JAG Indiana students in Fulton County earn more than quarter of million dollars in scholarships

The Indiana chapter of Jobs for America’s Graduates announced that this year's graduating class earned more than $24,300,000 in scholarship money.


Recipients included students from 48 Indiana counties.  Four Fulton County JAG students received over $270, 000 in scholarships.

“The Jobs for America’s Graduates program impacts the lives of young people in an extraordinary way, and I’m thrilled to see so many Hoosiers reap the benefits of receiving their high school diplomas and earning financial aid for more education or training to begin their career,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb, who serves on the JAG’s National Board of Directors. “JAG continues to equip Hoosiers with employable skills and provides a road map to lifelong success.”


JAG Indiana, which is administered by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to helping high school students of promise who have experienced challenging or traumatic life experiences achieve success through graduation. JAG students receive adult mentoring while in school and one year of follow-up counseling after graduation. 


Recently, JAG Indiana received the “5 of 5” Award at the 39th Annual National Training Seminar held in Las Vegas. The award recognized the Indiana program for exceeding five goals set at the national level relating to graduation rates, post-secondary education, job placement and other significant milestones.


JAG Indiana’s achievements for the 2021-22 school year include:

  • 94% graduation rate (national goal is 90%);
  • 85% full-time employment rate (national goal is 80%);
  • 82% positive outcome rate (national goal is 80%);
  • 69% job placement rate, including military (national goal is 60%); and
  • 39% further education rate (national goal is 35%).

“The JAG Indiana program continues to be a national leader for boosting educational opportunities for Hoosier high school students,” said DWD Director of Youth Initiatives Brianna Morse. “The outcomes our students achieve are in part due to the work of the dedicated JAG Indiana staff who work year-round to transform the lives of their students in and out of the classroom, through building relationships that last long after graduation.”


Since 2006, more than 40,000 students have participated in JAG Indiana with 94% graduating from high school.

Indiana State Police K9 Mack to get donation of body armor

Indiana State Police K9 Mack will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.  


K9 Mack’s vest is sponsored by Susy and Michelle Presswood and Waymire of Fairmount, IN and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love-Trained to Serve-Loyal Always”.  Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.


Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., established in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. This potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers is U.S. made, custom fitted, and NIJ certified.  Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 4,740 vests to K9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations. 


The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies.  K9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate.  There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.


Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount, while a single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest.  Each vest has a value of $1,744-$2,283, weighs an average of 4-5 lb., and comes with a five-year warranty.  


For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978.  Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts donations at www.vik9s.org, or you may mail your contribution to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.  


Monticello man injured when tree falls on his vehicle in Fulton County

Monday's storms left a Monticello man injured when a tree toppled over onto his truck.


Just after 4:00 pm Monday officers from the Indiana State Police and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department responded to a single-vehicle crash at 9592 S. State Road 25, in which a Monticello man, was injured. 


The preliminary crash investigation by Trooper Dustin Rutledge revealed that Hunter Smolek, 22, was driving a 2021 Ford F150 Supercrew pickup truck southbound on State Road 25 near 9592 South, when a tree from the west side of the road fell on top of the Ford, trapping Smolek.


Firefighters from the Twelve Mile and Liberty Township fire departments had to extricate Smolek, who was transported in critical condition to a Lafayette hospital. At last check, he was talking and alert. 


At the time of the crash, there was a storm with heavy winds passing through the area. 


The Indiana Department of Transportation utilized a payloader to remove the tree from State Road 25 which was closed for approximately two and a half hours. 



Indy man sentenced for defrauding senior victims in international romance scam

Nearly five years in prison is the sentence for a man charged with scam involving seniors and an online dating service.


Edwin Agbi, 29, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for mail fraud, use of a fictitious name in furtherance of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Agbi was found guilty on March 2, 2022, following a three-day federal jury trial.


According to documents and evidence introduced in court, in 2018, an international group of scammers working with Agbi created fake profiles on OurTime, an online dating service designed for adults over 50. Over time, the scammers were able to deceive several senior victims, making them believe that they were in genuine relationships with the fake personas. Eventually, the scammers asked the victims for money, explaining that they needed funds for various reasons, including taxes and travel expenses. The victims sometimes sent the requested money.


Agbi’s role in the scheme was to receive money from the victims and pass it along to his partners. The victims mailed packages containing large amounts of cash to Agbi’s home in Indianapolis because they believed he would get the money to their significant other. Agbi received those packages under the alias “Kareem Sunday.” Upon receiving the cash, Agbi would keep a portion for himself and then have the remaining money deposited into his co-conspirators’ foreign bank accounts.


In 2018 and 2019, multiple packages containing cash were delivered to Agbi’s home. In total, the packages contained at least $75,000 in cash. During the investigation, federal agents intercepted one of the packages sent by a victim to Agbi and found that it contained $20,000 in cash.


Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Jeffrey Adams, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service, and Rodney Hopkins, Inspector-in-Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Detroit Field Division, made the announcement.


The United States Secret Service and United States Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that Agbi be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years following his release from federal prison and to pay $95,500 in restitution to the victims.


This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative. The mission of the Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults.


INDOT seeking public input for studies along U.S. 30 and U.S. 31 corridors

The Indiana Department of Transportation is asking for Hoosiers’ input as it begins a streamlined planning process along the U.S. 30 and U.S. 31 corridors in northern Indiana.


The ProPEL U.S. 30 and ProPEL U.S. 31 studies will use a collaborative approach to consider environmental, community and economic goals early in project development.


The two-year studies will follow the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) process used by transportation agencies, such as INDOT, to assess innovative ways to address transportation challenges and needs. PEL studies allow INDOT to interact with communities as they share ideas and feedback related to long-term solutions on U.S. 30 and U.S. 31.


The process includes development of alternatives that balance input from the community with transportation engineering needs and environmental concerns. The information, analysis and decisions made during the PEL process can be leveraged in later phases of project development, including the environmental review process based on requirements established in the National Environmental Policy Act.


The studies span 180 miles across 12 counties and includes U.S. 30 from Valparaiso to the Indiana/Ohio state line (excluding the Fort Wayne bypass), as well as U.S. 31 between Hamilton County and Plymouth (excluding the Kokomo bypass). Counties within the study area include Allen, Fulton, Hamilton, Howard, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Marshall, Miami, Porter, Starke, Tipton and Whitley Counties.


Anticipated completion of ProPEL U.S. 30 and ProPEL U.S. 31 is in fall of 2024. With community support, each study will identify a range of alternatives, including a no-build alternative for each corridor.


Information Gathering
The PEL studies will be collaborative, data-driven and influenced by the public’s ideas. Throughout the process, INDOT will invite input from communities along the corridor to identify what needs and concerns should be addressed by future improvements. With help from residents, motorists, businesses and other road users, INDOT can build infrastructure that will better serve Hoosiers. The studies will gather questions, concerns and ideas through a variety of means, including project websites, social media, and in-person and virtual public information meetings.


The first round of public meetings are planned for this fall. More information about each meeting will be available at a later date.


ProPEL U.S. 30 and ProPEL U.S. 31 are about what is possible. Together we will look at transportation challenges and needs, and work together to identify solutions that will enhance safety, mobility and economic development along each corridor. INDOT will evaluate the public’s suggestions to provide recommendations using engineering, environmental, economic and community factors.


Once the studies are complete and funding is identified for projects, INDOT will move into the next phases of development using the feedback and alternatives gathered during the PEL process.


For more information on each study, and to share ideas, visit the project websites listed below:


ProPEL U.S. 30: ProPELUS30.com

ProPEL U.S. 31: ProPELUS31.com

Road projects to begin in North Judson

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces road projects getting ready to take place in North Judson.

On or after August 29, crews will begin working on curb ramps and sidewalks on State Road 10/39 between Mint Road and Oakwood Avenue. Work is expected to wrap up by early November.

During construction, traffic will be maintained by flaggers when needed, but most of the work will be taking place outside of the roadway.

On or after September 6, S.R. 10/39 will be closed for utility work between Schricker Avenue and Oakwood Avenue. That work is expected to wrap up by the end of October.

During construction, drivers should use the posted detour of S.R. 39, S.R. 8 and U.S. 421, or seek an alternate route.

Indiana Auto Outlet opens its doors in Fulton

With 15 years of experience in the car business, Isaiah Smith, owner of Indiana Auto Outlet at 7504 Liberty Ave on State Rd 25 in Fulton, has officially taken the leap to become his own boss with the official opening of the dealership this week.


Smith chose the former cafe location for his future dealership due to the high traffic count of 5,000 cars a day driving past on State Road 25.


Starting out with eight quality cars, Smith plans to grow the lot as he goes. 




Smith vows to keep his overhead costs as low as possible for his customers. Although Smith won't make as much per car, he says he can still make a comfortable living selling between six to ten cars a month. 


After working in three different franchises in his decade in a half career, Smith knows firsthand that building a trusting relationship with his customers is important. He also hopes to help build up the community in the small town. 



