FEDCO Director Michael Ladd stresses importance of economic development

Known for its friendly environment, tight-knit community, outdoor recreational opportunities and rich history, Fulton County is ready to grow. Fulton Economic Development Corporation Director Michael Ladd, is ready to help do just that after taking over his new position in February.


Ladd said over the past dozen years or so, nearly $3.3 million in federal and state grants have been given in Fulton County that could have otherwise gone elsewhere had it not been for FEDCO. Over $383,000 of USDA grants were also awarded to the city and county since 2011. With threats of FEDCO being taken out in the past, Ladd said he plans on keeping the ball rolling economically to ensure its worth for our community. 


With new ideas up his sleeve, Ladd hopes to market information about buildings and places open and available for sale or rent in the area, like the Blacketor Industrial Park, to bring more business to Rochester. Already starting to showcase the area, Ladd, in March, brought two developers from Clark County to town to show them what the city of Rochester had to offer and plans to do so more throughout the county as time goes on. 




Over the past two months, Ladd has observed a a need in the community for more modern, exclusive place for industries to flow in. With additional upgrading on buildings and places that already exsist within the community, Ladd's experience with marketing is key. 


It's the additional upgrades, however, that Ladd is waiting on before he can put a hook on the worm for outside marketing. The main problem, Ladd said, is businesses larger cities have a hard time looking at Rochester for a potential site, when nothing is available immediate production. Not only does the current housing crisis hurt business, by not being able to provide housing for their employees, there is also no 'shovel-ready' site for the buildings here to get started with water, sewer, utilities and more. 


Ladd said some of this is being worked on, but there isn't much movement. Without a working relationship between various groups within the county, business attraction for the area will continue to be an impossible task. He stressed that those that can step up and provide the necessary infrastructure and shovel ready sites will lead our growth and success the most. By looking at the future, and decades down the road, Ladd hopes leaders are wanting to create a community that their children and grandchidren will want to live in and help grow as well. 


While Ladd realizes that Rome wasn't built in a day, he does believe further teamwork to make things come together will mean long in coming successes for companies here in the future. Ladd used past experiences from his time in Marion, where he said it took nearly five years of negotiating with Dunham Sports before the company settled on its current site for its new warehouse. 


With high hopes for the future, Ladd also has some fears and says Fulton County is decades behind when it comes to engaging in economic development. Ladd compared our start in 2011 to the surrounding counties who began development in the 1950s, and continue to prepare today for new residents and companies to move in a few years from now. He said many of these counties are preparing for the ripple effect that Kokomo's growth has produced over the decades. Ladd said, as of right now, if we don't take action and work together as a whole for the community, the ripple effect will stop at Fulton County. 


Still new to the area, Ladd has a fresh outlook for Rochester and change for the future, hoping to see it grow as much as the areas have that he's worked in before. The only thing that lacks is teamwork. 


He plans to continue to fight for that teamwork. Pushing exsisting programs, helping to form new partnerships between public and private sectors, and meet the needs of the community, instead of the agendas of local leaders, Ladd hopes as better relationships grow, so does the county. 

America's Best Restaurants to feature Evergreen Eatery

Evergreen Eatery will be hosting a visit from America's Best Restaurants (ABR) in early May 2023.


America's Best Restaurants, a national media and marketing company focusing on local, independently-owned restaurants, will bring its ABR Roadshow to the restaurant on May 11. Popular dishes will be highlighted, along with an extensive on-camera interview with owner Ruth Gunter about the restaurant's special place in the community. The episode will be aired extensively on social media channels at a later date.


Evergreen Eatery will celebrate its second anniversary this fall. The space is warm and airy, with exposed brick walls, a high ceiling, and large front windows that let a lot of natural light into the dining area. They offer upscale breakfast, and fresh fish, prime steaks, and many fully customizable sandwiches. Desserts are all made from scratch.


America's Best Restaurants will be filming on location on Thursday May 11 from 9 a.m. to noon EST. Evergreen Eatery's finished episode premiere date will be announced on their Facebook page and will be featured on America's Best Restaurants' website at



Visit AmericasBestRestaurants.com to learn more and to view the episodes and profiles of hundreds of America's Best Restaurants

Culver Lakefest provides a full weekend July 14 - 16

The dates for the 39th annual Lakefest have been posted, July 14 - 16 and this year’s theme is: Salute the Troops. 


Lakefest will be celebrating and honoring the brave men and women who have fought and continue to fight, for our freedom with a special focus on those who have come through Culver and live or have lived in Culver. With the theme in mind, part of the proceeds from this year’s event will go toward the local VFW. 


Festivities kick off on Friday afternoon, July 14, at 4 p.m. with food, arts and crafts, commercial booths, and games.  The Culver Paint Out with plein-air artists will get underway and at 4:30 p.m. the Salute the Troops flag-raising will happen outside the Lion’s Club Depot.  At 5 p.m., the online registration for Waves of Freedom Run ends and the Bass Fishing Tournament begins.  The Miss Maxinkuckee Pageant begins at 6 p.m. at the Damore Amphitheater and at 8 Point’n Fingers Band takes the stage at the west pavilion.


Vendor booths and entertainment ends at 10 p.m.


Saturday, July 15, Lakefest activities begin at 8 a.m. with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast and the 5K run/walk, and the half-mile youth run.  The Culver Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the food, arts and crafts, commercial booths and games will be open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.  The Lakefest Parade steps off at 10:00 a.m.


Saturday afternoon activities include family contests, the plein air artists will be painting and at 1:30 the fireman’s water ball contest gets started.  The spectacular fireworks will begin at about 10.


Lakefest fun continues on Sunday, July 16 with Beach Yoga, all-you-can-eat pancakes, a car show and the food, arts and crafts, commercial booths, and games.  


You can check out the Lakefest website for more updates as they continue to plan for Lakefest 2023!  www.culverlakefestival.com


Plans for this year’s Lakefest include a beer garden but they will seek their own special event permit from the Town Council.  

Indiana State Police from Peru post recognized at ceremony

Four members of the Indiana State Police Post at Peru were recently honored for their dedication to the job and saving lives.


On April 19, the Indiana State Police held an awards and recognition ceremony in Indianapolis. The ceremony publicly recognizes the achievements, self-sacrifice, and accomplishments of the Indiana State Police employees from around the state. Three troopers and a captain from the Peru Post were recognized at the ceremony.


Trooper Andrew Baldwin was recognized as the 2022 Indiana State Police Peru Post Trooper of the District. The award is given annually to the trooper that personifies integrity, professionalism, and a well-rounded work ethic. Baldwin was selected by the command staff at the Peru Post for his dedication to his job, traffic and criminal enforcement, community involvement, instructor ratings, special assignments, and other services provided by the officer that exceeds department expectations.


In 2022, Baldwin had 210 Criminal arrests, 12 DUI arrests, investigated 10 crashes, and initiated 625 traffic stops. Trooper Baldwin is also a K-9 handler for the Peru Post. In 2022, Trooper Baldwin utilized his K-9 117 times, which resulted in approximately 65 grams of Methamphetamine, 14 grams of Ecstasy, 3 grams of Cocaine, and 211 grams of other drugs.


Baldwin has worked for the Indiana State Police for 6 years.


