Stellantis to add production of new electric drive module in Kokomo

Stellantis announced that it will invest $155 million in three Indiana facilities to help power future electric vehicles assembled in North America, growing the company’s total investments in Indiana to nearly $3.3 billion since 2020 to support its global electrification goals. 

“Indiana has a strong tradition of advanced manufacturing – one that continues to innovate with smart technologies,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “With transformative investments from leaders like Stellantis, it is clear that Hoosiers will be at the center of the global economy, developing future-focused products that power all the different modes of transportation forward.”

“There is no better business environment than Indiana to invest and build products of the future,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers. “Our state’s history in advanced manufacturing coupled with our talented workforce and focus on building a future-focused economy continues its unprecedented momentum with this latest investment. Industry innovators like Stellantis continue to choose Indiana for transformational projects because of our competitive business climate, manufacturing ecosystem and unparalleled infrastructure, in turn creating more opportunities for residents and communities across Indiana. We look forward to partnering with Stellantis to speed the global transition to electric vehicles and build the future of mobility right here in Indiana.”
Stellantis, which recently announced a gigafactory joint venture with Samsung SDI in Kokomo, will make strategic investments at Indiana Transmission, Kokomo Transmission and Kokomo Casting plants to add and localize production of its new electric drive module (EDM), which includes the electric motor, power electronics and transmission, to provide an all-in-one solution for electric vehicle powertrains. Following retooling, the gearbox will be cast at Kokomo Casting and machined at Kokomo Transmission while gear machining and final assembly will be at Indiana Transmission. Production is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024. 

“With more than 7,000 employees in Indiana, these investments will leverage the core manufacturing competencies of the local workforce in the areas of casting, machining and assembly, all of which will be needed even as the market transitions to an electrified future,” said Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of Stellantis North America. “The city of Kokomo and the state of Indiana have been great partners for many years. This community will continue to play a central role in our efforts to provide safe, clean and affordable mobility solutions for our customers long into the future.” 

The localization of the Kokomo-built EDM will allow Stellantis to produce electric vehicles that deliver improved performance and range at a competitive cost. The EDM will be integrated into Stellantis’ battery electric vehicles designed on the STLA Large and STLA Frame platforms, providing optimized efficiency to help each platform achieve driving range up to 500 miles. These investments will also retain more than 265 jobs across the three plants, supporting the ongoing transition and advancement of Indiana’s manufacturing workforce. 

"This investment reflects the confidence that Stellantis has in our community and its workers," said Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore. "The bond between the company and our local workforce continues to strengthen every day. We are grateful Stellantis has placed Kokomo and Howard County at the forefront of the move towards electric vehicles."

Since 2020, Stellantis has invested nearly $3.3 billion in Indiana to support its transition to electrification. This includes recent announcements of $643 million to produce a new engine for conventional and PHEV applications, a next generation eight-speed transmission and a joint venture gigafactory. These investments support Stellantis’ ambition to achieve 50% battery electric sales in the U.S. by 2030 and to achieve carbon net zero emissions by 2038 as set out in its Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan. 

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is working with Stellantis to finalize a performance-based incentive offer to support the company’s investment and job retention plans. The city of Kokomo will consider additional incentives. 

Monarch Medical Esthetics opens new Rochester location

Taking a step out of the ER and into another business venture, Katie Romine has seen big changes in her career the past few years. A nurse for the past decade and recently becoming a nurse practitioner, Katie has always been interested in a career with esthetics. Starting 2022 by purchasing Jarrety's Place and the Arlington Public House in Rochester with her husband, Brice, things continued to fall like dominos for Katie after she was hired on by Monarch Medical Esthetics in Warsaw last spring.


Katie took another leap forward when she joined Monarch at their newest Rochester location in February inside of The Spa, 416 E Ninth St. Providing botox, fillers, microblading, hair removal, laser treatments, microneedling, permanent makeup and more with her team, Katie brings a passion for compassion and gentleness for anyone wanting to prevent or correct wrinkles and fine lines on the face and neck. 



In previous generations cosmetic procedures were often used by middle-aged women looking for a more youthful apprearance. However in 2023, the demand has increased since first becoming popular after it was first approved by the FDA in 2002. Now popular for both women and men of all ages, many start as young as their 20's and 30's to prevent wrinkles. A study from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, reported that Botox injections became the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure in 2020, with over 4.4 million procedures performed. 



The relative availability and ease of injections by a qualified professional to reduce the appearance of aging have helped increase its popularity. With just a few injections taking away fine lines and wrinkles instantly, Katie hopes to help boost self-confidence to her clients in Fulton County. Anyone interested in a free consultation for a customized treatment plan and prices on skincare and products, with no obligation, can call 574-221-6334 to schedule their appointment. 


Linda Wayne will also be joining Katie at The Sp for permanent cosmetics, as well as Jade Elswick for esthetic treatments. 


Lt. Gov. Crouch, IHCDA award over $925,000 to Starke Co. project combat rural homelessness

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) have awarded a total of $3,072,403 to three projects in nine counties focused on combating rural homelessness.


One of those projects is in Starke County.


Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced funding for the Supplemental Rural and Unsheltered Homelessness Notice of Funding Opportunity. This funding will be available over the next three years. Each of these projects leveraged housing resources through a collaborative application for Housing Stability Vouchers to HUD in partnership with IHCDA.


“These funds will help local partners serve those in their communities who are experiencing homelessness,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana's Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “These projects signify a collaborative step towards our long-term goal to end homelessness in the state of Indiana.”


Among the projects awarded funding is the Porter Starke Services Permanent Supportive Housing. This new supportive housing project will serve up to 10 one-bedroom households, with five of them receiving a subsidy from CoC funding and five receiving a subsidy from HUD through the Housing Stability Voucher program. The project will focus on providing housing to disabled individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, and will be the first supportive housing project located in Starke County.


$925,532 was awarded to the project.


“Our community partners will be able to utilize these funds as they provide localized assistance for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Jacob Sipe, executive director of IHCDA. “This funding helps fill the gaps to improve outcomes for people facing housing instability.”


These grants and vouchers combine to create an innovative package of resources to help communities provide housing and supportive services to people in unsheltered settings and people experiencing homelessness in rural areas. Applicant communities were asked to develop a comprehensive approach to addressing unsheltered and rural homelessness that involves coordination with health care providers, other housing agencies such as public housing authorities, and people with lived experience.



Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Fulton County Farm Bureau host wrap-up Legislative Breakfast

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Fulton County Farm Bureau’s 2023 Legislative Breakfast Series concludes on Saturday, March 11, with a 2023 Indiana Session update from Representative Jack Jordan and brief federal update from Griffin Nate, District Director for U.S. Representative Rudy Yakym.


The public is invited to attend to hear from Representative Jordan and District Director Nate, and communicate one-on-one with them at the Akron Community Center located at 815 E. Rural Street in Akron.


Social networking and breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 8:00 a.m.


Anyone is invited to attend this free breakfast meeting.


'Spirit of JUST CAUSE' to take final flight from Grissom into retirement this week

Grissom Air Reserve base retired one of their KC-135R Stratotankers during a ceremony on Friday.


Aircraft 62-3530, known as the ‘Spirit of JUST CAUSE’, took its first flight Jan. 30, 1963, and its last flight will be March 3, when it heads to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.


During its 60-year service history, the aircraft flew more than 2,234 sorties, and accumulated 21,378.9 flying hours for an average of 9.6 hours per flight.

Bandidos Grill and Cantina opens its doors in Rochester

Things have moved fast for Bandidos Grill and Cantina owners Jose Aguirre and Victor Rojo.


They jumped at the chance to start a restaurant in Rochester after hearing about the location at 721 Main St being available. 



Doing a remodel and deep clean of the interior, the owners had said earlier this week that they planned on opening their doors for the first time during the week of February 27. But after getting things in order a few days early, on the spur of the moment Bandidos Grill and Cantina was opened for an evening test run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.


The much needed test run served 10 tables, and Aguirre said the test run continued into the weekend. Saturday and Sunday hours were  11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Monday will be the first 'official' opening day with normal hours. 


Being in the food service industry for the past 20 years, Rojo's experience has left him with high hopes for the future. He has owned Los Tres Caminos in Peru for the past 14 years and the tex-mex cuisine served will be nearly the same as the newest Rochester location.


Rojo also owns Braves Pancake House and Restaurant in Logansport and Braves Breakfast and Grill in Wabash.


