exact dates have yet to be set, Coral wants something that represents the hero that her son was. 

 

 

Coral knows that it will be worth it. Cpl Sanchez's grave is said to be the most visited grave at the cemetery. 

 

 

Donations can be made to the Corporal Humberto Sanchez Family Fund's GoFundMe. Cpl Sanchez's family also has an account set up where donations can be made at PNC Bank. All checks can be made out to Coral Briseño, with the memo “Humberto Sanchez Monument.”

 

Coral says the monument is for more than just her son's death. She wants it to also serve as a memory for all those who sacrificed their lives during the 20 year War in Afghanistan. 

 

Steve Metzger steps down from role as Fulton Co. Commissioner

Fulton County Commissioner Steve Metzger has stepped down from his role as a county commissioner.  Monday, February 21, was his last meeting.

 

Commissioner Metzger states that due to his growing business and busy family life he is finding it hard to devote the time he would like to the Commissioners position.

 

Fulton County Commissioner President Bryan Lewis says Metzger puts in countless hours serving the citizens of Fulton County and that it has been a pleasure serving with Commissioner Metzger. Lewis also says they wish him all the best with all his future endeavors.

 

After the Fulton County Clerk receives Commissioner Metzger’s letter of resignation the Republican Party has 30 days to set a caucus date.

 

If anyone is interested they have up to 72 hours before the caucus date to file paper work with the Fulton County Clerk.

 

On the day of the caucus all Republican Precinct Chairs meet and vote in a replacement to fill out the term of the vacant seat.

 

 

Child's father sentenced for role in her death

The father of Mercedes Lain was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for neglect of a dependent.

 

Kenneth Lain was credited for 186 days already served as part of a plea agreement.  Lain told the court he is progressing well in a recovery program.

 

Mercedes Lain's parents were charged as well as Justin Miller, of Plymouth.  A judge has sentenced Miller to the maximum of 65 years in prison for the murder of the 11-month old child.

 

Miller accepted a plea agreement in December

 

Warming shelter closes unexpectedly, still needed in Rochester community

Pat Brown, Executive Director for the Recovery Cafe Fulton County, had a mission when he and several volunteers opened the warming shelter in Rochester last month. 

 

Starting out as a temporary solution, Brown said the warming shelter's original plan was to only be open during a cold snap, or days that it was too dangerous to be outside. After acquiring a place at 126 E Seventh Street, the warming shelter ended up being open every evening for a little over three weeks. The shelter was run completely by volunteers each night, and all the supplies including the furniture, bedding, toiletries and food, were donated.

 

The shelter closed its doors last week for good, after a medical emergency with one of the people staying there made the landlords of the building think twice. Regardless of the closing, Pat says his frustrations are not with the building owners. 

 

Brown, who's been running the Recovery Cafe Fulton County for the past year, has experienced firsthand the need for a shelter in Rochester. During the three weeks the warming shelter was open, they had anywhere from six to nine people each night. 

 

He was extremely disappointed by the lack of support from top officials, leaders and local organizations, including churches. Brown says now is the time to stop turning a blind eye to those less fortunate in Fulton County. 

 

 

Brown says the homeless may not be as obvious in Rochester as a bigger city, but they are there. 

 

With officials having plans and resources, including staff, to open an emergency warming shelter, Brown urges the community to come together and call or email their local officials and request an emergency shelter be open. 

 

 

Winona Lake man killed in one-car crash

The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Fatal Team was called to assist the Winona Lake Police Department with an early morning fatal crash.

 

According to the preliminary results of the investigation, Michael Peterson, 64, of Winona Lake, was traveling northbound on Kings Highway from Wooster Road prior to the collision.

 

Peterson’s 2022 Toyota Camry left the east side of the roadway and struck two large landscaping rocks, after which the vehicle returned to the roadway and rolled over. Peterson was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office.

 

This crash remains under investigation.