Captain Shea Reliford, Trooper Charles Coffee, and Trooper Dakota Anderson were recognized for receiving the Indiana State Police Life Saving Award. In May 2022, Troopers were directing and monitoring traffic on Georgetown Road for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 and were advised a man had collapsed near their location. Troopers located a man that was lying in the street, unconscious and not breathing. Trooper Dakota Anderson retrieved his Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Trooper Anderson and Captain Reliford provided multiple rounds of CPR before the male regained a pulse. The male subject was transported by EMS to an area hospital for treatment.


Captain Reliford has been with the Indiana State Police for 17 years, Trooper Charles Coffee has been with the State Police for 17 years, and Dakota Anderson has been with the State Police for 3 years.

Attorney General warns of tax scams

Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning Hoosiers of post-tax season scams, which occur far too often in communities across Indiana.


 “Scammers will steal innocent taxpayers’ identities and use it to file fraudulent tax returns,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Many families are looking forward to tax refunds to help pay their currently inflated bills or to simply get away for a few days this summer. Don’t let these con artists steal your identity and eventually, your money.”? 


Tax identity thieves use?other people’s?Social Security Numbers?to file taxes and/or even obtain jobs. Most?victims?will likely not?even?be aware this has happened.?Some will be notified upon e-filing that a tax return has already been filed?using their SSN.? 


Attorney General Rokita reminds Hoosiers to review the warning signs released by the IRS on possible tax-related identity theft related to tax scams: 


More than one tax return was filed for you. 


You owe additional taxes, have a refund offset, or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.


IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work. 


If you believe you have been the victim of tax-related or any other type of identity theft, you can file a complaint online by visiting indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516. 

One dead in Starke County car crash

A Knox woman was killed in a Tuesday Starke County car crash.


It happened at State Road 8 at 700 East about noon on Tuesday.  The initial call to dispatch indicated entrapment and possible fatality.


Goldie Singleton, 80, of Knox, was declared dead at the scene.


The crash is still being investigated.



Indiana's March 2023 Employment Report

Indiana’s unemployment rate in March stands at 3.1% according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for March stands at 3.5%.

In addition, Indiana’s labor force participation rate increased to 63.5% for March, remaining above the national rate of 62.6%. Indiana’s total labor force, which includes both Hoosiers employed and those seeking employment, stands at 3,416,350 – an increase of 6,653 from the previous month.

Private sector employment in Indiana increased by 3,300 jobs over the last month, translating to a gain of 70,200 jobs from this time last year. Indiana’s March private employment stands at 2,830,500. This is a new private employment peak for Indiana.

Industries that experienced job increases in March included:

  • Professional and Business Services (+4,400)
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+800)
  • Leisure and Hospitality (+700)
  • Manufacturing (+400)

As of April 17, there were 130,218 open job postings throughout the state. In March, 17,039 unemployment insurance claims were filed in Indiana.

Individuals looking for work, training or career information are encouraged to visit in.gov/dwd/job-seekers.

Frost Advisory in effect overnight

A Frost Advisory is in effect from the National Weather Service from 2:00 a.m. EDT - 8:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday.


Temperatures as low as 32 will result in frost formation across portions of northern Indiana and northwest Ohio.


Frost could kill sensitive outdoor vegetation if left uncovered.


Cloud cover is expected to diminish this evening, allowing temperatures to drop near or just below freezing for at least a few hours. If clouds hold on longerthan anticipated, the risk for widespread freezing temperaturesmay be lower.

Winamac man arrested for dealing meth and giving fake name

A Winamac man is facing several serious charges after police arrested him at a Crown Point Family Express on Saturday. He was found with 15 grams of methamphetamine.  


Brandon Anderson, 42, has been charged with dealing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possesion of a syringe, possession of paraphernalia and making a false-identity statement. 


Officers were called to 802 E North Street shortly after midnight on Saturday for a report of a suspicious vehicle that had been sitting at the gas station for over an hour. 


When initially speaking with police, Anderson claimed his name was Mike. According to the probable cause affidavit, officers observed "Mike" to be nervous, shaking, with shallow breathing  that appeared so noticeable his chest was visibly contracting. After being questioned about his nervousness, Anderson confessed to the fake name and admitted he knew he was in trouble. Anderson also admitted to having several syringes and "some meth" inside his car. 


Court documents statedthat  officers soon discovered Anderson had an active warrant in Pulaski County for possession of methamphetamine. 


After searching the vehicle, officers reported they had discovered a black digital scale, two packs of syringes, two hypodermic needles, a glass smoking device and 15.65 grams of methamphetamine. 


Anderson was taken to the Lake County Jail. Bail was initially set at $50,000.

Runnings and R.P. Home & Harvest announce transaction

Runnings, a Minnesota-based retailer, has recently reached an agreement to purchase R.P. Home & Harvest, a family-owned company with 22 locations and one distribution facility across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.


That includes the Home & Harvest in the Peace Tree Village in Rochester along with stores in Elkhart, Wabash, Warsaw in the nearby area.


Upon completion of this acquisition, Runnings’s footprint will expand to 80 locations, serving customers in 12 states from New York to Montana.

“From the customers and the communities to the employees and vendors, we truly feel this is an excellent opportunity for everyone involved,” added Brian Odegaard, President of Runnings. “These stores and communities are very similar to the markets we presently serve and, after many discussions with R.P. Home & Harvest’s leadership, both companies knew this would be a great fit from a culture, values, and operations standpoint.”


“It’s pretty amazing how quickly this all came together,” said Jason Plummer, President of R.P. Home & Harvest. “Just a couple of months ago this wasn’t even on the radar but when a win-win opportunity appears, it is an exciting thing. Runnings has been doing this for over 75 years, and they are one of the top farm, home, and outdoor-store companies in America, extremely well-regarded by customers and competitors. We are both family-owned companies and that means a lot to us. This deal would not have come together if we did not have the utmost confidence that Runnings will do a phenomenal job for all stakeholders.”


The transaction between Runnings and R.P. Home & Harvest is scheduled to close in June. The stores will continue operating as R.P. Home & Harvest for a limited period of time as Runnings transitions the stores to their well-known brand.


“I have personally visited many of the R.P. Home & Harvest stores, and I was thoroughly impressed, especially with some of the team members I encountered,” said Odegaard. “We can’t wait to add these stores and the R.P. Home & Harvest team members to our growing company.”


“There is a long list of employees, vendors, and other hardworking people who brought these stores out of the ashes of a bad situation, literally going from empty stores to serving customers in a matter of weeks during a very tough economic time. I know the communities and customers appreciated this unbelievable effort, and this transaction with Runnings is only going to add the next great chapter to this story,” added Plummer. “My family is active in many of these markets through other business and civic activity, and I can’t wait to see Runnings take these stores to the next level.”


About Runnings:

Runnings is a privately held retailer selling an extensive selection of pet supplies, sporting goods including hunting and fishing equipment, clothing and footwear, lawn and garden supplies, housewares, tools, farm supplies, toys, and outdoor equipment. Founded in 1947 and owned by the Dennis and Adele Reed Family, the Company currently has 58 stores and employs more than 2,700 workers across eight states. For more information visit www.runnings.com.


About R.P. Home & Harvest:

R.P. Home & Harvest, founded in 2021, operates 22 farm and ranch stores and one distribution center across four states. The company is an affiliate of R.P. Lumber Co., Inc., a family-owned home center and building materials retailerbased in Edwardsville, IL that operatesover 80 locations throughout Illinois, Missouri, Wyoming, Iowa, and Wisconsin. More information can be found at www.rphomeandharvest.com.