One thing Rojo says he puts as a priority are the customers first, as well as paying extra detail to cleanliness. 


The owners are asking that in the next 10 days customers please have patience, as the new staff learns and adjusts to things. For any questions you can reach the owners at the Bandidos Grill and Cantina Facebook page or call 574-223-1212. 

Rochester FFA celebrates National FFA Week

Livestock and tractors on campus at Rochester High School this week have been a part of the FFA chapter celebrating National FFA Week.


Even a teacher having to kiss a pig is on the week's list of activities.


Rochester FFA President Kyler Lowe says it all started with a trip on Monday.



Chapter Secretary Amy Williams says tractors on campus made for a big event and Friday is full of activities to cap the weeklong celebration.



During the week, chapters across the state and nation will host a variety of events to educate, advocate and celebrate the agricultural industry. From a school animal experience to a farmer’s breakfast, these activities pay homage to the dedication and commitment of today’s agriculturalists. Throughout the week, the Indiana FFA State Officers travel the state to participate in activities alongside local FFA chapters and their communities.



The first National FFA week was held in 1948, when the National FFA Board of Directors designated a weeklong celebration to recognize George Washington’s example and legacy as a leader and farmer. For the past 75 years, FFA members across the country have taken part in agricultural, leadership and service-based activities during National FFA Week.


In a related note, FFA Fruit, Meat & Cheese Sales are underway now through November 4. Fruit will be ready for pick up in Rochester in the third week of December - just in time for holiday season.

Online ordering is available at https://sales.minntexcitrus.com/organization/rochesterffa/ .


All proceeds go to lowering costs for Rochester FFA members to attend regional, state and national FFA conferences, conventions and contests.



A path to a career in a field in fine arts is available at Rochester schools

The Indiana Department of Education offers a new way for students to apply their artistic talents and interests toward their diplomas. 


The IDOE recently approved for Rochester schools what is called a Civic Arts Pathway, giving students the opportunity to earn their diplomas through a combination of fine and performing arts classes.


Columbia Elementary Principal Jason Snyder says it’s exciting for those who wish to seek a career in the various occupations in fine arts.



Students will use a locally created pathway to fulfill the employable skills and the postsecondary-ready competencies for the Indiana State graduation requirements.


When the IDOE approves a school’s application to utilize the Civic Arts Pathway students can take advantage of that, which consists of fine arts classes, visual arts and art history, and performing arts classes; band, orchestra, theater and choir where available at an individual school.


This pathway incorporates project-based learning, providing students with a foundation for an e-portfolio where their experiences can be captured, maintained and built upon for future years. 


Rochester schools looking for more available substitute teachers

Hiring good employees is one challenge.  Add to that the problem of getting enough of them.


Rochester schools is no different than most restaurants and retailers.  Columbis Elementary Principal Jason Snyder says they are looking for more people interested in working as substitute teachers.



Snyder notes that a college degree is not a requirement to sub in the classroom.



Ivy Tech course readies students for high-demand trucking jobs in six weeks

Ivy Tech Community College is expanding its CDL-A training classes to an evening offering to better accommodate potential students who work during the day and want to advance themselves with evening classes.


The new classes, which allow students to complete the training over a six-week period, add to Ivy Tech Kokomo’s existing offering of a three-week CDL-A training offered during the day. CDL-A training prepares people to fill high-demand jobs in the trucking industry. Financial assistance may be available through WorkOne or a Workforce Ready Grant for those who qualify.


“This class is for anyone thinking about getting a new job – a job that puts you in demand in the workforce with job security and good pay,” said Katie Loman, executive director of Ivy+ Career Link for the Kokomo Service Area. According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driver shortage was expected to hit a historic high of just over 80,000 drivers by the end of last year with the possibility of a shortage of 160,000 by 2030, the result of growth in the industry and retirements and resignations of existing drivers.


Ivy Tech’s CDL-A night training program, provided in conjunction with Summit Commercial Driver Training LLC, is designed to prepare students to successfully pass both the written and practical portions of Indiana CDL examination in six weeks. Classes will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It includes 120 hours of training to become a Class-A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder. This course provides a fundamental working knowledge of the varied aspects of the trucking industry and prepares students for an entry-level position as a tractor-trailer driver with a trucking company. 


The first night session is scheduled to begin March 13 and run through April 21.


Before starting the program, prospective students must have a valid motor vehicle driver’s license and must pass a Department of Transportation physical, the CDL Permit examination (covering the General Knowledge, Air Brakes and Combination Vehicle sections) and a drug screen. 


For registration and additional information on the program, contact Bonnie Devers at bdevers3@ivytech.edu or (765) 252-5497.

Indiana State Police Bremen Post welcomes Tony Slocum as new First Sergeant

Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas G. Carter recently announced the promotion of Sergeant Tony Slocum to the rank of First Sergeant, where he will serve as the Assistant District Commander of the Indiana State Police Bremen Post. F/Sgt. Slocum received this promotion through a competitive testing and interview process.


F/Sgt. Slocum is an Indianapolis native, graduating from Cathedral High School.  After graduating high school, F/Sgt. Slocum attended St. Joseph’s College, earning a degree in communications in 1994.  Following college, Slocum served as an Intelligence Analyst in the National Guard for seven years earning the rank of corporal. 


F/Sgt. Slocum graduated from the 57th Indiana State Police Recruit Academy graduating on June 13, 1999.  He was assigned to the Indianapolis District where he patrolled Marion County for a year and a half before transferring to the Peru District.  Slocum patrolled Fulton County until his promotion to the rank of Sergeant in 2005 where he served as the Peru District Public Information Officer.


During his tenure with the Indiana State Police, Slocum has been a Field Training Officer (FTO), and on the Tactical Intervention Platoon (TIP). Slocum was recognized with a Lifesaving Award in 2005 after he used an AED on a man whose heart had stopped. He is also a graduate of the IMPD Leadership Academy and has been a fixture at the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 serving as PIO for the past twelve years.


Slocum lives in Fulton County with his wife.  He has a daughter that attends Purdue University and a son who serves in the United States Army and is stationed at Fort Bragg. 


Slocum is active in his community and coaches high school football at Caston High School.

Indiana officials celebrate National FFA Week with proclamation and resolution

In honor of National FFA Week, seven Indiana State FFA Officers and National Officer, MacKenna Clifton of North Carolina, met in the Statehouse to receive a proclamation and resolution declaring Feb. 18-25 Indiana FFA Week.


“It was a pleasure to have these outstanding young professionals representing the State of Indiana and agriculture so well in the Statehouse today,” said Lt. Gov. Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “FFA is a dynamic youth led organization and I am excited to celebrate National FFA Week this week and agriculture year-round.”


Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the proclamation to name this week FFA Week in recognition of all the work the Indiana FFA Organization, agriculture educators and FFA advisors do to cultivate the next generation of agriculturists for our state.


During the week, chapters across the state and nation will host a variety of events to educate, advocate and celebrate the agricultural industry. From a school animal experience to a farmer’s breakfast, these activities pay homage to the dedication and commitment of today’s agriculturalists. Throughout the week, the Indiana FFA State Officers travel the state to participate in activities alongside local FFA chapters and their communities.


The Indiana FFA Association also received a Senate Concurrent Resolution highlighting the impact of the FFA Organization, which is preparing more than 13,000 members in 90 of Indiana’s 92 counties for the over 250 unique careers in the food, fiber and natural resource sectors. The resolution was led by Sen. Jean Leising, Senate District 42 and Rep. Michael Aylesworth, House District 11.


Jenna Kelsay, 2022-2023 Indiana FFA Southern Region Vice President shared what this resolution means to her and the FFA Organization.


“Receiving the proclamation and house concurrent resolution today in the Indiana Statehouse was such an exciting way to kick-off National FFA Week,” said Kelsay. “Indiana FFA and its members are so fortunate to have support and recognition from our states agricultural leaders and elected officials.”


Tamara Ketchen, Director of the Indiana FFA Association, is looking forward to seeing all the work done this week at FFA chapters across the state.


“National FFA Week is a time for local chapters to highlight their programs showcasing their success and passion for agriculture,” Ketchen said. “We also use this as an opportunity to recognize community supporters and broadcast the mission of the organization.”


FFA members are agriculture’s future leaders, future food suppliers, future innovators and more! Whether it is through service projects or community gatherings, National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to raise awareness about agricultural education and the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of agriculture's future leaders.