Mentone PD asks public for help in Bourbon Street Pizza burglary

TheMentone Police Department would like the community’s assistance in identifying an individual responsible for a burglary to the Bourbon Street Pizza in Mentone.

 

The burglary occurred at approximately 11:40 pm on February 9, 2022 at Bourbon Street Pizza, 119 W. Main St.,  Mentone.  Surveillance video caught a male subject using a pry bar to force open a cabinet and steal cash.  

 

If you have any information concerning this crime call Crime Stoppers toll-free at 

1-800-342-STOP. Crime Stoppers will pay up to one thousand dollars if your information leads to an arrest or indictment.

 

Crime Stoppers also pays cash rewards on other felony crimes and the capture of fugitives.

 

 

When you call, you will be assigned a code number and Crime Stoppers will not ask your name

Health department announces changes in Covid-19 school guidance

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) Thursday announced changes in COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools and childcare programs to reflect declining cases across the state.

 

The department also will begin to reduce its COVID-19 response operations because there is less demand for testing and substantial availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment at health provider locations.

 

“These changes reflect the rapid decline in COVID-19 cases as we emerge from the omicron surge and the fact that all school-age children have been eligible to be vaccinated since November,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “While they do not remove the need for continued vigilance, they will ease the reporting burden on schools and help ensure that children can stay in school.”

 

Beginning Feb. 23:

  • Schools no longer will be required to conduct contact tracing or report positive cases to IDOH.
  • Schools no longer will need to quarantine students who are exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, regardless of vaccination status or whether the school requires masks.
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days and may return on Day 6 if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication so long as symptoms are improving, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals should wear a mask through Day 10 any time they are around others inside their homes or in public.

Schools are expected to continue assisting local health departments with notification in the event of an outbreak or cluster and are encouraged to continue to share information with families when a case is identified so parents can monitor their children for symptoms.

 

Similarly, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning is lifting quarantine requirements for children exposed at their childcare program. Children who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for five days regardless of symptoms. It’s recommended that children who can correctly and consistently mask return on Day 6; for those who cannot do so, it is recommended they return on Day 8. Full guidance will be posted here.

 

Indiana’s positivity rate has fallen from 33.6 percent on Jan. 19 to 13.1 percent on Wednesday. Demand for testing also has fallen significantly.

 

As a result:

  • The IDOH testing and vaccination clinic across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will end operations on Saturday, Feb. 26.
  • IDOH will suspend its testing and vaccination strike teams that had been deployed across the state but will continue to make mobile vaccination and testing units available upon request.
  • Indiana National Guard support for long-term care facilities and hospitals will end March 14, and no new requests will be accepted after Feb. 26.

Update: Identity released in Marshall county inmate death investigation

An Indianapolis man is the focus of a death investigation at the Marshall County Jail.

 

Lester Steele, Jr., 61, was identified as the man who died after being transported to the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth early Wednesday morning.

 

According to Indiana State Police a bunkmate notified jail officers that Steele was suffering from a possible medical episode at approximately 1:00 am.  Jail staff initiated medical protocol and Steelebecame unresponsive.  Jail staff began life-saving efforts until emergency medical technicians arrived. 

 

An autopsy was held Wednesday.

 

Steele was in the jail awaiting a court appearance for a change of plea on a driving while suspended case from 2018.

 

Steele also has drunk driving convictions in Marion County.

 

 

Indiana State Police called in to investigate Marshall Co. Jail death

The Indiana State Police has been requested to investigate the death of an inmate at the Marshall County Jail.  Investigators from the Indiana State Police Bremen Post were contacted at approximately 2:51 a.m. on February 16.

 

Marshall County Jail staff were alerted by an inmate that a bunkmate was suffering from a possible medical episode at approximately 1:00 am.  Jail staff initiated medical protocol and the 61-year-old male inmate became unresponsive.  Jail staff began life-saving efforts until emergency medical technicians arrived. 

 

The inmate was transported to The Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, where he was pronounced deceased.

 

An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Wednesday.  Identification of the inmate is being withheld until family notification is made.  