BMV extends hours for Primary Election Day

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced that branches in counties holding a primary election will extend hours of operation on Monday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 2 to issue ID cards and driver’s licenses to be used for identification at a polling place.


These branches will be open Monday, May 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Tuesday, May 2, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Visit the BMV website for details about Election Day, including which branches are open, transaction and processing information, and FAQs.


The Indiana BMV provides free, state-issued ID cards for voting purposes to any unlicensed Hoosier who is a U.S. citizen, who can provide proper documentation, and who will be at least 18 years of age on or before the next general or municipal election.


The following documents are required to obtain a new state ID card or driver’s license.


A complete list of documents can also be found here.


• Proof of Identity document, such as a birth certificate or passport

• Proof of Social Security document, such as a Social Security card, pay stub, or W-2

• Proof of lawful status, such as a birth certificate or passport

• Two documents that serve as proof of residency, such as a voter registration card, utility bill or bank statement, dated within the last 60 days

• If your name has been legally changed and now differs from your identity document(s) (i.e., birth certificate or passport), proof of name change must be provided to obtain a state ID or driver’s license


All branches will resume regular business hours on Wednesday, May 3.

Fulton County Sheriff's Office warns of phone scam

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is warning of an ongoing scam that tries to get you to pay money to solve an outstanding warrant, claiming to be phone call from the Sheriff’s Office.

The scammers identify themselves as an officer 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.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind all Hoosiers these types of phone scammers will often play on your emotions and fears to get 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).

The United States Attorney's Office commemorates National Crime Victims' Rights Week

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana is commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week from April 23–29.


According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2021, there were more than 4.6 million violent victimizations and 11.7 million property crimes, the latest year for which such information is available.


“Survivors’ voices must be heard. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana is committed to listening to victims and supporting them at every step of the criminal justice process and beyond,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers. “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is an opportunity for all of us involved in law enforcement to reaffirm our dedication to providing resources, connections, and support to victims of all crimes.”  


The federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by raising awareness of victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.”


During NCVRW 2023, the USAO SDIN will share information about victims’ rights and resources and underscore the importance of listening to survivors’ voices in every space where decisions are made that could impact them by holding a roundtable with Domestic Violence Service Providers in the district. The USAO SDIN is also honoring agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for their tireless advocacy on behalf of communities that have been affected by crime.


On October 21, 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released revised Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. The revised guidelines updated, for the first time in a decade, when and how Department of Justice employees work with victims and witnesses of crime to ensure that their voices are heard and that they are protected during criminal justice proceedings. The guidelines apply to all department employees engaged in the investigative, prosecutorial, correctional, and parole functions within the criminal justice system.


For more information about how to support all victims of crime, visit OVC’s website at ovc.ojp.gov.

Rustique Fox brings fashion and more to rural Fulton County

Fulton County 911 Communications Director Gail Karas turned a dream into reality when she opened Rustique Fox in 2021. Open mostly Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  the barntique, located at 5412 West 100 North in rural Rochester, provides a wide range of unique items from fashion, florals, antiques, art and more. 



Looking to expand the barntique this year more than ever, Karas plans on hosting quarterly events and partnering with other local businesses, as well as sharing her life-long passion for art with the community with future art classes.



Also running the Facebook page Gail Karas Fine Art & Studio, Karas keeps the Rustique Fox slightly separate from her studio. Her work is on display and for sale in the barntique on everything from canvases, clothing items, post cards and more. 


Karas hopes to inspire others to continue art as much as other artists have inspired her. 



As time goes on and business picks up, Karas hopes to expand the hours to more than just the weekends. To keep up with upcoming events and changes you can find Rustique Fox on Facebook or visit her website at https://rustiquefoxboutique.com.





Changes in the Woodlawn Hospital's Obstetrics Department

Woodlawn Hospital announced today that, effective immediately, Dr. Geoffrey Cly would no longer be a part of the organization. Patients will be notified of the next steps as other Woodlawn Medical Staff will care for their needs.


Through the changes, Woodlawn remains dedicated to providing OB/GYN care to the community.


“Our commitment to care for Fulton and the surrounding counties has not changed. We are still working daily to be a maternity oasis for our community. Although our team may look different, our allegiance to care for our community is still very much at the heart of our hospital and organization,” Woodlawn Hospital CEO, Alan Fisher stated.


If patients have concerns, please get in touch with the office at (574) 223-2020.


“Our staff is ready to help patients on the next steps forward. We have four other medical providers who have stepped up to make sure our patients get the best care possible. We acknowledge there is a change, but I am confident that our team will continue to care for our community with excellence,” Brad Rogers, COO of Woodlawn Hospital said.             

Rochester's Zeta Whitmer named Academic Regional All- Star.

Rochester High School Senior Zeta Whitmer has been named an Academic Regional All- Star.


The program, sponsored by the Indiana Association of School Principals, honors 90 students from among 1.2 million Indiana high school students. RHS Principal Oscar Haughs nominated Whitmer. 


The rigorous selection process requires excellence in academics, extracurricular activities, and community service. Once selected, each student nominates a teacher who had a positive influence on them.  Whitmer selected RHS English teacher Hope Showley.  Students and their teachers were honored at a reception at the Roof Top Ballroom in the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre on Thursday, April 20.


Whitmer is the daughter of Philip and Christa Whitmer.   She plans to attend Northwestern University to major in political science.   

Man arrested after investigation of child solicitation incident in Argos

A Plymouth man was arrested in Argos following an investigation of child solicitation.


The Marshall County Sheriff's Department says Logan Dunlap, 23, was charged with child solicitation and a second charge of child molestation. 


Court documents show that Rodney Rudd with the Argos Police Department was dispatched to the Argos McDonald's on January 16 to meet with Bikers Against Predators who had set up a decoy meeting with Dunlap. Officer Rudd met with Rob Bloom who runs the non-profit and was informed that Dunlap was in the parking lot and had the intention to meet up with a child under 14 years of age for sex. 


Officer Rudd made contact with Dunlap who said he was at McDonald’s to meet a female for sex.  He said he and his girlfriend were into that sexual behavior and often brought girls back home.  Dunlap said he met her online and shared texts with the officer.  The text messages included graphic pictures of Dunlap's genitalia and videos of him having sex with his girlfriend.


During an interview at the Argos Police Station, Bloom, from Bikers Against Predators, showed a text message where the decoy told Dunlap she was 13 years old.  The phones of Bloom and Dunlap were taken as evidence and Dunlap was read his rights. 


An arrest warrant was issued for Logan Dunlap on March 30. He was arrested Tuesday, April 18.  


U.S. 35 in Pulaski County has culver project beginning north of Winamac

An INDOT project is scheduled to close a stretch of Pulaski County road starting next week.


U.S. 35 will be closed between C.R. 200 N and C.R. 350 N on or after Wednesday, April 26 through mid-May for a culvert replacement.


The official detour will follow State Road 14, State Road 39 and State Road 10.

Fulton County Assessor to meet with public in May to answer tax and assessment questions

With county assessments and property tax bills coming under scrutiny, Fulton County Assessor Kasey Hensley is scheduling May dates to meet with the public.


Fulton County Commissioner Bryan Lewis.



The commissioner details two paving projects that will be the focus of the recently received $999, 999.75 in the Community Crossings grant.



Lewis also notes that a few weeks of renovations is continuing to ready the old sheriff’s office to be a new home for the probation department.