The first National FFA week was held in 1948, when the National FFA Board of Directors designated a weeklong celebration to recognize George Washington’s example and legacy as a leader and farmer. For the past 75 years, FFA members across the country have taken part in agricultural, leadership and service-based activities during National FFA Week.


Visit www.inffa.org to learn more about Indiana FFA.


Starbucks with recall due to possibility of glass in bottled product

Starbucks is at the center of a recall because there may be glass in the bottle of a product.

The FDA says the recall applies to the 13.7 ounce Starbucks frappuccino vanilla chilled coffee drink. More than 25, 000 cases were distributed.  They were sold in 12-botte cases.

The voluntary recall is considered "Class II." That means the "probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote."

Expiration dates on the recalled bottles include:


MAR 08 23

MAY 29 23

JUN 04 23

JUN 10 23

Dust explosion incidents increased last year

The annual summary recording nationwide grain dust bin explosions reported nine incidents in 2022.


This compares to seven reported incidents in 2021 and a 10-year average of 7.8 explosions annually.


Kingsly Ambrose, Purdue University professor of agricultural and biological engineering and report author, said that despite the increase in explosions from the previous year and 18 total injuries this year, no fatalities were reported.


The explosions occurred in one ethanol plant, two feed mills, two grain elevators, two rice mills and two grain processing plants. The probable ignition sources were identified in three cases as a fire and one incidence as welding, while five cases were from unknown sources. Fuel sources for all nine explosions were identified as grain dust.


The dust explosions occurred in seven different states, with two each occurring in Arkansas and Louisiana, and one each in New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Ohio.


“Often, five of the conditions needed for a grain dust explosion to occur are present in most grain feed, milling and processing facilities,” Ambrose said. “These conditions include dust, dispersed dust, confined space and oxygen. The presence of the fifth factor, an ignition source such as overheated bearing or mechanical friction, could lead to an explosion.”


He emphasized the importance of developing and implementing a detailed housekeeping program to mitigate the hazards and utilizing government and industry resources that are publicly available to provide guidance on developing such a program.



When elephants roamed the streets of Rochester: The 83rd anniversary of the Cole Bros Circus fire

It's been 83 years since the end of an era for the Cole Brothers Circus in Rochester.


A fire that was started by a spark from an electrical shortage destroyed their winter headquarters on February 20, 1940. By the time the first report of the fire had been made by a railroad tower man who had witnessed sparks coming from the circus paint room, it was too late. Despite efforts by firefighters battling the intense blaze for hours, the fire would end in tragedy, with a total loss for the circus and a brutal ending for many of the animals trapped inside. 


A total of six lions, two tigers, two black leopards, two zebras, several monkeys and antelopes, two llamas and a cow were among the 100 wild animals to lose their lives. Already in distress by the time rescuers got on scene, the handlers could not risk letting the animals loose, who were maddened by injuries from the fire. Graphic details of the events were reported in the Indianapolis News, claiming the sounds of howls and screams from the burning animals could be heard over the many fire truck sirens at the scene.


The entire town of Rochester was said to be filled with thick smoke that evening. In addition, around 300 horses, 12 camels, 11 elephants and 20 mules, ponies and monkeys were set free to escape the fire, roaming the streets until recaptured. Up to a year later, monkeys were still being found on the islands of Lake Manitou. 


Although no people were killed in the fire, much of the circus equipment had been destroyed,  including many cages, twenty parade wagons and  five tractors, resulting in a loss of $150,000. Following the fire, the Cole Bros Circus would still perform one last summer on the rails before closing for good. Despite hopes and promises from the owners, the circus would never return to town or rebuild from the rubble of the tragedy. 


Prior to the fire, Rochester had been the home base for the circus, after Cole Bros Circus came to town in 1934. Purchasing some empty buildings northeast of town, near what is now Fourth Street, the convenient location sat at the Erie and Nickel Plate railroad crossing. At the time, the Cole Bros Circus had been one of the last traditional circuses to use big top tents and travel the rails across the country during the summer months.


For six years performers, animals and their handlers spent their winter months in Rochester. Each year an annual parade would line the streets, showing locals their animals, clowns and stage acts before leaving for Chicago and travelling as far as Kansas and Nebraska to perform. Although all that's left of the circus in Rochester is an exhibit at the Fulton County Historical Society Museum, the tragic evening would burn a memory in the small town long after the blaze was put out. 


(Photo of Jumbo II taken at the Cole Bros Circus at the Rochester winter headquarters 1935, found at the circusblog.com)

The Times Theater breathes new life into Rochester

Celebrating the grand reopening on the same day as its original opening in 1924, The Times Theater was the place on Valentine's Day in Rochester.  


After years of blood, sweat, and tears from local volunteers, and nearly a half a million dollars spent in renovations, the opening was made official by a ribbon cutting Tuesday afternoon. An open house was held until 6 p.m. and then the theater would close for an hour, in preparation for the grand celebration, that made for a bang at 7 p.m.


(Photo provided by The Times Theater Facebook page.) 


The steampunk roaring 20's theme party brought music, magic and local food and drink to a packed house filled with community members. More than 400 people showed up to the glamorous event, which stayed busy well past their scheduled 9 p.m. ending.  


(Photo thanks to The Times Theater Facebook from the grand reopening Feb 14, 2023.)


The Times Theater kept up the exciting momentum by kicking off the much anticipated Round Barn Opry. The band made their debut with a decade's themed show that would start with the 50's and end with music from the 2000's. 


(Photos from Friday evening as First Federal Performance Stage was being prpped for the Round Barn Opry's big debut.)


In the future, Round Barn Opry plans on holding monthly shows of live country music that will also showcase other local musicians. 


(Band members and father daughter duo Thad Stewart, left, and Katie Stewart, also known as Kate Carter, taken before Friday nights show by WROI GIANT fm reporter Shelby Lopez.) 


On Saturday, the big screen came back on for the first time since 2014. For just five dollars the Times Theater brought five classics, starting with the original Willy Wonka and ending with a showing of Star Wars.


(Photo provided by The Times Theater Facebook page)


Times Theater board chairman Julie Shambarger says she is still in awe over the overwhelmingly positive experience last week brought to not only the theater, but also to the town. The support from local businesses continues to grow, with many reaching out for a spot on the marquee, as well as an outreach from sponsors looking for future events.


More than just movies and music, the theater's building is designed to also be a host for live events in the community, including weddings or parties. 


Voting dates, times set for municipal primary

The spring municipal primary election is approaching.

Voting sites for the election have been announced for Fulton County and will include an early voting period.  On April 22 and 29, both Saturdays, early voting will be available at the Community Resource Center, 625 Pontiac Street, Rochester, and the Fulton County Courthouse.

Saturday voting is 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Monday, April 24 – Friday, April 28, voting at the Fulton County Courthouse will be 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

On the final Monday before the May  primary, May 1, early voting will be held from 8:00 a.m. – noon at the courthouse.

The primary election is Tuesday, May 2.  Voting on that day begins at 6:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m.

FEDCO executive director Michael Ladd settles into Rochester

New to Rochester but not to business, FEDCO's new executive director Michael Ladd moved across the state with big plans in mind for Rochester's economic growth and business expansion in the future.


Having decades of experience in business across the state of Indiana, Ladd hopes to bring fresh energy to Fulton County. 



Growing up in southern Illinois and graduating from Southern Illinois University, Ladd began his career by moving to Indiana for the first time in 1978. Ladd used his journalism degree for a few years and worked for a newspaper in Mount Vernon. Then he decided to make a career change by becoming the Metropolitian Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce's Manager for Governmental Affairs. Discovering a new passion while gaining wisdom and experience, Ladd built momentum up to his business career when he accepted a position in East Chicago, Indiana as executive director, where he would remain the next decade.


Since, Ladd has also gained experience while working with the city of Marion to run their Main Street program, the Indianapolis Urban Enterprise Association, and the New Albany Enterprise Association, before deciding to give Rochester a shot as his next venture. 



Still getting to know the area and studying the community, Ladd said there's many avenue's he plans on taking to bring in more revenue to Rochester. The first challenge Ladd wants to tackle is housing. 



Believing in the power of visualization to bring in visitors by continuing to beautify the downtown area, showcase the restaurants and create more public art, Ladd hopes to start an arts commission to help get the ball rolling. 



Just getting started, Ladd hopes the seed he plants in Fulton County is one that will bring growth to the community for years to come. 