Walorski, Pence lead Indiana GOP delegation in urging trade relief for Hoosier farmers & ag producers

Congressman Greg Pence (R-Ind.) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) this week led the Indiana Republican Congressional Delegation in urging U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to expand trade policies that reduce burdens on Indiana’s many farmers and agriculture producers. 

 

“We request that you leverage all the resources and authorities Congress has provided USTR, thereby elevating the economic prosperity of producers, farmers, and ranchers in Indiana and across the nation,” the members wrote. “…Over the past few years, we saw effective trade agreements enter into force, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), China Phase One, and the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement. These agreements expanded market access, reduced retaliatory tariffs, and modernized biotechnology regulations. We hope that you and your colleagues will build and expand on these trade agreements brokered by the previous administration.”

 

As the 8th largest agricultural exporter in the nation with exports totaling more than $5.2 billion in 2020, Indiana is a robust agriculture epicenter. The industry accounts for over $31 billion of the state’s economy and employs more than 188,000 Hoosiers.  

 

To support these Hoosier farmers and agriculture producers, Congresswoman Walorski and Congressman Pence led the Indiana delegation in calling on USTR to prioritize United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) enforcement, supply chain bottleneck solutions, United States-United Kingdom trade negotiations, and trade relations with emerging economies.

  

“Our farmers and rural communities are the backbone of this nation, and the policies that USTR implements have a meaningful impact on their livelihoods. We request that you always prioritize America’s farmers, producers, and ranchers with every action you take,” the members continued. 

 

Their approach has garnered the support of key stakeholders, including the Indiana Farm Bureau, the Indiana Corn Growers Association, and the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

 

“Hoosier farmers depend on agricultural exports for fiscal sustainability,” said Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau President. “It is important that the U.S. Trade Representative continues to search for new markets and build on successful trade relationships so we can protect the livelihoods of those who feed our state, the country and the world.”

 

“In the 2020-2021 marketing year, the US exported 2.7 billion bushels of corn abroad, and 22% of that corn went to Mexico. As the second-largest importer of corn, Mexico is a critical market for American farmers. It has been disappointing to see Mexico take executive action to put up barriers to trade, in conflict with the agreements made in the USMCA, and we are hopeful that Ambassador Tai and her team will make resolving these conflicts a priority. We applaud Congressman Pence, Congresswoman Walorski, and the rest of the signatories for standing up for Hoosier farmers,” said Scott Smith, President, Indiana Corn Growers Association. 

 

“Supply chain disruptions and the inflated costs of parts and inputs associated with those disruptions are massively detrimental to the time and weather sensitive business of farming. All sectors of the American economy are struggling with these issues, but for farmers, the backbone of the food, feed, and fuel value chains, these hurdles can present upstream problems with serious downstream effects for consumers. We thank the Hoosier Congressional House delegation for highlighting these issues,” said Matthew Chapman, Chair, Membership & Policy Committee, Indiana Soybean Alliance. 

 

The full letter, including a full list of signers, is available here and below. 

 

February 14, 2022

 

The Honorable Katherine Tai

United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Tai:

 

We write to you regarding trade issues that are important for the economic outlook of agricultural communities in Indiana, which we hope your agency will prioritize. The Office of the United States Trade Representative, in tandem with the Office of the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, has broad jurisdiction and responsibility over trade negotiations on agricultural market access, implementation and enforcement of agricultural commitments in trade agreements, and coordinating with federal and international agencies on trade strategy. As you review and address the issues we’ve outlined, we request that you leverage all the resources and authorities Congress has provided USTR, thereby elevating the economic prosperity of producers, farmers, and ranchers in Indiana and across the nation.