Limited tickets remaining for the Fulton County Annual Community Gala

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce is reminding the public to reserve seats for the 2023 Fulton County Annual Community Gala and Awards Ceremony, as limited tickets remain available.


The event will be held on Saturday, April 29th at The Jackson Estates, 1674 N 750 W, Rochester, IN 46975. Doors will open at 6:00 pm for guests to enjoy live music and networking during cocktail hour, and dinner will begin at 7:00 pm. 2022 Community Awards and the Community Service Award winner will be announced during the awards ceremony at 8:00 pm.


Seats are available for purchase at the Chamber Office for guests to enjoy a celebratory evening of networking and great food at The Jackson Estates. Guests are encouraged to wear their red carpet best and a cash bar will be available.


Individual tickets for Chamber members are $50, or $450 for a table of 8. Nonmember and community pricing is $75 for individual tickets and $650 for a table of 8. Table pricing includes preferential seating and recognition.


This event would not be possible without our event sponsor, Rochester Metal Products.


If you have any questions or if you would like to reserve your seats, please email Kellie Scobie at kellie@fultoncountychamber.com, call the office at 574-224-2666, or see us at 822 Main Street in Rochester.


SBA disaster loans available for counties affected by March and April severe storms

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest disaster loans to businesses and residents in Indiana following the announcement of a Presidential disaster declaration due to damages from severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes from March 31 to April 1. 


The disaster declaration covers Allen, Benton, Clinton, Grant, Howard, Johnson, Lake, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Sullivan and White counties in Indiana, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA.


Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Adams, Bartholomew, Blackford, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clay, De Kalb, Delaware, Greene, Hamilton, Hendricks, Huntington, Jackson, Jasper, Knox, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Shelby, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wells and Whitley in Indiana. 


Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. These centers are designed for businesses and not individual homeowners.


Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.


The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is June 14, 2023.


The deadline to return economic injury applications is Jan. 15, 2024


Apply online

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website and should apply under SBA declaration # 17881.

Bill that would provide firearms training for school personnel headed to Governor

A measure that would allow personnel in Indiana schools to be trained to carry handguns and use them in the event of a school shooting is now headed to the desk of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb after passing the Indiana Senate Tuesday. 


House Bill 1177, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, cleared the Senate 42-8 and cleared the House 71-24. 


The legislation did not come without a fight in the Senate, as Democrats tried three times to pass amendments to the bill, with all three failing. 


Sen. Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis, proposed an amendment that would require schools to notify parents of who has been authorized to carry a firearm and it failed 34-15.


Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, attempted two proposed amendments. 


The first requested the training be done by an instructor who is not only qualified, but also approved by the Law Enforcement Training Board and would ensure the training was continued. That measure failed 33-16.


Ford's second proposal asked for the measure to be dumped and sent to a summer study committee to allow more time to discuss the proposed legislation.That measure also failed 39-10.  


Lucas says he feels good that his legislation is headed to Holcomb's desk and that he has heard from numerous educators who support it. Lucas continued by saying his legislation can be traced back to multiple school shootings across the nation, but was spurred by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. in 2018. 


"It is a great piece of legislation that simply gives those that volunteer state paid training and a chance to save their life in the event of an active shooter situation," said Lucas, who stressed the legislation is "strictly voluntary." 


Lucas said a school corporation has to want to do it and teachers/staff must volunteer and pass a psychological evaluation and complete a training course before the state will pay for it. 


The state will pay for it by reallocating funds in the Indiana Safe Schools fund to training. 


Current law permits educators to carry guns in schools but does not require or offer formal training. 


National Weather Service issues Wind Advisory

A Wind Advisory is in effect from 1 p.m.  - 7 p.m. EDT.


The National Weather Service forecasts south winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph expected.


People are advised to use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle.  West - east roads will be the most affected.



Firefighters nationwide encouraged to enroll in an online system to support and further understand cancer

Firefighters nationwide are encouraged to enroll in an online system as part of the largest effort to support and further understand cancer in the fire service field.


Launched by the CDC through its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Firefighter Registry (NFR) is designed to identify details about firefighters' work and match them with cancer information provided by state registries.


Enrollment takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and can be done by following this link.


Participation is voluntary and all U.S. firefighters are asked to enroll, whether or not they have a cancer diagnosis.

Affordable Hearing Store to open Logansport location

The Affordable Hearing Store of Rochester, based in Rochester, has announced plans to open an Affordable Hearing office at 300 E Broadway, Suite 104 in Logansport. 


This will be a third location in Indiana for the chain that sells top brands of hearing aids at half the typical price, saving their customers an average of $2,506 per pair.


Licensed Hearing Aid Dealer and owner, Chuck Smith of Kewanna said his decision to open a store in Logansport was easy: “Too many people who would benefit from hearing aids can’t afford them, and even the people who can, deserve a better deal.”


“It’s not the price of the hearing aids that make them expensive, it’s the mark-up and overhead,” Smith explained.


Affordable Hearing has developed a low overhead business model that allows them to lower the price and make it up in volume.


“80% of the people who need hearing aids don’t have them and the number one reason is the price,” says Smith.  


Five levels of products and their prices are displayed in their stores and on their website, www.MyAffordableHearing.com, ranging from the most basic to the most advanced. All the hearing aids are digital, programmable, and available in a wide variety of styles from tiny, nearly invisible, in the ear to the high power behind the ear models.


Renovations should be completed for an early May opening.



Secretary of State's Office opens investigation into auto dealer

Agents from the Indiana Secretary of State’s auto dealer licensing and enforcement division have joined the Attorney General’s investigation into a Northeast Indiana auto dealership accused of rolling back odometers.


Flexible Auto Sales, LLC located in LaGrange County is accused of scamming dozens of Hoosier auto buyers.  A lawsuit filed claims the business, owned, and operated by John Allen in Shipshewana, rolled back millions of miles on the odometers. The Attorney General’s Office has consumer protection authority. The Secretary of State’s Auto Dealer Services Division has regulatory and enforcement authority over new and used car dealers and can suspend an auto dealer’s operating permit if laws are being violated. The two agencies are working together to ensure Hoosiers auto buyers are well served.


Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales advises consumers to report any suspicious dealer activity to the Secretary of State’s Auto Dealers Division and the Indiana Attorney General’s office. “Our office will not tolerate auto dealers using unlawful tactics to take advantage of Hoosiers. We take these matters seriously and will work to make sure only legitimate auto dealers are doing business in our state.”


“Odometer discrepancy’ is one of the issues a person can select when filing a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office.  There are several consequences that a dealer could face pending the outcome of an investigation.  Penalties can range from fines to suspension or revocation of a dealer’s operating license.  

Gun store officially open inside Odell Lumber

After a year of planning, the gun store inside of Odell Lumber and Supply, 1720 State Road 14 in Rochester, officially opened its counter to customers on Monday.


The store is operated by Derek Pontious who has nearly ten years under his belt in the firearm sales industry and high hopes for the future of the store.



The store has shotguns, rifles, handguns, ammunition and magazines.  More is to come in later as the clientele grows.


Pontious says the new job has been a dream come true. He credits Odell Lumber's owner, Trent Odell, as well as God, for the opportunity to make the community a safer place by allowing him to put good guns into good people's hands. 



The gun store will be open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. 


Argos Public Library scheduled for ProPel community hours on Thursday

Community Office Hours are scheduled to be hosted by INDOT and the U.S. 31 ProPel team this week.