As for now, Smith is the only employee at his business. Persistant about detail and quality, he would eventually like to add a few employees down the road. 



Hours for Indiana Auto Outlet are Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm, Saturday from 8am-12pm.  They are closed on Sunday. 






Community Crossing grant no longer enough for Rochester project

One planned street project in Rochester is now stalled despite the fact that Community Crossing grant money was earmarked for it.


Rochester Mayor Ted Denton says inflation during these economic times have hamstringed efforts at the project.  The Community Crossing grant is no longer enough to meet the costs.



The mayor says INDOT has heard from other communities regarding similar circumstances.  For now, the project will wait.







Brian Young sentenced for illegal voting, election in Pulaski County

A former Pulaski County Council member was sentenced to three years in prison with all three suspended for illegal voting activity.


Brian Young's plea agreement dropped theft, perjury and official misconduct charges.  He was sentenced for two counts of voting outside his precinct.


Young was charged with using his parents Pulaski County address to vote and run for office instead of his address in the council's first district.


Young will serve 90 days of home detention and is not allowed to hold any elected office while on probation.



Rochester City Council proclamation for county's first female Eagle Scout

The Rochester City Council honored a girl who did something not done before in Fulton County.


Rochester Mayor Ted Denton said the council recognized the achievement of the county's first female Eagle Scout.



A proclamation was announced in front of family, friends and fellow scouts.



Mayor Denton remembers the last time he was involved with an Eagle Scout's celebration.







Rochester's Wings Etc. Dine to Donate on Friday to aid the Martir family

On Friday, Aug. 26, Wings Etc. Rochester will donate 20% of pre-tax food and soft drink sales (alcohol excluded) to the Martir family, who recently tragically lost their baby daughter.


Autumn Mikesell, Wings Etc. Rochester Assistant Manager and friend of the family, is asking the community to stop in and help.


“We’re hoping for this to be the biggest Dine to Donate we’ve ever done,” said Mikesell. “The family is already going through so much, and the last thing we want them to worry about is money.”


Mikesell noted that four members of the Martir family have worked at Wings Etc. Rochester, making the cause especially close to the hearts of those at the grill and pub.


In addition to 20% of all pre-tax food and soft drink carryout and dine-in sales (alcohol excluded) being donated on Aug. 26, Mikesell said many businesses have reached out to offer raffle donations. Guests will also be able to give additional contributions to the family if they would like.


A flyer for the Dine to Donate event can be found on the Wings Etc. Rochester Facebook Page. Guests must show their server the flyer to let them know they are there for the Dine to Donate. Those choosing carryout should use the code D2D0018 at checkout when ordering online at togo.wingsetc.com.


Wings Etc. Rochester is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Aug. 26

Steury confirmed as Democrat's candidate in 2nd Congressional District

Tuesday's Democratic caucus in Lakeville confirmed Paul Steury as the party's candidate for the special election to complete the term of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.


Steury, a high school science teacher from Goshen, will face Republican Rudy Yakym and Libertarian William Henry.  Yakym was chosen by a Republican caucus on Saturday.


The three candidates are all running in the special election to complete Walorski's term and the regular election.  Both are on the ballot in November.


The Indiana Democratic Party issued the following statement from Chairman Mike Schmuhl after Democrats nominated Paul Steury as its candidate for the Indiana Second Congressional District special election: 


“With Paul Steury, Democrats have an educator and proven community leader who is ready to fight climate change, create more good-paying jobs, and build a better tomorrow for Hoosiers across Indiana’s Second Congressional District. Paul’s experience is in stark contrast with Rudy Yakym and a modern Republican Party that puts extremism and cozying up to special interests over common sense solutions for hard-working folks. The choice couldn’t be more clear, and it’s why Democrats like Paul Steury will win this November – because they’ll put Hoosiers, not special interests, first.” 


Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party 

Three longtime Rochester Community School Corporation staff members celebrate retirement

Each has left their own mark on the Rochester Community School Corporation. 


Barb Swank, Charlee Schwenk and Lisa McMillen celebrated their 2021 retirement with an official celebration Monday evening at the Rochester Learning Center. 



Friends, family and coworkers gathered to honor the women. Welcoming guests to the celebration, Jana Vance, Rochester Community School Corporation Superintendent, started off by thanking McMillen for her 38 years of passion for music and her students. Vance said her help and direction with the renovations of the Rochester High School auditorium was a testament of McMillen's dedication. 


Vance credited Charlee Schwenk for her 44 years of passion in teaching physical education. Schwenk, who started swimming classes at the Rochester Middle School pool, leaves a legacy of lifetime health that she not only taught, but also lives by. 


Combining McMillen and Schwenk's years, Vance said the two have accounted for 75 years of education for RCSC.


Retiree Barb Swank was praised for her help in starting the Rochester Learning Center. Swank brought a wealth of knowledge of resources for special services and student services that the school corporation didn't previously have. 


Jason Snyder, Columbia Elementary School Principal, shared a personal story about Schwenk's dedication and support she was known to give her students, both in and outside of class. Just before Snyder's daughter was to participate in a 5K run in South Bend, she discovered she had forgotten her running shoes at home. Luckily, Schwenk was there to save the day. 



The three retirees continue to give back.  Superintendent Dr. Jana Vance.




Three injured, two flown from Fulton County SR 14 / 650 West accident

Three people were injured and two flown from the scene of a multivehicle crash Monday.


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office reports that emergency personnel were dispatched just after 2:00 pm to State Road 14 and 650 West. A Hyundai Tucson driven by Timothy Kauffman, 51, of Remington, was traveling west on SR 14 when it crossed the center line and struck the rear axle of an eastbound 2018 INDOT Freightliner.  The Freightliner was driven by Matthew Bremer, 41, of South Bend.


The Hyundai continued west and collided with an eastbound 2014 Ford Econline behind the INDOT vehicle.  Payton Ryan, 19, of Warsaw, was driving the Ford.  Ryan had a reported complaint of pain and was transported by ground ambulance for medical treatment.


Two passengers in the Hyundai were seriously injured and flown for medical treatment – Sara Shibler, 28, of Sturgis, Michigan, and Traci Johnson, 51, of Dothan, Alabama.


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department says all of the people involved were wearing seat belts.


The Kewanna-Union Fire Department, Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS, Lutheran Air and Samaritan Air assisted at the scene.


The crash remains under investigation.

45 pounds of marijuana found in Fulton County traffic stop

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for Fulton County authorities.


Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Scott conducted a traffic stop Saturday at U.S. 31 and Old 31.  While in contact with the driver, John Madden, 46, of Evarts, Kentucky, the press release states that the deputy believed there to be criminal activity and called for a K9 unit.  Deputy Ryan utter and K9 Rapid responded and conducted a free air sniff around the vehicle.  K9 Rapid indicated the presence of illegal narcotics from the vehicle.


A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in officers finding over 45 pounds of suspected marijuana, 17 grams of suspected methamphetamine, THC vape cartridges, THC honey and a loaded handgun.


Madden was charged with possession of methamphetamine, dealing in marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.


The Rochester Police Department assisted the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office at the traffic stop.

Argos student, 16, killed in Saturday two-car crash; funeral services this week

An Argos High School student was killed in a two-car crash Saturday.


The accident happened late Saturday afternoon on U.S. 31 at 18th Road south of Argos.  Emily Carr, 16, was the driver of a Chrysler Sebring going eastbound on 18th Road when another vehicle was southbound on 31.  Carr died from injuries sustained when the vehicles collided.  Four others were injured.

Four others were hurt in the two-vehicle collision.

Extra counselors are expected to be at the school today to help students and staff.

Funeral services have been scheduled for this week for Emily Carr.  They can be seen below:


Emily Jean Carr, 16, of Argos, passed away on August 20, 2022 at 4:37 p.m. from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.


On November 21, 2005 in Rochester, Emily was born to John F. Carr and Lisa M. (Ballinger) Carr. She lived all of her life in the Argos community.


Emily just started her Junior year at Argos High School where she was on the volleyball team and the bowling team. She was actively involved in Sunshine Club, Tech Club, band, and the Leo’s Club.


Emily is survived by her Mom and Dad – Lisa and John Carr of Argos

Brother – John R. Carr of Argos

Paternal Grandparents – Karen and Ralph Swanson

Many aunts, uncles, and cousins

She is preceded in death by her: Maternal Grandparents – Rocky and Kay Ballinger; and Paternal Grandfather – Roy A. Carr.


Friends may visit with the family on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Argos United Methodist Church, 570 N. Michigan St., Argos.


Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, August 25, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at the church with Rev. Tim Lee and Rev. Max Milton.


Burial will follow at the Maple Grove Cemetery, Argos.


In honoring the life of Emily the family request to come wearing your Sponge Bob or Harry Potter attire or your favorite Argos High School apparel.