              

The agriculture industry is a significant economic driver in Indiana, accounting for over $31 billion of the State’s economy and employing over 188,000 Hoosiers. Indiana is the eighth largest agricultural exporter in the nation with exports totaling over $5.2 billion in 2020. The Hoosier State helps meet the global demand for grain, hogs, poultry, beef, and other agriculture commodities. The continued success and economic outlook for this industry relies heavily on U.S. trade deals that are both fair and reciprocal. Over the past few years, we saw effective trade agreements enter into force, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), China Phase One, and the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement. These agreements expanded market access, reduced retaliatory tariffs, and modernized biotechnology regulations. We hope that you and your colleagues will build and expand on these trade agreements brokered by the previous administration.

 

In addition, we encourage you and your Chief Agricultural Negotiator, once confirmed, to prioritize the following issues, which are critically important for Indiana’s agricultural economy.

 

1. USMCA Enforcement: On July 1, 2020, USMCA entered into force, a major victory for domestic producers that included several needed reforms regarding biotechnology regulations. However, our focus now needs to be on enforcing the provisions within that agreement to make sure American farmers and ranchers get the full benefits of the bargain we fought so hard to achieve. As you know, in December 2020, President López Obrador issued a Decree stating Mexico’s intention to phase out the use of glyphosate and genetically engineered corn for human consumption, contrary to Mexico’s commitments in USMCA. It’s important to note that Indiana is a top corn and grain producing state that has some of the safest biotechnology standards in the world. This action by Mexico would have a negative impact on Indiana, especially if those regulations move beyond corn for human consumption to include animal feed. Furthermore, we understand that Mexico has not promptly considered U.S. applications for imports of several agricultural biotechnology products, as is required by USMCA.

 

Lastly, we are concerned that Canada isn’t adhering to the spirit of commitments made in USMCA as its Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) for dairy products have been primarily reserved for processors rather than having an open application process based on demand.  We appreciate the work of USTR in bringing forward and prevailing in a USMCA dispute on this topic. USTR, with your leadership, must now work vigorously to ensure Canada comes into full compliance with its obligations on dairy. 

 

Will you ensure Mexico and Canada uphold their commitments in USMCA and leverage all the enforcement tools at your disposal?

 

2. Supply Chain: As you know, the ongoing supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks have had a negative impact on almost every sector in our economy, especially agriculture. Stakeholders in Indiana have expressed concern regarding the surge in fertilizer prices, which are approaching decade-highs, exacerbated by supply chain issues and global trade challenges. In addition, the capacity crunch and delays for computer chips are concerning for the industry since they are needed for almost all precision agriculture equipment. Will you work to alleviate these financial burdens for Hoosiers by expanding the U.S. fertilizer market, addressing semiconductor shortages with your colleagues, and increasing domestic access to other agricultural inputs?

 

3. United States-United Kingdom Trade Negotiations: The U.S. and U.K. began negotiations on a trade agreement in 2020, signaling an effort to grow the agricultural economy by giving domestic producers a level playing field in a significant foreign market. The U.K. is currently our 7th largest trading partner with exports totaling just over $69 billion; however, they were only our 16th largest agricultural export market in 2019, with exports totaling $1.7 billion. While the U.S. does export some agriculture products to the U.K., there are substantial barriers to U.S. meat exports, including poultry and beef. Our friends in the U.K. have long been strong trading partners, but we believe there is substantial room for growth. Will you commit to continue engaging in trade conversations with the U.K. to expand U.S. agricultural exports to this key market?

 

4. Trade Deals with Emerging Economies: A successful U.S. trade strategy must be holistic in its approach, and that means engaging in negotiations with emerging economies around the world. Our trade officials should leave no stone unturned when looking for opportunities to help our domestic producers improve their access to international markets. Do you plan on having an all of the above approach to your trade strategy that includes negotiations with developing countries? Trade negotiations with Kenya presents a real opportunity to set a high standard in our trade work with developing countries. 

 

We look forward to your continued communication and updates as you tackle these issues. Our farmers and rural communities are the backbone of this nation, and the policies that USTR implements have a meaningful impact on their livelihoods. We request that you always prioritize America’s farmers, producers, and ranchers with every action you take.