(Ladd spoke with community members during a reception that welcomed the new executive director on Feb 1 at the Arlington Public House.)

Eastern Pulaski schools add college credits and plan for athletic fields project

The Eastern Pulaski School Board has expanded its offerings to students that could have those who wish to go on to college graduating high school, basically, as college sophomores.


Superintendent Dara Chezem.



The superintendent notes it’s a great savings for those who intend to go on to college.



Eastern Pulaski School Corporation welcomed a new board member at its recent meeting.



Chezem said a project impacting athletic fields was also before the board at its meeting.



She notes the changes will also impact the practice football field.



Chezem says the school district appreciates the partnership they’ve had with the town of Winamac to play at the city parks but are excited to stage games on campus with the athletic upgrades.

Mother of autistic teen choked by school resource officer continues to search for justice

One year after her autistic son was strangled by a school resource officer in Rochester, the boy's mother, Amanda Felda, said she is still haunted by the lack of justice she feels her family received. 


With Indiana's statute of limitations being two years, Felda still hasn't given up hope just yet. 

At the time of the incident on December 2, 2021, Felda agreed that her 17-year-old son, Benjamin Giselbach, did act inappropriately. Showing up to a chaotic scene, it would eventually take more than seven officers around him trying to subdue Ben. Felda said the behavior was something she never condoned.


Diagnosed with autism at a young age, among several other mental disorders, Ben had been notoriously prone to outbursts throughtout the years while attending schools in the Rochester Community School Corporation. Felda said Ben's behavioral disorders were something not many could understand, and that he was often bullied by other students for it. Unable to handle his emotions, Felda said her sons temper was often very hard to extinguish once he was pushed over the edge.


Felda had initially sided with the officers, after seeing Ben biting, kicking, and screaming at officers before being arrested. Originally thinking her son started the altercation, it wasn't until months later, after finally obtaining the body cam footage from that afternoon, that Felda said she saw a different side to the story. 



In 2020, after a 13-year old autistic boy was shot and killed by police in Salt Lake City, Utah, during an emotional meltdown that went out of control, the Autism Society of America made an immediate call-to-action for better law enforcement training about autism, and the implementation of de-escalation techniques for accountability was requested from the Salt Lake Police Department. Their website at www.autism-society.org made a statement that 'community services and supports are essential for individuals and families with autism. When a parent, caretaker, or autistic individual relies on first responders to provide crisis intervention, they should not have to worry whether their lives are in danger from the trained professionals sent to help.' Felda hopes for something similar in the area for the future. 


According to the ASA, approximately one in five young adults with autism spectrum disorder will have some sort of negative interaction with a police officer before the age of 21. Due to their anti-social skills, police interactions with autistic individuals can lead to more injuries because of their impulsive and unpredicatable reactions, making them five times more likely to be incarcerated than individuals without the disability. 


Having an aide at school to help Ben keep his meltdowns in check, Felda said the SRO still chose to handle the confrontation by himself, initially. Felda also said Ben's outbursts were something the SRO had been familiar with, having known her son and his condition since he was 7 years old.


After Ben had left school without permission, Felda said the SRO had chased her son down, stopping him off school property. Although Ben was cursing at the officer, Felda claimed that Ben was never told he was under arrest prior to being strangled multiple times by the SRO. Yelling back at Ben, and physically pushing him after getting out of his patrol car, Felda said things quickly spiraled out of control. 


While Felda agreed that her son did need to be held accountable for his actions that day, she was left wondering why a school official wouldn't be expected to do the same. 



Now almost 19-years-old, Felda hopes Ben learns from the situation to better his life in the future. 



Last year, the Fulton County Sheriff’s office sent a letter to the student's family stating the department would not take up any further action on the complaint. In the meantime, Felda said she's still looking for a lawyer to represent the case before time runs out. Felda said over the past year she's received a lot of pushback from many community members who misunderstood her frustrations with the situation, accusing her of being someone that hates police officers, or condones her child's misbehavior.


Felda said she still has the utmost respect for law enforcement officers, including the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, who put their lives on the line each day to keep our community safe.


When recently asked by GIANT fm News and the Fulton County Post, the Fulton County Sheriff's Department declined to comment on the situation. 

Judges may allow press to have cameras in trial courts

Beginning on May 1, judicial officers around the state will have the authority to allow news media into their courtrooms to record, photograph, and broadcast court proceedings that are not confidential.


Rule 2.17 of the Code of Judicial Conduct has long prohibited broadcasting, recording, or taking photographs of court proceedings and areas adjacent to courtrooms without prior approval by the Indiana Supreme Court. An order amending Rule 2.17, effective May 1, gives the discretion to allow cameras to the local judges.


“This is the culmination of years of work and pilot projects with discussion and evaluation,” said Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush. “Trial court judges are in the best position to determine how to balance the importance of transparency while protecting the rights of people involved in a court matter.”


This change follows a 4-month pilot program, a public comment period, and careful evaluation by the Indiana Supreme Court. Longtime work by the Indiana Judicial Conference Community Relations Committee and Court Security Committee, along with the Hoosier State Press Association and the Indiana Broadcasters Association, led to the most recent pilot project. The judges who opened their courtrooms during the pilot—Judges Fran Gull, Marianne Vorhees, Bruce Parent, Sean Persin, and Leslie Shively—provided essential feedback.


Under the new rule, cameras are still prohibited in court unless authorized by the judge. Commentary included with the rule provides further conditions; for example, certain people—including minors and jurors—may not be shown on camera, only news media as defined in Ind. Code 34-46-4-1 may be authorized, and the judge may revoke authorization at any time for any reason.

Logansport PD officer involved in two-car crash with injuries

A Logansport police officer was involved in a two-car crash Tuesday.


Logansport Police say LeAnn Morales, 36, was on duty in her fully marked police car and driving to an emergency call with emergency lights and siren activated when the collision occurred just after 11:30 a.m. 


Preliminary investigation shows Brayden Wilson, 24, of Logansport, was driving a 2018 Ford Fusion eastbound on Smead Street when he failed to yield right of way to Morales’ northbound 2021 Dodge Charger.


Wilson was taken to Logansport Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


Morales and an intern who was a passenger in her police car, Preston Schlick, 18, of Logansport, were transported to Logansport Memorial by co-workers for evaluation of minor injuries.


The crash remains under investigation.




Rochester Schools to not allow requesting teachers at Riddle Elementary

The Rochester school system is eliminating input in selecting a teacher for students at one particular school in the corporation.


Superintendent Dr. Jana Vance says requests for particular teachers at Riddle Elementary, unless there’s a particular extenuating circumstance, will end.



The superintendent says it is a decision that only impacts Riddle, at this time.



On another note, Kindergarten Roundup is in April. A deadline is approaching in preparation for that.



Vance says the annual roundup is key for the corporation’s planning going into the next school year.





Woodlawn CEO testifies to Indiana Senate Health Committee

Alan Fisher, CEO of Woodlawn Hospital was asked to testify to the Indiana Senate Health Committee.


Fisher is fighting not only for rural health but Woodlawn as well.


“There is a looming crisis that is going unnoticed. Woodlawn’s operational loss for 2021 was $755,000, but the financial headwinds for us and other hospitals picked up speed last year, leaving us with an estimated loss for 2022 of $6.3 million. Our goal for 2023 is to lose just $1.5 million, even after our implementation of more than $3 million in cost reductions,” Fisher stated.


He went on to tell the committee what was attributing to the loss that hospitals especially rural facilities are facing.


“A large portion of this loss is attributed to the 3.2 million that will be owed to the State through the Hospital Assessment Fee. It’s great that more Hoosiers gained health care coverage through Medicaid and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) during the pandemic, however, hospitals have increasingly had to pick up the bill. Indiana hospitals will pay a total of $1.5 billion in 2023 into the Hospital Assessment Fee (HAF) to fund these programs, and Woodlawn’s portion is growing quickly, rising from just over $2 million in 2020 to $3.2 million this year representing a 53% increase which is unsustainable.


Understanding the concept of matching funds, I would propose providing targeted HAF relief, increasing the state’s Medicaid base rates, eliminating or reducing the 28.5% that goes to the state, or redesigning the HAF program in a wholesale way in the future that recognizes the circumstances of rural hospitals and the unique challenges we face,” Fisher said.


He went on to explain what the future of rural communities could look like if these fees are not lowered.