Officials are using these informal, in-person conversations for the public to ask questions, provide input and receive regular updates on the study to improve traffic and more along the U.S. 30 and 31 corridors.


The U.S. 30 West study is from State Road 49 in Porter County to West County Road 700 North in Fulton County and Beech Road in Marshall County.  The U.S. 31 study is from just south of the Eel River in Miami County to just south of the Fulton/Marshall County line.


The study runs into the Fall of 2024.


Thursday’s hours at the Argos Public Library are 1 – 3 p.m.


Early voting for May 2 primary

Early voting is on the calendar for the remaining days until the May 2 primary election.


The Fulton County Courthouse will hold early vtoing on Monday, April 24, through Friday, April 28.  Hours on those dates are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.


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.

Fulton County Emergency Management seeking public to help in case of emergency

The Fulton County Emergency Agency is reaching out to the public for volunteers if assistance is needed during an emergency.


Fulton County EMA posted that they are in the prcoess of updating the Debris Management Plan for the county in the event of storm damage. The agency is looking for anyone that has dump trucks, backhoes, excavators, and wheel loaders that would be willing to be on call out in the event the resources of local government are overwhelmed.


If you or someone you know has the equipment listed and would be willing to discuss it you can make contact at the agency's Facebook page or call (574) 835-0191.

Bridge work to close SR 25 west of Mentone

The Indiana Department of Transportation says a section of State Road 25 will be closed west of Mentone starting April 17 for bridge work.


The road will be closed between Chestnut Road / County Road N 725 E and County Road N 825 E through early September for a rehabilitation of the bridge over Yellow Creek.


Work includes a new bridge superstructure, scour protections, drainage improvements, bridge approaches and pavement restoration.



Dry conditions and warm temps combine for elevated fire weather risk Friday

An elevated fire weather risk remains this afternoon according to the National Weather Service.


Record or near record warm temperatures in the lower 80s and dry conditions combine to create the elevated fire weather threat. 


This afternoon, given the recent dry weather, grass, brush, and other items that can be easily ignited people are asked to use extreme caution with the disposal of smoking materials.


Civilian employee dies from injuries in prison inmate attack

A civilian employee has died following an attack by an inmate at the Indiana State Prison.


Mike Keel worked as a maintenance foreman and had recently celebrated his 29-year anniversary with DOC, where he was known across the agency for his quality workmanship, including the bell that sits at the Fallen Staff Memorial


Detectives with the Indiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division Lowell Post were contacted by authorities at the Indiana State Prison to investigate an assault on an employee.


Preliminary investigation revealed inmates were working in the steel shop when an argument took place between an inmate and a civilian employee.  The disagreement turned physical when the suspect, Jeremy W. Davidson, 39, of Logansport, struck the supervisor on the head with a steel pipe.  The force of the impact caused potentially life-threatening injuries.  The victim was flown to South Bend Memorial Hospital where he underwent emergency treatment and remains in critical condition.


The inmate was immediately taken into custody and has been transferred from the state prison to another facility.  Davidson is currently serving a sentence for multiple counts of child molesting with a release date in the year 2192.


Charges will be determined by the LaPorte County Prosecutor pending the outcome of the investigation.

Indiana State Police statement on widespread Indiana school threats

Early Friday morning, the Indiana State Police was made aware of an email message sent to several dozen Indiana schools threatening the use of explosive devices that had allegedly been planted on various school campuses.


We immediately allocated all intelligence resources to investigate the validity of the threat, to include communication with the Department of Education, our local, county, and federal law enforcement partners. At this time no suspicious or explosive devices have been found in any of our schools. The investigation into the origin of this threat is ongoing.


Out of an abundance of caution, troopers throughout the state have been in communication with their local schools to offer assistance and resources. School corporations are working with their local law enforcement to make the best decision about their operations today.


Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said, “The safety of our children will always be a top priority, the Indiana State Police will continue to offer any and all resources we have to schools to ensure safety for our students.”

Fulton County Chamber of Commerce accepting votes this week for 2022 Community Awards

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce needs your help!


We recognize that our county’s success is dependent upon the hard work of the organizations, businesses, and individuals who give of themselves to make our community a better place. Will you help us select the recipient for each of the 2022 Community Awards?


Please review each nominees' application HERE and cast your vote by Sunday, April 16.


I've reviewed the nominees and I'm ready to vote!


Thank you for participating. We look forward to announcing the winners at the 2023 Fulton County Annual Community Gala, sponsored by Rochester Metal Products and hosted by the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce.

Community Crossings grants go to several area communities

Governor Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces 224 Indiana cities, towns, and counties that will receive a combined $133.4 million in state matching funds for local road projects through Community Crossings, a component of Governor Holcomb's Next Level Roads program.


“The continued success of the Community Crossings program becomes more evident each year," said Gov. Holcomb. "Improving transportation infrastructure at the most local level makes communities that much more attractive for business and Hoosier families alike to connect and grow."


Communities submitted applications for funding during a highly competitive call for projects in January. Applications were evaluated based on need and current conditions, as well as impacts to safety and economic development. Funding for Community Crossings comes from the state’s local road and bridge matching grant fund. The Community Crossings initiative has provided more than $1.27 billion in state matching funds for local construction projects since 2016.


“Safe, modern infrastructure at the local level makes Indiana's transportation network stronger,” said INDOT Commissioner Mike Smith. “Partnering with locals on these projects is something INDOT looks forward to each year. The hard work and dedication of local entities to secure these funds and make improvements in their communities does not go unnoticed.”


Among area recipients:


Fulton County, $999,999.75

Cass County, $1,000,000.00

Galveston, $935,196.75

Marshall County, $1,000,000.00

Plymouth, $632,030.5

Walton, $114,618.75

Winamac, $189,363.75

Miami County, $1,000,000.00

Milford, $205,176.16

Wabash, $509,043.67

Wabash County, $130,207.85

Warsaw, $408,059.00


To qualify for funding, local governments must provide local matching funds of 50 percent for larger communities or 25 percent for smaller communities and have an asset management plan for maintaining existing roads and bridges. Indiana law requires annually that 50 percent of the available matching funds be awarded to communities located in counties with a population of 50,000 or fewer. 


State lawmakers identified long-term funding for Community Crossings as part of House Enrolled Act 1002, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb in April 2017.


The next call for projects will open in July.

Tippecanoe Valley High School groundbreaking ceremony launches building and renovation project

Officials from Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation (TVSC) and Tippecanoe ValleyHigh School (TVHS) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday commemorating the start of a building and renovation project at TVHS.


The ceremonial first turning of the sod officially kicked off the project which includes a new auditorium, agriculture classrooms and labs, wrestling/multi-purpose spaces, student collaboration areas and locker rooms. The renovation also includes pool renovations with expanded spectator seating.

Prior to the approval of the building project, TVSC held community stakeholder meetings for input and to learn of the future vision for the Tippecanoe Valley High School campus. Representatives from Fanning Howey Associates and Baker Tilley were on hand during the community stakeholder meetings to provide details of the architectural planning and financing for this tax-neutral project.

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

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


The award was presented on March 28, by Laurie Rees, IBA VP of Education & Training, in recognition of First Federal Savings Bank’s Association involvement throughout 2022.