Mother of fallen Logansport Marine Cpl Humberto Sanchez remembers son, after Pentagon releases bombing investigation

After more than four months since the deadly attack in Kabul that killed 13 US service members, injured 45 and killed more than 160 Afghan civilians, on Feb 4 the Pentagon released its findings from the bombing investigation. 

 

The Department of Defense sent representatives to personally share the findings with the families of the fallen 13 prior to the public release. Among those killed was 22-year old Logansport Marine Cpl Humberto Sanchez. 

 

 

As time continues to march on, the day of August 26, 2021 still feels like yesterday for Cpl Sanchez's mother Coral Briseno. Coral recalled the last conversation she had with her son. 

 

 

Despite being sick and frustrated, it was reported Cpl Sanchez's last moments of life were spent helping children and other vunerable refugees to safety. Coral was later shown a video of Cpl Sanchez lifting a young girl over a wall at the airport in Kabul that day. 

 

 

Officials admitted the bombing investigations report contradict intial reports shared about the attack being carried out by a suicide bomber and gunmen firing into the crowd. The investigation concluded the attack was carried out at Abbey Gate by a lone ISIS-K bomber. 

 

Drone footage, videos and other graphic details were also presented in the report, including locations of where the servicemen stood during the time of the explosion.

 

 

Coral, who has a copy of the investigation, says the thousands of pages given to her detailing that day at the airport still doesn't give her all the answers. She has made peace in knowing that she may never know all of the truth about that day. 

 

Her son still died a hero. 

 

What's most important to Coral is keeping her son's legacy alive. She wants to make sure that not only the 13 killed are remembered, but also the other 64 service members who were wounded that day. 

 

 

 

Sanchez's family has since established a scholarship fund in honor of the local hero. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Cpl Humberto Sanchez Memorial Scholarship Fund, at the Cass County Community Foundation Inc. PO Box 441, Logansport, IN 46947.

 

 

(Photos show an entryway inside of Coral's home dedicated to her son. The photo below shows the side of a race car that had been wrecked, but the door with Cpl Sanchez's face remained untouched and was given to the family and now also sits in the home.)

 

 

Plea agreement reached in John Schultz trial as jury appeared hung again

The two sides in the Fulton County trial of John Schultz reached a plea agreement with what appeared to be another hung jury through hours of deliberations.

 

The 20-year old Schultz was being tried for conspiracy to commit murder and several drug charges in what prosecutors called a planned Columbine style shooting of Rochester and Caston schools.

 

Defense Attorney Paul Namie. 

 

 

Namie says that Schultz is happy with the outcome that will result in, essentially, no jail time.

 

 

Fulton County Prosecutor Mike Marrs said this trial looked like it was heading toward a similar ending of the one in the summer of last year.

 

 

Marrs says there’s some relief from the state that both defendants will be found guilty of a role in the conspiracy.

 

 

Marrs credits investigators for bring pro-active in keeping the community safe.

 

 

Schultz’s sentencing is set for March 7.

 

Temporary warming shelter in Rochester aims to find permanent place

Rochester now has a temporary warming shelter for anyone in need of a place to warm up, crash or get something to eat.

 

Located at 126 E 7th Street, this safe and sober enviroment has usually between five to seven people staying there most nights. 

 

WROI GIANT fm News spoke with Patti Brady and Cari Keeps, two of the volunteers at the shelter who say Rochester has had a need for something like this for a long time. 

 

 

The shelter opened at its current location just a few weeks ago, after a push by Pat Brown, Executive Director of the Recovery Cafe Fulton Co Inc. Collecting support from the cafe and Celebrate Recovery members and volunteers made his words come to action.

 

The warming shelter is currently funded solely by volunteers and donations. Cari Keeps said volunteers rotate nights each week to ensure they're open seven days a week. 

 

 

The warming shelter is currently seeking more volunteers and donations for anything from snacks, drinks, blankets, cleaning supplies and toiletries. 