“When rural hospitals close, it is the community that will suffer. Hoosiers will put off getting care and their health and quality of life will deteriorate. Maternity Deserts will become more widespread around this great state as well. Not to mention the economic impact to the state when industries want to relocate and pass by viable options due to not having a hospital. Rural hospital closers are a crisis for sure looming in Indiana.  Action needs to happen now before it’s too late!  Let’s work to saving our critical access hospitals by significantly reducing the Hospital assessment fees sooner rather than later,” he said.             

Peru among those highlighted for completed Preserving Women's Legacy Grant projects

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and Indiana Humanities today released a video on the completed Preserving Women’s Legacy Grant program and projects. Three more videos will be released throughout March on Peru, Angola and Michigan City’s PWLG projects.


Grants were awarded to these three Main Street communities in 2020 in an effort to highlight and preserve women’s history.


“It has been an honor to participate in this initiative and learn more about these influential Hoosier women,” said Lt. Gov. Crouch, who serves as chair of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. “Even if you aren’t able to travel to see these public art pieces, I hope everyone takes a moment to watch these videos and celebrate the work and lives of Sojourner, Naomi and Marie.”


Preserving Women’s Legacy Grant projects support historic preservation work, public art and other projects that commemorate Indiana women’s history and promote visits to Main Street communities. The first of the four videos to be released discusses how the program began and the process that followed.


Click here to view the video.


“Angola, Peru and Michigan City took this program and ran with it, creating moving sculptures in their communities to celebrate women in Indiana history,” said OCRA Executive Director Denny Spinner. “Now, more Hoosiers are able to see the impact of these projects on their communities and Indiana through these videos.”


The following three videos to be released over the next month will cover each individual PWLG project and highlight the effect on the community and Hoosier women.


"We are proud of this collaborative work to celebrate women’s history and Main Street communities through the Preserving Women's Legacy Grants program with Lt. Gov. Crouch and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs," said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. "These projects will continue to share stories of Indiana’s suffrage movement with Hoosiers across our state for years to come."


The Downtown Angola Coalition used the PWLG grant to create a life size sculpture of abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Michigan City Mainstreet Association used their grant funding to create a series of sculptures in honor of Naomi Bowman Talbert Anderson, a suffragist, civil rights activist, writer and poet. Rediscover Downtown Peru used the funding to create a life-size statue of Marie Stuart Edwards as a young teen standing by her bike on the grounds of the Peru Public Library. 


For more information on the Preserving Women's Legacy Grants, visit indianasuffrage100.org/pwlg/



Caston among the $5M in IDOE grants to help expand counseling resources and improve overall student outcomes

In conjunction with School Counseling Week, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) today announced recipients of $5 million in funding, which will support 26 school districts, charter schools and community partners to further develop and expand school counseling services and resources that improve student achievement, well-being and college and career readiness.


Successful applications specified how grant funding would improve counselor-to-student ratios as well as establish or further strengthen partnerships with community organizations and employers.


The Caston School Corporation will receive $72,522.


“School counselors are uniquely positioned to provide students with a number of important services, including guidance in completing all necessary courses and other graduation requirements, encouraging exploration of career and postsecondary opportunities and overall well-being support,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “The recipients of this grant understand the importance of comprehensive school counseling and the range of support our students need in order to reach their full potential. With this additional funding, they will be better equipped to support the needs of their community, and ultimately, move the needle for their students.”

To further support student achievement, well-being and college and career readiness, IDOE identified three key goals when establishing the Comprehensive School Counseling Grant:

  1. Expand the number of Indiana schools providing a comprehensive school counseling program;
  2. Explicitly define the role of a school counselor in improving student outcomes as it pertains to the five student characteristics of Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed;
  3. Create a network of progress monitoring to assess effectiveness and identify areas in need of additional local support and guidance.

Funding for the Comprehensive School Counseling Grant is allocated as part of the state’s federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan. Through this grant, more than 117,000 students across 17 Indiana counties will be supported.



Caston School Corporation        $72,522.00

Kosciusko County in top ten as DNR releases deer harvest totals

Kosciusko County was in the top ten in the state for number of deer harvested during this past hunting season.


The 2,632 deer taken in Kosciusko County was good enough for fourth in Indiana.

Steuben County was tops in the state with 3239.  It was the only county in Indiana to have over three thousand deer taken during the season.


Fulton County recorded 1,546 deer harvested. 


Neighboring counties included:

Cass, 1395

Miami, 1598

Wabash, 1632

Starke, 1546

Marshall, 2130

Pulaski , 1994

Plymouth man to face drug charges after traffic stop

A Sunday traffic stop by Indiana State Police led to the arrest of Michael Whitfield, 49, of Plymouth.


Whitfield was incarcerated in the Miami County Jail to face criminal charges for possession of methamphetamine, dealing methamphetamine, obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a vehicle while having a suspended license. 


The trooper initiated a traffic stop on a Chrysler 200 passenger car, for a traffic violation, on Mexico Road near U.S 31. While Baldwin was speaking to the driver of the Chrysler, identified as Whitfield, he noticed indicators of possible criminal activity.


Baldwin then retrieved his narcotics-detecting police dog, Mack, to conduct a free-air sniff around the Chrysler. Mack gave a positive alert for the presence of illegal narcotics in the vehicle. During a subsequent search, officers found marijuana, three cell phones, and drug paraphernalia. Officers also purportedly found a small plastic bag containing approximately 60 grams of suspected methamphetamine. The alleged methamphetamine was found on the ground outside of the front passenger door of the Chrysler. Indiana State Police say evidence indicates that Whitfield allegedly threw the illegal narcotic out of the car.


Traffic stop turns into arrest on gun and drug charges

Medaryville Police turned a traffic stop into an arrest on gun and drug charges.


Medaryville Deputy Marshal Speer was patrolling in the area of Maple Street and US Hwy 421 when he clocked a vehicle traveling over the speed limit.  During the contact with the driver, the odor of marijuana  came from the vehicle.


A search of the car resulted in a firearm, paraphernalia, marijuana and Ecstasy being located in the vehicle.


The driver, Levi Gumns, of Michigan City, was transported to the Pulaski County Justice Center charged with felony counts of unlawful carrying of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanors for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Marshall County traffic stop results in drug charges for two Peru residents

The Marshall County Sheriff's Department took two Peru residents into custody February 10, after a traffic stop that led to the discovery of narcotics. 


According to police, a deputy had witnessed an SUV traveling southbound on U.S. 31 at a speed of 95 mph. Unable to catch up to the vehicle, a traffic stop was initiated several miles south. Police had called a Marshall County K9 officer and K9 Diesel to assist the scene, where they reportedly alerted to the presence of narcotics. According to the report, officers soon discovered marijuana, as well as paraphernalia that reportedly tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. 


The driver, William L. Biggs Jr., was arrested on preliminary charges of possession of cocaine or narcotic drug, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and reckless driving. 


A passenger, Jamie D. Bledsoe, was also arrested on preliminary charges of possession of cocaine or narcotic drug, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. 


Work release denied for mother facing charges in torture death of toddler

It took about two seconds for LaPorte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos to reject the request for work-release on Friday's status hearing for Mary Yoder. 


Yoder is the mother charged in the torture death of 4-year-old Judah Morgan.


Judah's body was found in a rural home outside of Hamlet on October 11, 2021, after months of torture. His death had been ruled a homicide. 


During the hearing, the judge did grant a delay until March 10, while the prosecution and defense in the case continue negotiating a potential agreement to avoid a trial.  


In November, the toddler's father, Alan Morgan, had pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 70 years in prison. Morgan has since announced his intention of appealing the sentence. 


Attending nearly every court date since the murder, Jenna Hullett, the woman who raised the toddler for the first three years of his life, also attended Friday's hearing. Judah had been placed with Yoder and Morgan by the Indiana Department of Child Services in April of 2021.It would be only six months later that Judah's body would be found by officials. Hullett said she's just ready for Yoder's sentencing and for it all to be over.


Looking for justice for Judah in more ways than one, Hullett has since become an activist for child abuse. In frequent contact with lawmakers, Hullett's multiple trips to the statehouse since Judah's death, has been making a difference. In July of 2022,  Senate Bill 410, also known as Judah's Law, was passed, giving kinship caregivers like Hullett family, the right to intervene “at any stage” of a TPR case, even if they are not licensed foster parents. 