Memorial Contributions may be made to help the family with final expenses at: Emily Jean Carr Memorial Fund – 208 N. Michigan St., Argos, Indiana, 46501   


Arrangements have been entrusted with the Earl-Grossman Funeral Home, Argos

Silver Alert: Austin Gail Hinsey, 15, Wabash

The Wabash County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the disappearance of Austin Gail Hinsey, a 15 year old white female, 5 feet tall, 108 pounds, brown hair with brown eyes, last seen wearing a black hoodie and black pants.


Austin is missing from Wabash, Indiana, and was last seen on Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 11:50 pm. She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 


If you have any information on Austin Gail Hinsey, contact the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department at 260-563-9223 or 911.

Yakym chosen by Republican caucus to fill Walorski vacancy

Rudy Yakym has been chosen to replace U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski on the November ballot.


Endorsed  by Walorski’s late husband, Dean Swihart.


Yakym, 38, was chosen to both complete Walorski’s term that ends this year and to run for an election for a full two-year term.  Both elections will be on the November ballot.


Yakym will face Democrat Paul Steury and Libertarian William Henry in the November election.


Yakym is an executive with a distribution company called Kem Krest in Elkhart.  He worked as finance director for Walorski’s first winning congressional campaign in 2012.


Yakym was chosen from a dozen candidates.


Rochester City Council approves pay raise for hourly employees

After a year long discussion, Rochester City Council members made their final decision about raises Thursday, during a special budget meeting at city hall.


Council members approved a two dollar raise across the board for full-time hourly employees, raising the starting wage for new hires from $14 to $16.  Part-time employees will receive a one dollar raise.


Rochester Clerk-Treasurer Shona Beehler spoke with Mayor Ted Denton and council members during the meeting about park employees being exempt from the raise. 



With a national labor shortage and competetive hiring at a peak right now council members hope the change will help retain employment. With hopes to keep longterm employees, the council will revisit a possible longevitity package at a later date, closer to the budget deadline. 

Update: Authorities call reported threat against Rochester schools unfounded

Fulton County Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip Thursday night concerning a threat to the Rochester Community School Corporation. 


Fulton County Sheriff Chris Sailors stated in a press release that jointly officers with the Rochester Police Department and Fulton County Sheriff's Office investigated the tip by conducting interviews and determined the threat to be unfounded and not credible.


Out of an abundance of caution, there was an additional law enforcement presence at Rochester schools on Friday.

Law enforcement found who is responsible for Rochester schools threat; new message from Supt. Vance

Few details at this time regarding possible arrest or content of a threatening message intended for Rochester schools.  But a new message sent by the superintendent of Rochester schools states that law enforcement has found who is reponsible for that reported threat.


Just a little while earlier this evening families connected to Rochester Schools received an automated call  from Superintendent Dr. Jana Vance.  The message had information that a possible threat to the schools was being investigated.  Also, Vance noted that as a precaution extra security was being planned for the school properties on Friday.


No other information about the form of the threat was given in the message.


A new message was sent by the superintendent moments ago stating that law enforcement was in contact with the person(s) responsible.



Extra security planned for Rochester schools Friday as investigation is made into reported threat

Families connected to Rochester Schools received an automated call Thursday evening from Superintendent Dr. Jana Vance.


The message has information that a possible threat to the schools is currently being investigated.  Also, Vance says that as a precaution extra security is planned for the school properties on Friday.


No other information about the form of the threat was given in the message.



Fulton County's Ad-Vance Magnetics recognized for over 50 years in business

A Fulton County business joined others from Wabash and Kosciusko counties in being recognized with Cenutry and Half-Century Business awards.


Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers today awarded 47 Indiana companies and organizations with the Governor’s Century or Half-Century Business Award in recognition of each company’s longevity and service to its employees, community and the state. 


The Governor’s Century and Half-Century Business Awards honor Hoosier businesses that have remained in operation for a minimum of 100 or 50 consecutive years and have demonstrated a commitment to community service.


2022 Half-Century Award honorees: 

Ad-Vance Magnetics Inc. 

51 years; Fulton County


Halderman Real Estate & Farm Management 

92 years; Wabash County


Pierceton Trucking Company Inc. 

67 years; Kosciusko County


Quality Electric Inc. 

61 years; Wabash County


2022 Century Award honorees: 

Crossroads Bank 

102 years; Wabash County 


More than 1,206 Indiana companies have been recognized during the award's 31-year history.



U.S. Attorney's Office recovers over $5.5 M in civil false claims settlement with American Senior Communities

American Senior Communities, L.L.C. (ASC), a provider of skilled nursing and long-term care services throughout Indiana, has agreed to pay $5,591,044.66 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Medicare program.


American Senior Communities includes several locations around the state including Autumn Ridge Rehabailitation Centre in Wabash and Hickory Creek locations in Peru and Winamac.


In 2017, a former employee of a hospice services company doing business with ASC filed a sealed civil complaint or “whistleblower” lawsuit under the False Claims Act in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The complaint alleged that ASC had engaged in conduct to defraud the Medicare program. Specifically, the complaint alleged that ASC was charging Medicare directly for various therapy services provided to beneficiaries who had been placed on hospice, when those services should have already been covered by the beneficiaries’ Medicare hospice coverage.


The False Claims Act provides that when a whistleblower files a lawsuit alleging fraud that results in a recovery of funds by the Government they are entitled to between 15 and 25% of the recovery. This whistleblower provision of the law encourages people to come forward when they believe fraud is being committed. Under the False Claims Act, the Government may collect up to three times the loss it incurred, plus a fine of between approximately $5,500 to $22,000 for each false bill submitted.


Based on the investigation, the estimated loss to the Medicare program was $2,795,522.33 and ASC has agreed to pay $5,591,044.66 to the United States.


The resolutions obtained in this matter were the result of a coordinated effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


 “Whistleblowers are critical to protecting public funds from fraud, waste, and abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “Health care providers who submit false claims or otherwise violate state and federal regulations when billing the United States Government will face consequences.


Today’s settlement demonstrates that federal law enforcement agencies will vigorously investigate reports of false claims and seek to recover funds on behalf of the public.”


 “Health care providers that submit inappropriate claims to Medicare to boost their own profits compromise the integrity of this important federal health care program,” said Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “We will continue to work tirelessly, alongside our law enforcement partners, to ensure the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars and hold those who violate the law accountable.”


U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shelese Woods and Justin Olson who handled the case for the United States.


The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability. In agreeing to the settlement terms, ASC denied all liability under the False Claims Act. In investigating the case, HHS-OIG did not uncover any evidence of injury or harm to patients because of the alleged conduct.

Rochester and Fulton County working together on sidewalk project to enhance kids safety

The recent announcement that the former Schnabeltier property in Rochester is being donated to the Youth Outlet Center brings even more focus to efforts at a particular sidewalk and more project.


Fulton County Commissioner Brian Lewis.



Lewis notes the Youth Outlet Center eventually moving to the former Schabeltier property further enhances the projects importance.



In county roads news, Lewis says they are clearing out brush and trees that are impacting a stretch of Old US 31.



FEDCO re-imagines the economic future of Fulton County; vision and key priorities announced

Change is the law of life.  And those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future,” said John F. Kennedy.


With that in mind, In March of this year, Fulton Economic Development Corporation (FEDCO) embarked on a process to identify what the community aspired for its county.  Reaching out across the county to stakeholders throughtwenty-one listening sessions and several individual interviews, FEDCO heard what residents and leaders had to say.Participants discussed their ideas of growth and what they wanted from their economic development organization.  As a result of those conversations and over five months of economic development education, research, and planning, the Board of Directors of FEDCO have developed a vision and key priorities for the next three years.


“The community told us they wanted a growing, vibrant and collaborative community that works together both politically and geographically.  They wanted FEDCO to communicate the work they are doing and include key stakeholders in important processes, “ said Interim Director Tiffany Futrell.  “We are very thankful for everyone’s input that led to the development of our bold new vision and priorities.”


That bold vision includes investing in people, quality of place strategies, and partnerships that create an economic environment conducive to the attraction of talent and resources that support business retention and recruitment.Priorities under this vision include:


1.  Create a Strong Organization that is Structured and Staffed for attaining operational goals. This means diversifying the board to represent key stakeholders, hiring a strong CEO to guide the organization in carrying out its vision and ensures all staff have the necessary skills and knowledge, passion and drive to carry out the organizational goals.  The board and staff will adhere to accountability timelines, the highest levels of integrity and the organization’s mission. 


2.  Create a Diversified Funding Plan for Organizational Sustainability.  This means creating a funding plan that will rely on a private/public mix that creates a customer responsive environment and will demonstrate value to the Fulton County Community.


3.  Create a Marketing and Communications plan that targets messages to community stakeholders, elected officials, partners and specific attraction/retention markets. This means utilizing all types of relevant media for the targeted audiences in a comprehensive communications plan for both external and internal communication.  Consistent branding and messaging will be a high priority in reporting impact to stakeholders.