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


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


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


Displaying First Federal Savings Bank’s Five Star Member award from the Indiana Bankers Association are (from left): First Federal Savings Bank CEO, Evan Gottschalk, Indiana Bankers Association VP of Education & Training, Laurie Rees, and First Federal Savings Bank CFO, Amanda Morris-Feldman.

Fulton County under Red Flag Warning

The National Weather Service has issued a RED FLAG WARNING for all of northern Indiana including Fulton  County and the surrounding counties. 


The RED FLAG WARNING is in effect today from noon until 8 p.m.


This afternoon and evening the forecast calls for strong southwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 30 mph and low relative humidity as low as 20%.   


Temperatures will be near 80.


The combination of strong winds, very low relative humidity, and abnormally dry conditions will promote the rapid spread of any fires. The threat will be greatest in rural areas where fine dead fuels will continue to dry out and be susceptible to rapid fire spreading from any ignition source. Outdoor burning is not recommended.


A Red Flag Warning means critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now.... or will shortly. A combination of strong winds...low relative humidity...and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Rochester Smokin Vape opens location in Peace Tree Village Plaza

Rochester Smokin Vape has officially opened its doors in the Peace Tree Village Plaza last week with a big city feel to the small town.


New to the community, but not to business, owner Ali Sawal, says this is the smoke shop's third store to open. 



Just like their other locations in Warsaw and Kendallville, Sawal says Rochester Smokin Vape plans on bringing the same high quality products for their customers, along with a clean and organized storefront, with more supplies that will be added to the store in the near future. 




Choosing the location in a high traffic area was important to Sawal. Rochester Smokin Vape, 2056 Peace Tree Villiage, is now open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m  Sunday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays.



Rochester man killed in Monday evening motorcycle crash

A Rochester man was killed in a Monday motorcycle accident.


About 7:30 p.m., deputies with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the area of 2602 S 500 E for a report of a single vehicle motorcycle accident. Emergency personnel arrived to find a male driver pinned under a motorcycle, and a damaged fence on the west side of the road.


Preliminary investigation by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office found a 2010 Harley Davidson, driven by Jason McClish, 44, of Rochester, was traveling north on County Road 500 E, and left the roadway in a curve striking a fence.


The driver and sole occupant, McClish, succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the accident despite life saving measures provided by all responding agencies.


McClish was not wearing a helmet and alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in this crash.


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS and the Akron Police Department.

Removal of troublesome township trustees focus of state legislation

When July 1 rolls around, new bills signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb will become law and one of them pertains to the removal of troublesome township trustees. 


The bill was the brainchild of Indiana state Senators Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, and Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, who filed the bill after an investigation into former Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising stealing township funds and numerous allegations made against another township trustee in Indiana. 


Under the bill, a township board can adopt a resolution for the removal of the trustee, however, the county commissioners and county council each have to adopt resolutions to remove the trustee. 


Should all three adopt resolutions, the issue will then land in circuit court, where a judge will hear evidence and present a ruling on the trustee's future. 


The trustee will have numerous opportunities to present their defense during the process. 

Logansport man housed as prisoner at Indiana State Prison in potentially fatal assault

Detectives with the Indiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division Lowell Post were contacted by authorities at the Indiana State Prison to investigate an assault on an employee.


Preliminary investigation revealed that at approximately 12:30 p.m., inmates were working in the steel shop when an argument took place between an inmate and a civilian employee.  The disagreement turned physical when the suspect, Jeremy W. Davidson, 39, of Logansport, struck the supervisor on the head with a steel pipe.  The force of the impact caused potentially life-threatening injuries.  The victim was flown to South Bend Memorial Hospital where he underwent emergency treatment and remains in critical condition.


The inmate was immediately taken into custody and has been transferred from the state prison to another facility.  Davidson is currently serving a sentence for multiple counts of child molesting with a release date in the year 2192.


This investigation is ongoing.  Charges will be determined by the LaPorte County Prosecutor pending the outcome of the investigation.

INDOT project scheduled to begin on US 31 near Grissom

A box culvert project will impact traffic on U.S. 31 near Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base.


The Indiana Department of Transportation says lane restrictions are set to begin Monday as crews begin working just north of State Road 218.  Work is scheduled to go through the end of June.


For the first two weeks of construction, U.S. 31 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between the entrance of Grisson and West 500 South to work on the shoulder.  Once that work is complete, all lanes of U.S. 31 will be open.  Motorists are asked to watch for lane shifts and reduced speed limits within the work zone.


The runway project at Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base will also be ongoing with traffic regulated by police at the intersection of SR 218 and U.S. 31 to help keep construction traffic flowing.

Fulton County looking for tech for tracking vehicles and streaming government meetings

Fulton County government is working to bring technology in to keep track of county vehicles and to deliver governtment meetings to the public.


Fulton County Commissioner Rick Ranstead says Sheriff Travis Heishman is seeking funding for a service that would track vehicles.



Ranstead also noted that in conjunction with a bill in the state legislature the county is preparing for live streaming county meetings so the public can view them from anywhere.

By 2025, there could be a requirement for all government meetings in Indiana to be live streamed or recorded. Lawmakers hope legislation like this will help increase transparency among local governments.

House Bill 1167 would require bodies of government to live stream their meetings so constituents can watch from anywhere. It would also require the video be archived for 90 days.

Plymouth man apprehended after breaking into homes

Marshall County Central Dispatch Center received a report of a burglary that had occurred at a residence in the 13,000 block of 6A Road north of Plymouth. 


Officers investigating the incident Tuesday morning found evidence that a person had forced entry into the home. The house had been ransacked and numerous items were reported missing from the residence.


On the same day just after noon, the Central Dispatch Center received a report of a male subject that had just fled from a residence in the 6000 block of Michigan Road. The initial call said that the owners of the residence were not home, and he believed the man had burglarized the residence.  One of the witnesses followed the man, while he fled west from the property.


A few minutes later, an off-duty officer arrived in the area, located and detained the male on 6A Road west of Michigan Road.  He was identified as Christopher L. Scott, 37, of Plymouth. A subsequent search of Scott’s person yielded several items of property that were later found that have been taken from the Michigan Road residence. Scott was then transported from the scene and lodged at the Marshall County Jail.


A short time later, detectives from the Marshall County Police Department arrived at the residence on Michigan Road. Detectives found evidence of forced entry and extensive damage to the interior of the home. During the investigation, they  found evidence that the perpetrator had spent an extended amount of time in the residence.


Information learned during the initial investigation of both burglaries led detectives to draft a search warrant for a room at the Economy Inn in Plymouth. The search of that hotel room revealed items of stolen property from both burglaries along with suspected controlled substances.


As a result of the investigation of these burglaries, Scott was charged with of two counts of burglary as a Level 4 felony, two counts of theft as a Level 6 felony, two counts of criminal mischief as Class A misdemeanors, and possession of a controlled substance as a Class A misdemeanor.


Scott was held on a $10,000 cash bond.

Two area roads projects opening up

INDOT has announced the completion of two area roads projects.


State Road 39 between State Road 14 & C.R. 100 S (just south of State Road 14) in Pulaski County is now open.


U.S. 421 between C.R. W 400 S & C.R. W 500 S (south of State Road 8, north of State Road 10) in Starke County should be open by 3 p.m.  Friday.



Argos Police Department adds officer to staff

The Argos Police Department welcomes new officer Richard Springer.


Springer joins the Argos Police Department with 13 years of experience in the Marshall County Reserves; most recently, serving as captain of the reserves. 