Hullett had recently testified about her relationship with Judah at the state hourse on February 1 for proposed House Bill 1188. The proposed bill would require a child's guardians to complete court appointed treatment and rehabilitation in a timely, consistent manner. It would also give children more say with who they want to live with, something Hullett said, could have helped saved little Judah. 



More information about House Bill 1188 can be found here.


Purdue Extension studies Indiana commercial solar and wind county ordinances

In spring 2022, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 411, creating voluntary commercial solar and wind regulation standards. Indiana communities planning to qualify as a solar or wind energy ready community will need to examine their county ordinances in comparison with the Indiana state voluntary standards.


Purdue Extension’s Land Use Team, in collaboration with the Indiana Office of Energy Development, recently published two renewable energy reports to help aid in the discussion of renewable energy land-use regulations.


The studies compared the voluntary state standards to current Indiana county zoning ordinances using data from the Indiana Renewable Energy Community Planning Survey and Ordinance Inventory Summary, which was completed by the Land Use Team in 2021. The analysis did not include counties without planning and zoning or zoning standards specific to commercial solar or wind development.


The study found 54 counties with commercial solar energy defined as a use in their zoning ordinance. None of the counties comply with all 11 categories outlined in the updated Indiana legislation. A total of 52 counties defined commercial wind energy as a use in their zoning ordinance with two counties complying with all nine categories set forth in the legislation.


“Planning and zoning regulations often reflect the local communities’ characteristics, resources and considerations. These reports reflect that in the myriad ways counties have chosen to regulate commercial wind and solar developments,” said Tamara Ogle, community development regional educator for Purdue Extension and member of the Land Use Team.


The two reports are available online

Multiple injuries two separate crashes on US 31 Thursday

Three people were injured at two separate crashes at the same site on US 31 in Fulton County Thursday.


Just after 2 p.m. Thursday, emergency personnel in Fulton County were dispatched to County Road 700 North and US 31 for a crash involving a semi and a passenger vehicle. 

The preliminary investigation by Sr. Deputy Matt Craig shows a 2008 Chevrolet pickup driven by Tobias Mullet, 34, of Nappanee, was traveling west on 700 North and crossing US 31.  The pickup drove into a southbound semi drive by Christopher Wallace, 30, of Holton.  The semi was a milk tanker and empty at the time of the crash.

Mullet suffered head injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to South Bend Memorial. 

Wallace sustained apparent minor injuries and was transported to Woodlawn Hospital for treatment.

An employee for Reichert & Knepp was struck by a recovery vehicle while recovering the semi at the initial accident scene.  A 1989 Blue International recovery vehicle driven to the scene by Matthew Riffel, 38, of Plymouth, was left in neutral without the emergency brake engaged. The unoccupied vehicle rolled down the embankment and struck Tyler Newton, 34, of Lapaz.  Newton avoided further injury when the recovery vehicle was stopped by a tire of the crashed semi.

Newton was able to be removed from the two vehicles without any mechanical extrication.  He suffered a leg injury and was transported to South Bend Memorial.

Various lane closures continued at the accident scene for approximately three hours.  The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Rochester Fire Depatment, Lutheran EMS, Fulton County EMA and INDOT provided aid at the crash site.

Marshall County's Laurie Hayn keynote speaker on disability in agriculture after losing arm and leg in combine accident

The National AgrAbility Project, housed at Purdue University’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center, invites farmers, ranchers and agriculture professionals to the 2023 AgrAbility National Training Workshop (NTW) to address issues of disability in agriculture.

The workshop will take place March 20-23 at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Washington. Early bird pricing ends on Feb. 17, with registration ending on March 13. The complete event schedule, pricing and hotel information are available online.

“The 2023 NTW will be held in conjunction with the Western Regional Agricultural Stress Assistance Network, so there will be a special focus on the mental and behavioral health needs of farmers and ranchers,” said NAP manager Paul Jones. “We’re also excited to have one of our Indiana AgrAbility clients, Laurie Hayn, as the keynote speaker. She has overcome severe disabilities to remain productive and positive.”

Marshall County’s Hayn lost her left arm and leg in a combine entanglement in 2018. She will share how the AgrAbility program helped her continue farming after the accident. A preview of her inspirational story can be viewed online. Additional event breakout sessions will cover topics such as farm stress, assistive agriculture technology, support for veteran and beginning farmers, and more. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour sites that include a beef cattle operation, a family-run farm and the Washington State University Wilke Research Farm.

Traditionally known for helping those with physical disabilities gain access to assistive technologies, AgrAbility continues to evolve to meet the needs of underserved populations, including but not limited to veterans and caregivers. Connect with AgrAbility on social media to learn the latest about assistive technologies, resources, safety tips, information, and more.

First authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill (with funding appropriations beginning in 1991), AgrAbility is a grant-funded program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Each project must involve a collaboration between a land-grant university and at least one non-profit disability services organization.

Colgate-Palmolive recalls Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaners due to risk of exposure to bacteria

Colgate-Palmolive is recalling 4.9 million bottles of its Fabuloso multi-purpose cleaner.


This recall involves certain Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaners, which is a multi-purpose cleaner that can be used to clean most residential hard surfaces. The first eight digits of the lot code of the recalled products are 2348US78 through 2365US78 and 3001US78 through 3023US78. A list of the UPC, lot codes and complete list of products, can be found at www.Fabulosorecall.com.


No Fabuloso Antibacterial variants or other Fabuloso products are impacted by this recall. The following Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaners are included in this recall.


The recalled products can contain Pseudomonas species bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas fluorescens, which are environmental organisms found widely in soil and water.  People with weakened immune systems, external medical devices, or underlying lung conditions who are exposed to the bacteria face a risk of serious infection that may require medical treatment. The bacteria can enter the body if inhaled, through the eyes, or through a break in the skin.


People with healthy immune systems are usually not affected by the bacteria. 


The products were sold online at Amazon.com and other websites and at Dollar General, Family Dollar, The Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and other major retailers nationwide from December 2022 through January 2023 for between $1 and $11.


Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaner products and contact Colgate-Palmolive Company for a full refund or a free replacement product. To receive a refund or replacement, consumers should take a picture of the product’s UPC and lot code and dispose of the product in its container with household trash. The consumer recall form can be found on www.fabulosorecall.com.


Do not empty the product prior to disposal.

Fulton County Commissioners award bid for Community Crossing road projects

Fulton County will soon be ready to go on three area roads projects funded, in part, by Community Crossings.


Commissioner Brian Lewis says three competitive bids were opened on the upcoming projects.



Most times bids like that would be tabled for further analysis.  But Lewis says approval was given at the meeting.



High winds forecast for Thursday

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for Thursday.


The watch remains in effect from Thursday morning through Thursday evening.


Thursday’s forecast includes shower and thunderstorm possibilities as temperatures continue to push into the upper 50s.


Southwest winds on Thursday are expected to be 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph possible.


Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines leaving power outages a possibility. Also, travel could be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.


Counties in the watch are include: Adams, Allen, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Kosciusko, Johnson, Lagrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Parke, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, St. Joseph, Shelby, Starke, Steuben, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Wells, White, and Whitley.

Two men arrested in 1975 cold case murder of North Webster teen

After almost a half century, two men accused of being responsible for the death of North Webster teenager in 1975 were arrested Monday. 



Lauren Jean Mitchell was only 17-years-old when her body was found on the morning of August 7, 1975, in the waters of a conservation area in Noble County, approximately 17 miles northeast of North Webster. Intially ruled as a drowning, Mitchell's autopsy told a different story, showing signs of a struggle. A murder investigation was initiated by the Indiana State Police Ligonier Post, along with the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department, the Noble County Sheriff's Department and the Noble County Coroner's Office.


Mitchell had been reported missing by her parents after failing to return home from work on August 6, 1975. Leaving around 10 p.m. that evening from her job at the Epworth Forrest Church Camp on North Webster Lake's northside, it would take over 47 years until the arrests of any suspects were made.


Indiana State Police along with the Noble County Sheriff's Department arrested Fred Bandy Jr, 67, of Goshen and John Wayne Lehman, 67, of Auburn, in connection with Mitchell's death. Both men are being held without bond at the Noble County Jail.  Each is charged with one count of murder. 


A press confrence on the arrests was held Tuesday. Indiana State Police Captain Kevin Smith expressed his gratitude for the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division, and advances in science throughout the years. Smith also credited the news media, who continued to give the case coverage, resulting in many citizens coming foward with valuable information.


Smith also said that the public's willingness to bring forward leads was key to solving the case.