4.  Create an Economic Environment that allows for workforce attraction and economic growth in Fulton County. This means working to simplify processes and ensuring infrastructure, transportation corridors and construction-ready sites for business retention, expansion and attraction.  It also means assessing opportunities for enhancing quality of place across Fulton County and coordinating with educational and workforce partners for the attraction and retention of talent.


5.  Ensure Market-rate Housing for all persons who choose to make Fulton County their home.  This includes collaborating with government entities and other partners to conduct a comprehensive housing study for Fulton County.  Pursuing relevant options to meet the housing needs and capacity for this community while planning for future needs, as well. 


From these priorities, the board has drafted an internal Strategic Investment Plan for ensuring operational goals all have accountabilities and measurable results.  The board is working on finalizing that process in the near future.  Also, the organization will be making a report on the Organizational Assessment and Planning Process available to the public by September.


“I want to thank our stakeholders, community partners and elected leaders for providing their insights that led us to a new vision for Fulton County’s economic prosperity.  I especially want to thank the board and staff for their diligence and willingness to engage in this deep dive into the organization, so we could ensure we have a viable plan for future impact and sustainability,” said FEDCO Board President David Heyde.


In addition to Mr. Heyde, other FEDCO Board members included Brian Goodman, Vice President; Michelle Million, Secretary/Treasurer; Jim Showley, County Councilman; Bryan Lewis, County Commissioner; Rick Figlio, City of Rochester Board of Works; Ryan Mulligan, Pike Lumber Co., Joe Koch, Retired REMC Executive and Jillian Smith, Chamber of Commerce.


Kimberly Pinkerton of Kimberly’s Business by Design was the consultant engaged to lead the assessment and planning process.

Indiana University, Purdue University announce new vision for Indianapolis campus

Indiana University and Purdue University took the first steps Friday on a bold new vision for higher education in Indianapolis, designed to increase the number of job-ready graduates in an innovation-led economy, fuel economic growth in the region and the state, and enhance service to the Indianapolis community and beyond.


This new vision, outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding approved Friday by the IU Board of Trustees and the executive committee of Purdue's Board of Trustees, will transform the 52-year-old IUPUI -- a joint venture between the two universities on a campus IU owns and manages -- into separate academic organizations in which IU and Purdue will each govern their own programs. It calls for a more energized role for each university and the production of more graduates ready to participate in the modern economy.


The MOU outlines a platform for collaboration in which each university's strengths will expand research activity in Indianapolis and enhance funding opportunities for joint research initiatives, including the creation of a joint biosciences engineering institute. This new institute will harness the power of the universities' collective academic and research strengths and ongoing collaboration between Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and other Purdue health-related disciplines, and Indiana University's School of Medicine and health-related disciplines to develop new life-enhancing therapies and technologies while simultaneously creating a highly sought-after pool of professionals whose unique research and training will create startups and attract new companies to Indiana.


The presidents of both universities pointed to the joint institute as an example of how this agreement brings them together in ways that will create transformational change in Indianapolis and the state, creating a global center of research and an engine of growth.


The MOU charges campus leaders to work together over the next year toward the optimum model for strengthening the city and state in the modern economy. To create that model, various operational details will be worked out through careful planning and consultation with all impacted groups. Working groups will be formed to address a variety of specific areas, and both universities are committed to executing a smooth transition that puts students first. Completion of the realignment is expected in time for the fall 2024 semester, at which time the new academic organizations will become official.


Presidents Mitch Daniels of Purdue and Pam Whitten of IU hailed the trustees' support and action for the positive effects they foresee.


"This is an historic moment for Indianapolis, for IU, and for our entire state," Whitten said. "We are building on IUPUI's more than 50 years of accomplishment to propel us into becoming one of the preeminent urban research universities in this country. In addition to expanding our science and technology programs, we plan to grow across the board, create more opportunities for students, and become even more deeply integrated with the Indianapolis community through close relationships with local businesses, nonprofits, sports organizations, and more."


Said Purdue's Daniels: "This new vision will enable the number of Purdue's STEM graduates to grow and also provide more opportunities to our students and faculty both in Indianapolis and in West Lafayette. What we are announcing today responds to calls we have heard from Indianapolis and across the state for a bigger and more visible Purdue in Indianapolis. Our state and its largest city require a world-class, high-technology research presence of the quality Purdue represents."


Indiana University owns and operates the IUPUI campus, but certain programs grant Purdue degrees. Under the MOU, various activities will be allocated as follows:


Indiana University will take over operation of what is now the School of Science at IUPUI, except for its Department of Computer Science, which will become part of Purdue. IU will accelerate training for tomorrow's IT workforce by expanding its Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering with new computer science programs in Indianapolis.


IU also expects to enhance integration of its science programs with its School of Medicine and other allied health science schools, expanding the number of students who will be prepared for health science-based careers, improving the pipeline of doctors and nurses and keeping more graduates in the state. IU will also establish innovative collaborations in new research areas, which will benefit the state through increased funding and resulting startups.

In addition, IU will have responsibility for providing certain administrative services for both academic organizations and for maintaining the intercollegiate athletic program. IU will continue to provide innovative educational experiences for the more than 27,000 students in other IU programs such as business, law, nursing, social work and a wide range of other academic disciplines.


Purdue will assume responsibility for engineering, computer science and technology as a fully integrated expansion of Purdue West Lafayette. The new structure will allow Purdue to grow engineering, technology and computer science enrollments in Indianapolis, and create exciting opportunities for current West Lafayette students to "study away" in Indianapolis while pursuing internship or cooperative work opportunities with Indianapolis companies.


In addition to its new urban campus, Purdue intends to open a branch of its Purdue Applied Research Institute on or near the current IUPUI. Overall, Purdue anticipates growing today's Indianapolis enrollment by more than 1,000 students, housing many together in a new residential building near their academic buildings, Daniels said. These may be seniors finishing their education on the new urban campus, students who opt to undertake their entire Purdue experience at Indianapolis or options in between.


In Friday's announcement, both presidents emphasized IUPUI's 52-year record of accomplishment. During that time, it has evolved from a local commuter school to the third largest undergraduate campus and one of the biggest research campuses in Indiana. Its 206,000 living alumni contribute mightily to the state's economic growth.

New signs highlight historic downtown Rochester

The Rochester Downtown Partnership's goal of making  the historic downtown area welcoming for businesses, residents and tourists has been evident in most recent years, with investments in facade and awning projects, bike racks, benches, and art and mural projects downtown.


RDP's design committee created seven highway signs pointing people toward the historic downtown area, to help remind visitors Rochester is more than box stores and chain restaurants. 


Chad Hisey, Rochester Downtown Partnership's Design Committee Chairman, hopes the signs will help increase business to our downtown restaurants, bars and shops.



The signs were put up at the end of July. Craig’s Welding, Kewanna Screen Printing, the Fulton County Highway Department and City of Rochester also helped RDP in the project. 

Rochester's Times Theater working toward planned October opening

Work is continuing at the Times Theater in downtown Rochester. 


The Times held a sneak peek grab-and-go lunch on Tuesday, August 9, where the public was welcome to take a tour of the progress and hear about the work still to come. 


The venue originally held 700 people, but with new regulations will now have a maximum capacity of 400 people.  The seating has been spread out to allow more leg and elbow room for anyone enjoying a show.  The floor will be cleaned and repainted and new carpet put in the aisles.  The plan is to have the seating stop in the same place that the original seats did, leaving an open area in front.



The venue will also now have a designated area for wheelchair access as well as a VIP Lounge that can fit about 60 people.  The plans are to have the VIP Lounge act as different things depending on the event that is taking place at that time.  The VIP Lounge could be converted into an area for children to sit for a sing-along, a small performance area, a bar, and many other things.



As work continues, the walls will be receiving spray foam.  That work will be done by The Insulation Guys, LLC of Rochester. 



There is now a designated sound booth that will house all the sound equipment and up above the sound booth will house the projector that will be used when the Times shows a movie.



As you first enter the Times Theater lobby there is now an ADA-compliant bathroom. The men's and women’s bathroom is receiving a facelift, and a new concession area is being put in.  The new concession area will not be as crowded as the previous one, as space has been made available to allow for an ice machine, fountain machine, and storage.  The concession area will also have spots for wheelchair access.


Work has begun on the marquee; the old light sockets have been removed and everything cleared out ahead of sandblasting that will take place the week of August 15.  A digital marquee will now be in place that will showcase what events are happening at the Times as well as throughout the community.  The chasing lights around the sign will be making their return as well.  The digital side of things will continue inside the Time Theater lobby with monitors that will showcase the same events that will be seen on the outside, as well as other possibilities.


The Times Theater is still in need of donations and volunteers to help finish up the marquee as well as the inside.  For more information on how you can donate or how you can volunteer reach out to Julie Shambarger through the Times Theater Facebook page.


