Rochester couple arrested with approximately a quarter pound of meth

A search warrant served Friday by Indiana State Police troopers resulted in the arrests of Allyson Byerline, 21, and Collan Johnson, 32, both from Rochester.


Indiana State Police Trooper Jesse Reason initiated a narcotics investigation after receiving information about possible illegal drug activity occurring at 61 Coral Drive, Rochester. During the investigation Reason applied for and was granted a Fulton County search warrant for the Coral Drive home. 


Just after 9:30 am today Reason with a team of state troopers served the warrant. Inside they located Byerline and Johnson. During a further search of the residence, officers allegedly found approximately a quarter pound of methamphetamine, marijuana, $669.00 in United States currency, and numerous items of drug paraphernalia.


Byerline and Johnson were both incarcerated in the Fulton County Jail. They each face criminal charges for dealing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Johnson faces an additional charge for invasion of privacy. 


Assisting with the search warrant were ISP Lieutenant T.J. Zeiser, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Master Trooper Bart Stouffer, Trooper Steven Glass, Trooper Doug Weaver, and Fulton County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant Travis Heishman. 


Peru man arrested on child porn charges

In March 2022, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Investigators with the Kokomo Police Department, assisted with an investigation initiated by Peru Police Department investigators. Further assistance was requested to Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) in relation to the production and possession of child pornography.


On April 22, HSI obtained a signed federal arrest warrant for James Dustin Eugene Rippy, 38, of Peru, for the Production and Possession of Child Pornography. Investigators from the Kokomo Police Department assisted Peru Police Department Investigators and HSI in serving the warrant.


Rippy was taken into custody without incident.


This case remains under investigation and anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective Austin Bailey at 765-456-7280 or by email at abailey@cityofkokomo.org.

Bald eagles in Starke and Miami counties with avian influenza

Avian influenza has been confirmed in two wild raptor species in Indiana, according to the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW).


Diagnostic testing on the raptors was done at Purdue’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, where the birds tested positive with the (HP) H5N1 strain that is circulating in North America.

The individual raptors that tested positive were one bald eagle each from Starke and Miami counties, and a red-tailed hawk from Johnson County.

Since the beginning of the year, avian influenza has been detected in raptors in multiple states.

In light of spring turkey hunting season, Michelle Benavidez Westrich, a DFW wildlife health biologist, said that the current H5N1 strain has not been detected in wild turkeys, and she does not expect that to happen.

“While wild turkeys are presumed susceptible, the likelihood of wild turkeys catching this disease is very low; it has never occurred in Indiana,” she said.

As always, meat harvested from wild birds in the state, as long as it is handled properly and cooked to an internal temperature of 165F, does not present a food safety risk.

Avian influenza has been detected in various wild water birds in multiple states this year. A redhead duck collected from Dubois County by the USDA tested positive for the H5N1 strain earlier in 2022. The DFW is partnering with USDA-Wildlife Services to increase surveillance efforts throughout the state. People who see waterfowl or raptors that are dead or appear sick are asked to report them using the DNR online reporting tool: on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.

Additional information about avian influenza in wild birds, bird feeder care, and more advice on how you can help prevent the spread avian influenza and other bird diseases is at bit.ly/3vRh7dX.  




Rochester man sentenced for role as driver in car-pedestrian death in 2020

Rochester’s Larry Smith will serve eight years in prison for his role in a car-pedestrian accident that killed a pedestrian.


Smith was charged with causing death when operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in the body, a Level 4 felony.  He was the driver of a vehicle that struck Carol Hoffer, 84, in Etna Green on November 3, 2020.  Hoffer later died of her injuries.


Smith was ordered to serve 12 years in prison but four of those were suspended.


Original story - November 3, 2020

A Kosciusko County woman was struck by a car and died Tuesday.

Carol Hoffer, 84, of Etna Green died as a result of injuries she sustained after being struck by a vehicle in Etna Green Tuesday evening.

According to investigating deputies, Hoffer was walking on Broadway St. when she was struck by a 1999 Ford F150 driven by Larry Smith, 57, of Leesburg. Immediately prior to the collision, Smith turned west onto Broadway St. from Walnut St.

Hoffer was transported by the Samaritan Air Ambulance to South Bend Memorial Hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Smith was not injured in the collision.

This crash remains under investigation by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Fatal Team.

Wheels on Fire Cancer Crusaders fundraising event Saturday at Fulton County Gun Club

A Wheels on Fire Cancer Crusaders fundraising event will be held at the Fulton County Gun Club this Saturday, April 30, starting at 10:00 am. 


The event is said to continue as long as shooters are there.


Over the decades Fulton County Gun Club has raised $25,863.75 for Wheels on Fire. They hope to break 2020’s record of $5,700 this year.


Trap shooting practice with 10 targets is $3 or 25 targets for $6. Trap shooting games have an entry fee between $6 and $10.  