Springer is married with three kids and states, “I have been around law for a long time. I want to be the best asset to the community I can be.”


Springer started his field training program earlier this month with plans to join the Law Enforcement Academy this Fall.


Springer was sworn in last month by Argos Clerk Lisa Mullaney.

Fulton County small businesses could benefit from more Covid money

More COVID money to aid small businesses appears on the way for Fulton County.


Commissioner Rick Ranstead says a grant writer appeared before the governing body this week to explain a process the county has been involved in before.



Starke County man charged with sexual misconduct with a minor

The Starke County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into a report of an alleged relationship between an adult male and a juvenile female.


The Sheriff's Department says detectives conducted interviews and obtained evidence in the case and presented it to the Starke County Prosecutor’s office.


As a result of the investigation, Jesus A. Pedroza Jr., 43, of North Judson, was arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor which is a Level 4 felony.


Pedroza was booked into the Starke County Jail on Wednesday. He’s currently being held pending formal charges.


Cass County College & Career Expo open to students, alumni and public

More than 40 central Indiana employers and 15 Indiana colleges and universities are planning to participate in the Cass County College & Career Expo set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, at the Logansport High School Berry Bowl.

Ivy Tech Community College, the Logansport/Cass County Chamber of Commerce and Logansport High School are sponsoring the expo. The event is open to Ivy Tech students and alumni, high school students and community members seeking part-time or full-time jobs or internship positions or interested in learning more about educational opportunities offered by colleges throughout Indiana.


Members of the public are encouraged to come between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. when students are at lunch.

The event is open without charge and provides participants the chance to meet with employers and discuss potential job opportunities. Indiana college representatives also will be on hand to discuss options in higher education. In addition, Ivy Tech faculty will be showcasing the degree and certificate programs offered at both the Logansport and Kokomo campuses with hands-on activities and displays. 

“Anyone in the community looking for a full-time or part-time job, internship or even volunteer opportunity is provided a greater advantage by networking with prospective employers while attending the career expo,” said Suzanne Dillman, associate director of admissions and enrollment services for the Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo, Logansport and Peru locations.

“Many of the employers who are participating currently have job openings, so everyone attending should dress in professional attire, bring copies of their resume, and be prepared to talk with potential employers,”  she continued. “The day is about networking and learning what technical skills and soft skills employers are looking for in a qualified candidate.”

Dillman said Ivy Tech admission representatives will be available to answer questions about Indiana’s Workforce Ready Grant. The state program provides funding for qualified individuals to cover tuition and fees for short-term training in selected high-demand career fields, regardless of income level.

Logansport High School sophomores, juniors and seniors and Century Career Center students along with juniors and seniors from Caston High School will participate in the expo. 

“Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, this is a great place to find out what kind of careers are out there and what kind of credentials you’d need to qualify,” she continued.  “Admissions officers from Ivy Tech and other colleges throughout the state will be on hand to talk about options for coming to college to get the certificates or degrees that will open doors to new careers.” 

For more information, contact Dillman at 574-398-6090 or sdillman@ivytech.edu. To view participating employers and colleges, look for the Cass County College & Career Expo link at ivytech.edu/logansport  .

Two area organizations receive Public Art Activation Grants

Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) announced more than $414,000 of grant funding for 38 IN Indiana Public Art Activation and IN Indiana Placemaking projects in 26 counties across Indiana.


"It is wonderful to see each corner of the Hoosier state driven and motivated to create spaces and works of art that will help tell Indiana's story," said Lt. Gov. Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. "As each individual project is completed, Indiana's character and culture will be put on display for Hoosiers and visitors to appreciate."


The IN Indiana Public Art Grant is a matching grant of up to $10,000 to fund public art projects. The IN Indiana Placemaking Grant is a non-matching grant of up to $25,000 to fund signage and placemaking efforts.


Among the area organizations awarded the IN Indiana Public Art Activation Grant:


Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund


Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund was awarded an IN Indiana Public Art Activation Grant for a building mural.  The mural will depict a lake scene and will include a quote from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. as well as an iridescent dragonfly in the foreground. 


“This mural depicts both the beauty of the lake and the connection to Vonnegut. The dragonfly is a symbol of good water quality and Vonnegut’s time spent at Lake Maxinkuckee is well documented.” said LMEF President Debbie Palmer. 


Rep. Jordan legislation to prevent Indiana Public Retirement System from using any ESG investing practices for non-financial purposes

The state of Indiana has over $40 billion in pension assets under management, which are invested for the exclusive benefit of its more than 500,000 members and their families.


State law requires these assets to be invested and managed “solely in the interests of the beneficiaries.”


Representative Jack Jordan (R-Bremen) said in a recent release, there is a growing trend of ESG or environmental, social and governance investing, which favors companies with certain standards or political agendas, including those that boycott critical agriculture, fossil fuel and firearm industries.


Rep. Jordan said, “This session, I co-authored legislation that would ensure Indiana's pension system focuses exclusively on maximizing returns, and not positions on social, political, ideological or other non-financial interests.”


The bill would only prevent the Indiana Public Retirement System from using any ESG investing practices for the state’s pension funds if those investments are for non-financial purposes. This would protect divestment from industries related to firearms manufacturing and related services, oil, gas, lumber, mining, agriculture, and meat production-related businesses. It would also protect divestment from companies that contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Rep. Jordan said, “Companies managing Indiana’s pensions should not boycott industries that are critical to Hoosiers, and vital to Indiana's economy and security.”

LaPorte County protest raises awareness for child abuse prevention month, honors 4-year-old murder victim Judah Morgan

Blue pinwheels decorated the lawn along Highway 20 in Michigan City. Demonstrators set up outside of the La Porte County Division of Family Resources office Monday afternoon to raise awareness of child abuse prevention month.


The light rain falling on the small group led by Jenna Hullett didn't extinguish the grieving mother's passion or pain. Bringing photos and signs for justice, Hullett honored four-year-old murder victim Judah Morgan, who was tortured for months over potty training issues by the hands of his own biological parents before being discovered dead on October 11, 2021, in rural Hamlet. 



Hullett raised Judah for the first three years of his life in a foster kinship placement arrangement. Her heart was broken when he was taken away by DCS and placed with his biological parents on April 7, 2021. Judah would never make it out of the six-month home trial that was supposed to be supervised by LaPorte County DCS.



Driving an hour from her Knox home, Hullett hopes to continue to keep heat on the department that, she says, is directly responsible for the death of her little boy. Getting attention from honking passersby and several news outlets, an office security guard also stood by for more than two hours to watch the peaceful protest. 



Hullett said the fight is far from over. She wants to prevent what happened to Judah from happening to other children and her family continues to push for a reform for the Department of Child Services.



Since Judah's death, severals laws have been passed, including House Bill 1247 that was directly inspired by his case, as well as Senate Bill 410, also known as 'Judah's Law,' that gives kinship placement caregivers the right to intervene on a TPR case.


Although it's too little too late for Judah, Hullett said even if her efforts saved just one kid, it would be worth it. 




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

Miami County in top 5 for decline in population and pace of decline

Analysis by the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business indicates that Indiana had the smallest annual population increase in nearly a decade.


Indiana added 19,505 residents in 2022 to reach a total population of 6.83 million, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the smallest annual increase since 2015 and was only the second time in 35 years that the state added fewer than 20,000 residents in a year.


For the second consecutive year, a low rate of natural population increase was the primary driver of Indiana’s slow growth.


 “Due largely to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths in Indiana remained exceptionally high in 2022,” said Matt Kinghorn, senior demographer at the Indiana Business Research Center. “Add in another year with relatively low fertility rates, and there were only 1,024 more births than deaths in the state last year.


Meanwhile, 24 states had a natural decrease in 2022, meaning deaths outnumbered births.


Kinghorn said it is important to keep in mind that 2022 population estimates cover the period from July 2021 to June 2022. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that Indiana averaged roughly 1,450 deaths involving COVID-19 per month between September 2021 and February 2022. For the rest of 2022, however, the state averaged approximately 250 monthly COVID-related deaths.


This shift suggests that Indiana will have an improved rate of natural increase for calendar year 2022.


With the state’s natural increase so low, Indiana’s population gains were fueled almost entirely by a strong net in-migration of more than 20,720 residents in 2022.

Around Indiana

Many of Indiana’s fastest-growing counties are suburban communities in the Indianapolis metro area. Hamilton County set the pace for growth with a 2.1% population gain in 2022, while Hendricks (1.7%), Boone (1.6%) and Hancock (1.5%) ranked among the top six counties.


The fastest-growing counties outside the Indianapolis area were in southeast Indiana. Ohio County posted the state’s second-fastest growth rate at 2.0%, while its rural neighbor Switzerland County placed fourth with a 1.6% increase.


In a notable shift, five rural counties were among Indiana’s 16 fastest-growing ones in 2022. The state’s 23 rural counties — counties that are not designated as being part of either a metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget — combined for a 0.1% increase last year. Between 2010 and 2020, by contrast, only five rural counties posted a population gain at all, and rural Indiana declined by 2.2% as a whole. In terms of the largest numeric gains, Hamilton County once again led the way in 2022 by adding 7,591 residents — a level of growth more than twice as large as runner-up Hendricks County’s increase of 2,979 residents. Other top gainers included Allen (2,337), Clark (1,390) and Johnson (1,364) counties.


In all, 55 of Indiana’s 92 counties posted a population gain in 2022.

For the second straight year, Marion County had the state’s largest population decline with a loss of roughly 2,180 residents — a 0.2% slide.


LaPorte County had the state’s second-largest decline at 811 residents, followed by Vandenburgh (-523 residents), Monroe (-390) and Miami (-358) counties. As for the pace of decline, Blackford, Miami and Orange counties had the state’s sharpest drops last year, with each falling by roughly 1%.


Drivers of change in Indiana counties

In all, 69 Indiana counties — or 75% of all counties in the state — had a natural population decrease in 2022. In absolute numbers, Lake County fared worst in this measure, with 644 more deaths than births last year. Delaware, Madison, Howard, LaPorte and Grant counties also had a natural decrease of 300 residents or greater in 2022.


Of the 69 counties with a natural decrease, 37 had a net in-migration that was strong enough to overcome these losses and result in an overall population gain.

Marion County had the state’s largest natural increase at 3,736 residents, followed by Hamilton (1,299), Allen (1,190) and Elkhart (818) counties.


Meanwhile, 67 of the state’s 92 counties posted a net in-migration of residents in 2022. Hamilton and Hendricks counties in the Indy area topped this list, followed by Clark County in the Louisville metro area. Allen and Lake counties rounded out the top five for net inflow of residents.


Indiana’s metropolitan areas

“Population growth in Indiana continues to be driven largely by a handful of metropolitan areas,” Kinghorn said. “Foremost among these is the 11-county Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metro area, which added 13,115 residents last year, accounting for 67% of Indiana’s net growth in 2022.


Compared to large metro-area peers in neighboring states, the Indy area’s growth rate of 0.6% trailed only Columbus, Ohio (0.7%). Meanwhile, growth rates in the Cincinnati (0.2%), Louisville (0.0%), Detroit (-0.5%), Cleveland (-0.5%) and Chicago (-0.8%) areas lagged well behind.


The Columbus, Indiana, area led the state’s metros with a growth rate of 1% to reach a total population of 83,540 residents.


At the other end of the spectrum, seven of Indiana’s 12 metro areas lost population in 2022, with Michigan City-LaPorte, Bloomington and Terre Haute showing the largest rates of decline.

Braun introduces the Don't Weaponize the IRS Act

Senator Mike Braun and Senators Rick Scott, Young, Romney, Capito, Moran, and Risch introduced a bill to prevent the IRS from being used as a political weapon against conservative non-profit groups.


From 2010 to 2012, the Obama IRS spent over two years systematically targeting conservative tax-exempt groups. The Trump administration released a final rule in May 2020 that prevented the IRS from targeting certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs. 


The Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act codifies the Trump rule that protects groups regardless of their political ideology or beliefs and prevents the IRS from doxing donors to these groups.


The bill’s reintroduction comes as the IRS’s impartiality is being questioned for visiting the home of journalist Matt Taibbi – whose reporting revealed collaboration between the federal government and social media companies such as Twitter to censor inconvenient information and counter-narrative news stories - while he was testifying at the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.


 “We saw during the Obama years how the IRS is used as a political weapon to target dissenters, and now President Biden has supercharged the IRS with an extra $80 billion dollars. This bill will prevent the IRS from being weaponized against Americans for ideological reasons," said Senator Braun.



Gary Calhoun's life in the legal profession included Argos Town Court to appointment from the governor

Funeral services were held over the weekend for Gary Lin Calhoun.


Calhoun, 70, passed away March 5. He was born in 1952 in Rochester and grew up in Argos, graduating in 1970.


He met his wife, Ginger, while attending Indiana State. The couple returned to Argos where Calhoun worked for Gates and Calhoun Chevrolet and later Don Calhoun Chevrolet in Plymouth.


While working full time, Gary Calhoun attended Valparaiso School of Law full time. He was one of four to qualify to take the bar exam and the only one to pass at the end of his second year, one year prior to his graduation from Valparaiso School of Law.


In 1984, Calhoun was the first student at Valparaiso Law School to sit as a trial court judge for the Argos Town Court while still attending law school. After graduating he took a job at the Indiana Court of Appeals clerking for Judge William Conover while still continuing to serve as a trial court judge in Argos.  From 1986 to 1988 he was a judicial law clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Indiana.


From 1988 to 1993, Calhoun worked at a Fort Wayne law firm.


In 1993, he was appointed Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge by Governor Evan Bayh. Needing to reside in the county, the Calhouns built a home on Lake Tippecanoe. He served in that position until 1995.


From 1995 until his retirement, Gary served as supervising attorney for UAW legal services in Kokomo.



US 6 and Elm Rd in Marshall County focus of INDOT project

Resurfacing and pipe replacement projects resulting in lane and short-term road closures near Bremen will begin on or after Tuesday, April 4.

U.S. 6 will be patched and resurfaced between the two junctions with State Road 106. Flaggers will direct traffic in the area where work is occurring. This will take place from on or after Tuesday, April 4 through early June.

The connecting road between U.S. 6 and State Road 331 will be closed for approximately two days for resurfacing. This is currently scheduled to begin Thursday, April 27, weather permitting. The detour will follow State Road 331 and the east junction of State Road 106

Elm Rd will be closed between U.S. 6 and 4th Street for approximately five days for a pipe replacement beginning on or after Wednesday, April 12. The detour for this closure will follow U.S. 6 and the east junction of State Road 106.