Schultz Pleads Guilty

John Schultz IV has taken a plea agreeement to an admended version of count 1 conspiracy to comment murder.  Judge Lee has released the jury and will take the plea agreement under advisement.  Schultz's bond stay's in place until sentencing on March 7th at 3:30 pm.  Stay tuned to GIANT fm news for more on this story Friday morning.  

Apprenticeships with Tyson Foods; Ivy Tech, WorkOne working with Logansport job program

Applications are being accepted for a maintenance trainee apprenticeship program at Tyson Foods in Logansport that provides individuals the opportunity to “get paid while you train.”

 

Tyson Foods is working with Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Service Area and WorkOne West Central to identify at least 10 qualified applicants for this tuition-free maintenance generalist trainee program. Interested individuals may submit their resumes through Indiana Career Connect (www.indianacareerconnect.com , Job Order 9857785). Training will begin the first week of March. Classes start March 23.  Once paperwork is completed with WorkOne, applicants must attend an information session at Ivy Tech’s Logansport site, 1 Ivy Tech Way, at 9 a.m. on either Feb. 9 or 16.

 

New hires will start at $22.30 an hour. After one year and at the conclusion of the training, wages will increase based upon the successful completion of maintenance levels. Applicants must agree to a two-year commitment to work at Tyson Foods.

 

The apprenticeship includes classes at Ivy Tech in Logansport each morning followed by hands-on training each afternoon at Tyson Foods in Logansport. Completion of the program includes an Ivy Tech certificate in industrial technology with a concentration in industrial mechanical.

 

For consideration, applicants must submit a resume that includes a high school diploma or equivalent from an accredited institution. Preferred areas of experience and skills include maintenance; troubleshooting; and repair and modification to the plant’s mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and plumbing systems and equipment. Experience in a factory setting is preferred but not required. Applicants must be able to comprehend and complete all necessary paperwork and training materials.

 

All applicants must apply for admission to Ivy Tech Community College and meet minimum math competency on a college placement test. Applicants will also meet with WorkOne representatives to determine potential eligibility for the program. Qualified applicants will be interviewed and will be required to pass a physical and drug screen.

 

For additional information, contact Gerry Vasquez, apprenticeship coordinator for the Ivy Tech Kokomo Service Area, at 765-252-5528 or gvasquez9@ivytech.edu; or Suzanne Dillman, associate director of enrollment and admission services for Ivy Tech Logansport, at 574-398-6090 or sdillman@ivytech.edu .

 

Silver Alert: Rosenaika Cauratt, Logansport

The Logansport Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Rosenaika Cauratt, a 3 year old black female, 3 feet tall, 30 pounds, black hair with brown eyes, last seen wearing a zebra print hoodie, blue jeans, and brown boots, and is possibly in the company of an unidentified black male, between 40 to 50 years of age, approximately 6 feet tall, with no clothing description provided.

 

Rosenaika is missing from Logansport and was last seen on Wednesday, February 9, 2022, at 12:25 am.

 

She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

 

If you have any information on Rosenaika Cauratt, contact the Logansport Police Department at 574-722-6060 or 911.

Round Barn Opry plans to transform Rochester's Times Theatre

(Photographed from left, Thad Stewart, Producer of the upcoming Round Barn Opry and daughter Katie Stewart (Kate Karter)

 

 

With a clear vision and big dreams, Thad Stewart, Producer of the Round Barn Opry at the Times is making dreams a reality this year for the historic Rochester theatre at 618 Main St. The Times Theatre officially announced the plans in a press release Jan 20.

 

 

Inspired by his daughter's growing success in the music industry, Thad hopes to shine more of a spot light on local musicians and share his passion for music with the community.

 

His daughter, Katie Stewart, a current member of the Orange Blossom Opry in Florida, will be travelling frequently between gigs to help perform in the Round Barn Opry Band.  Going by the stage name Kate Karter, she recently released a debut single and currently performs all over the sourthern portion of the United States. 

 

Initial plans are to have at least two shows a month going by this summer. As their connections continue to grow, Thad said he hopes to eventually have some big name country artists eventually for Saturday night shows. 