The event's silent auction, which will start at 10 am, will have shooting, hunting and outdoor equipment, ammo, and a pass for the shooting range up for bid. Final bid will end at 1pm. 


The kitchen will be open with a full dinner menu available. All kitchen receipts will go to Wheels on Fire. For any questions call (574) 223-2072 or fcgc@rtcol.com.

BraunAbility builds 50 ramps in 50 days

As a way of recognizing their 50th anniversary, BraunAbility, the Winamac-based global leader in wheelchair accessible vehicles and lifts, is lending a hand to community members in need, while continuing to advocate for the disabled.  


Dedicated to enhancing independence and inclusion for individuals with mobility challenges the company has partnering with Servants at Work (SAWs), to set an ambitious goal: to build 50 ramps in 50 days in the communities where its employees live and work.


BraunAbility Senior Brand Manager Megan Wegner explains. 



The 50 home ramps will be built from July and August by SAWs and BraunAbility volunteers, completely free to the home’s occupant. Each ramp, which will take around four to six hours to complete, will be constructed of wood and adheres strictly to ADA standards.


To qualify for the ramp build, recipients must have a long-term disability and have a household income below the Area Mean Income for the state of residence.  


Donations are being accepted to help cover the costs of ramp build materials. To donate or to learn more about the program, visit here


Logansport teens arrested for vandalizing park bathrooms

'What's on our mind? The worst vandalism I've ever seen in my 28 years of doing Parks & Recreation. This was done at the Riverside restrooms on Friday night, on both the men's and women's sides. I don't know who is so angry that they could do this, but it's made me heartsick and sick to my stomach,' read a post on Saturday from the Logansport Parks & Recreation Department. 


The post, which got over 800 shares, sparked community outrage at the senseless destruction. The incident happened Friday night at Riverside Park, 1212 Riverside Dr, in Logansport. Photos posted on social media show broken sinks, toilets torn from the wall, and bathroom stalls ripped apart and thrown along with trash all over the floor.


According to police, after recieving a tip on April 25, detectives followed up information obtained and made four arrests. Among those arrested were three juveniles aged 13, 14 and 15. All three juveniles were charged with level 6 felony criminal mischief and level six felony residential entry on an unrelated case. One adult was also arrested in the investigation. Kaelib Rhodenbaugh, 18, of Logansport was also charged with level 6 felony criminal mischief and level six felony residential entry on a unrelated case. 


The charges related to the residential entry occured at a separate location on the 1200 block of North Street in Logansport, but happened on the same night the Riverside Park bathrooms were damaged.  


Rhodenbaugh, along with two of the juveniles arrested were also charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief, as well as misdemeanor minor consumption.


Logansport Mayor Chris Martin addressed the situation in a Facebook post on the city's page.



The incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact Detective Chris Rozzi at 574-725-2821.


Building demolition to begin along U.S. 31 near Peru

The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced a demolition of buildings located along U.S. 31 near Peru.

Crews will begin demolition on or after May 2, with work expected to be complete by the end of June. 

10 houses, approximately 12 sheds / garages and driveways are being demolished as part of an effort to turn U.S. 31 into a free-flowing, limited access highway. 

During construction, impacts to traffic should be minimal.  Drivers can expect the occasional closure but should ultimately watch for construction traffic entering and exiting U.S. 31.

U.S. 30 to have lane closures north of Plymouth

Indiana Department of Transportation contractor Three Star Painting Inc. will begin a bridge project on U.S. 30 over State Road 17/Michigan St on or after Monday, May 2.


U.S. 30 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Oak Rd and Plymouth Goshen Trail, and lane closures will alternate between the two phases of the project. Work will be ongoing through late July for a bridge deck overlay preventative maintenance project.


There will be ramp closures in place at the U.S. 30 and State Road 17 interchange with detours in place utilizing the U.S. 30 and U.S. 31 interchange. The ramp from State Road 17 to westbound U.S. 30 will be closed during phase one, and the ramp from U.S. 30 eastbound to State Road 17 will be closed during phase two. 

BraunAbility celebrates 50 years of engineering independence

Changing lives for the past five decades, BraunAbility has came a long way from the small Winamac garage where it began. Born in 1940, founder Ralph Braun's diagnoses of muscular dystrophy as a young child almost seemed like a death sentence. During a time when mobility equipment was non exsistent, life for the disabled was isolated, with very little life quality. Despite the diagnoses and doctors suggestions, Ralph's parents vowed to provide a life that would be as close to normal as possible for their son. BraunAbility Senior Brand ManagerMegan Wegner explained. 


As time went on and Ralph began to struggle with keeping up, his father would help by giving him piggyback rides when needed. Using a manual wheelchair for most of his life, as Ralph became a young man, he began looking for an alternative way of getting around without wear and tear on his hands and wrists. This would soon be the creator of the first-ever documented electric scooter. 