The plan for the Times Theater is still to open the weekend of the Chili Cook-Off and Red-Hot Car Show, October 8, 2022.

Call out for chili teams for the 30th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Red-Hot Car Show

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce islooking for chili teams for the 30th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Red-Hot Car Show held on Saturday, October 8.


Various local teams will battle it out for the title of the region’s “best chili”.  Cash prizes are awarded for 1st and 2nd place, people’s choice, and best decorated booth.


Teams must be set up in advance and you can obtain an entry form and rules at the Chamber office or online at https://tinyurl.com/FultonCountyChiliCookOff


Any questions can be directed to Kellie Scobie at 574.224.2666 or assistant@fultoncountychamber.com.

Indiana farmland prices soar to record highs in 2022

The Purdue Farmland Value and Cash Rents Survey suggests Indiana farmland prices grew at a record pace between June 2021 and June 2022, exceeding previous highs set in 2021. Statewide, top-quality farmland averaged $12,808 per acre, up 30.9% from the same time last year. The average per acre price of average-quality farmland similarly increased by 30.1% to $10,598. Poor quality farmland prices exhibited the largest increase of 34.0% to $8,631.


“Multiple factors are influencing the increase in farmland prices, including positive net farm incomes, relatively strong commodity prices, inflation, and high farmer liquidity,” said Todd H. Kuethe, Purdue associate professor and the Schrader Endowed Chair in Farmland Economics and survey author. “However, rising interest rates are associated with increased costs of borrowing, which put downward pressure on purchases financed through mortgages.”


Statewide cash rental rates also increased across all land quality classes in 2022. Average cash rents increased by 11.5% for top-quality land, 10.8% for average-quality land, and 13.2% for poor-quality land. The increases in cash rents were the highest observed since the 2011–2012 period. Across the three quality grades, cash rents also reached a record high in 2022 at $300 per acre for high-quality farmland, $252 for average-quality, and $207 for poor-quality land. At the regional level, the largest cash rental rate increases for top- and average-quality land were in the Northeast (21.3% and 13.2%, respectively), and the largest increase for poor-quality land was in the Southwest region (18.6%). Across all three quality grades, the highest per acre average cash rent was observed in the West Central region.


While rental rates across all three quality grades increased in almost all regions, the cash rental rates grew at a slower rate than market prices. As a result, rent as a share of land value declined relative to 2021.


The price appreciation rates for farmland transitioning out of agricultural production or sold for recreational purposes surpassed the previous record growth rates observed in 2011. Statewide, the average price of transitional land was up 36.5% from June 2021, with an average price per acre of $24,240.


Recreational land prices grew by 21.8% to an average per acre price of $9,121. For the remainder of 2022, respondents expect transitional land to increase modestly by 2.3%, while the value of recreational land is expected to hold relatively stable.


For more in-depth analysis on the survey, the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture will host a free webinar 1-2 p.m. ET Aug. 24. Join Purdue agricultural economists Todd Kuethe, James Mintert and Michael Langemeier as they break down the Purdue Farmland Values Survey and USDA Land Values report, discuss marketing strategies for 2022 corn and soybean crops, and make projections for 2023 corn and soybean returns. Register for the free webinar at https://purdue.ag/landvalues2022.


Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Economics conducts the Purdue Farmland Value and Cash Rent Survey each June and publishes it in the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report. The survey is produced through the cooperation of numerous professionals knowledgeable of Indiana’s farmland market. These professionals provided an estimate of the market value for bare poor, average, and top-quality farmland in December 2021, June 2022, and a forecast value for December 2022.

Fire investigators seek help identifying woman at Kokomo fire scene

Indiana State Fire Marshal investigators are seeking help in identifying a woman who may have information about a suspicious fire in a Kokomo apartment building.


Staff at the Kokomo Manor Apartment complex in the 600 block of Elk Drive called the fire department after smelling smoke shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8. Fire crews found a small fire had occurred in a second-floor apartment but had extinguished itself before arrival.


Video of the building entrance captured prior to the fire report included a woman wearing black jogging shorts with white trim, a black t-shirt, white shoes and glasses.


The woman left the scene in a red Dodge Caravan with a mismatched front rim on the passenger side and rear window stickers.


View and download the video.


Still photos (including an example of the van model) are included below.


Anyone with information about the identify of the woman or the fire should contact the Indiana arson hotline at 800-382-4628.




  Model of van in other photo


Rochester woman injured, flown from scene of car - semi crash

A Rochester woman was flown from the scene of a crash Tuesday.


Fulton County deputies, Lutheran EMS and the Rochester Fire Department responded to a two vehicle crash on US 31 at CR 450 N.  Cheryl Schreiber, 54, of Rochester, was driving a Toyota Corolla and was stopped on CR 450 N and US 31 facing east.  The Fulton County Sheriff's Office sats Schreiber then drove into a southbound semi driven by Orlan Denzer, 63, of Rushford, Minnesota. 

Schreiber stated she did not see the semi. 


Denzer was not injured


Schreiber was flown from the scene by Lutheran Air. 


Due to the collision and debris on US 31 the southbound lanes were shut down for approximately two hours.  Northbound lanes were shut down for a short period while Lutheran Air was on the scene. 


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by Indiana State Police, Lutheran EMS, Lutheran Air, Rochester Fire Department, Reichert and Knepp Towing, and Wilson’s Towing. 

Gov. Holcomb signs Executive Order to call a Special election to fill vacancy left by death of U.S. Rep. Walorski

Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed Executive Order 22-12 calling a special election in the Second Congressional District. The special election will be held to fill the vacancy in the office of United States Representative for the Second Congressional District due to the death of Rep. Jackie Walorski.


The special election will be held concurrently with the general election on Nov. 8, 2022.


Note: The information is current as of Tuesday, August 9, 2022 and will be revised as additional information becomes available.


The forms referenced in the text below will be published and available at https://www.in.gov/sos/elections/election-administrators-portal/election-forms/


Q1: Why is a special election required to fill this vacancy? Most other elected office vacancies are filled by an appointment process.


A1: A special election is required in this case by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States, as ratified in 1789, which provides that “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.” Although vacancies in other elected federal offices, such as United States Senator or Vice President, may be filled by appointment, no individual has ever been appointed to serve as a member of the United States House of Representatives. The Framers of the United States Constitution, such as Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, looked to the procedures used to select members of many previously existing legislatures in drafting our Constitution’s provisions, but were most familiar with the procedure used by the Parliament of Great Britain to fill vacancies in its membership, which then and now provides for calling a “by-election” to fill vacancies in the House of Commons when a vacancy occurs before a general election is scheduled.


Q2: How will a special election be called in this case?


A2: A special election is required to be held under Indiana Code 3-10-8-1(3) “Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of United States Representative, unless the vacancy occurs less than seventy-four (74) days before a general election.” In this case, the vacancy occurred more than 74-days before the November 8, 2022 general election. Under Indiana Code 3-10-8-3, the Governor shall order a special election by issuing a writ of election directed to the circuit court clerk of each county located wholly or partially within the election district. The writ must specify: (1) the election district in which the election is to be held; (2) the cause and object of the election; (3) the name of the person whose office is vacant; and (4) the day on which the election will be held. Under Indiana Code 3-10-8-4, each circuit court clerk required to conduct a special election is required to publish a legal notice not later than 21-days before the special election listing: (1) the title of the office, the names and addresses of all candidates who have filed for the office under the proper political party or independent candidate; (2) the date of the election; (3) the hours during which the polls will be open; and (4) the dates, times, and locations of voting at the circuit court clerk’s office and at satellite offices of the circuit court clerk established under state law.


Q3: What will happen to the 2nd Congressional District vacancy once the special election is held and the winner determined?


A3: The purpose of the special election is to fill the vacancy existing in the 2nd Congressional District for the remainder of the term of the late Representative Walorski, who was elected in November 2020 by the voters of the Second Congressional District (as its boundaries existed on that date) to fill a two year term, beginning at noon, January 3, 2021, and ending at noon, January 3, 2023. In the past, the U.S. House has promptly seated the winner of a special election as soon as possible following the special election (assuming that there are no anticipated recounts or other disputes regarding which candidate won the special election) so that the voters would be represented in Congress as soon as possible during the final months remaining in that term.


Q4: How will the candidates of the major political parties (the Democrats and Republicans) be chosen for the special election ballot?


A4: Indiana Code 3-10-8-5(b) and 3-13-1 sets forth a procedure for the two major parties to nominate candidates for this special election: a caucus of the eligible precinct committeemen, called by the state chair of each major party, in which the precinct committeemen who “are entitled to vote for the office for which a candidate is to be selected” can participate. In this case, since the office to be selected is the 2nd Congressional District (as it existed for the November 2020 election), the precinct committeemen of the “old” CD 2 will be the individuals entitled to participate in the caucus to fill the special election vacancy for that office. The state chairman (or the chairman’s designee) will issue the call for the caucus (State Form CAN-54), which will state the purpose, date, time, and place of the meeting, and be sent by first class U.S. mail to all persons eligible to participate in the caucus at least 10-days before the meeting. A copy of the notice must also be filed with the Election Division not later than noon, 10-days before the meeting (Indiana Code 3-13-1-9). Although under Indiana Code 3-13-1-7(b), ordinarily the action necessary to fill a vacancy in this case must be taken within 30-days after the occurrence of the vacancy, Indiana Code 3-8- 7-15 and 3-5-4-1 provide that in the specific case of a special election called by the Governor, a certificate of nomination (reflecting the result of a party caucus, for example), must be filed with the Indiana Election Division not later than noon, 74-days before the date of the election, meaning noon, Friday, August 26, 2022. A major party candidate who wishes to be chosen by their party’s caucus must file a declaration of candidacy with both the Indiana Election Division and the chair of the party caucus. (Indiana Code 3-13- 1-10.5) The CAN-52 form must be filed in both locations not later than 72 hours before the caucus is scheduled to convene. Indiana Code 3-5-4-1.7 does not permit the filing of a declaration of candidacy by email or fax, and so hand delivery by courier (the candidate or a person acting on the candidate’s behalf) is preferred. Transmittal of the declaration by U.S. mail or other express delivery service is permitted but involves risk to the candidate since state law does not consider the document to have been filed until it is actually received and file-stamped by the After a major political party caucus chooses its candidate for the special election, the choice must be certified using the certification of nomination (State Form CAN-52) the Indiana Election Division not later than noon August 26, 2022. However, state law also notes the certificate of nomination must be filed within three (3) days (state. (IC 3-5-2-24.5) excluding Saturdays and Sundays) after the selection of the candidate (IC 3-13-1-15(b)(1) and (d)). The recommendation of the IED co-directors is to file the certificate of nomination not later than noon, three-days from the date the selection was made or not later than noon, August 26, 2022, whichever occurs sooner).


Q5: Can independent candidates or candidates of other political parties run in this special election?


A5: Yes. The Libertarian Party can nominate a candidate by first filing a notice of intent to fill the vacancy with the Indiana Election Division using State Form CAN-56. not later than noon, 10-days before the state committee of the Libertarian Party fills the vacancy. The Libertarian Party must then file State Form CAN-57 to document the selection of the candidate and the candidate’s written consent to be nominated, with the Indiana Election Division not later than noon, three-days days (excluding Saturdays and Sundays) after the candidate selection, and not later than noon, August 26, 2022 (IC 3-13-1-20) An independent candidate or the candidate of another political party not entitled to automatic ballot access under Indiana law can nominate a candidate for the special election by petition (State Form CAN58). To be placed on the special election ballot, the candidate would be required to obtain the signatures of at least 4,538 registered voters within the “old” boundaries of the Second Congressional District, submit those petitions to the various county voter registration offices for certification, and then file the county-certified petitions, plus State Form CAN-59, the candidate’s consent to be nominated for the special election, with the Indiana Election Division, not later than noon, August 26, 2022, 74-days before the special election. A write-in candidate may file State Form CAN-55 with the Election Division not later than noon, August 26, 2022. Although the name of a write-in candidate will not be printed on any ballot, a write-in vote cast for a declared write-in candidate who has timely filed the CAN-55 form will be counted. All filings must be original; therefore, faxed or emailed copies cannot be accepted. A candidate or courier acting on behalf of the candidate can file petitions with the county registration office for petition certification or certified petitions, candidate’s consent, or request to be a declared write-in candidate with the Indiana Election Division on or before the filing deadline. Candidates may mail their filings to the Indiana Election Division, but the Division would need to have the documents filed in the office not later than noon, August 26, 2022, and postmarks do not count toward meeting this deadline.


Q6: How will the Republican Party candidate be chosen to fill the ballot vacancy for the Second Congressional District at the November 2022 general election?


A6: The full two year term for the “new” Second Congressional District (which will run from noon, January 3, 2023, through noon, January 3, 2025) will be on the general election ballot. The Republican Party will fill the general election ballot vacancy for the Second Congressional District by using the precinct committeemen caucus process described above, with some significant distinctions. First, the various actions to fill the ballot vacancy for the general election, such as notice of the caucus, selection of a candidate, and certification of the candidate, must be completed not later than noon, 30- days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The co-directors of the Indiana Election Division notified the Republican State Party chair of the ballot vacancy on August 4, 2022, which would be the date the vacancy occurred. (IC 3-13-1-7) Secondly, the precinct committeemen eligible to participate in this caucus will be a somewhat different group of individuals (namely, the precinct committeemen of precincts within the boundaries of the Second Congressional District as established for the 2023-2025 term, meaning the “new CD 2” (Indiana Code 3-13-1-10). Note: The Democratic Party nominated their candidate for November’s general election at the May 2022 primary. The Libertarian Party’s candidate for the general election was appointed following the Libertarian Party state convention. Therefore, the Democratic and Libertarian parties will not need to take any further action to nominate candidates for the “new” Second Congressional District at the November 8, 2022 general election. Likewise, the deadlines for an Independent or other minor party candidate to file for November’s general election have passed. Therefore, no additional Independent or minor party candidates can appear on the November 2022 general election ballot for the Second Congressional District.


Q7: Which Republican caucus will be conducted first, the caucus for the “old CD 2” vacancy or the caucus for the “new CD 2 vacancy?


A7: The Republican Party will determine the order in which the two precinct committeemen caucuses to fill the ballot vacancy or nominate a candidate for the special election will be conducted. However, the deadlines to hold the caucus and file paperwork are not the same as noted above.


Q8: In precincts where both the “old CD 2” and “new CD 2” candidates will appear on the November 8, 2022 ballot, which will appear first?


A8: With regard to the November 8, 2022 election, state law does not specify which of the two CD 2 elections must appear first on the ballot. However, in November 2010, when there was a similar ballot for a special election to fill a vacancy in the Third Congressional District and for a full two year term for the Third Congressional District, the candidates for the full two year term were listed first, and the candidates for the special election to fill the remainder of the term in the vacant Third Congressional District appeared next, and so a similar ballot order could be certified to the county election boards by the Co-Directors of the Indiana Election Division.


Q9: Are all voters in the Second Congressional District eligible to vote in the special election?


A9: Not necessarily. If the special election and general election are held at the same time on November 8, 2022, voters in, Elkhart, Fulton, Marshall, Miami, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke, and Wabash counties will have BOTH the special election and general election for CD 2 on their ballot. Voters in Cass County will not have the special election for CD 2 on their ballot in November. Prior to redistricting, Cass County was wholly contained within the Fourth Congressional District and therefore, ineligible to vote in the special election. Only the candidates for the new term of office in CD 2 will appear on their November ballot for voters in the roughly eastern half of the county. The western half is generally in CD 4. Not all voters in LaPorte County will have the special election on their ballot in November. Generally, voters in the eastern portion of the county will have BOTH the special election and general election for CD 2 on their ballot. Some voters will have the special election for CD 2 AND the general election for CD 1 on their ballot because the voters were in the “old” CD 2 and are eligible to vote in the special election to select a person to fill the remainder of the term of office. Some voters will ONLY have CD 2 on their general election ballot, but not the special election because the area was previously in CD 1 before being drawn into the new CD 2. Some voters will ONLY have CD 1 on their ballot, as the northwestern corner of the county did not change between the “old” and “new” maps. Not all voters in Kosciusko County will have the special election on their ballot in November. Generally, voters in the western half of the county will have BOTH the special election and general election for CD 2 on their ballot. Some voters will have the special election for CD 2 AND the general election for CD 3 on their ballot because the voters were in the “old” CD 2 and are eligible to vote in the special election to select a person to fill the remainder of the term of office. Some voters will ONLY have CD 2 on their general election ballot, but not the special election because the area was previously in CD 3 before being drawn into the new CD 2. Some voters will ONLY have CD 3 on their ballot, as the northwestern corner of the county did not change between the “old” and “new” maps.

Third generation seamstresses continue tradition with Rochester Mending and Alterations

A stitch in time, sewing has been a family tradition for more than three generations in Ebony Nava's family.


Owner of Rochester Mending and Alterations, 706 Main St, Ebony and her sister, Ivory Nava, opened the sewing and repair shop in May, 2021.




More than a year already into the business, the sisters are keeping busy during the two days a week their Rochester store is open.


The shop provides mending and altering for everything from clothing, shoes, leather, furniture and even marine covers. Recently, picking up drycleaning service has boosted business even more.  Soon, they hope to provide custom shoe making as well. 




Outside the Rochester shop and helping with their brother's commercial landscaping business 'Micah and Brothers,' the sisters live a lifestyle with as little electricity as possible.


Inspired slightly by religion, but more by survival and health, Ebony said she values the traditional lifestyle and things that have worked for thousands of years over manmade conveniences. She hopes to eventually do workshops for things like health and whole grain lessons, that teach others how they do things naturally.