 

 

Keeping the Times Theatre alive with a fresh new start, the goal is to create something for Rochester to be proud of, while also attracting visitors on a regional level. 

 

 

Donald Robin on the stand Monday in John Schultz trial

Donald Robin is on the stand this afternoon in the Fulton County re-trial of John Schultz.

 

Robin is serving 17 years in prison for his role in what prosecutors have called a planned shooting of Rochester and Caston schools.  Robin has answered prosecution questions regarding trench coats and supports traps the two had looked into while trying to outfit their scheme.

 

Robin has also testified about efforts to investigate and acquire items to build bombs.

 

Schultz is again on trial following a mistrial in July.  His re-trial was scheduled to begin last week but was postponed with the winter storm that was in the forecast.

 

Like the first trial, jurors were chosen in Miami County and drive to the trial in Rochester.

Initial findings indicate accidental death in Starke Co. investigation

Initial results of an autopsy in a Starke County death investigation indicate an accident death.

 

The Starke County Coroner with Knox Police and Indiana State Police is investigating the death of a 17-year-old from Knox.  Police responded just before 10:00 am Wednesday to a Main Street address.

 

A full autopsy was performed with preliminary results indicating an accidental death.  Final results are pending further investigation and toxicology results.

 

NIPSCO announces new energy assistance programs for seniors and veterans

NIPSCO has created two new energy assistance programs for eligible seniors, active U.S. military and veterans who are struggling to pay past due energy bills. Both programs, Supply Energy Resources to Veterans (SERV) and Seniors in Indiana Low-Income and Vulnerable Energy Resource (SILVER), offer a one-time benefit of up to $400 per year* to those who qualify.

 

“We understand that at times customers may experience difficulty paying their energy bill and we are committed to implementing ways to help our most vulnerable customers who may need additional assistance,” said Jennifer Montague, NiSource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “We are pleased to see this program become available during the cold winter

months when energy bills may be higher than normal.”

 

SERV is an income-eligible assistance program available for active military and eligible veteran NIPSCO customers who need financial assistance with gas residential utility charges. To participate, customers must be an active member of the United States Armed Forces, or a former member honorably discharged, with an active NIPSCO residential gas utility account.

 

These funds are earmarked for those who qualify for LIHEAP or Hardship assistance.

 

SILVER is an income-eligible assistance program available for NIPSCO’s senior citizen customers 60 years of age or older who need financial assistance with gas residential utility charges.

 

Eligible senior citizens must have an active residential gas utility account with NIPSCO. These funds are reserved for customers who qualify for LIHEAP or Hardship Assistance.

 

To see the full list of requirements for SERV and SILVER, customers should visit

NIPSCO.com/IncomeEligible. There, customers can also apply for the appropriate program by completing and submitting an online self-attestation form and uploading documentation if required. Applicants should allow 30 business days for the form to be received and processed. If program requirements are met, a one-time credit will be applied to the applicant’s NIPSCO gas residential utility account. SERV and SILVER will run from February 1 – May 31, or until funds

are exhausted. Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Additional Assistance

Local Community Action Agencies or Hardship Agencies may be able to provide additional assistance.

 

LIHEAP offers support to households falling at or below 60 percent of the state median income, and is fully funded by a federal block grant offered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Customers can learn if they qualify for LIHEAP by visiting eap.ihcda.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.

 

For customers just outside the state median income for LIHEAP, the NIPSCO Hardship Program offers up to $400 in gas bill assistance to households between 151 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Hardship funds are available through many of the same local Community Action Agencies where LIHEAP funds are distributed.

 

NIPSCO offers flexible payment plans to customers that need financial support, including a three-month option, a six-month option and a 12-month option for eligible LIHEAP customers.

 

Customers can learn more at NIPSCO.com/PaymentPlans.

 

In addition to offering several payment assistance options, NIPSCO provides a number of energy-efficiency programs to help lower energy usage and bills. Visit NIPSCO.com/Save for more information on available programs and other ways to save.

 

*Terms apply. See NIPSCO.com/IncomeEligible for details

Health department extends weather closures at Covid-19 testing, vaccination sites

The Indiana Department of Health has announced that all state-run COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics will be closed Friday due to hazardous weather conditions.

 

This includes the clinic across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

Additional updates to state-operated sites will be posted at www.coronavirus.in.gov and www.ourshot.in.gov as needed.

 

Individuals with appointments at a state-run site will be notified with instructions to reschedule. Because sites run by local health departments and other entities also may be affected, anyone who has an appointment or plans a walk-in visit to a COVID-19 testing or vaccination site should contact the site to ensure it is open before going.

 

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.

 

ADL in Peru to begin laying off workers this week

Over 20 workers at a Peru facility and nearly 200 total are being laid off by a bus manufacturer.

 

Layoffs are scheduled to start Friday and continue until May 6 for Alexander Dennis.  The facility in Peru opened just two years ago.

 

Alexander Dennis (ADL) and its parent company, NFI Group, announced the closure of sites in Peru and Nappanee.  NFI announced it intends to close all North American sites.

 

NFI is headquartered in Winnipeg with 8,000 employees in nine countries.

 

 

Fulton County enters Travel Watch with winter storm approaching

As of 4:00 pm Tuesday Fulton County is in a Travel Watch.

Watch means conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. 

During a "watch" local travel advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended, and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations. 

INDOT prepares for major winter storm statewide, asks motorists to avoid unnecessary travel

The Indiana Department of Transportation is preparing for a major winter storm expected to impact all regions of the state over the next 2-3 days. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter storm warnings for areas north of I-70 from 7 a.m. Wednesday morning to 1 a.m. Friday morning and winter storm watches are in effect for central and southern parts of Indiana. 

NWS is calling for significant snowfall and the potential for ice accumulation across the state during this winter storm. 

INDOT will be at a full call with nearly 1,000 trucks treating and plowing highways across the state beginning overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Trucks will remain out in full force for the duration of the winter storm and afterword to continue cleanup efforts.

Road conditions across the state will be challenging as the storm moves through. INDOT's goal is to keep highways passable during the storm, but motorists that must travel should expect to encounter snow and ice covered roads, blowing and drifting, and whiteout conditions. 

Rain is expected across most of the state beginning Tuesday evening leading into a wintry mix overnight meaning that in most cases INDOT will not be able to pretreat roads in advance of the snow and ice. Without pretreatment, highways are more likely to develop slick spots and snow to stick to pavement and bridges.

INDOT urges motorists to stay off the roads and avoid unnecessary travel to allow plow truck drivers room to work safely and so they may complete their routes as quickly as possible.

If you do have to travel, slow down, increase following distance, don't crowd plow trucks, give yourself extra time, and travel with an emergency kit. Monitor real-time travel conditions at trafficwise.org and be sure to check in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory for travel advisories in your area. 

Mobile Covid clinics in Pulaski and Cass close early Wed, closed Thursday for winter storm

An approaching winter storm is leading to changes in operations this week for COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics run by the Indiana Department of Health and many local health departments.

 

All state-run mobile clinics will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The clinic across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also will be closed Thursday. In addition, state-run mobile clinics in Porter, La Porte, St. Joseph, Pulaski, Huntington, DeKalb, Cass, Fountain/Warren, Shelby, Madison, Howard, Vigo and Vermillion counties will be closed Thursday.

 

Additional schedules for sites south of Johnson County will be assessed based on weather conditions. Updates to state-operated sites will be reflected at www.coronavirus.in.gov and www.ourshot.in.gov.

 

Individuals with appointments at a state-run vaccination or testing site will be notified if the site closes with instructions to reschedule. Because sites run by local health departments and other entities also could be affected, anyone who plans a walk-in visit to a COVID-19 testing or vaccination site should contact the site to ensure it is open before going.

 

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.

 

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