A little clunky but a start, Ralph refined the design to three wheels. Riding around the streets of Winamac in his tri wheel scooter, people notice. Many began reaching out to Ralph about how they could aquire a scooter for their disabled loved ones, who up to this time, had essentially been hidden away from the community. Humble about his first invention, Ralph hadn't originally planned on making a business. Using his first invention to provide for his family, Ralph continued his job as a quality control manager for a local company located right by his home. After the company he was working for moved a few miles down the road, Ralph got crafty again.  

Once again people took notice, and Ralph began installing lifts into full sized vans for others in 1972, birthing The Braun Corporation. Starting with just a handful of employees, BraunAbility now has over 1,400 employees worldwide, with nearly 900 of them being based in Winamac. 

The company still continues to flourish and carry the legacy of advocating for the disabled, despite Ralph's passing in 2013. As a way of celebrating the impact Ralph Braun and the company has made to the world for the past 50 years, BraunAbility is giving back to the community. 


The company will be holding a carnival at its Winamac factory in celebration on Saturday, September 10 that will be from 4pm-9pm for employees and is open to the Winamac community from 7pm-9pm. 


Operation Spring Showers nets 15 drug related arrests in Kosciusko County

Following the drug-tip information received from concerned citizens in Kosciusko County, law enforcement officers assigned to the Kosciusko County Narcotics Enforcement Team, “NET43”, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Warsaw Police Department, Indiana State Police, Winona Lake Police Department, Nappanee Police Department and Kosciusko County Prosecutors Office conducted multiple drug interdiction encounters in Kosciusko County on April 21.


The interaction called Operation Spring Showers resulted in the arrest of 15 individuals for various drug related offenses, traffic violations and warrants. 

The subjects arrested were:

Jose Luis Rodriguez Jr., 24, Warsaw

Possession of a narcotic drug, Possession of Marijuana, driving while suspended


Tracy Lee Julian, 51, Warsaw

Possession of a narcotic drug


Brian Lee Julian, 51, Warsaw

Theft (Warrant)


Charles Edward Frost, 59, Warsaw

Habitual Traffic Violator


Brandon Dale Hoskins, 28, Warsaw

Possession Methamphetamine, Probation Violation, (Warrant)


William Clutter, 42, Pierceton

Possession Methamphetamine, Possession Paraphernalia, Driving while suspended


Shannon Nicole Hein, 39, Pierceton

Possession Methamphetamine


Donald Michael Chadwick Jr., 49, Warsaw

Possession Methamphetamine


Deborah Sue Fields, 53,  Silver Lake

Possession of Marijuana, Possession Paraphernalia


Sarah Elizabeth Elder, 42, Pierceton

Possession of Methamphetamine


Ernest Bradley Dragoo, 30,  Warsaw

Operating while intoxicated


Alex Matthew Vankirk, 21, Warsaw

Reckless Driving


Michael Defrates, 59,  Warsaw

Possession of Methamphetamine, operating while intoxicated


Leisa Ann Bowling, 55, North Webster

Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Paraphernalia


Roberto Velazquez Gomez, 23,  Warsaw

Operating while intoxicated, operating while never having a license.


NET43 remains dedicated to the citizens of Kosciusko County to provide integral investigations and enforcement of Indiana’s drug laws. The investigators of NET43 would like to remind the citizens of Kosciusko County and surrounding areas they can provide drug tip information by emailing NET43@kcgov.com or calling the NET43 tip line at 574-372-2494. Your Identity will remain confidential.



Fulton Co. Commissioners waiting for tower at new jail; county wellness

The Fulton County Jail has some of the kinks and small difficulties of any new building and the adjustment to it can bring.  Those are expected.  The time involved to get the county’s communications center into the same building, however, has become a further issue.


Fulton County Commissioner Brian Lewis says they continue to wait on the erection of a communications tower at the new jail.



Meanwhile, Lewis says the other aspects of preparing for that communications move are being handled.



Fulton County Commissioners this week brought a Wellness program for county employees back into the county with a transition to services offered by Woodlawn Hospital.



Monthly fee per participant of $13.50 paid for by the county.  That change should become effective in July.

U.S. 30 to have lane closures east of State Road 23

Indiana Department of Transportation contractor RAM Construction will begin a small structure pipe lining project on U.S. 30 between Grovertown and Donaldson on or after Thursday, April 28.


U.S. 30 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between C.R. 1100 E and C.R. 1200 E through mid-June for this work.

Columbia City man for child pornography, taken to Kosciusko Co. Jail

Detectives with the Indiana State Police, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) arrested a Whitley County man on felony charges related to possession and dissemination of child pornography.