All suspects are still considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Amy Roe announces campaign for Rochester City Council seat

On Friday, February 3, Amy A. Roe filed paperwork to become a candidate for the Precinct 2 City Council seat.

As a lifelong resident of Rochester, Roe has served her community in multiple capacities ranging from starting non-profits that support Rochester and Fulton County, volunteering, hosting many events, and becoming a member of multiple organizations.


In her career, she has specialized in community, organizational, business, and economic development in both the private and public sectors.


Amy’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from Grace College, a certificate in Non-Profit Marketing from Greenville Technical College, and a Master of Science degree in Management and Leadership from Western Governor’s University.


She is also a proud graduate of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service series.


Roe has gathered a team of volunteers under the name “Team to Elect Amy Roe” to move the campaign forward and connect with her precinct. This team will work in the next few weeks to put a plan together on how to connect with voters to hear their concerns and ideas.


Individuals can learn more about the candidate and main team members at ontheateam.com. They can also fill out a short survey anonymously sharing their thoughts about key issues.


Information about how to volunteer and donate to the campaign can also be found on this page.

Rochester Police arrest man wanted in Marshall County

A Marshall County man is charged with burglary and theft after his arrest by Rochester Police.

In May of last year, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about stolen property in Plymouth. A few months later in July, the sheriff’s department says the victim in the case located two of his stolen items at the Walkerton Sale Barn.

Further investigation led to the seller of the items, Braden Masten, 19, of Walkerton.

Masten was arrested a week ago by Rochester Police.  He was initially held in the Marshall County Jail on $1500 cash bond.

Knox man saved with Narcan and then arrested on drug charges

Officers called to the scene of an overdose saved a man's life and then arrested him in Starke County.


The Starke County Sheriff’s Office responded Sunday morning to a home in Knox.


County officers and the DNR officers were directed to the basement upon arrival.  An unresponsive man was located there along with several signs of a potential overdose.


On February 5, 2023, at approximately 8:18 A.M., Deputies with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR, served a warrant in the 0800 North Block of 600 East in Knox.


Medics recalled and officers administered four doses of Narcan. Narcan, is a masking agent that combats the effects of opioids. Officers rendered other life saving measures. Due to their quick actions, training, and experience, they saved the man’s life.


During this incident, officers located approximately 22.81 grams of methamphetamine and approximately 18.44 grams of marijuana. The subject was taken to the hospital for medical clearance before being taken to the Starke County Justice Center.


Michael Fagin, 47, of Knox, was taken into custody with preliminarily charges of: Felony Level 4 Possession of Methamphetamine, Felony Level 6 Possession of a Narcotic Drug, Felony Level 6 Possession of a Syringe, Class A Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana and Class A Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia.



Pulaski Co. deputies handle drug-related and theft cases

A welfare check by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department led to drug related arrests.


On Friday, a deputy was dispatched to the Medaryville area for a welfare check on two juvenile females. Upon further investigation, a search warrant was applied for a residence.  Deputies executed the warrant and located suspected methamphetamine and other controlled substances. Four people were taken into custody: Billy Anthony, Sr., Billy Anthony, Jr., Nakita Rentfrow and Thomas Rentfrow.


The Department of Child Services was called to the scene and arrangements were made for juveniles in the house.


On the next day, deputies were dispatched to the Monterey area in reference to a theft and an incident involving a firearm.  With a search warrant, a large quantity of stolen property was found at the residence.  The stolen property was recovered by the owner.  Edward Coad was issued a misdemeanor summons and released from the scene.

Purdue trustees endorse 12th consecutive tuition freeze

The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday endorsed President Mung Chiang’s request for a 12th consecutive tuition freeze, meaning students will see no increase in tuition through at least the 2024-25 academic year.


To be formally approved by the trustees in late spring per state statute, after the legislative budget setting, base undergraduate tuition at Purdue will remain at $9,992 per year for Indiana residents and $28,794 for out-of-state students through 2024-25.


The total cost of attending Purdue continues to be less today than in 2012, with tuition held flat and lower room and board rates. The tuition freeze saves students over $150 million per year for a cumulative total of over a billion dollars, compared to if Purdue had instituted annual increases at the Big Ten average, and debt per undergraduate student has declined 36% since 2012. By 2024-25, 10 graduating classes will have never experienced a tuition increase during their time at Purdue.


At the same time, more students than ever are seeking a Purdue degree – more than 71,000 applied for admission for Fall 2023 – and more employers than ever are seeking out Purdue graduates. Last fall, total enrollment reached a record 50,884 students and marked the university’s eighth straight record high. That total includes 37,949 undergrads – also a record.


“Purdue remains committed to the vision of higher education with the highest proven value,” Chiang said. “This proposal of another year of tuition freeze, and the endorsement by the Board of Trustees, continues Purdue’s national leadership in student access and success.”


In addition to the growing number of applicants for enrollment from across the country, evidence of Purdue’s enhanced national profile include being the only university named a “Brand That Matters” by Fast Company magazine in both 2021 and 2022, a No. 4 ranking as the most trusted public university in the country and a top 3 ranking as a university that protects free speech and open inquiry. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Purdue as one of the most innovative schools in the country each of the last five years in addition to ranking numerous academic programs highly.


President Emeritus Mitch Daniels first announced that Purdue would not increase tuition in Spring 2013, shortly after he became the university’s 12th president. Before that, Purdue tuition had increased every year since 1976, and it rose an average of nearly 6% annually from 2002-12.

Fulton County Courthouse to introduce enhanced security measures February 13

Enhanced security is scheduled to begin next week at the Fulton County Courthouse.


Fulton County Sheriff Travis Heishman says the enhanced measures will be present starting on Monday, February 13.  Members of the public will be required to pass through a series of screening measures before being allowed admittance into the courthouse.


He advises the public to allow for a few extra minutes to navigate through prior to a scheduled appointment or court hearing.


No weapons of any type will be allowed. That includes pocket knives.  Also, court security personnel are no authorized to ‘store” articles for the public during their visit to the courthouse.  Entrance will not be permitted until such items are secured outside the courthouse.


“These enhancements are not due to any specific threat or incident, rather a step in the right direction to keep county employees and members of the public a bit safer,” stated Sheriff Heishman.  “I want to commend members of the Court Security Team, Fulton County Commissioners and the Fulton County Council for making the safety and security of our employee’s and the public a priority.”


Any questions concerning authorized items can be addressed to the Court Security Office by calling 574-224-5619.


Honda with "Do Not Drive" advisory for vehicles with Takata air bags

Honda and the U.S. government are warning owners of over 8000 vehicles to not drive them until air bag inflators are replaced.


A "Do Not Drive" advisory was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday issued a “Do Not Drive” advisory for 2001 through 2003 vehicles with Takata inflators.  The inflators have the ability to explode and hurl shrapnel through the vehicle.


The Alpha inflators have a 50% chance of exploding in a crash.


The vehicles have been recalled before but records show no repair made in over 8000.  Honda says it has replaced 99% of the damgerous inflators.


Vehicles affected include the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord and Civic, the 2002 Honda CR-V and Odyssey SUVs, the 2003 Honda Pilot, the 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL and the 2003 Acura 3.2 CL.


Owners can check to see if their cars are covered by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number.



Indiana State Police report scams targeting local restaurants

Detectives working from the Indiana State Police Peru District have recently received complaints about a potential scam targeting local restaurants.


The restaurant receives a phone call. The caller tells the answering employee they are from a local law enforcement agency and conducting a counterfeit money investigation. The caller tells the employee that the restaurant possibly has counterfeit money. The employee is then instructed to gather all the restaurant’s money and meet the caller at a location away from the restaurant, purportedly to check for counterfeit money. This is an attempt to steal the restaurant’s money. 


Scammers are constantly coming up with new tricks and have recently been impersonating members of law enforcement. Sometimes they will use software that shows the incoming call is from a police department. Their sole purpose is to attempt to steal from individuals and businesses. 


Law enforcement officers will not call you and request you bring them money.


If you happen to receive unsolicited phone calls similar in nature:


Don’t give in to the pressure to act.

Don’t engage in conversation with suspected scammers.

Don’t send or take money to a caller. Also, don’t wire money or pay a scammer with a prepaid debit card or gift card.

Don’t travel to any location the caller asks you to go.

Hang up and call the police.