The family, who grinds their own grain and no longer shops at grocery stores, claims their lifestyle keeps them healthy and that they never get sick. 



Living in Argos, Ebony says she actually wanted to live in Rochester, but is thankful to still be apart of the community with her business. 


Indiana delegation introduces bill to rename St. Joseph VA Clinic in honor of late Rep. Jackie Walorski

On Friday, the Indiana state delegation introduced a bipartisan resolution to name the Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic in Mishawaka, Indiana the “Jackie Walorski VA Clinic.”


Rep. Jackie Walorski served on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for two terms, a role in which she championed important reforms to improve the quality and accessibility of services for our nation’s military veterans and the lives of veteran constituents at home.


Along with the entire Indiana delegation, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Whip Steve Scalise, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Ranking Member Michael McCaul, and Rep. Ann Wagner joined this legislation as original cosponsors.  


“I can think of a no more fitting tribute than to name a VA facility in Indiana’s 2nd district after my friend Rep. Jackie Walorski. Jackie fought tirelessly to serve veterans in her district and renaming this facility in her honor ensures Rep. Walorski’s legacy of public service will live on for a long time to come,” Rep. Jim Banks said.


On Wednesday, August 3, Rep. Jackie Walorski, her communications director Emma Thomson, and Walorski’s district director Zach Potts lost their lives in a two- car accident while traveling in Indiana’s second district.  


Rep. Walorski is survived by her husband Dean Swihart.

Funeral services announced for U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski

Jacqueline (Jackie) Renae Walorski Swihart was welcomed into the Heavenly Kingdom at 12:34 PM on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 at the age of 58 years.


Jackie was born on August 17, 1963 in South Bend. She remained a lifelong resident of the South Bend-Elkhart area.


In 1994, Jackie met the love of her life, Dean A. Swihart and on July 15, 1995 Jackie and Dean were united in marriage.

Jackie is survived by a multitude of family and friends who will miss her dearly. Along with her loving husband Dean, Jackie is survived by her mother, Martha C. Walorski of Elkhart; two brothers, David (Karen) Walorski of Osceola and Keith (Brenda) Walorski of North Liberty; mother-in-law, Edna Swihart of Plymouth; and sister-in-law Anna Kathryn (Arlen) Miller of Plymouth. Also surviving are nieces and nephews: Ashley Walorski, Christy (Tim) Lucio, Ryan (Amanda) Walorski, Michael (Amber) Walorski, and Andrew Miller; and great nieces and nephews: Ethan, Elisabeth, Brittney, MacKenzie, Connor, and Cody. Jackie and Dean were blessed with extended family consisting of cousin Patricia (Dan) Mastagh, and special friends Leslie Guzowski and Brenda Allen. Jackie was preceded in death by her father, Raymond B. Walorski and father-in-law, Merl Swihart.

After graduating from Riley High School in South Bend, Jackie attended Liberty University and ultimately graduated from Taylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Public Administration. She started her professional life as a stringer photographer for the South Bend Tribune, and later as an on-air reporter for WSBT-TV. She went on to become the Director of the St. Joseph County Humane Society and later the Director of Development for Ancilla College. She also worked for the South Bend Area Chamber of Commerce and as the Director of Development at Indiana University South Bend.

Jackie and Dean spent four years living in Romania as full-time non-traditional missionaries where they assisted in church planting and worked with homeless children, orphanages, the children’s burn unit, and remote villages. They were living in Romania during the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Two years later they returned home to South Bend to be with family as Jackie’s father’s health declined.

State Representative Dick Mangus mentored Jackie as she began her career in politics. She first ran for State Representative of District 21 in 2004 and won, serving in that position until 2010. In 2012, she was elected as the Congresswoman for Indiana’s 2nd District, holding that position until her passing. Jackie split her time between Washington D.C. and District 2, always eager to meet constituents, business owners and veterans. Jackie’s passion for her district and the United States of America was evident to all who met her, and her energy and determination will be greatly missed.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on August 11, 2022, at Granger Community Church, 630 E. University Drive, Mishawaka, Indiana 46545.


Graveside services and burial will follow at Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, Indiana.


Friends may visit with the family from 12pm - 7pm on Wednesday, August 10th, 2022, at Granger Community Church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Jackie Walorski may be donated to any of the following: Jackie and Dean’s 501c3 not for profit ministry Impact International, Inc; Tunnels 2 Towers Foundation (T2T.org), or RETA of Elkhart County. Please mail contributions to Palmer Funeral Home, 3718 S. Michigan Street, South Bend, IN 46614.


Online condolences may be offered to Jackie’s family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com. 


Feel the Love nominees sought by Collier's Heating & Air Conditioning

Lennox is presenting its Feel the Love program.  Collier's Heating and Air Conditioning in Warsaw is excited about being involved again.


Co-owner Kevin Lehman and Public Relations / Marketing Director Rachel Stephen.



Recipients can be in the Collier’s service area.



They have suggestions for those who could be deserving of such a reward.



If you have a nominee, you can simply go to Collier’s website and enter the information.



Past nominees include community figures such as teachers, firefighters and volunteers; families facing hard times; veterans; senior citizens living in older homes; and people impacted by natural disasters.


Starke Co. traffic stop ends with drug arrest

A traffic stop resulted in an arrest on drug charges for the Starke County Sheriff's Department.


Deputies conducted a traffic stop Thursday in the area of State Road 23 near County Road 75 North. During the course of the stop K9 Mack was deployed for a free air sniff. Mack alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle.


A vehicle search was conducted. Approximately 1.35 grams of a white powdery substance was located. This substance field tested positive for cocaine. Approximately 17 grams of marijuana, a scale, and other paraphernalia was located.


Charles Gross, 42, of Rolling Prairie, is preliminarily charged with Possession of a Narcotic Drug Felony Level 6, Possession of Marijuana B Misdemeanor, Possession of Paraphernalia C Misdemeanor.

Student medical emergency on campus Friday

A Rochester student suffered a medical emergency while on campus Friday morning.


Superintendent Dr. Jana Vance stated in a press release that staff and emergency responders rendered medical aid to the student who was then transported to the hospital for further medical care.


No further word has been released on the student's condition.


The school corporation has invited Four County to be available for any student or staff member impacted by the situation.


Vance further states that the thoughts and prayers of the students, staff, the Zebra Herd, are with the student and family during this trying time.



Arson arrest made in Thursday residential fire

A suspicious fire led to a person of interest being taken into custody Thursday.


About 10:30 am Thursday Rochester and Henry Township Fire departments were dispatched to 761 Cottonwood Lane in Country Meadows with fire and heavy smoke were coming from the residence. 


Owners and neighbors notified Rochester Fire that there was a dog in the residence.  That dog was located and saved and turned over to the Fulton County Animal Control Officer.   


After the fire was extinguished the Rochester Fire Department turned the case over to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana State Fire Marshall for further investigation. 


With that investigation, Timothy P. Miller, 38, was lodged into the Fulton County Jail on a preliminary charge of one count of arson, a Level 4 felony.


There were no injuries in the incident.  However, the residence is a total loss.


In relation to the fire, the following announcement from the City of Rochester:

The City of Rochester Fire Department responded to a fire in the afternoon hours of Thursday, August 4 in the area of Country Meadows pulling water from the fire hydrants located inside the Country Meadows subdivision. 


Residents in this area may experience discolored water for the next couple days.  The water is safe to use and drink.  The city recommends letting it run for a few minutes to help clear it up.  Avoid washing white clothes while water is discolored. 


We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Water Department at 574-223-3412.

City of Rochester advises water safe to use following fire department run

The City of Rochester Fire Department responded to a fire in the afternoon hours of Thursday, August 4 in the area of Country Meadows pulling water from the fire hydrants located inside the Country Meadows subdivision. 


Residents in this area may experience discolored water for the next couple days.  The water is safe to use and drink.  The city recommends letting it run for a few minutes to help clear it up.  Avoid washing white clothes while water is discolored. 


We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Water Department at 574-223-3412.

New information from Elkhart Co. shows vehicle transporting U.S. Rep. Walorski crossed centerline in fatal crash

The Elkhart County Sheriff's office says the initial press release about the Wednesday two-car crash that killed U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski was incorrect.


In a release Thursday morning, the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office says eyewitnesses and video evidence confirm that a Buick LeSabre, driven by Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, was southbound on SR 19 south of SR 119 about 12:30 p.m.  A Toyota RAV 4, driven by Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, was northbound and it was the RAV 4 that crossed the centerline for unknown reasons.  The initial release listed Schmucker as the northbound driver and that it was her car that crossed the centerline.


Potts was a staffer for Walorski, 58, who was also in the RAV 4 with another staffer, Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington D.C.


All four people involved in the crash were killed.  All have been confirmed to have been wearing seat belts and airbags did deploy.


If anyone witnessed the crash, they are asked to contact the Elkhart County Sheriff's office.


The Elkhart County Coroner’s Office and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office are conducting the investigation.

Indiana U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski one of four killed in Elkhart Co. crash

The Elkhart County Sheriff's office has released the following information regarding a Wednesday auto accident that killed District 2 U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski:

The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle crash on SR 19 south of SR 119 at 12:32 p.m. A northbound passenger car traveled left of center and collided head on with a southbound sports utility vehicle.


All three occupants in the southbound vehicle died as a result of their injuries:

Jackie Walorski, 58, Elkhart 

Zachery Potts, 27, Mishawaka 

Emma Thomson, 28, Washington, DC


The sole occupant of the northbound vehicle, Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, was pronounced deceased at the scene.


The Elkhart County Coroner’s Office and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office are conducting the investigation.


The following are posts and reactions to Walorski's passing


This message from Walorski's 2nd Congressional District Twitter account earlier this afternoon:  Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi 

“Today, the United States House of Representatives sadly mourns the sudden and tragic passing of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.

“A lifelong Hoosier, Congresswoman Walorski lived a life of service: whether caring for impoverished children in Romania, representing her community in the Indiana Statehouse or serving nearly a decade in the House.  She passionately brought the voices of her north Indiana constituents to the Congress, and she was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.

“Our Congressional community also mourns the loss of two devoted members of her staff, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson.  May it be a comfort to Jackie’s husband and partner in service, Dean, the entire Walorski family, the families of all the victims and the office of Indiana’s Second Congressional District that so many join them in mourning and are praying for them at this sad time.”



Governor Eric J. Holcomb

"Janet and I are devastated by the tragic loss of our friend Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and her two staffers - Emma Thomson and Zach Potts - earlier today. Our broken hearts go out to her husband Dean and the entire family during this time of unimaginable mourning. At every level of public service Jackie was known to be a positive force of nature, a patriot, and a relentless policy maker with an unwavering loyalty to her constituents. Jackie’s record of achievement is impossible to quantify. She will be remembered as a fighter with a huge heart that always went the extra mile and I’ll treasure the times we walked a few of those together. Every waking moment for her was energetically devoted to improving the lives of all Hoosiers better, the epitome of a good and faithful servant. She, and the example she set, will be missed every day forward.”


Senator Mike Braun 

“Jackie Walorski was a tireless advocate for the Hoosiers she represented and a kind friend to everyone she met. She faithfully served her constituents and her Lord and Savior, and I trust she is now wrapped in the arms of Christ. This is a devastating loss, and we grieve for her two staff members – Zach and Emma – who had their whole lives ahead of them. Please join me and Maureen in praying for the families and friends of those lost on this tragic day for Indiana.”


Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch

"I was shocked and heartbroken when I received the news today about the tragic death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Jackie and I served together in the Indiana House of Representatives, and she was a fighter for her constituents and conservative Hoosier values. My heart goes out to her husband, Dean, and the rest of her family and friends. She will be deeply missed."



Congressman Jim Banks

“My heart is broken for Dean, the Walorski family, and all who knew and loved my friend Jackie. Jackie was a true public servant –selfless, humble, and compassionate. She was a devout Christian, a passionate advocate for life, and a leader among Hoosier representatives. Everything Jackie did was to serve others. Before Congress, she served in the Indiana Statehouse and she and her husband served as missionaries in Romania where they provided impoverished children food and medical care. From my first day in Congress, Jackie showed me kindness and grace. She had a heart of gold, and I will miss her dearly. Please join Amanda and I in praying for Jackie’s loved ones and the friends and family of her two staff members who also lost their lives in this tragic accident.”



Purdue University President Mitch Daniels 

Before serving in Congress, Walorski served three terms in the Indiana Statehouse (2004-2010), where she became assistant floor leader and worked closely with then-Gov. Daniels.


“There could not be worse news. I’m heartsick at this tragedy. Jackie Walorski was a great public servant, a brave and constant ally for change during all my years in elected office, and a great representative of her district at both the state and national levels. I can’t say how much I’ll miss her.”


Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Jackie Walorski. Jackie loved Hoosiers, her country and served with honor in Congress. My prayers are with her family as well as the families of Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson”


Culver Community schools add teachers; student count trends up

As many students head back to the classroom this week, there’s still a few days left in summer break for Culver Community.


Superintendent Karen Schuman says that Culver is pretty well set with additional staff to get the school year underway.



Still, she notes there were staff openings they hoped to fill.



At Culver Community, the number of students is also increasing.  It's a small trend that has been consistent in recent years.



Teachers are scheduled to be in the Culver Community classrooms August 8.  Students return August 10.


Today is the first student day at Rochester schools.  You can see the Rochester bus routes in a post under Community News on our news website, Fulton County Post.


Meanwhile, Caston schools will usher in students on August 15.





Lilly Endowment Scholarship deadline approaching

The school year is about to start.  But the Northern Indiana Community Foundation wants to remind students that looking ahead to next year is necessary, too.


Brian Johnson with the Northern Indiana Community Foundation says the Lilly Endowment Scholarship information is available now.



Johnson says don’t wait to get started.



State health department provides monkeypox update

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced Friday that a total of 45 monkeypox cases have been reported across the state between June 18 and July 28, including two pediatric cases. No additional information about the cases will be released at this time due to patient privacy.

To date, Indiana has received 3,232 doses of Jynneos vaccine. Due to limited vaccine supply, vaccines are initially being prioritized for close contacts of positive cases to prevent severe disease. Additional vaccine is expected soon, and eligibility will be expanded to groups at high risk for exposure as supplies increase. 

“Like many other states, Indiana has seen an increase in monkeypox cases over the past month,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Monkeypox does not easily spread through brief casual contact, but it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected if they are a close contact of a positive case. Hoosiers who believe they may have been exposed or who develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox are urged to contact a healthcare provider.”

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. The illness typically begins with fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion about five to 21 days after exposure. Within one to three days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash. The rash may start in the mouth or any part of the body before spreading. Some people may only develop the rash. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks. People are considered infectious until all scabs from the rash have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

Person-to-person transmission is possible either through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated items, such as bedding or clothing, or through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.

To learn more about monkeypox, visit www.monkeypox.health.in.gov or the CDC’s monkeypox website. The CDC updates case counts Monday through Friday here.

School bus safety enforcement campaign underway in Indiana

As students head back to the classroom, state and local law enforcement agencies are reminding motorists to stop for school buses or face the consequences. Over the next couple of months, officers will be increasing patrols to prevent stop-arm violations, speeding and other forms of reckless driving around school buses and in school zones.

More than 200 agencies plan to participate in the back-to-school Stop Arm Violation Enforcement campaign – better known as SAVE. The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).

“Drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus or speed in a school zone need to be held accountable,” said Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. “We owe it to our kids to make sure they get home safely. Every driver needs to do their part by paying attention, slowing down and protecting school children and buses.”

Despite thousands of motorists being cited under the SAVE program, unsafe driving around school buses continues to be a concern, according to state officials.

In April, thousands of bus drivers who participated in a one-day observational survey counted 2,041 stop-arm violations in Indiana. That one-day total, when multiplied by the number of school days, adds up to a potential 367,380 violations throughout the school year.

“The fact that we still have people willing to put students and bus drivers at risk is the reason this campaign is necessary,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Still, law enforcement can’t be everywhere, so drivers need to do the right thing and exercise caution around buses. Students’ lives depend on it.”

The newly released data comes from the National School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey, which is managed by the Indiana Department of Education in the state. The survey has been conducted annually since 2011 but was put on hold for the past two years due to the pandemic.

This year, collection took place on April 26, with 6,665 bus drivers participating from 195 school districts.

“In order for Indiana’s students to learn, they must be able to travel safely to and from school,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “That task is faithfully led by school transportation professionals across the state, but they can’t lead this important work alone. Anytime you see a school bus, please slow down, pause for all stop arms and be mindful that there may be young children near the road. They are our state’s most precious cargo.”

To prevent unsafe driving, officers will use a range of enforcement strategies from high-visibility patrols to police spotters on buses. For each jurisdiction, officers will coordinate with local bus drivers and school transportation officials, with efforts concentrating in the morning and afternoon hours. Agencies will also be working to raise awareness about the importance of school bus safety and following the law.

Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop when the overhead lights on a school bus are flashing yellow. Once the lights turn red and the stop arm extends, drivers are required to stop on all roads with one exception. On highways divided by a physical barrier, such as a concrete wall or grassy median, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop.

Motorists should also be mindful of posted speed limits, avoid distractions and watch for children in or near school and residential areas. Planning ahead and allowing for extra time during each commute will help keep all road users safe.

Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a Class A Infraction. Violators could pay a fine of up to $10,000, have their license suspended for up to 90 days for the first offense or up to 1 year for the second.

For additional school bus safety information, click here or visit www.nhtsa.gov.