The investigation by the Indiana State Police ICAC began when a tip was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The tip and subsequent investigation ultimately led to a search warrant being served by the Indiana State Police with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (HSI) at a residence in the 400 block of South Oak Street, Columbia City. 


As a result of the investigation, Adam Kessie, 45, of Columbia City was arrested and transported to the Kosciusko County Jail (the alleged offenses occurred in that county), on the following preliminary charges:


(4) Counts:  Dissemination of Child Pornography of a child under 12, Level 4 Felony

(4) Counts:  Possession of Child Pornography of a child under 12, Level 4 Felony


Kessie will remain held pending his initial appearance in Kosciusko County.


The Indiana State Police ICAC was assisted by troopers from the ISP Fort Wayne and Bremen Districts, Department of Homeland Security, and the Whitley County Sheriff's Office.


Anyone having any information related to crimes against children are encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency or visit the NCMEC website at http://www.missingkids.com/home and find the link to make a CYBERTIPLINE report.

Robin asks for reduced sentence in Rochester, Caston shooting conspiracy

A request for modified sentence has been taken under advisement in Fulton County Court for Donald Robin, Jr.


Donald Robin, Jr., one of the defendants in the case of planning school shootings at Rochester and Caston, is asking for a reduced sentence that would be more in line with the other defendant in the case.


Robin received 17 years in prison for his role with John Schultz of planning to hold Columbine-like shootings at Rochester and Caston.  Robin entered into a plea agreement and then testified at two trials involving Schultz as a defendant. 


Schultz received probation in a last-second plea agreement when it appeared his trial for a second time might be headed for a hung jury.


Robin is also seeking a sentence involving probation after serving nearly a year in prison.

RTC Communications named to receive grant to expand broadband

Grants issued by the state include money meant to expand broadband availability in Fulton and Cass counties.


Governor Eric J. Holcomb Monday announced $189 million for 154 broadband infrastructure expansion projects across the state in the third round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program.


“This record-setting investment in broadband is another game-changer for Hoosiers who now, more than ever, need affordable, reliable internet,” Gov. Holcomb said. “With this third round, we take giant steps in leveling the playing field for our residents regardless of where they choose to live, work or go to school.”


The Next Level Broadband Grant Program is the largest single state investment in broadband. In total, rounds one, two and three of the program have awarded $268 million for broadband infrastructure for more than 74,800 homes and commercial locations. When combined with private and local investment, over $580 million has been leveraged since 2018. Projects will have been completed in 83 of Indiana’s 92 counties through the three rounds of the awards. 


This third round of funding will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 52,900 homes and commercial locations in 80 counties. For example, 810 homes and 362 businesses or organizations in Cass and Fulton counties will gain broadband access with a $4 million grant to RTC Communications.


In addition to the $189 million awarded today, the 35 telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed more than $239 million in matching funds, resulting in more than $429 million total investment for broadband in the third round.


The program allows broadband service providers and utility cooperatives to apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas if they provide at least a 20 percent match.


At Governor Holcomb’s request, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, along with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, administers and oversees the program. OCRA will be working with service providers in the coming weeks on next steps in the grant process.


Nubiano's Pizza continues under new ownership

A Rochester staple, Nubiano’s Pizza has been at its 714 E Ninth Street location since its opening in 1982.


After years of working side-by-by side with Bruno's Pizza in Logansport, who happens to share the same recipe, things fell into place naturally when former owner Christine Siciliano came to Gina Curl about selling the Rochester business. 



After having its official first day under the new owners Gina and John Curl, Terry Strada and family on April 12, Gina says the support and turn out last week was more than even she expected. 


Planning on keeping the same great recipe, for the same great pizza, the owners know consistency is what keeps their customers running back to their other businesses in both Logansport and Kokomo.


Essentially cooking in someone else's kitchen, so to speak, Gina said she's staying positive through the busy times as they work out the kinks. Other than offering doordash for deliveries, and taking off the calzones from the menu for now, everything else is staying pretty much the same at the pizzeria. 



With a passion for supporting local, Gina is already planning ways to support the community in Rochester as much as Bruno's Pizza supports Logansport and Kokomo. 



Indiana State Fair to celebrate Indiana's automotive excellence

As the Indiana State Fair revs up for 2022, it will dedicate the theme for this year’s event to Celebrating Indiana’s Automotive Excellence, presented by Tom Wood Automotive Group.


The 165th Indiana State Fair will take place Friday, July 29 through Sunday, August 21 and will continue its long tradition as Indiana’s favorite all-encompassing summer destination event. 


Fairgoers can expect to see iconic, celebrity cars from movies and books, in addition to world-class classic car collections showcasing Indiana-made vehicles, and so much more. 


The Indiana State Fair is planning to bring back fairgoer favorites including carnival rides, fun and wacky fair food, 4-H competitions, free entertainment, and much more. Stay tuned for new spectacular experiences and announcements in the coming weeks. 


For complete details and tickets to the 2022 Indiana State Fair, please visit: https://www.indianastatefair.com

S.R. 19 to close south of Nappanee for utility work

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the closure of S.R. 19 south of Nappanee.

Crews are scheduled to begin utility work on or after April 18, with work expected to last until the middle of June. All work is weather-dependent and schedules are subject to change.

During the closure, drivers should use the posted detour of U.S. 6, S.R. 331 and U.S. 30, or seek an alternate route.

Missing child quickly found in Francesville

With help from other agencies and individuals the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office was quickly able to find a reported missing child on Tuesday.


The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department responded to a missing 11 year old child in the area southwest of Francesville. The Sheriff’s office personnel included two K-9 units and upon arriving on scene determined the child to be missing for over a half hour so reached out for more man power and equipment from first responders in the area.


Pulaski County offered thanks to the  Francesvile Fire Dept, Medaryville Fire Dept, Star City Fire Dept, Monon Police, Medaryville Police and Rensseler Fire Rescue for their man power and drones in the Francesville area.


The child was located in the area after a search was conducted by units on scene.

Duo at Diamondhill cultivate art, education and community

Jennifer and Steve Weinert had a vision when first moving to rural Kewanna from Tinley Park, Illinois, nearly a decade ago.


Both longtime artists, with a passion to share their love for creativity and education, the rural setting of Fulton County seemed like the perfect canvas to start something new. 


Officially launching their newest project last month, 'Diamondhill' is a Kewanna studio, garden space and place for Heart, Art and Earth connections. Wanting to share their knowledge and experience, the couple hopes to cultivate creative curiosity by offering art, workshops, retreats, story telling, tai chi and more.



Steve is a well-recognized artist in Tinley Park for rendering industrial and historical buildings through sketches and watercolor.  His upcoming retirement means he can get back to his muse. Steve is looking foward to leading a classes with Jennifer for the Kewanna Tween and Teen Art Club, and is looking for any upcoming classes or commission work that may come his way. 


Jennifer, who has a degree in fine arts, hopes to also use her experience as a certified activity director, tai chi for health instructor, and mindfulness coach to help inspire the community as much as the community has inspired her. 



Currently seeking partners, Diamondhill is looking to expand into the community by doing offering local workshopsdemonstrations. Anyone interested in contacting the Duo at Diamondhill,  can do so by calling 574-653-1279 or checking them out on Facebook. 



First Federal Savings Bank named a Five Star Member of the IBA

First Federal Savings Bank’s Five Star Member award from the Indiana Bankers Association are (from left): Amanda Morris-Feldman, First Federal Savings Bank CFO,Dax Denton, IBA Chief Policy Officer and Evan Gottschalk, First Federal Savings Bank CEO. 


First Federal Savings Bank has been honored as a Five Star Member of the Indiana Bankers Association.


The award was presented on April 11, 2022 by Dax Denton, IBA Chief Policy Officer in recognition of First Federal Savings Bank’s Association involvement throughout 2021.


The Five Star Member designation recognizes those IBA-member banks which demonstrate outstanding commitment to the Association in five areas: political awareness, issues advocacy, life-long learning, IBA volunteerism, and Preferred Service Provider utilization.


“We very much appreciate the dedication of First Federal Savings Bank and as a Five Star Member bank,” said Amber Van Til, IBA president and CEO. “Our Association is strong, thanks to our supportive members.”


The Indiana Bankers Association supports Indiana banking through issues analysis, professional education, and products and services that enhance member banks’ ability to serve their communities.

Miss Wabash County '20 named Indiana State Fair Queen; Miss Pulaski 2021 a top 10 finish at state pageant

It's been more than two years since an Indiana State Fair Queen was crowned.  The wait ended this past weekend.


Alyssa McKillip is Miss Indiana State Fair 2022.  The queen of Wabash County 2020

was selected over more than 100 other contestants.  Some counties this year had more than one representative because some had fairs in 2020 during the pandemic while some did not.


The Indiana State Fair Queen is expected to promote the Indiana State Fair by traveling over 6,500 miles during June and July to over 40 county fairs to promote the upcoming Indiana State Fair, July 29 – Aug. 21, 2022.  


Among the Top 10 finalists:

The Queen’s Court:

1st Runner-up – Sydney Dunkin, Miss Vigo County 2020

2nd Runner-up – Kalyn Melham, Miss Delaware County 2021

3rd Runner-up – Grace Brenneman, Miss Elkhart County 2021

4th Runner-up – Emma Yarber, Miss Posey County 2021


Other finalists, in no particular order:

Jordyn Wickard, Miss Hancock County 2020

Julia Prickett, Miss Shelby County 2021

Kelsey Kendall, Miss Marion County 2020

Keyton Romero, Miss Howard County 2021

Jenna Zeider, Miss Pulaski County 2021




Prisoner convicted of attack that scarred Miami Correctional Facility officer

A Miami Correctional facility inmate has been convicted of a 2020 attack on a correctional officer.


Raul Soleto, 67, is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for the September 1973 murder of a 12-year-old Lake County girl whose nude body was found in a cemetery. Sotelo was 18 at the time of the girl’s slaying.


On July 1, 2020, Soleto attacked Officer Mackenzie Malott with a homemade weapon made from a razor blade wrapped with cardboard.  The attack left a permament five inch scar on the officer's face.  Soleto also tried to slash the officer's abdomen.


A Miami County jury found Sotelo guilty of attempted murder, battery with bodily injury to a public safety officer and other charges.


He will be sentenced on May 4.



Fulton Co. tax statements to be mailed this week

Tax statements will be mailed out on Thursday, April 14. 


Property taxes are due May 10, 2022 and November 10, 2022.


Payments can be made in a variety of ways:


In person at the Treasurer’s Office Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.  There is a drop box outside the Fulton County Annex Building doors for payments after hours. 


Taxpayers can also pay online through the county’s website at www.co.fulton.in.us or www.lowtaxinfo.com/fultoncounty


Mail payments into the office at Fulton County Treasurers Office, 125 E 9th Street Suite 112, Rochester, IN 46975.  If you would like a receipt please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.


Payments are also taken at Lake City Bank or Community State Bank in Kewanna.

Cass Co. Prosecutor's Office receives public safety and crime prevention grant

The Cass County Prosecutor's Office is among 50 Indiana law enforcement agencies receiving a grant that will help supplement staff and activities at the office.


The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute awarded $3.3 million to 50 law enforcement and government agencies for public safety and crime prevention initiatives.  The funding was provided by the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program through the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.


In Cass County, the prosecutor's office was targeted for $54, 103.73.  It will be used for providing a full-time prosecutor as well as part-time investigative support.  A program director will also be designated to oversee program activities and handle reporting and compliance.


"Byrne JAG plays an important role in equipping communities with the tools and resources they need to address crime and keep people safe,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “This funding is a catalyst for improving how our justice system operates and responds to issues like violent crime.”


The JAG program is the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. While funds can be used to support a broad range of activities, the program places emphasis on breaking the cycle of substance use and crime, combating violence, holding offenders accountable, reinforcing law enforcement efforts, supporting adjudication and enhancing technology and information sharing.


Agencies have until December 31, 2022, to spend the funds, which were recently approved by the ICJI Board of Trustees. For some of the subrecipients, a local match is required depending on the number of years of participation in the program.


Whitley Co. Sheriff detectives need help identifying police impersonator

The Indiana State Police is assisting the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department with their active criminal investigation of an unidentified man impersonating a police officer while conducting a traffic stop in Whitley County.


The incident occurred this past Thursday, March 31, at approximately 10:00 pm.  A female driver reported being stopped by a man impersonating as a police officer on a rural stretch of West Lincolnway between Columbia City and Pierceton.


Suspect description:

  • White male
  • Possibly 30 to 40 years old
  • Tall with muscular build
  • Mustache
  • Wearing a campaign style police hat

Suspect vehicle description:

  • White passenger car- unknown make/model
  • Displayed flashing red and blue emergency style lights on the dashboard. 

WCSD detectives, in coordination with an Indiana State Police sketch artist, have worked with the victim to create a composite sketch of the suspect (as shown below). 


Authorities are actively seeking the public’s assistance.  Anyone with information that may help detectives identify this suspect, please contact the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department tip line at (260) 244-6410, option 4, or by email tips@whitleysd.com

'Warriors Cafe' in Winamac changes name, keeps traditions

After nearly two decades in business, Kostas at 1406 South Highway 35 in Winamac has switched hands, and names.


When the owners of Poblanos, Martin Capulin and his wife, Sandra Bagley-Capulin, were given the opportunity by former owner Gus Ress at the start of 2022, the little cafe across the highway was something the couple couldn't pass up. 


Jumping in headfirst, the Capulin's made it official and took over this past February. Renaming it 'Warriors Cafe,' after the local 'Winamac Warriors' team, they feel their business is now just as much the community's as it is theirs. 



Wanting to keep the same hometown feel, they don't plan on changing too much at the cafe. Keeping all the original staff, and working as they go, there may be some minor changes here and there as they work on getting up new signs and menus. 



Hours to Warriors Cafe are Tuesday-Friday from 6:00 am-2:00 pm and Saturday-Sunday from 7:00 am-3:00 pm. The cafe is closed on Monday.


They plan on keeping the breakfast buffet every weekend.

Fulton County's new commissioner receives board assignments

Fulton County’s newest commissioner now has his full assignment list.

Dave Sommers was chosen by the Fulton Co. Republican caucus to replace Steve Metzger when he stepped down from the District 1 seat. 


Fellow commissioner Rick Ranstead says Sommers explains the many boards that are assigned to Sommers in his new position.



Commissioners are investigating whether solar power at the new Fulton County Jail would be a positive move.  It’s possible they could help with significant energy costs.



Ranstead also noted that the Fulton County Health Department is seeing fewer and fewer people seeking tests or vaccinations related to Covid-19.




U.S. 31 to have lane closures north of Rochester

Indiana Department of Transportation contractor Three Star Painting Inc. will begin a bridge deck sealing project on U.S. 31 over the Tippecanoe River on or after Monday, April 11.


There will be alternating lane closures on northbound and southbound U.S. 31 while work is occurring, with one lane open in each direction at all times. This preventative maintenance bridge project will be ongoing through late May. 


During this timeframe, Olson Rd will be closed at U.S. 31. Motorists should seek an alternate route. The official detour for this closure will follow C.R. 375 N, Old U.S. Hwy 31 and Monticello Rd. 


INDOT encourages drivers to allow extra time when driving through this area and follow traffic directions carefully. Motorists should slow down, exercise caution and drive distraction-free through all work zones.

Plymouth couple charged after drug bust, several children removed from home

A search warrant executed by the Marshall County Drug Task Force, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department with K9 Diesel, and Indiana State Police with K9 Chase resulted in the arrest of two adults and the removal of several children from a home near Plymouth. 


According to the report, on March 31 officers located and seized several grams of cocaine and other controlled substances, large amounts of marijuana, marijuana edibles, scales and packaging materials, and several hundred dollars in at the home located at 1900 block of 9th Road. 



Gabrielle Burgh and Troy Burgh were arrested and charged with preliminary charges of dealing in cocaine as a Level 2 Felony, and Level 6 Felony charges of dealing in marijuana, neglect of a dependent, and maintaining a common nuisance. They are currently being held in the Marshall County Jail with no bond. 


BBB issues warning for Department of Workforce Development Scam

The BBB serving Northern Indiana has issued a warning to consumers about a new text message scam posing as the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

In previous years, scammers have preyed on individuals who had applied for unemployment benefits. In the new text scam, reported to BBB in March, consumers receive a text from DWD claiming to have a $3,800 payment available for returning to work, as part of a program called “Back2Work.” The message claims that the money will be direct deposited once the user clicks the link in the text message.

The texts come from an out-of-state area code but contain a link that looks as if it's from the State of Indiana. The links may contain malware, which could access sensitive information on your device and result in possible identity theft.

The DWD confirmed they will not ask to verify information via text. Instead, users will be prompted to verify their information using the state’s ID.me portal. They encourage those who receive this text not to click on any links and delete any text claiming to be from DWD. If the link is clicked, it is possible the scammer will have access to information on the user’s device which could allow access to take over an unemployment claim or other personal information.

Use BBB’s tips to avoid text scams:

Watch out for suspicious links. Most scam text messages contain a link for you to click on. Scammers hope their message will cause you to feel so scared or excited, you’ll click the link without thinking. Some of these links could download malware onto your device. Others may lead you to lookalike websites where scammers hope to harvest your personal information, login ID, and passwords.

If you spot a scam text, don’t reply. Some scammers ask you to text “STOP” or “NO” so you won’t receive future texts. In reality, your reply tells them they have a real, active phone number and could open you up to future attacks. If a text message seems suspicious, don’t reply. Block the number and erase the message.

Look for spelling and grammar errors. A large number of fake texts originate with offshore companies where they may be crafted by someone who isn’t completely fluent in the English language. Some scammers are highly skilled in English and it may even be their first language, so not every fake text you receive will follow this rule.

If a website looks real, check again. If you do click on a link in a suspicious text message and it appears to take you to an official business website, don’t immediately let your guard down. Scammers can create a carbon copy of a legitimate website and if you login on the fake site they can steal your username and password. Check the URL carefully to make sure you are on the official website before you navigate within it.

Keep your antivirus software up to date. Antivirus software can alert you to fake and unsafe websites if you happen to click on a link in an unsolicited text message. Keep the software installed and up to date to protect yourself against scammers.

If you spot a scam, whether you've lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. 

Funeral services set for Rochester's Dick Belcher

Richard Eugene Belcher, 87, passed away at his home on March 30, 2022. This followed a courageous and inspiring battle with ALS. 


He was born April 20, 1934 in Kewanna, Indiana. The son of William and Margaret Belcher, he is survived by three children, Daniel (Jenny) Belcher MD, Indianapolis, Cynthia Maves Esq., Columbus, OH, and Nancy (David) Gruesser,  Zionsville; 7 grandchildren: William Belcher, Clare Maves, Rachel Maves, Nicole Gruesser, Erica Gruesser, Luke Belcher, and Grace Belcher.


Preceding Dick in death are his wife Suzanne, brother Mickey, granddaughter Katherine Jane Belcher, and his parents.


Dick graduated from Rochester High School in 1952, and Purdue University in 1956 with a degree in agricultural economics. While at Purdue he was senior manager of the 1955 football team, editor of the Purdue Agriculturist, and president of the Gimlet honorary. At Purdue he met Suzanne. They were married on August 11, 1957 and had 57 great years together. He was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.


Dick served with the US Army 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper and an officer. He and Suzanne founded First Federal Savings Bank in 1966, where he served as CEO until his death. First Federal was the first savings and loan in Indiana to convert to stock and had one of the first drive up bank windows in northern Indiana. Dick led the construction of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified bank branch in Indiana.


Dick served as President of the Indiana Savings and Loan League and served on the board of Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. He was past president of Rochester Kiwanis Club. Dick won the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award   twice, once with Suzanne. He served on Rochester Telephone Company Board for 37 years, the Woodlawn Hospital Board of Trustees for 12 years. He was awarded the Northern Indiana Financial Entrepreneur of the Year.  Dick and Suzanne won the Purdue University President’s Council Pinnacle Award conveyed by Purdue President Mitch Daniels. He also served on the Fulton County Community Foundation board and the Board of Trustees of Ivy Tech, Kokomo.


Suzanne and Dick believed it was important to give back to their community. They supported the Fulton County Parks, Fulton County Foundation, 4-H, and many other organizations. They also established the chair for Environmental Sustainability in the College of Agriculture at Purdue University. Suzanne and Dick established an annual scholarship for a Fulton County student enrolled in the College of Agriculture at Purdue. They also established scholarships for students at Ancilla College and Ivy Tech College.


An avid runner and bicyclist, he ran his first of six marathons when he was 50 years old.


One of Dick’s favorite sayings was “leave everything a little better than you found it.”


Dick shared some important people in his life who have made a big difference:

Dad – he taught me a work ethic

Mom – expected me to be a Christian and know the value of money

Suzanne – my wife for 57 years; she always supported and encouraged me

Harry Ray, RHS teacher – he encouraged me to attend Purdue University

Joe Hasler, college roommate – best man in our wedding; gave me idea of starting a bank

Purdue University – for the inspiration the university gave me to use my God-given talent

Our kids and grandkids

First Federal family – for all the support the past 56 years


A celebration of the life of Mr. Richard E. Belcher will be at 11:00 AM EST Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at the Grace United Methodist Church, 201 West 7th Street, Rochester, with a time to greet his family an hour prior to services.


Pastor Kurt Nichols will officiate. 


Friends may visit with his family from 3:00 – 8:00 PM EST, Tuesday, April 5, 2022 in the Good Family Funeral Home, 1200 West 18th Street, Rochester. 


Military graveside rites will be accorded by the Fulton County Veteran’s Honor Guard and the United States Army Honors Team at the IOOF Cemetery. 


In lieu of flowers charitable contributions are welcome to be made to the Belcher Foundation at the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, 227 E. 9th Street in Rochester. 

Arrests made in Pulaski County timber theft

An active timber theft investigation led to the Indiana Conservation Officers arresting five in Pulaski County recently. 


Wheatfield residents Jeremiah Schwanke, 36; Larissa Schwanke, 29; and Jonathan Petty, 32; and San Pierre residents Richard Schwanke, 31; and Kristyn Hickman, 32; were taken into custody on March 30.


Conservation officers, working closely with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department and Medaryville Police Department, made the arrests after suspected stolen timber was observed during a traffic stop on March 29. As a result of the stop, information was gathered linking all subjects to a recent timber theft complaint.


The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this case, the suspects, or other suspicious timber cutting in northern Indiana are asked to call DNR Law Enforcement Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

TVHS teams placed top two in FEDCO business contest

Two teams from Tippecanoe Valley High School were given first and second place Thursday at Rochester High School, during the third annual First Pitch Competion by FEDCO.


The two winning teams represented TVHS's Entrepreneurship class, which held their own competion March 21-22. 


Students from Tippecanoe Valley, Caston and Rochester competed in the event that involved the students making a business plan for a product and presenting it to a panel of judges. Cash prizes were sponsored by Fulton County REMC. 


Taking first place with their business 'Reboot' were TVHS Juniors Abby Bowers, Brittany Benn and Carissa Slone.  The group created concept for a new type of medical boot and was inspired by Benn, one of the group members, who had been in an accident and was confined to a medical boot recently for part of the school year. The new medical boot would allow for interchangeable soles, an adaptable ankle locking system and breathable padding. 



TVHS Senior Andrew Burke took second place with his business, 'Hello World.' Burke's business concept pitched was an app that allows the users to speak directly into their devices and be able to get direct audio-to-audio language translation.