FEDCO's new executive director, Michael Ladd, introduced to community at public reception Thursday

Lacing up his shoes as FEDCO's newest executive director, Michael Ladd was introduced to Rochester during a reception at Arlington Public House Thursday evening.


Community leaders and business owners welcomed Ladd, who plans on bringing in his expertise of revitalizing downtowns, creating public art projects, recognized workforce development programs, educational seminars, and other value-added projects, to Fulton County. 



Fulton County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Jillian Smith, was among those to welcome Ladd Thursday.  She's excited to see what FEDCO's new executive director will bring to the table. 




Rochester opening new Fastpace Health Walk-In clinic

Fastpace Health will open a new Walk-In Urgent Care Clinic at 392 Rochester Crossing Drive, Rochester, on Wednesday.


This convenient Fastpace Health location will be open seven days a week with extended weekday and weekend hours for current residents and surrounding Fulton County communities.


The clinic will feature multiple exam rooms, an on-site lab, COVID-19 testing, and X-ray capabilities. Patients can also take advantage of virtual telehealth for urgent care common ailments as well as medication prescriptions and refills.


“Our mission to improve the health of those we serve remains true, and we aim to bring that commitment of providing a comfortable, stress-free, and professional health care experience to Rochester. Our staff of experienced clinicians will provide comprehensive health services that meet the needs of the community. We have built our name and reputation on our compassionate, reliable, and affordable approach to health care with services that can be scarce in smaller communities,” said Fastpace Health CEO Greg Steil.


"Patients need immediate solutions with our safe and convenient Rochester location.  The clinic will offer treatment for a wide range of illnesses with walk-in urgent, primary,and preventative health care services. We also offer scheduled services for behavioral, telehealth, and occupational health care needs.”


The location is part of an expanding Fastpace network of clinics established in over 200+ communities across Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, Alabama and Louisiana.


More information about Fastpace Health is available at www.fastpacehealth.com/location/rochester

A letter to state lawmakers: Pass bills that would aid rather than hinder our rural hospitals

The following was submitted to the Fulton County Post by Woodlawn Hospital's Alan Fisher:


While the Indiana General Assembly debates health care legislation, there is a looming crisis that is going unnoticed.


The Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform recently noted that, just in
Indiana, “11 hospitals are at risk of closing, and seven of those hospitals are at immediate risk of closing.” Specific hospitals weren’t identified, but a sense of urgency compels me to speak out as the leader of Woodlawn Hospital in Rochester. Unfortunately, my facility is likely one of these at greatest risk.


Woodlawn is an independent, critical access hospital (CAH) with clinics in Akron, Argos, and Fulton. Our operational loss for 2021 was $755,000, but the financial headwinds for us and other hospitals picked up speed last year, leaving us with an estimated loss for 2022 of $6.3 million. Our goal for 2023 is to lose just $1.5 million, even after our implementation of more than $3 million in cost reductions.

There are three main reasons for the current predicament, and they are not unique to Woodlawn. First, with slow population gains in Fulton County and our region, our opportunity for growth is limited. Community leaders are working hard to attract new businesses, but these efforts will take time. Of course, without a local hospital, economic development would be even more difficult.

The second reason is that major insurance companies pay rural hospitals low reimbursement rates and often force patients to seek care far outside our community. These “care redirection” policies seem to be designed for urban areas with many health care and transportation options, but in my community,
they often lead to patients delaying needed care. This harms their health and makes it more difficult to keep our doors open.

The third reason is that as many more Hoosiers gained health care coverage through Medicaid and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) during the pandemic, hospitals have increasingly had to pick up the bill. Indiana hospitals will pay a total of $1.5 billion in 2023 into the Hospital Assessment Fee (HAF) to fund these programs, and Woodlawn’s portion is growing quickly, rising from just over $2 million in 2020 to $3.2 million this year. It is good that we have HIP for so many without other insurance options, but these HAF increases are not sustainable.


Without state help on these two latter issues soon, Woodlawn will face difficult decisions about which services it can still provide to stay afloat. Many hospitals across the country, including some in Indiana, have closed their obstetric units due to low birth rates and inadequate reimbursement. More than 60% of all births at Woodlawn are paid through Medicaid, which only covers 53% of the cost of providing care. We do not want to the “maternity deserts” that are growing in our region to become larger, but we must also evaluate closing our own unit which loses almost $2 million annually.


Currently, there are several bills introduced regarding health care costs that exempt county-owned and rural hospitals like mine. While this is better than being hammered by some of these proposals, simply being left out of that legislation doesn’t help us remain open for the citizens of Fulton County. But with
state financial support for hospitals, similar to what is being proposed in states from Michigan toMississippi, we can keep Woodlawn open as a “maternity oasis” and a cornerstone of the local economy.


CAHs face a double-edged sword—on one side, our costs are fixed due to minimum staffing requirements for all departments, and on the other side are governmental regulations which limit our ability to manage expenses. For this reason, legislation for CAHs like ours must be developed in such a way to ensure the continued viability of the organization into the future.

We implore legislators to pass bills that would aid rather than hinder our rural facilities and the communities we serve.

Scholarship available for Purdue University students

The Phillips-Braman Scholarship application will be available at the Fulton County Community Foundation starting February 6 with a deadline of February 28.


Rochester High School graduates who have completed one year of coursework at Purdue University Lafayette are eligible to apply if they are enrolled full-time at Purdue and are in good academic standing.


This scholarship provides a substantial contribution towards recipient(s)’ educational expenses and can be renewed each year of undergraduate study.


The application can be found at www.nicf.org under the Fulton County scholarship tab.

Area counties benefit from nearly $8.5 million in grants to help improve Hoosier health outcomes

The Indiana Department of Health has awarded nearly $8.5 million in grants to organizations working to improve Hoosiers’ health as part of the Health Issues and Challenges program, which was established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2021 with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.


This is the second round of grants through the program and follows $35 million that was announced last June. 


“Public health is built on a foundation of prevention and accessibility, and we are grateful to be able to use the remaining funds that our legislators allocated to support programs that will help improve Hoosiers’ health and well-being,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “These programs are locally delivered and reach Hoosiers where they live.”


Entities were invited to apply for funding for programs to help improve health outcomes related to one or more of the following priority areas: tobacco use, food insecurity/obesity, lead exposure, chronic disease and disease prevention programs, including community paramedicine and community health workers. A total of 117 organizations submitted applications, and a total of 27 awards were issued. 


Priority was given to applicants that demonstrated high need and high impact in their grant proposals.


Funding includes $300,000 for grant programs for Community Health Workers through Trustees of Indiana University.  Fulton County is included in this segment with nine other counties around the state.


Also, $454,551 to benefit Northwest Health LaPorte impacting LaPorte and Starke counties.


The Wabash Township Fire Department received $315,000 for Communnity Paramedicine.


Other funding includes:

  • More than $2.2 million to address chronic disease, including asthma, diabetes and cancer
  • $3.5 million for community health workers
  • $1 million to support community paramedicine programs in Clark, Posey and Wabash counties
  • Nearly $1.6 million to address food insecurity and obesity in Marion, Lake, Jennings and Vanderburgh counties, as well as Northwest Indiana
  • Nearly $91,000 for lead prevention programs in local health departments in Kosciusko, Clark, Franklin and Orange counties
  • Nearly $32,000 to the Porter County Health Department for tobacco prevention and cessation programming

The funding must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

Indiana State Police warn of phone scam

The Indiana State Police Indianapolis Post recently received several complaints from of a phone scam. 


In this case, scammers have called with the Caller ID showing “Indiana State Police Post 52.” The phone number displayed is 317-899-8577, which is the phone number to the post. The scammers identify themselves as police officers and indicate to the caller there is a warrant for their arrest. The scammer then tries to obtain personal information and request financial restitution to take care of the warrant. 


Scams like this with “spoofed” Indiana State Police phone numbers have happened across Indiana with scams ranging from telling the victim their identity has been stolen, selling insurance or attempts to raise money for false charities.


The Indiana State Police would remind all Hoosiers that these types of phone scammers are pervasive and technically savvy. Scammers will often play on your emotions and fears to get to your money. 


The easiest way to protect yourself from being scammed over the phone is either to ignore unsolicited calls from unknown callers or just hang up when something doesn’t seem right.


You should never provide any information over the phone to an unknown caller regarding your personal identity, social security number, bank account(s), or credit card number(s).


If in doubt, or if you feel you may have fallen victim to a phone scammer, just hang up and immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency.