Chicago man arrested after pursuit from Fulton into Miami County

A Chicago man fled from a Fulton County traffic stop and led officers on a pursuit at over 100 miles per hour.

Just before 11 p.m. Tuesday, Fulton County Sheriff K-9 Deputy Ryan Utter initiated a traffic stop near 500 S and US 31 for observed traffic infractions. While Deputy Utter was speaking with the driver, the driver fled from the stop and drove at a high rate of speed reaching over 110 mph. Deputy Utter pursued the vehicle.

As the vehicle continued south into Miami County, deputies from Miami County and the Indiana State Police assisted and deployed stop sticks. The vehicle struck the sticks causing the vehicle to slow and then drove into the median near US 31 and 100 N. The driver was taken into custody without further incident and identified as Derrich Moore, Jr., 36, of Chicago. He was later taken to Woodlawn Hospital for medical clearance before being lodged in the Fulton County Jail.

Moore was charged with Resisting Law Enforcement with a Vehicle, Operating a Vehicle Never Having Received a License, Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated with Endangerment, Reckless Driving, Aggressive Driving, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of a Narcotic Drug, and Criminal Recklessness, as well as several traffic citations.


Manhunt launched on work release escapee Scott West

The Howard County Sheriff's Department is asking for help in finding an inmate who has escaped from custody. 

The Howard County Sheriff's Office stated that inmate Scott West escaped from their Kokomo facility after he failed to return from work release. This isn't West's first effort to escape.

According to court documents, in February of 2022, West was charged in Howard County with failure to return to lawful detention for work release. West was recently granted work release again a few weeks ago with the condition that he would follow the rules of the work release program. 

West is 5'7" tall and about 190 lbs, with blonde / gray hair. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie, blue jeans and a gray sock hat. 

Anyone with information on West's whereabouts is asked to call the Howard County Sheriff's Office at 765-457-1105. Anonymous tips can be made by using the Sheriff's Office app.

The Times Theater gears up to bring music, magic, and fortune for its 100th Anniversary

It's been nearly a year since The Times Theater's 99th Anniversary and Grand Re-Opening on Feb 14, 2023.

Around 400 people hattended the 1920's themed party, which included food, drinks, live music and entertainment.

The theater has been breathing life back into not just the theater, but the community itself, for the past 11 months.
The Times Theater Board President Julie Shambarger says the theater has seen 8,963 guests and has made 550 pounds of popcorn during their 99 events since the Grand Re-Opening. 

More than just a movie theater, the historic venue is now a host to live music, movies and community events. 

Some of the top attended events included the Grand Re-Opening, live music with Brent Evans, Southern Accents, and seasonally themed movies. 



As The Times Theater's 100th Anniversary quickly approaches on February 14, Shambarger says the theater has big plans on continuing the music, magic, and fortune for the theater's biggest fundraiser and celebration of the year. 

Tickets cost $50 and are currently on sale now. 

Having a Steampunk Alice and Wonderland theme for this years event, attendees are encouraged to dress up in 1920s Steampunk and Mad Hatter attire. The evening will include live music, entertainment, magic, mystery, hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. 



Tickets for The Times Theater's 100th Anniversary & Heartbreaker Ball can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/southern-accents-times-theaters-100th-anniversary-heartbreaker-ball-tickets-796503341937 .  

Winamac traffic stop ends with two arrested on drug charges

A Winamac traffic stop over the weekend led to two men being arrested on multiple drug charges. According to a post on the Winamac Police Department's Facebook page, a Sunday traffic stop was conducted by Winamac Police Officer Matt Pickens near Monticello and 11th Street. 

According to Officer Pickens, the license plate that had been attached to the vehicle did not match the vehicle's description. When the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office K9 unit arrived to perform an air sniff of the vehicle, the dog had indicated the presence of a controlled substance. A search of the vehicle discovered an excessive amount of controlled substances.

It was noted the passenger, Kaleb Morgan, 25, had been aggressive and uncooperative during the search, and was eventually forced to the ground after refusing multiple times to show his hands. After a body search, it was discovered that Morgan had a weapon. 

The driver, Garrett Hayden, 25, admitted to police that he had additional substances on his persons, while Morgan continued resist law enforcement. 

Subsequently, both Hayden and Morgan were taken into custody and booked at the Pulaski County Jail. 

Hayden is facing charges of dealing in methamphetamine, possession of a hypodermic needle, legend drug deception, marijuana cultivation, and possession of paraphernalia. 

Morgan's preliminary charges were for resisting law enforcement, dealing in methamphetamine, possession of a hypodermic needle, legend drug deception, marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana, and possession of paraphernalia.


Domestic battery investigation results in gun charges in Starke County

Deputies with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office investigated a domestic altercation over the weekend.

A search warrant was obtained for a residence in the 1000 East Block of 150 South in Knox.

Deputies made entry into the residence and the suspect, Nickademous Fletcher, 35, of Knox, was taken into custody without incident.

Due to Fletcher’s criminal history and information provided that firearms were in the residence a subsequent search warrant was obtained. Deputies located a Glock 23 handgun, and a Bushmaster AR15 hidden behind a freezer in a garage. Deputies also discovered a Mosin Nagant WWII era rifle in the home.

Fletcher was incarcerated at the Starke County Justice Center with preliminary charges of unlawful possession of firearm by serious violent felon, Level 4 felony, and domestic battery with moderate bodily injury, Level 6 felony.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Starke County Drone Unit, K9 Mack, and Starke EMS.

Circus animals rescued from vehicle fire

A truckload of circus animals was saved from a semi fire on I-69.

Just after 2 a.m. Saturday, Trooper Edward Titus was patrolling I-69 near the 263 mile-marker. He observed that the cab of a 2012 Volvo semi-truck and trailer was engulfed in flames. Trooper Titus located the driver, Armando C. Alvarez, 57, from Sarasota, Florida, who had safely exited the vehicle. 

Trooper Titus learned that the trailer was loaded with animals from the Shrine Circus. With help from Grant County Deputy Joshua Kennedy entry was made to the trailer and they were able to rescue the animals. Trooper Titus, Deputy Kennedy, and a member of the Shrine Circus rescued five zebras, four camels, and a miniature horse.

Additional officers on the scene were able to secure all the animals until other trucks from the Shrine Circus arrived.

After the fire was extinguished, crews began cleaning up the scene. All lanes were opened at approximately 6:30 a.m. During the road closure, traffic was diverted from I-69 northbound at the 259 mile-marker to State Road 22. The preliminary crash investigation revealed that an equipment failure was the cause of the fire.

Trooper Titus and Deputy Kennedy were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and later released without further injury. Alvarez and all the animals were uninjured.  

The Indiana State Police Peru Post was assisted by other members of the Indiana State Police Fort Wayne Post, Indiana State Police Pendleton Post, the Marion Police Department, Markel Police Department, Warren Police Department, Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Upland Volunteer Fire Department, Matthews Volunteer Fire Department, Indiana Department of Transportation, Losure’s Towing, and Marion Health.                        



Stacey's Closet at RMS honoring the giving heart of the late Stacey Carvey-Schoenhals

This week marks one year since the passing of Stacey Carvey-Schoenhals. Her legacy at Rochester Middle School lives on.

At the end of 2023, Stacey's Closet was officially opened at RMS, providing all Rochester students with free clothing, shoes, hygiene items, and school supplies. Operated by teachers Valerie Good and Deanna VandenBossche during school hours, Stacey's husband, RMS Assistant Principal Lukas Schoenhals, said the space represents the giving heart his wife had towards students at Rochester Community School. 



In life, Carvey-Schoenhals' passion was to serve the school district. Serving as a Rochester Community School Board member she was heavily involved in the JAG program. Schoenhals said his wife was also an active volunteer at the school. 



Schoenhals said that he is confident that if his wife could see Stacey's Closet now, she would be proud. 



Stacey's Closet isn't the only thing that gives back to others in memory of Carvey-Schoenhals. Just months after Carvey-Schoenhals passing, her husband teamed up with mother-in-law Gloria Carvey, sister-in-law Lisa Reffett, RMS teacher Rebecca Bolinger, and RMS Principal Cassie Murphy, RMS fifth grade teacher Rebecca Bolinger, to create a memorial scholarship with the Northern Indiana Community Foundation. 



Donations for Stacey's Closet can be made by contacting the school. Those interested in making financial donations to the foundation can do so by sending checks to RMS, or reaching out to the Stacey Carvey-Schoenhals Foundation Facebook page.


Rochester Iron & Metal announces transition of Logansport and Kokomo locations to Paul's Auto Yard

Rochester Iron & Metal announced on Wednesday that the company has officially made a successful transition of their Logansport and Kokomo locations to Paul's Auto Yard.

Effective with the beginning of the year, the decision followed the purchase Rochester Iron & Metal made of all eleven Paul's Auto Yard locations in 2023. 

The strategic move was made with the idea of Rochester Iron & Metal expanding their offerings and enhancing services to their valued customers. 
CEO of Rochester Iron & Metal Jason Grube expressed enthusiasm about the
transition. He stated in a press release that with the addition of car and car part sales, the company intends to offer even better service than customers have already come to expect. 
The transition is said to bring valuable oversight to both locations from Paul's Auto Yard CEO's Danielle Liss and Kim Casey.

Having a combined total of 55 years of experience in the metal recycling and used car parts industry, Liss and Casey plan to ensure seamless integration and continued excellence in customer service.

Reflecting on her extensive experience gained at Paul's Auto Yard Liss said that during her two decades she has taken on virtually every role imaginable for operations and management with the company. 
Liss said that she was proud of how far Paul’s Auto Yard has expanded and improved over the decades and that she is even more excited about the growth and improvements coming from joining Rochester Iron & Metal. 
Kim Casey, co-CEO of Paul's Auto Yard, also expressed her eagerness for the new
challenge. Casey said that being co-CEO of Paul's Auto Yard in a predominantly male industry has been one of her most rewarding achievements. Casey said she looks forward to continue growing as a leader in the industry. 

Rochester Iron & Metal remains dedicated to continue providing exceptional value and sustainable solutions in the metal recycling and used car parts industry.
The company is confident that this transition will bring forth new opportunities,
growth, and improved services to the communities it serves. 

Both locations will continue with normal business hours.

Paul’s Auto Yard Logansport and Paul’s Auto Yard Kokomo plan on providing updates on their Facebook pages as they begin offering their new products and services.

Jury finds man guilty in 2021 Peru triple murder

A man accused of fatally shooting three people in their Peru home in 2021 was found guilty by a Miami County jury this week. 

According to court documents, after a six-day trial, jurors on Tuesday returned guilty verdicts on all three counts of murder against Mitchell Page, 28, of Brookston, for the killings of Jessica Sizemore, 26, her 4-year-old daughter Rae’Lynn Sizemore, and fiance Jessiah Hall, 37. More than 200 pieces of evidence and several key witnesses were presented to the courts during Page's trial. 

The homicides happened in May of 2021 at a mobile home community outside of Peru. Page was eventually arrested two days after the discovery of the bodies. Authorities reported that the victims were likely shot five days before the bodies were found. It was also reported that a two-year-old boy was also found in the home unharmed. 

Page later admitted that he and Sizemore had a child together. 

Page's sentencing date has not been set. Page is facing anywhere from 45 to 65 years in prison on each felony count. 

Mayor Odell strives for public input, togetherness for Rochester to grow, prosper

Trent Odell delivered his first State of the City address as the mayor of Rochester. It involved a theme of inclusion and inviting residents to be all-in for Rochester's future.

The mayor says he looks to be a proper communicator for the community.



Odell hopes residents will be part of the solution to whatever concerns, problems they might have.



Odell encourages the public to be helpful to one another. He also notes efforts are underway to get buy-in and contribution from Rochester's younger citizens.



Ans, shop local.  Odell says he'll do his best to champion for more business and better jobs. But it also takes the community to recruit and retain.








Arrest after standoff at Starke County home

Deputies with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the 4000 South Block of 100 West, North Judson, for a domestic altercation.

Upon arrival, deputies attempted to make contact at the residence but were unsuccessful. 

After approximately two hours a male subject exited the residence and was given commands. The subject complied and was taken into custody by officers.

This incident remains under investigation and an update will be provided when information is available. Formal charging to be determined by the Starke County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the North Judson Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, and Starke County EMS.

Department of Workforce Development releases December 2023 employment report

Indiana’s unemployment rate in December stands at 3.6%, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

By comparison, the national unemployment rate for December stands at 3.7%.

In addition, Indiana’s labor force participation rate stands at 63.2% for December, remaining above the national rate of 62.5%. This rate is the percentage of Hoosiers 16 and older that are either working or actively looking for work. Those not in the labor force include, primarily, students, retirees and other non-working populations, such as individuals unable to work due to a disability or illness, or adults responsible for their family's childcare needs.  

Indiana’s total labor force stands at 3,420,262 - a decrease of 2,989 from the previous month.

"As core inflation abates and the economy normalizes, Indiana remains in a strong economic position," said DWD Commissioner Richard Paulk. "Private employment grew throughout the year and the Department of Workforce Development continues to partner with employers and our regional offices in connecting talent to jobs and providing necessary training to meet the state's employment needs."

Private sector employment in Indiana decreased by 200 jobs over the last month, resulting in a gain of 45,400 jobs from this time last year. Indiana's December private employment stands at 2,858,500.
Industries that experienced job increases in December included:

  • Professional and Business Services (+600)
  • Private Educational and Health Services (+400)
  • Manufacturing (+300).

As of Jan. 16, there were 99,220 open job postings throughout the state. In December, 16,206 unemployment insurance claims were filed in Indiana.

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



Rochester mayor to encourage youth interaction, expansion of downtown schedule

Rochester's mayor has council members, department heads and residents to answer and listen to on a daily basis. Now he's looking at more youthful voices, too.

Trent Odell says he is looking into an advisory council formed from students at Rochester High School.



Quality of life improvements continue to be an early focus for the new mayor. That includes upgrades for a summer attraction.



Odell says he's interested in all ideas as he urges the public to be open to all possibilities.



The mayor also notes he has heard from several people who want to see more of a focus on bringing people into Rochester's downtown.



Culver Town Council to meet Thursday

The Culver Town Council has moved their regular meetings to 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

On the agenda for this week, council members will award the paving bid, consider the third reading of an ordinance designating an area within the town as an Economic Development Target Area.  They will consider the Dunes Economic Development Agreement, and hear first reading of an ordinance amending and restating the ordinance regulating the use of golf carts with the town’s corporate limits.

Other items on the agenda include a reappointment to the Culver Library Board, consideration of a contract with the Visitor’s Center, an update on the Dunes project and the town manager’s report. 

Culver Town Council members will hear from various department heads and boards and commissions along with the clerk’s and attorney’s reports. 

Ballet teacher settles in to new dance studio behind The Outlet Youth Center

Last year was a time of growing and expanding for the owner  of Dancing Through the Ages. Rochester ballet teacher Ashley Taylor,

Starting out in the Roots Yoga and Dance Studio, before moving temporarily to the Rochester Lion's Club, Taylor had been looking for a space that would allow enough time for her growing number of classes, when she found The Outlet Youth Center had a space big enough for her business. 



Taylor is starting 2024 at her new place at 491 Apache Drive. Last week was her first official week at the studio. Taylor says the new studio has given her business freedom. It allows her more time with her students. 



Offering everything from ballet, tap dancing, jazz, and more, Taylor says one thing that tends to surprise people is that it's for all ages. In December, Taylor put together her first ever recital for nearly 80 dancers from age ranges of 18 months to adults. 



Research from the National Institute on Aging suggested that participating in dance classes such as ballet, may not only improve the physical well-being of older adults, but mental health, as well. A 21-year study found that people who danced just a few times a week had their risk for dementia lowered by 76%. 

Research also showed participants in ballet classes experienced higher levels of energy, had greater flexibility, improved posture, and held an enhanced sense of achievement.



Taylor says as her students continue to grow in her dance classes, something inside her continues to grow as well. 



Velly Pizza introduces new flavors to Rochester

Velly Pizza is more than your average pizza place.

Velly Pizza opened its doors on Christmas Eve outside of Rochester in the Mashina Auto Plaza.

Located at 486 S 50 E, off US 31, manager Gary Singh said the business knew they would be introducing new flavors and cultures to the area. Singh is son of co-owner of Velly Pizza, Nick Singh. 




Serving a mix of Italian and Indian cuisine, from unique pizzas and pastas, to curry and tandoori dishes, the food is a new taste for Rochester. Opening in 1992 in Sacramento, California, the business has since expanded their culinary passion by opening seven establishments. Four are in Indiana.



So far, Signh says business for Velly Pizza has been good, and that they're thankful for the community interest. Happy to be apart of Rochester, Velly Pizza hopes to expand their Indian side of the menu as they settle in over the next few months. 



INDOT prepares for ice and freezing rain, impacts to Tuesday morning commutes possible

The Indiana Department of Transportation is preparing for a a period of freezing rain and wintry mix expected to impact a large portion of state starting Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter weather advisories for all counties north of Seymour. NWS is calling for around 0.1" of ice, with amounts as high as 0.3" or more north of I-70.

Wanted man found in Fulton County home with self-inflicted gunshot wound

A man wanted on multiple warrants was found in a Fulton County home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office says that information was received about Jeffrey T. Jones, 33, of Rochester, was at a residence in the 7000 East block of County Road 700 North. 

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office says officers arrived at the residence provided and Jones was seen outside. He returned inside as deputies entered the driveway. A short time later, deputies heard a single gunshot. Jones was located inside the residence with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Deputies immediately began first aid until Lutheran and Mentone EMS arrived and took over. Jones was transported by Samaritan Helicopter for further treatment at Parkview Regional Hospital in Ft. Wayne.

His condition was unknown as of this report.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office had requested the public's assistance in locating Jones. He was wanted on arrest warrants for four counts of child molesting, and violation of probation. 

Assisting the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office were the Rochester Police
Department, Indiana State Police, Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS,
Mentone EMS, Samaritan Helicopter, and Mentone Fire Department.

New Argos councilman clears up potential conflict of interest

Newly elected Argos Town Councilman Bob Byers publicly declared a business partnership with the Argos Parks and Recreation Board during the council's recent meeting.

“I have spoken in depth with our legal counsel Derek Jones about my potential business conflict.  I own and operate BB Vending LLC of Argos and as of January 1st I now serve as an elected member of the Argos Town Council," said Byers.

During the first meeting of the Argos Town Council two weeks before, Byers was appointed as the town’s liaison to the Argos Parks and Recreation Board.  He is not a voting member of the park board. 

“I believe in 100% transparency in government and was worried about this conflict. I have spoken with Mr. Jones, and he assures me that this is not a conflict as the handshake agreement with the board was in place in the spring of 2023 before I considered running for the town council," Byers said.

The Argos Park Board makes the decisions on the vending services for the parks under their care.  Byers noted that his business operates these machines and does 100% of the upkeep and maintenance and in return the park board receives a commission for the sales.

Byers also spoke during the January 18 meeting of the Argos Park Board and confirmed that the partnership is not a conflict according to the town attorney.  He said if there is ever any discussion in regard to vending service during their meetings he will not attend, allowing for fairness and transparency. 

Before the next Argos Park Board meeting Byers will present a written contract that explains everything, they have in the current handshake agreement. 

Byers said transparency is very important to him and releasing this information, even though there is no conflict, is the right thing to do.  


Culver looking to fill vacancies on Plan Commission

The Culver Town Council is accepting applications for two openings on the Culver Plan Commission.

The Culver Plan Commission meets on the third Tuesday of each month at the Culver Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. The commission makes decisions regarding new buildings and renovations to existing structures in the Town of Culver and the 2-mile surrounding area.

Culver Town Clerk, Karen Heim said, “In order to keep the commission politically balanced per state statute, the appointees should be a Democrat or voted in the last democrat primary.”

The two Culver Plan Commission seats open are appointed by the town council president to four-year terms.

Applications can be found on the Town of Culver website www.townofculver.org.  Once completed the application can be emailed to the Clerk-Treasurer Karen Heim at kheim@townofculver.org, or it can be printed and returned to the Culver Town Hall at 200 East Washington.

Multiple Pulaski County thefts, burglaries result in three arrests

A number of thefts and burglaries in Pulaski County were brought to a close with multiple arrests.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Rising Sun Campground on December 27. 15 campers were broken into and a variety of valuables were stolen.

Over the next few weeks several more callers reported items stolen. Law enforcement received a tip on a suspect and further information corroborated the initial report during their investigation.

On January 10, another building in Pulaski County was burglarized on CR 200 East.

Then, four days later, deputies executed a search warrant at a residence and recovered the majority of the stolen property. Further investigation led law enforcement to the suspects residences in Starke County.

Three suspects have been charged in the thefts.  It’s estimated there is $15, 000 - $20,000 in damages and stolen property.

The arrests include a male juvenile from Winamac. Also, Zerek Ford, 19, and Drew Zimmerman, 18, both of North Judson.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 574-946-6655.


Warsaw's Parkview Kosciusko Hospital opens

Parkview Health has opened the recently expanded hospital in Kosciusko County.

The upgraded facility could mean as many as 150 new jobs.

The former medical center has doubled in size from 86,000 square feet to 174,000. Up to 28 patients can be served in the inpatient unit. There are two operating and procedure rooms with areas for pre and post-surgical care. Cancer patients can be treated in the oncology unit, an extension of the Parkview Packnett Family Cancer Institute.

A cafe, classrooms and other outpatient services are also included.


Hoosier Solar with support for Starke County Fairgrounds swine barn construction

Hoosier Solar announced its partnership with the Starke County Fairgrounds to construct the Hoosier Solar Swine Barn.

The $58,000 donation, which funds replacements for and upgrades to the existing swine barn, reflects Hoosier Solar’s unwavering commitment to the agricultural community.

The barn location is prominent within the Starke County Fairgrounds, underscoring Hoosier Solar’s dedication to its neighbors and commitment to enhancing the community's infrastructure.

The Hoosier Solar Swine Barn will maintain the same footprint as the current structure while adding 72 inches to its height, allowing for improved functionality and capacity. The Starke County Fair Board will manage the construction of the project in the early months of 2024 with the goal of completion prior to the 2024 fair season.

Larry Wickert, Hoosier Solar’s Starke County representative, stated: “The construction of the Hoosier Solar Swine Barn represents a significant milestone for both Hoosier Solar and the Starke County Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds play a vital role in hosting community events, fairs, and activities. Partnerships of this magnitude enhance available facilities and contribute to the permanent support of the Starke County agricultural community.”

Bob Binkley, Starke County Fair Board member stated, “We are proud to receive Hoosier Solar’s donation and partner with them to rebuild the swine barn for the future of Starke County Fairgrounds.”


Rochester mayor talks board changes, renewal of summer parks program

Rochester Mayor Trent Odell is still getting acclimated to his new position.

That’s a big reason why he feels that the city’s department heads continuing on under his administration is important to the transition.

Odell does note some changes in meeting times for the Board of Works.

Some changes have been announced involving boards and committees within Rochester government.

Coupled with some of those changes the mayor excited to announce the return of the summer parks program.

Lindsay Barts explains.

Anyone seeking more information can contact Barts by e-mailing lindsay@theladybugfoundation.com .


Pulaski Co Public Library opens its doors to serve as a community warming shelter

The Pulaski County Public Library in Winamac was originally planning to close for Martin Luther King Jr Day.

With the dangerously cold temperatures, the library chose to open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., instead. 

Pulaski County Public Library Executive Director Mackenzie Ledley said it's something the library plans on doing throughout the week, as needed. 



Ledley says they're happy to serve the community in times of need, and are thankful for donations of snacks, drinks, and games they have received from locals wanting to help out. 



Travel status for Fulton County remains Yellow to begin Monday

With wind chill advisories and bitterly cold temperatures still in place, Fulton County and several border counties remain under TRAVEL ADVISORY, or Yellow status.

Cass and Miami are the only two border counties not in Yellow on the state's travel status map as Monday began.


Rochester man saved thanks to quick response from first responders

It's been a little more than two months since life stood still for Jan Martin, after her husband, Todd Martin, experienced an almost lethal heart arrhythmia.

It happened in November at their home off Monticello Road near Rochester. Crediting the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, Lutheran EMS, and the Parkview Samaritan helicopter transport staff for saving her husband's life, Jan said the quick and efficient response saved her husband's life. 

Although Jan had been a former nurse, the panic that had taken over from the emergency complicated her reluctancy to perform chest compressions on her husband. He had recently undergone open heart surgery on September 25. 

Jan also thanked dispatchers who tried to keep her calm and help her through CPR until medics arrived. Crews arrived five minutes after the initial call.

First responders immediately utilized the Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System (LUCAS) device, a machine that provides mechanical chest compressions to patients in cardiac arrest. The device is mostly used in emergency medicine as an alternative to manual CPR, providing consistent compressions at a fixed rate while in the process of transporting. 



The Martin's wanted to express gratitude for the amazing teamwork conducted during their emergency. They also expressed how thankful they were that Fulton County Commissioners were planning to renew the contract with Lutheran EMS for the future. 



Martin also wanted to convey the importance of learning CPR, and not being afraid to get hands-on during an emergency immediately, before first responders arrive. 

Locally, the Rochester Fire Department is offering Basic First Aid/CPR/AED certification class January 17 at 6 p.m. Classes are open to the public. It is $25 to receive a certification card. 

The Rochester Fire Department is planning on hosting these classes on the third Wednesday of each month this year. Those wanting to sign up for classes can do so by calling 574-223-6113



Be prepared for upcoming drop in temperatures

Temperatures are expected to drop significantly next week, and NIPSCO
wants to ensure customers are prepared. Here are some tips to help customers stay safe and warm throughout this winter and especially as we approach the anticipated extreme cold temperatures.

Inside your home
• Space heaters can provide comfort but should be used with caution. When using, ensure they are placed on a hard, non-flammable surface away from furniture and flammable materials/products.
• Ensure appliances and heating equipment – such as a furnace, water heater and stove – are inspected and operating properly. All equipment should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Never use a stove or oven as a heat source in your home; ovens are designed to heat food and should only be operated with the door closed.
• Don’t burn charcoal or run a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces.
• Clean your chimney and check for blockage at least once a year before using your fireplace.

Outside your home
• Remember to clear snow and ice from your intake and exhaust vents. This can help you avoid carbon monoxide buildup and operational issues with your appliances.
• Keep your meter visible at all times so it is accessible for maintenance or in an
• Don’t use a shovel or hammer to break up snow or ice on your meter. Use a broom instead.
• Be careful using a snow blower or plow near your meter.

Concerned there may be a gas leak or carbon monoxide (CO) danger?
• If you smell the “rotten egg” odor or think there may be a gas leak, STOP what you are doing, LEAVE the area immediately and CALL 911 and NIPSCO 24/7 at 800-634-3524.
• If you have concerns of CO build-up or if you are experiencing CO poisoning symptoms (including headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irregular breathing, or feeling ill or tired at home but fine when you’re away), get outside IMMEDIATELY and call 911.
• Remember, CO is an odorless, tasteless, non-corrosive gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, natural gas, propane or oil) burn incompletely.
For more winter weather and gas safety tips, visit nipsco.com/wintersafety.

Save energy
With the colder temperatures, you can expect your energy usage to increase, especially as in- home appliances have to work harder and use more energy to maintain a consistent temperature or thermostat setting indoors. NIPSCO offers several energy efficiency programs, tips, and plans to help customers save energy and money – visit nipsco.com/save.
Some energy efficiency tips include:
• Caulk the cracks – stop drafts by weather-stripping or caulking all cracks around doors and windows.
• Change furnace filters often, as dirty filters block the flow of air.
• Use storm windows and doors or sheets of clear plastic to keep in the heated air in the winter.
• Avoid blocking registers and radiators with draperies, curtains, furniture or anything else.

Winter Weather Advisory in place thru Saturday evening

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory that remains in effect funtil 7 p.m. Saturday.

Snow and blowing snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches are possible. Winds gusting as high as 50 mph tonight into Saturday morning are another hazard of the storm system.

Plan on slippery road conditions. Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute tonight. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches leading to further concerns of power outages.

The worst travel conditions from snow and blowing snow will be this evening through early Saturday afternoon.

Be safe on the ice during cold snap

Indiana Conservation Officers remind Hoosiers to be careful as they begin to partake in activities such as ice fishing, ice skating, or snowmobiling.

Remember to put safety first. Take caution when going on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and retention ponds. And watch for others who may venture out on frozen waterways and find themselves in trouble.

Like needing to drive differently on snowy versus clear roads, safely having fun on ice may require you to adjust from what you have done in the past. The rule of thumb is to believe all ice is thin ice unless proven otherwise.

Here are a few tips to remember when considering standing on or walking on a frozen body of water:

  • Assume no ice is safe ice.
  • Test the thickness of the ice with an ice auger. At least 4 inches is recommended for ice fishing; 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiling.
  • If you don’t know the thickness of the ice, don’t go on it.
  • Wear a life jacket or flotation coat.
  • Carry ice picks and rope gear.
  • Before going on the ice, leave a note of your whereabouts with a friend or family member.
  • Don’t test the thickness of the ice while alone.

Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on ice. If you fall through, a life jacket will keep your head above the water until help arrives.

Remember that a new coating of snow, while perhaps beautiful, can make for treacherous ice conditions. Snow can serve as insulation, causing water to freeze at a slower rate. When snow and rain freeze into ice, it is not as strong as solid, clear ice.

Another potentially dangerous situation is when you see a pet or other animal in distress on the ice. If that happens, do not go after it. Instead, contact local emergency response personnel.

Traffic stop ended with multiple drug charges

A traffic stop ended with two Starke County drug related arrests.

Starke County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop near the intersection of Toto Road and 350 East. The two occupants of the vehicle were identified as Charles Barnett and Stephan Buckingham.

The sheriff's office report states that due to the subject's nervous behaviors, both individuals were requested to exit the vehicle. A pat down was performed. and deputies located a syringe that Buckingham had in his possession. Sitting on the passenger side floor of the vehicle, deputies observed an additional syringe in plain view. Deputies also located a THC vape that Barnett had in his possession.

A search of the vehicle was conducted. Deputies located numerous illegal drug paraphernalia articles, including 18 syringes and a scale. Both men were taken into custody and transported to the Starke County Justice Center.

While at the Justice Center, it was observed that Buckingham had placed a large bag near his groin area. This was detected by the body scanner at the Starke County Jail.

One substance inside the bag was a white crystal-like substance. The substance field tested positive for methamphetamine and had a total weight of 30.31 grams. The other substance inside the bag was gray and rock-like. It field tested positive for heroin and had a total weight of 1.81 grams.

Buckingham is held on preliminary charges of:

Dealing methamphetamine, level 2 felony

Possession of methamphetamine, level 3 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, level 6 felony

Possession of a syringe, level 6 felony

Possession of paraphernalia, A misdemeanor


Barnett is held on the preliminary charges of:

Dealing methamphetamine, Level 2 felony

Possession of methamphetamine, level 3 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, level 6 felony

Possession of a syringe, level 6 felony

Possession of paraphernalia, A misdemeanor

Possession of marijuana, B misdemeanor


Cass County man struck by TASER during arrest for child molestation

A criminal investigation of an allegation of child molestation led to the arrest of a Cass County man.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department says a completed investigation was forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office for consideration of criminal charges. Then, arrest and search warrants were issued for Scott Vanarsdale, 38.

Officers attempted to serve the warrants at Vanarsdale’s residence on Lewisburg Road. The sheriff’s office reports that Vanarsdale resisted and an altercation occurred. The arrest was completed after a TASER was used.

Vanarsdale is charged with:

two counts of child molesting – Level 1 felony

two counts of sexual battery – Level 6 felony

neglect of a dependent – Level 6 felony

criminal confinement – Level 6 felony

contributing to the delinquency of a minor – Class A misdemeanor

resisting law enforcement – Class A misdemeanor

Fulton County Republican primary candidates begin filing Wednesday

Many Fulton County Republican candidates met at the Fulton County Clerk's Office to file as a group on Wednesday, the first day of filing for the May 7 primary election.

Fulton County Republican Chairman Mike Canada says he hopes the Republican party can continue delivering good government to the county and its voters. 




Pictured from left, Steve Fishburn, county council at-large; Fulton County Republican Party Chairman Mike Canada, precinct chair, Henry 1, and state convention delegate; Kathy Adamson, auditor; Stephenia Barkman, precinct committeeperson; Jennifer Utter, treasurer; Rick Ranstead, District 3 commissioner and state convention delegate; Carrie Ranstead, state convention delegate; Lorie Hurst, auditor; Patty Geier, county council at-large; Brian Fitzwater, state convention delegate and precinct committeeperson; Tami Powell, precinct committeeperson; Chad Hartzler, precinct chair; Dave Sommers, District 1 commissioner and state convention delegate; LeeAnn Eizinger, state convention delegate and precinct committeeperson.



Gov. Holcomb delivers 2024 State of the State address

Governor Eric J. Holcomb delivered his eighth State of the State address on Tuesday to a joint convention of the Indiana General Assembly.

The governor renewed his promise to conclude his second term in office with vigor and commitment to finish the job he started. He unveiled The Indiana Model, a pathway to create sustainable, generational change that elevates Indiana to the Next Level. The governor reflected on what’s changed over the last seven years, what’s changing and what still needs to change to build a brighter future for all Hoosiers.

The Indiana Model seeks excellence, rejecting any notion that a Midwestern ‘vowel state’ would be content with mediocrity and instead takes giant leaps rather than baby steps. It hinges on collaboration among the public, private, and philanthropic sectors, between our Administration and the legislature, across all levels of government, and it’s Hoosier-wide in every way,” Gov. Holcomb said.

Gov. Holcomb celebrated Indiana’s momentum by recognizing what’s changed in Indiana since taking office. He bolstered Indiana’s healthy fiscal position by recognizing that the state paid down $4.5 billion of debt and returned $1.5 billion to taxpayers all while maintaining reserves and a AAA credit rating.

“The State of our State is strong, and the rest of the world has taken notice and wants in on it,” Gov. Holcomb said.

The governor pointed to Indiana’s strong workforce and economic development by touting the record-breaking $28.7 billion in committed capital investment in 2023 that brought the state more than $50 billion of investment in two years. Furthermore, he said that rural and mixed-rural counties captured $18.7 billion in capital commitments, resulting in more than 15,000 new jobs in that timeframe.

As an example of our strong corporate and diplomatic partnerships, the governor recognized in the audience Yun Jae Kim, the CEO of StarPlus Energy, the joint venture between Samsung-SDI and Stellantis, which is building two EV battery factories and creating thousands of new jobs in Kokomo. Also, Gov. Holcomb thanked Consul General Yanagi of Japan and Consul General Cohen of Israel and their long-standing relationships with Indiana.

“Consul General Yanagi, our hearts are with your people and our friends affected by the recent tragedies in Japan. And Consul General Cohen, please know we continue to pray for the safety and security of all those living in the Holy Land, and for the prospect of lasting peace,” Gov. Holcomb said.

The governor announced a $250 million Lilly Endowment grant that will support Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) 2.0 projects focused on blight reduction, redevelopment and arts and cultural initiatives. This investment is the single-largest grant in the history of Lilly Endowment, and it’s expected to provide transformational change to all corners of the state.

In promoting a healthier Indiana, Gov. Holcomb will continue to empower counties to pursue actions to improve Hoosier Health.

Our Health First Indiana program is the nation’s most substantial new commitment to public health and will further empower Indiana counties to create tailored actions,” Gov. Holcomb said.

The first $75 million was recently delivered to 86 counties that chose to participate to support the implementation of local initiatives to meet the unique needs of their residents.

The governor acknowledged there is still work to be done in the fight against drug addiction but highlighted the Next Level Recovery Progress Report which shows that drug overdose deaths in Indiana dropped 5% year-over-year in 2022, the first decrease since 2018.

To further support the governor’s commitment to enhancing quality of life for Hoosiers, he committed to complete the following:

  • Plant the one millionth tree on Arbor Day.
  • Build 280 miles of trails across the state.
  • Finish connecting more than 70,000 households and businesses by completing the $320 million in Next Level Broadband investment and then launch a new $800 million federally-backed program.
  • Complete the Final Mile of I-69 that connects Indianapolis to Evansville.
  • Make progress on capital projects including the new archives building, prison in Westville, crime labs, state-of-the-art law enforcement academy and co-locating the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired with the Indiana School for the Deaf.

Gov. Holcomb applauded Lauren Tomkiewicz, who used her voice to make a difference. The widow of Captain Matthew Tomkiewicz of the United States Marine Corp, who lost his life during a NATO training accident in 2022, worked with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to redesign the Gold Star Family Plate to better represent the sacrifices made by those who served.

“It’s the everyday citizens who step up to improve the lives of others that are most essential to the flywheel effect of The Indiana Model,” Gov. Holcomb said.

The governor remarked on his final year in office by committing to deliver on what still needs to change:

  • Improve policies around third grade reading to ensure every child masters the essential skill.
  • Require a computer science class for high school graduation to better prepare students for a digital world.
  • Launch the campaign, One Stop to Start, to build better awareness of Next Level Jobs programs to connect people with high-paying, life-changing jobs.
  • Work with public universities to make more three-year and associate degree options available.
  • Expand our child care workforce to help more working parents.
  • Update the State Disaster Relief Fund to make it easier for communities to access funds.

“My administration will not be a ship in port. We will find constructive answers to any unforeseen challenges that arise when we move from ideas to implementation during times of great transformation. And I will continue to listen as I’ve done for seven years now to any and all partners who share a love for Indiana and believe in our future,” Gov. Holcomb said.

Each year, Indiana’s governor addresses both houses of the state legislature, the state’s Supreme Court justices and other state leaders at the beginning of the legislative session in the State of the State Address. It provides an opportunity for the governor to report on the status of the state’s affairs, highlight key accomplishments of the past year and outline top priorities for the year ahead.

The video and text of Gov. Holcomb’s 2024 State of the State Address can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Culver deals with bomb threat one day after similar situation at Pioneer schools

The Culver Police Department was dispatched to the Culver Community Middle/High School on Tuesday regarding information that was received through the Marshall County Central Dispatch Center of a bomb threat at the school.

Officers from the Culver Police Department, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, and Indiana State Police arrived and met with school administrators and the school resource officer. The school corporation followed procedures to have students moved to a different building where law enforcement was also present. Middle and high school students were bussed to the Culver Elementary School.

Further procedures were followed which included searching the facility using resources from the Indiana State Police and Notre Dame Police Department.

After nothing of consequence was found the school administrators had those students who had not already been released to their parents return to the building.

A criminal investigation continues into the incident.

Pioneer Regional School Corp superintendent addresses Monday's bomb threat, evacuation

Pioneer Regional School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Charles Grable is commending staff and students for a swift evacuation of nearly 960 students on Monday due to a bomb threat.

Having practiced new bomb threat procedures with staff this past fall, Grable was also thankful for the local churches of Royal Center for stepping up to help by opening their doors for students in a time of uncertainty. 

Pioneer Regional Schools were eventually all cleared, and nothing significant was found by the bomb squad and K-9 officers. Units from the Indiana State Police and Cass County Emergency Management also assisted the schools.

According to school officials in Cass County, the FBI was also called to investigate. It was later discovered that Pioneer had been the first of around 40 other schools in Indiana to receive the threat on Monday. 



To rather be safe than sorry, Grable said safety for staff and students is the main priority at Pioneer. A post was made on the Cass County Sheriff's Office around 10 a.m. Monday that explained the bomb threat at Pioneer. Grable says despite having to evacuate both of their schools, students were back in class by noon. 

For precautions, the Cass County Sheriff's Office made sure extra police officers were present at schools for the remainder of the day Monday. 



Grable said he was impressed by how smoothly Monday's evacuation went. He says they are having a meeting to debrief.



This is still an ongoing investigation. Anyone with more information on this case is asked to contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Office at 574-753-7800.


State of the State Tuesday night

Governor Eric J. Holcomb will deliver his 2024 State of the State address on Tuesday to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly in the House of Representatives chamber.

The address will begin at 7 p.m. and is expected to fit in a 30-minute window.

The State of the State address will be live-streamed HERE.

Argos man arrested for being over the legal limit in Sunday crash

A call about a single-vehicle accident ended with the driver being arrested.

Just after 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the Marshall County Central Dispatch Center received a call about a single-vehicle accident in the 10,000 block of King Road. It was determined that a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Brady Koz, 30, of Argos, was heading southbound on King Road when the vehicle veered off the roadway and  struck a large stump, mailboxes, and an REMC utility pole.

A field sobriety test and a later certified chemical test showed Koz to be over two times the legal limit of alcohol.

Koz was arrested and lodged in the Marshall County Jail for operating while intoxicated .15 or greater and held on a $1,500 cash bond.

2024 Indiana State Fair Queen crowned, Miss Congeniality from Wabash County

Alexxys Standish, Miss Newton County 2023, was crowned the 65th Indiana State Fair Queen on Sunday January 7, 2024 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center. She is the first representative from Newton County to receive the honor.

Miss Indiana State Fair 2024 was selected from a pool of over 80 contestants. The Indiana State Fair Queen plays a crucial role in representing the Indiana State Fair, embarking on a statewide journey of approximately 6,500 miles during June and July, visiting around 45 counties. This role serves as a vital State Fair ambassador, raising awareness and bringing the vision of the Indiana State Fair to life: to be recognized as the best State Fair in the country, showcasing agriculture and youth in an educational and entertaining environment.

This year's pageant featured a talented group of finalists, with the Top 10 including participants from various counties:


  • 1st Runner-Up: Maya Narayan, Elkhart County
  • 2nd Runner-Up: Sadie Herring, Vigo County
  • 3rd Runner-Up: Alex Kerkhove, White County
  • 4th Runner-Up: Hannah Martinez, Steuben County


Participants from Jay County, Whitley County, Delaware County, Marion County, and Washington County also made it to the final round of ten.

The title of Miss Congeniality was awarded to Avery Shrider from Wabash County.


Statehouse to tackle school related issues again in upcoming session

When the Indiana General Assembly kicks off the 2024 session, there will be a handful of education related measures on the docket. 

The session convenes Monday, Jan. 8 and several bills have already been filed that could make their way to the governor's desk by the end of the session. 

For the third consecutive year, the Indiana General Assembly is set to take up proposed legislation centered around school boards in the Hoosier State. 

A year ago, a bill that would have let Indiana voters decide if local school board elections should become partisan fell in the Indiana House of Representatives after J.D. Prescott's, R-Union City, measure failed to garner a full chamber vote after Prescott opted not to call the bill for a vote. Indiana is one of 41 states where school board election candidates do not have to claim a party. 

Rep. Alan Morrison, a Republican who represents part of Parke County, has authored HB 1016, which provides a candidate for a school board race may not be an employee or agent for the school corporation. In addition, a candidate must live in the school district for at least a year before the election. 

Other bills that could shape the future of education matters in the House include HB 1017, authored by Vernon Smith, D-Gary. The measure would make it so a school, employee or staff member of a school or a third party vendor used by a school could not provide instruction to a student in grades kindergarten through 12 concerning Christopher Columbus, a President of the United States who owned an enslaved person, however, the instruction is permitted if if the instruction concerns the historical person's involvement in the institution of slavery, harmful effects of colonialism or the decimation of indigenous populations throughout the world. 

House Bill 1035, authored by Republican Michelle Davis, would do away with school improvement plans and repeal the requirement that a public school or state accredited nonpublic school develop an initial three year strategic and continuous school improvement and achievement plan. 

Cursive writing is back in the Statehouse, as HB 1075, authored by Democrat John Bartlett, would require each school corporation, charter school and state accredited non public elementary school to include cursive writing in its curriculum.

House Bill 1104, authored by Davis, is centered on school safety. The measure would provide that a school safety plan be developed by a school corporation or charter include an armed intruder drill protocol. Furthermore, it requires safe school committees to develop a policy that considers the effect of armed intruder drills on the safety and mental health of students, faculty and staff. In addition, it prohibits a drill that includes sensory components or activities from requiring student participation or taking place during regular school hours if a majority of the student body is present. 

House Bill 1105, authored by Davis, pertains to a student withdrawing from school and provides a specified exception to the information required in an official high school transcript. It provides that if a student is less than 18 years of age, they may participate in the Indiana high school equivalency testing program if the individual receives a recommendation from a specified individual and it prohibits the department of education from requiring certain students to attend an exit interview to participate in the testing program. 

Finally, in the House, HB 1173, authored by Democrat Maureen Bauer, includes a plan for school districts to implement a classroom based violence prevention program for students that would promote emotional competencies while reducing aggression and acting out behaviors, as well as increasing self regulation and group regulation, as well as reducing problematic behavior. 

LaPorte Co mother connected in the death of 4-year-old Judah Morgan sentenced to 42 years

A LaPorte County mother has been sentenced to 42 years in prison for her connection with the brutal torture-death of her four-year-old son, Judah Morgan. 

Tensions ran high in the courtroom of the LaPorte County Courthouse on Friday during Mary Yoder's sentencing. 

Court records showed that in August of 2023, nearly two years after Judah's death, Yoder pled guilty to charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, and domestic battery. LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Thomas Alevizos sentenced Yoder to 37 years in prison for neglect of a dependent resulting in death, Level 1 felony; and 5 years for domestic battery to a child, a Level 5 felony. 

Judge Alevizos had previously sentenced Judah's father, Alan Morgan, in Nov of 2022, to 70 years in prison for Judah's murder. 

The couple, who were both Judah's biological parents, had never had custody of the boy prior to April 7, 2021, just two months shy of Judah's fourth birthday.

Just a little more than six months later, on Oct 11, 2021, during what was supposed to be a "six-month home trial," under Indiana DCS, police would discover Judah's abused, lifeless body inside of his home in rural Hamlet. 

During Friday's sentencing, La Porte County Sheriff Dept Detective Jacob Koch read outloud the vulgar, hateful text messages Yoder had sent to her friends and family during the late summer of 2021.
In the text messages, Yoder complained about potty training issues with Judah. 
Despite Yoder insisting that Judah had only been beaten by his father, investigators stated that not only did Yoder witness nearly all of the beatings in the months leading up to the boys death, but that she was also an active participant.

It was revealed in court that Yoder's fingerprints had been on the duct tape found in the basement that had been used to tie up Judah. 

According to court documents, the four-year-old would often be sent to the basement for days at a time, a punishment for not being 'potty trained.' It was noted the basement had been unfinished, cold, and had no working lights. 

Prior to the six-month home trial with DCS, for the first three-and-a-half years of his life Judah had been raised by the Hullett family. The Hullett's had hoped to eventually be able to adopt the boy. 
 Jenna Hullett says although Yoder's sentencing was supposed to give closure, Jenna and husband, Phil Hullett, both agreed that the sentencing will never bring Judah back. 



Although clear evidence was presented to prove that Yoder had been an accomplice in Judah's abuse, Yoder still addressed the court with a five page speech about how she 'missed' her sweet boy, and his laughter.
Yoder claimed she wished she had done more to protect him prior to his murder. 

Judge Alevizos responded to Yoder's speech by presenting a photo of Judah after his death, showing the boy covered in dark bruises from head to toe.

As Yoder held her head down, refusing to look at the photos, the courtroom broke out in sobs before a woman sitting in the courtroom gallery screamed out, "just look at him!" 

"Exactly," Judge Alevizos responded. 

Giving Yoder the maximum sentence, before adjourning, Judge Alevizos state that Judah's case was something that would always be on the minds of those involved, but that at least the process is over.

Judah's justice and push for change still isn't over for the Hullett's. This past October, a federal lawsuit against three Indiana Department of Child Services employees was filed because of Hullett, and the case with Judah.

The three DCS employees are accused of 'performing sham investigations, downplaying claims and concerns from relatives about abuse and neglect or declaring them unfounded without court ordered services for Judah, not performing court ordered drug tests for the parents, omitting information from communication and reports on Judah's court appointed special advocate, providing and/or inserting false information in the reports and investigation, and/or otherwise creating an inaccurate report and not following up with DCS policies created for the purpose of protecting children. 

Judah's death has also inspired other changes, like the law honored in his name in May of 2022.
The Indiana law states that a child should never be put in an abusive and potentially life-threatening situation, and terminates dangerous and abusive parent-child relationships. 'Judah's Law' also gives unlicensed caregivers, like Hullett's, the right to intervene as a party in court in the case of children needing services. 





Local health departments receive Health First Indiana funding

Local health departments have received enhanced funding for the first time as a result of the Health First Indiana (HFI) Initiative.

HFI is a historic investment in public health made possible by legislation passed by the 2023 Indiana General Assembly. Eighty-six counties serving nearly 96% of Hoosiers opted to receive a total of $75 million in HFI funding.

HFI launches a groundbreaking effort to improve the health of all Hoosiers through guaranteed access to core public health services, including maternal and child health, tobacco and vaping cessation, chronic disease, trauma and injury prevention and more. About 78% of the funding will support preventive and health outcome-related activities. A key component of Health First Indiana is that local health departments determine how funding is spent as they know best how to improve the health of Hoosiers living in their communities.

“The work began in 2021 with the formation of the Governor’s Public Health Commission, the support for the passage of SEA 4 and the overwhelming county-level participation in Health First Indiana have brought us to this moment,” said State Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver. “As I have visited communities across the state, it is clear they are poised to address the most pressing health challenges they face through partnerships within those communities.”

Shelby County has opted in for $231,190 in 2024.

More information about Health First Indiana, including a map of participating counties, a list of core public health services, and a breakdown of funding amounts by county can be found at healthfirstindiana.in.gov.

Indiana State Police partnering in human trafficking awareness initiative

The Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED) is partnering with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) for CVSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative January 8 -12. 

During this annual human trafficking initiative, ISP’s CVED personnel will raise awareness about human trafficking by distributing outreach materials to commercial motor vehicle drivers while conducting commercial motor vehicle inspections. 

CMV drivers, crisscrossing America, are in a unique position to identify potential incidents of human trafficking and raising their awareness and providing drivers the tools to identify and report signs of human trafficking is the goal of this campaign.  CVSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative will be conducted across North America: in the U.S. -  January 8 -12, 2024, Canada - February 19-23, 2024, and Mexico - March 11-15, 2024. 

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of people through force, fraud, or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women, and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world, including North America. Human traffickers often use violence, fraudulent employment agencies, and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.

The Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is part of CVSA’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program. The program seeks to reduce human trafficking throughout North America through coordinated enforcement and investigative and educational awareness measures within the commercial motor vehicle industry.

CVSA and the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division collaborate with Truckers Against Trafficking (www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org) to engage and equip the commercial vehicle industry in the fight against human trafficking. 


Bremen man arrested in North Carolina for child porn on the dark web

A federal jury in Asheville, North Carolina deemed an Indiana man guilty of bringing child sexual abuse material to North Carolina and distributing it, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

Brandon Keith Hardy, 44, of Bremen, was convicted of distributing and transporting child pornography, along with making notice of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The district attorney's office said Hardy used dark web chatrooms and encrypted messaging services to send material to send links on the dark web that had the child sex abuse material in question. However, Hardy was messaging with undercover law enforcement.

The office also said Hardy had a collection of child sex abuse material on his phone, had said he wanted to engage in sexual activity with a child, and claimed he had sexually abused other children.

He remains in federal custody. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

If sentenced to the maximum possible for both charges, Hardy could face up to 70 years in federal prison. The minimum sentences for both the transportation of child pornography and distribution of child pornography are five years, while the maximum is 20 years. The notice of child pornography charge will see a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years. All three charges also include a $250,000 fine.

Akron man to serve four years in prison for dealing meth

An Akron man was given four years in prison on Tuesday by a Kosciusko Circuit Court judge for dealing meth to undercover officers. 

According to court documents, Trey A Combs, 26, of Akron, is charged with dealing methamphetamine, a Level 4 felony. Combs had five additional criminal charges dismissed as part of a plea agreement. 

In January 2022, Combs sold around 7.5 grams of methamphetamine to the NET 43 Drug Task Force.

Combs was sentenced on Tuesday by Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge Michael Reed to six years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with four years to be excuted and two years suspended on probation.

Combs had 65 days of jail time credit, plus good time credit. 

It was noted in court that Combs had three felony arrests, was using drugs while out on bond, and still has pending criminal cases in Allen and Wabash counties. 

Court documents stated Combs had showed a willingness to accept the consequences of his behavior, and apologized for his actions. Combs stated that since being off drugs, he has felt better both physically and mentally. 

Peru dentist accused of pocketing money meant for his employees retirement accounts

After an investigation by the Indiana State Police, a Peru dentist was arrested on accusations of pocketing money from his employees' pay that was meant to go into their retirement accounts. 

According to police reports Bryon Lean Cohee, 60, of Macy, was arrested and booked in the Miami County Jail on December 20. Cohee's charges included two counts of theft where the value falls between $750 and $50,000, a Level 6 Felony. 

The Indiana State police reported that they began investigating Cohee in February after a tip made to police. According to records, investigators soon discovered that money was being withheld from paychecks at the dentist's office that was supposed to be deposited into the employees' retirement accounts. The money, however, was never deposited. 

Court records revealed Cohee was eventually released on a $1,000 bond.

Cohee is currently looking at a potential prison sentence of six months to two and a half years if convicted. 

Fulton County Sheriff's Office looking for Rochester man wanted on child molest warrants

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public's assistance in locating a wanted fugitive.

Jeffrey Thomas Jones, 33, of Rochester is wanted on arrest warrants for four counts of child molesting, and violation of probation. He is to be held without bond.

 Jones last known address was in Rochester. However, he is known to have ties to Winamac and Mentone.

A cash reward through Fulton County Crime Stoppers is available for information leading the location and apprehension of Jeffrey Thomas Jones. Tipsters can call the Fulton County Sheriff's office at 574-223-2819 or Crime Stoppers at 574-223-7867.

Inmate scheduled for February release escaped then re-captured in Cass County

The Cass County Sheriff’s office says its detention center will come under scrutiny following the recent escape and capture of an inmate.

Just after noon on Sunday, a corrections officer was supervising an inmate workr taking trash to the dumpster when another inmate worker, Gerardo Grimaldo Perez, 25, of Logansport, had apparently hidden in the ceiling and was able to climb over a wall to escape.

Logansport Police and Cass County deputies converged in the area while corrections officers gave chase.

Perez removed his jail clothes in the 400 block of North Street and continued eastbound until he was apprehended in the 700 block of Market Street minutes later.

Perez was initially incarcerated for a probation violation warrant on a Level 6 felony for check fraud. He was due to be released on February 22.

Cass County Sheriff Ed Schroeder says the facility will undergo a review.

“The Cass County Detention Center is a secure facility. This incident will trigger scrutiny of all policies as well as an after-action review and discussion to ensure any deficiencies are corrected to prevent another occurrence. The quick capture of the inmate was a result of the cooperative efforts of the Logansport Police Department, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Cass County Detention Facility corrections officers,” said Sheriff Schroeder..



NiSource Inc. completes NIPSCO minority equity interest transaction

NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) (“NiSource”) announced that it has completed the issuance of a 19.9% indirect equity interest in the company’s Northern Indiana Public Service Company LLC (“NIPSCO”) subsidiary to an affiliate of Blackstone Infrastructure Partners (“Blackstone Infrastructure”), the dedicated infrastructure group of Blackstone Inc. (NYSE: BX). 

As previously announced, through the transaction the Blackstone affiliate has acquired a 19.9% non-controlling equity interest in NIPSCO Holdings II LLC, which owns all the equity interests of NIPSCO, and NiSource will own the remaining 80.1% of NIPSCO Holdings II LLC.

Blackstone Infrastructure is an active perpetual capital investor across the utility, energy transition, transportation, digital infrastructure, water and waste infrastructure sectors. Blackstone Infrastructure seeks to apply a long-term buy-and-hold approach to large-scale infrastructure assets and is focused on responsible stewardship and stakeholder engagement to create value for its investors and the communities it serves. Blackstone Infrastructure is committed to investing behind NIPSCO's energy transition and decarbonization programs, as well as helping to increase gas and electric grid resiliency for the customers of Indiana.

NiSource intends to use the capital infusion to support its fastest growing utility and its ability to serve customers, strengthen its balance sheet and fund ongoing capital needs associated with the renewable generation transition underway. Since 2018, NIPSCO has been executing on one of the fastest transitions from coal-fired electricity in the U.S. utilities sector, targeting 0% coal-fired generation mix by 2028 (compared to 75% coal generation mix in 2018). Through 2030, NIPSCO expects to make significant investments in its electric generation transition, primarily focused on installing new renewable generation to replace coal-fired generation retirements. NIPSCO also intends to support the continued growth and modernization of its gas and electric transmission and distribution systems, which will play critical roles in the energy transition as NIPSCO continues to deliver a reliable, diverse and sustainable energy mix, bringing customer, environmental and economic benefits.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of this transaction and are excited about the long-term partnership we have entered into with Blackstone,” said NiSource president and CEO, Lloyd Yates.  “The transaction strengthens our balance sheet, supports our financing plan and provides greater flexibility to execute on high-quality capital investments that will enhance the safety, reliability and sustainability of our gas and electric systems for the benefit of our customers.  It’s important to reinforce that our commitment to Indiana remains unchanged, and we will continue to drive sustainable growth for our stakeholders. This financing transaction will have no impact on NIPSCO's current strategic direction or on our commitment to our gas and electric customers in Indiana.”

“We are incredibly excited to close this transaction and to begin our long-term partnership with NiSource and NIPSCO,” said Sebastien Sherman, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone Infrastructure. “This investment underscores Blackstone’s commitment to decarbonization to create value for our investors and our desire to help facilitate the reindustrialization of the Midwest. We are excited to invest behind NIPSCO, one of the fastest growing utilities in the country with one of the nation’s fastest decarbonization plans. Blackstone looks forward to supporting the vital role that NIPSCO plays in communities across Northern Indiana.” 

NIPSCO is Indiana's largest vertically integrated electric and gas distribution company, providing critical utility service to almost 1.3 million customers in an economically robust service territory, with a proven track record of providing value for its customers. NIPSCO is at the forefront of the energy transition and is developing one of the lowest-cost portfolios of renewable energy projects, the majority of which are utility-owned, and intends to retire all coal-fired generation by the end of 2028. These near-term renewable and generation transition investments add to a multi-decade capital plan with the goal to significantly grow NIPSCO's rate base through investments across gas, electric transmission and distribution and electric generation, which should drive significant continued value for NIPSCO's customers. NIPSCO operates in Indiana, one of the most constructive utility jurisdictions in the United States, with strong support for utility-owned generation and affordable energy, and a strong economic service territory benefitting from on-shoring and migration trends as well as robust development.


About NiSource

NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.3 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across six states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. The mission of our approximately 7,200 employees is to deliver safe, reliable energy that drives value to our customers. NiSource is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability - North America Index, has been named as one of TIME Magazine’s World’s Best Companies and is on Forbes list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. Learn more about NiSource’s record of leadership in sustainability, investments in the communities it serves and how we live our vision to be an innovative and trusted energy partner at www.NiSource.com. NI-F


About Blackstone Infrastructure Partners

Blackstone Infrastructure Partners is an active investor across energy, transportation, digital infrastructure and water and waste infrastructure sectors. We seek to apply a long-term buy-and-hold strategy to large-scale infrastructure assets with a focus on delivering stable, long-term capital appreciation together with a predictable annual cash flow yield. Our approach to infrastructure investing is one that focuses on responsible stewardship and stakeholder engagement to create value for our investors and the communities we serve.  


Pursuit across three counties ends with arrest in Fulton

A Marshall County man is behind bars after leading police on a high-speed chase through three counties.       

About 6:30 p.m. Friday, deputies with the Marshall County Sheriff's Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle at Oak Drive and Ritter Street in Plymouth.   The vehicle failed to yield and took off from the police at a high rate of speed.

The driver of the vehicle led police across Marshall, Fulton, and Cass counties for the next 48 minutes.  The driver, Brandon Craft, 36, of Hillside Drive in Plymouth eventually stopped in the area of 950 S 300 W in Fulton County. Craft was taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Marshall County Jail. 

Craft had numerous active warrants for his arrest through Marshall County for a Level 5 felony for intimidation where the defendant draws or uses a deadly weapon, a Level 6 felony for residential entry, a Class A misdemeanor for invasion of privacy by violating a protective, a Class A misdemeanor interference with the reporting of a crime, and a Class B misdemeanor for criminal mischief.  The cash bond on the warrants was $25,000.

Craft’s additional charges include resisting law enforcement with a vehicle as a Level 6 felony and reckless driving as a Class A misdemeanor.  His cash bond for the new charges was listed at $10,000. 

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by the Plymouth Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department and Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Golf cart permits remain good until February 15 in Culver

With the new year here, some Culver citizens may be wondering where their golf cart registration letter is or scheduling time to stop at town hall to purchase their 2024 registration.

At the Culver Town Council meeting on December 12, the council passed a resolution suspending the sale of golf cart permits until February 15, 2024, and extending the validity of the 2023 permits until February 15. Registration letters will go out later in January with updated information.

Culver Clerk-Treasurer Karen Heim said, “We will not accept golf cart information for registration at town hall or via mail/email before February 15, 2024.”

If you have a 2023 permit, you will be able to drive your golf cart with that permit by February 15, 2024.

If you have any questions, please call the Culver Clerk’s Office.

Application cycle open for Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship

High school and college students interested in teaching as a profession are encouraged to apply for the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship through Jan. 31.

Created by the Indiana General Assembly, the renewable scholarship awards recipients up to $10,000 for a maximum of four academic years totaling $40,000.

This is a $3,500 increase from previous years after lawmakers allocated $24 million in the new 2024-25 state budget to better support future teachers’ career success through the scholarship.

In return for the scholarship, students must agree to teach for five years at an eligible Indiana school or repay the corresponding, prorated amount of the scholarship.

Program requirements:

  • Must be an Indiana resident
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Must be a current high school senior or college student in Indiana
  • Must have graduated or will graduate from an Indiana accredited high school or non-accredited, non-public high school
  • Must be able to utilize the scholarship for at least two full academic years
  • Must meet one of the three Academic Requirements
  • Rank in the top 20% of high school graduating class
  • Have a top 20% ACT or SAT score
  • Have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Must currently attend or plan to attend an eligible Indiana institution as a full-time student
  • Must pursue or intend to pursue a course of study that would enable the student to teach at an eligible Indiana school after college graduation
  • Must obtain a license to teach in Indiana and serve as a teacher in an eligible Indiana school for five years after college graduation
  • Must maintain a 3.0/4.0 GPA, complete 30 credit hours per year or their equivalent and meet all other requirements established by their program to renew the scholarship
  • Must file a free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year
  • Must not be in overpayment or default on a federal student loan or grant
  • Must complete the service requirement or have all funds provided converted to a loan that must be repaid.

The 2024-25 application is available in ScholarTrack (scholartrack.che.in.gov/) until Jan. 31, 2024.

After the Jan. 31 deadline passes, the Commission will review all applications and notify all applications of their scholarship status via email by April 2024.

For more information, send emails to NextTeacher@che.in.gov

Fulton County Chamber of Commerce office relocates

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, Fulton County Tourism Commission, and Rochester Downtown Partnership offices are now in their new home in Rochester at 112 East 8th Street.


Fulton County Legislative Breakfast Series begins in January

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Fulton County Farm Bureau’s 2024 Legislative Breakfast Series kicks off on Saturday, January 20 at 7:30 a.m.

The public is invited to attend this opportunity to communicate one-on-one with Indiana State legislators at the Kewanna-Union Township Public Library, located at 210 E Main Street in Kewanna.

Social networking and breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Senator Stacey Donato and Representative Jack Jordan will provide a legislative preview and remarks at 8 a.m., followed by a question-and-answer period.

Anyone is invited to attend these free breakfast meetings.

Other breakfasts are scheduled for Saturday, February 10 in Rochester and Saturday, March 2 in Akron.


Ice cream shop, airbnb coming to historic hotel at Lake Bruce

2024 is about to be a big year for David and Jenn Benninghoff.

The Benninghoff's are the newest owners of the former Bruce Hotel at Lake Bruce in rural Kewanna. As their nephew, Vernon Freet, of Mishawaka, focuses on reconstruction of the historic hotel, Benninghoff's dream of opening an airbnb and ice cream shop is finally being manifested into reality. 


Benninghoff has high hopes of construction moving along fast enough to where the airbnb will be open before the spring of 2024. The location, across the street from the Hoosier Hideaway, is a busy place in the warmer months, making it a perfect time for the Benninghoff's plans of having the ice cream shop's grand opening this summer. 



Choosing the name Railway Bay for the new name of the business, the Benninghoff's still hope to embrace the history of the building and its ties to the railway that once ran near the property that once brought people from all over Northern Indiana and Chicago to the area. 

The Benninghoff's also plan on making food specials as the business grows that will bring in people from outside the community with things like tacos, unique asian cuisine, and more. 

'Big Country Predator Exposure' jumps on board to help expose local predators targeting kids online

A 35-year-old father of four from Culver had always been a fan of the online group Bikers Against Predators prior to getting involved with exposing the criminal activity of adults found trying to meet minors online through apps and various chat rooms in the area. Going by the name 'Big Country,' after discovering messages from a grown man to his 13 year old daughter in 2022, however, things got more personal for and he decided to act. 

It wasn't long before Big Country would reach out to the organization about how he could get involved. Since 'Bikers Against Predators' started in 2021, the organization has caught hundreds of predators from Indiana and other states who target underage minors online. Never directly messaging the predators first, nor enticing inappropriate conversation, the organization's sting operations work hand-and-hand with law enforcement to push for charges from the information the team has collected on the individual.

Big Country felt empowered to do something himself and soon created his own team for the area with a burn phone, fake accounts and a decoy. On November 27, working alongside Bikers Against Predators , Big Country Predator Exposure ended up with a first-time arrest of an individual who had been preying on what he thought was a 13-year-old girl in Plymouth. 



The undercover decoy, an adult friend of Big Country, also helps in making the identity of the 'child' being preyed upon seem more realistic to the predator. 



Big Country said that despite how much his sting operation team grows, he still feels that what he is doing is helping keep the community a little safer. 



As time goes on, Big Country hopes to grow the Big County P.E. team, and the number of catches they make in the area.



A live video of each person being exposed by Big County Predator Exposure is put on the Big Country P.E. Facebook page during each sting that you can watch for yourself. By following their Facebook page you can get follow-up information posted by Big Country's team, and see any arrests made after the exposure.