Yakym introduces legislation to improve mental healthcare access for veterans

This week, Congressman Rudy Yakym introduced H.R. 7464, the Sergeant Ted Grubbs Mental Healthcare for Disabled Veterans Act.

This legislation requires the VA to lower their Designated Access Standards to five days for mental healthcare for veterans that have a disability rating above 50 percent for a mental health disorder.

Rep. Yakym's bill is named after retired Sergeant Ted Grubbs, a veteran and Second District constituent who was diagnosed with service-connected complex post-traumatic stress disorder and complex traumatic brain injury after returning from duty. In the wake of a mental health crisis Sergeant Grubbs experienced last year that required prompt, in-person follow-up appointments, Sergeant Grubbs was told by the VA that the soonest in-person appointment they could offer was more than two months away. 

"Veterans like Sergeant Ted Grubbs represent the best of America - the very least we can do is make sure they get the help they need in a timely manner, especially when it comes to addressing mental health challenges," said Congressman Yakym. "I am proud to lead this effort on behalf of Ted and countless veterans like him to make sure we give those who served more timely options for mental healthcare." 

“Community care is a vitally important part of ensuring veterans have access to the healthcare that works best for them,” said House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost. “House Republicans come from rural America, and we understand firsthand that veterans can’t be driving 2-3 hours for a simple doctor’s appointment. VA’s community care program creates that bridge. I look forward to working with my colleague, Congressman Yakym, to ensure we protect access to this healthcare program for our nation’s heroes.”

"As a County Veteran Service Officer, I have seen firsthand the negative repercussions of slow response times for many of the veterans in my county for mental health screening and assistance," said Miami County Veteran Service Officer Jay Kendall. "This legislation addresses those problems and would increase the delivery of timely mental heath assistance."

"Rep. Yakym's legislation will help veterans with acute mental health challenges receive care more quickly than they are currently, which in itself will go a long way towards preventing these veterans from reaching the point of crisis in the first place," said Marshall County Veteran Service Officer Pam Schweizer-Betz.

Jordan honors Winamac teen killed in 2018 bus crash with bridge naming

State Rep. Jack Jordan (R-Bremen) said a new railroad bridge overpass on U.S. 31 near Argos is one step closer to being named after Owen Abbott of Winamac who passed away after a 2018 school bus crash.
On Dec. 5, 2018, Owen Abbott, 13, was traveling to Warsaw on a school field trip with other Winamac Community Middle School students when a truck rear ended their school bus as it was making a mandatory stop at a rail crossing near Argos. Abbott passed away and others were injured in the crash. Jordan, co-sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, said the dangerous intersection in Marshall County led the state to install a new railroad bridge overpass in the area and now he's joining other state lawmakers in calling on the Indiana Department of Transportation to name it the "Owen Abbott Memorial Bridge."

"This crash would be any parent's worst nightmare and my heart breaks for Owen's family and school community," Jordan said. "I'm honored to be a small part of the process to name this new bridge overpass after him, and I hope it helps keeps his memory alive and saves lives moving forward."

Abbott played on the school football team and on the all-star team for Star City Little League, and he was a member of the Pulaski County 4-H. He also enjoyed both hunting and shooting.

Between 2018 and 2022, there were seven major crashes involving vehicles legally required to stop at this railroad crossing, resulting in 38 total injuries and the loss of Abbott. In April 2023, INDOT broke ground to begin a $28 million project, including the construction of a railroad overpass in place of the intersection, with the expectation that the overpass prevents future accidents.

Jordan said the resolution passed the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives, and is expected to be approved by INDOT, which will be responsible for installing the bridge marker. 

Korean Cultural Diversity Training prepares first responders for expected increase of South Korean immigrants

Fulton County first responders met at the Fulton County Sheriff's Office on Monday for a South Korean Cultural Diversity Training presentation.

The training came in preparation of an expected increase of South Korean immigration in Indiana due to a recent $5 billion investment made by Jeep maker Stellantis and Samsung SDI, a South Korean company, for two electric-vehicle battery plants in Kokomo.The plants anticipate it could bring up to 3,000 new jobs, and include many of those employees to be to ones coming from South Korea. 

The uptick in South Korean business prompted the Northern Central Indiana Regional Planning Council to prepare the community with cultural training by partnering with Moyar Consulting LLC, an international firm that consults with U.S. business & government agencies to develop trade, and specializes in cultural commentary and training for law enforcement and first responders about foreign hospitality, customes, health practices, language associations and more. 




Monday's cultural training event was led by Sooyeon Shin, the Moyars Consulting Engagement Director, and BJ Moyars, owner of Moyars Consulting. Shin, who was born and raised in South Korea until immigrating to the US at the age of 13, educated local officials about cultural differences that included everything from eating habits, driving habits, social norms, and more. 


Rochester Mayor Odell says big truck braking, hotels a focus

Mayor Trent Odell says big trucks, hopefully, will be quieter when moving thru Rochester's downtown.

Odell told GIANT fm that an ordinance will involve how a semi uses its brakes.



As spring and summer and the upcoming fair and festival season approaches, Mayor Odell says city government is also looking into advancement of hotel availability in Rochester. That includes making sure current sites in the city are up to standard.




Child ID kits to be made available to elementary kids across the state

Attorney General Todd Rokita announced all Indiana kindergarten - 5th grade students will receive a child ID kit this fall.

The announcement was made during a press conference with Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, NFL Alumni Association, Colts Super Bowl XLI Champion Marlin Jackson, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Singletary.

On average, 1,000 children go missing across the United States every day.

“Human trafficking is on the rise and our open border policies have brought it right to our front door,” said Attorney General Rokita. “That is why I have filed multiple lawsuits to secure our southern border. Our office fights to keep criminals on appeal behind bars, we protect victims of crimes like human trafficking through our Address Confidentiality Program, and now we have built a coalition of community leaders to provide kits to all K-5 students this fall free of charge to Hoosier families.”

When a child goes missing, time is of the essence. Child ID kits give parents a tool to provide detailed information, a photograph, fingerprint, and DNA to law enforcement quickly. Completed kits are kept in a safe place at home, out of a database, so parents are prepared if the unthinkable happens.

Kits will be distributed by Superintendents and School Resource Officers to all k-5 schools across the state. The Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police will also distribute kits to local law enforcement.

The Attorney General’s Office brought together this coalition – Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, NOBLE, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, and the NFL Alumni Association – with public and private funding from the General Assembly and American Electric Power to make these kits available to all K-5 families free of charge in the 2024 school year.

BBB says be on the lookout for college test scams

The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana is warning parents about college test scams.

With the importance of SAT and ACT scores the BBB is issuing timely warnings about scammers trying to sell test prep materials.

The scam includes an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be with the College Board that is responsible for various tests such as PSAT, SAT and AP, or another educational organization. The caller will look to clarify your address to send test prep materials that your child is said to have requested at school.

Those who have been approached by the scammers have reported to the BBB that the caller even had their child’s name, phone number, school information and dates and times for the proper tests.

In these cases, the caller asks for a deposit for the materials. The claim is that the deposit will be refunded after the materials are returned. Unfortunately, if the scammer is successful, they have your deposit and credit card information and no materials are ever sent.


How to avoid test prep scams

Always be wary of unsolicited callers. If someone calls out of the blue asking for payment, always research their organization before you share personal information or agree to receive services or products. Look up the business they claim to represent at BBB.org. Search the name along with the words “scam” or “complaint” to find out if others had negative experiences. Check BBB Scam Tracker to see if anyone else has filed a report about the company.


Double check with your child. If scammers say they are calling because of a service your child requested, tell them you need to check with your child first and hang up. Make sure their claims are legitimate before you call back or accept a return call. Don’t send any money or make a payment if there is any doubt about the call. The same is true for emergency scams.


Understand the College Board’s practices. The College Board will never ask you for bank or credit card information over the phone or via email. If a caller suggests otherwise, hang up. Learn more about the College Board’s policies.


Use your credit card when possible. Credit cards may refund your money if they spot a fraudulent charge or if you report one in a timely manner. You may not be offered the same protection if you pay with your debit card or other payment options. Never agree to pay a stranger with a money wire, prepaid cards or digital wallet, such as Cash App or Venmo.






Fulton and surrounding counties in regions submitting READI 2.0 Proposals

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced 15 regions representing all 92 counties submitted proposals for quality of life and quality of place funding through the expansion of the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI 2.0).

READI 2.0 is allocating a second round of $500 million to accelerate community development investments statewide, and it will be invested alongside $250 million in grant funding awarded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This funding is expected to attract a minimum 4:1 match of local public and private funding, yielding at least $3 billion invested to increase the vibrancy and prosperity of Hoosier communities.  

“Indiana is leading the nation in quality of life and quality of place investment initiatives,” said Gov. Holcomb. “Through the state’s READI program, we’re collaboratively investing billions to grow Indiana’s population, cultivate vibrant and sustainable communities, and better the lives of all Hoosiers today and tomorrow.”  
READI 2.0, which was part of the governor’s 2023 Next Level Agenda and approved by the Indiana General Assembly, was a direct response to the significant demand for quality of place investments from communities across the state. READI 2.0 will build on the momentum of READI 1.0, which has awarded $487 million to 353 unique projects and programs across the state, yielding $12.6 billion invested (26:1 investment leverage ratio) in quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity initiatives.  
The READI 2.0 funding proposals, which are listed below, outline each region’s overall vision for its future; an assessment of the current economic and community landscape; growth strategies and action plans to improve its quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity; and its successes and learnings from READI 1.0. Each proposal will be evaluated on a variety of factors, including economic development potential, the level of focus on rural communities, the degree of regional collaboration, and alignment with the state’s economic development priorities, such as population growth, per capita income growth, growth in employment opportunities, educational attainment, housing units developed, childcare capacity and innovation activities.  

Accelerate Rural Indiana 
Led by the Accelerate Rural Indiana Regional Development Authority

  • Counties: Decatur, Rush, Shelby + City: Batesville 
  • Proposal Themes: Reimagine the rural region’s ability to attract and retain talent by expanding and improving housing options, making place-based asset improvements, increasing regional education opportunities, upgrading and expanding infrastructure, and telling the region’s story. 

Central Indiana 
Led by the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority  

  • Counties: Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Putnam 
  • Proposal Themes: Promote the development of walkable and connected living, innovation and recreational districts that serve as magnets for talent attraction and innovation and provide links to arts, culture and recreation. 

East Central 
Led by the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership 

  • Counties: Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Wayne 
  • Proposal Themes: Accelerate economic growth and regional prosperity by stabilizing the regional population through investments in quality of life, housing and infrastructure, childcare and support for families, and education and opportunity.    

Greater Lafayette
Led by the Greater Lafayette Commerce Community and Economic Development Foundation 

  • Counties: Benton, Carroll, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Warren, White 
  • Proposal Themes: Grow regional population in both rural and urban areas by focused investment at Purdue University to support the growing semiconductor Industry in Indiana, and supporting a concentrated effort to retain and development talent and attracting new workers to the region through investments in housing, quality of place and community vibrancy, the development of parks and trails, and investments in arts and culture. 

Indiana First 
Led by the Southwest Indiana Development Council 

  • Counties: Harrison, Knox, Perry, Pike, Spencer 
  • Proposal Themes: Remove barriers to and encourage development by investing in infrastructure and increasing the availability of shovel-ready sites; future-proof regional workforce and create opportunities for upskilling; diversify region’s economy and foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and business attraction and retention; increase housing options; and provide amenities and services that support population growth and diversification. 

Indiana Uplands 
Led by the Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. 

  • Counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen 
  • Proposal Themes: Grow the region’s capacity as a national innovation hub by leveraged advanced technologies in key employment sectors (advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and national security and defense) by focusing on critical housing, infrastructure and place-based assets; developing and attracting in-demand talent; and enhancing the region’s unique cultural, artistic, physical and livable amenities.  

North Central 
Led by the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council 

  • Counties: Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Tipton 
  • Proposal Themes: Maximize and build on recent regional momentum to ensure long-term dynamic growth. Accelerate leadership in innovation investment and advanced manufacturing and technological innovation by growing a skilled workforce; enriching the region with quality-of-life assets, such as housing and childcare; and supporting entrepreneurship and small business.  

Led by the Northeast Indiana RDA 

  • Counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, Whitley 
  • Proposal Themes: Accelerate the region’s trajectory as an innovative, vibrant and winning region by growing hardtech and medtech industry leadership, fostering creative sector innovation, and supporting population growth through infrastructure, housing, childcare, education innovation, community connectivity and cultural vibrancy.   

Led by the Northwest Indiana Forum 

  • Counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, Starke 
  • Proposal Themes: Create a dynamic economic environment fueled by innovation, diversity and talent by investing in the advanced energy sector, expanding investment-ready assets, developing opportunity campuses to support communities, enhance destination development and amplify regional innovation and creative cultures.  

Our Southern Indiana 
Led by the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority 

  • Counties: Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott, Washington 
  • Proposal Themes: Catalyze regional growth, with an emphasis on impacting rural and disadvantaged communities; increase housing availability; leverage business and innovation parks to expand employment opportunities; partner with regional universities to grow educational attainment and innovation activity; and ensure quality of life amenities like childcare access and affordability.  

South Bend-Elkhart 
Led by the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority 

  • Counties: Elkhart, Marshall, St. Joseph 
  • Proposal Themes: Propel the region into the future with strong investments to attract and retain talent, equip tomorrow’s talent, drive innovation and entrepreneurship, accelerate industry diversification, and enhance infrastructure.  

South Central 
Led by the Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corporation 

  • Counties: Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings + Town: Edinburgh 
  • Proposal Themes: Inspire and cultivate collaboration among companies and communities to build powerful technologies, prosperous communities and a resilient future by focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship, education and workforce development, housing and quality of place.  

Led by SEI READI Inc. 

  • Counties: Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Union, Franklin, Ripley (excludes city of Batesville) 
  • Proposal Themes: Leverage the region’s natural resources and unique qualities to grow economic vitality, population and generational prosperity through strategic investments in housing, cultural amenities, infrastructure, targeted industries, and childcare systems.  

Led by Southwest Indiana RDA (SWIRDA) 

  • Counties: Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick 
  • Proposal Theme: Foster population growth and upward mobility by connecting 50 miles of riverfront with inspiring public amenities, attractions and housing; grow high-paying jobs; improve quality of place for healthier residents; build housing near employment clusters; and capitalize on the I-69 Ohio River Crossing to create new regional opportunities.   

Wabash River
Led by the Wabash River RDA 

  • Counties: Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo 
  • Proposal Themes: Prioritize regional increases in population growth and retention, per capita income and educational attainment rates by investing in early childhood education; innovation, education and workforce training; housing availability; and destination and recreational development.  

The IEDC will review and assess the submitted plans before making formal recommendations to the IEDC board of directors on April 11. Once investment allocations are finalized, the IEDC will begin coordinating with each region to identify regionally significant capital and infrastructure projects for investment. Regions awarded funding allocations will also have the opportunity to submit projects focused on blight reduction and redevelopment as well as arts and culture initiatives for match funding through the Lilly Endowment Inc.  
More information on READI 2.0, including application guidance and evaluation frameworks, as well as links to download the regions’ proposals, is available at IndianaREADI.com. A map of the identified regions can be found here

No increase in dust explosion incidents last year; 10-year average remains unchanged

The annual summary recording nationwide grain dust explosions reported nine incidents in the United States in 2023, resulting in 12 injuries but no fatalities.

“Dust explosions are one of the most serious hazards that can occur in the grain industry,” said Kingsly Ambrose, Purdue University professor of agricultural and biological engineering and report author. “The explosions can also lead to significant financial and personal losses from downtime, repair, injuries and fatalities.”

Last year’s nine incidents marked no increase from the nine reported incidents in 2022. The 10-year average of 8.4 explosions remains relatively unchanged. Notably, this average is significantly lower than the average number of incidents that occurred prior to the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s grain handling standard in 1988.

Ambrose said all the explosions occurred in the Midwest, most of them taking place in the corn handling or processing industry.

The explosions occurred in one ethanol plant, one wheat mill, two grain elevators, two soybean processing plants, two corn processing plants and one corncob processing plant. The probable ignition sources were identified in two cases as fire and another as equipment malfunction, while six cases were from unknown sources. Fuel sources for all nine of the explosions were identified as grain dust.

The dust explosions occurred in four different states, with three each in Illinois and Minnesota, two in Iowa, and one in Indiana.

“There is a critical need to educate the workers and employers on dust explosion prevention within a facility, including assessments of dust accumulation and dust explosion protection methods,” Ambrose said.

He further stressed the need to develop relevant and practical hands-on educational materials to raise awareness and adoption of prevention technologies by grain handling and processing facilities.

Purdue has been involved in collecting data related to grain dust explosions in the U.S. since 2015.

Arrest made involving drone that delivered meth into Miami Correctional Facility

An arrest was made on Saturday stemming from an investigation over a downed drone that had been found delivering meth and tobacco at Miami Correctional Facility in 2020. 

According to court records, Tre'sean Bronson, 29, was arrested Saturday. Bronson is facing charges of dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 2 felony; possession of methamphetamine, a Level 4 felony; and two charges of trafficking with an inmate, both A misdemeanors.

It was reported that investigators had traced Bronson's location through GPS data found on the drone. The drone had been downed in August of 2020. It was found to have dropped 14.6 grams of methamphetamine, and 7.97 ounces of tobacco in a duct tape wrapped Crown Royal bag at a secure perimeter in the prison. It was later discovered Bronson had a tattoo similar to one seen in videos stored on the drone. 

Investigators reported the drone was identified as being an orange and black Autel Robotics EVO. Equipped with a remote-controlled payload release, reports stated the drone had a range of up to seven kilometers. 

According to a probable cause affidavit, Bronson was wanted for more than three years, despite a warrant for his arrest issued in Marion County. Bronson was also said to have had a warrant out of Hamilton County for a seperate offense. 

Bronson was booked into the Miami County Jail on a $73,000 bond. 

One killed, another injured in a Cass County collision

A woman was killed in a two-vehicle Cass County crash.

Cass County deputies, EMS along with Logansport fire and police responded to the accident at the intersection of State Road 29 and 25.

The sheriff’s department states that Cynthia Everly, 62, of Lafayette, was driving a2008 Subaru Impreza eastbound on the SR 25 exit ramp to US 24 / US 35 when she failed to yield to a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado that was driven by Chester Clask, 69, of Lafayette,

Everly was taken to a Lafayette hospital but later died from her injuries. Clark was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The sheriff’s report says Everly’s injuries were increased because she didn’t wear a seatbelt.


Grass Creek Lumber builds business from the ground up

It had been years since the small unincorporated community of Grass Creek had seen a business that was opened to the public before Patrick and Brooke Rentschler first bought the current building for Grass Creek Lumber in 2015. 

The Rentschler's had already dabbled in the entrepreneur world after they had started a furniture repair and refinish shop in 2012, B&E Creations and Restorations. With 20 years of experience in the lumber business, however, the newly aquired pole barn at 7279 South State Rd 17 opened a door for the couple when they decided to open Grass Creek Lumber in 2021. 


Word on the business has spread over the last three years along with the Rentschler's reputable skill in millwork. The business has turned into a full-time job. After opening shop, Rentschler realized Northern Indiana had been an empty hole for lumber and millwork shops. Because of this Grass Creek Lumber not only serves customers from local areas like Rochester, Winamac, Knox, North Judson. It also began expanding to serve most of the northwestern part of the state.. In fact, Renschler said that more than half of his customers are from towns in the Chicagoland area like Chesterton, Hammond, Gary, and Michigan City. 



Rentschler has stayed busy since the beginning of the year by making, literally, miles of custom made trim for door and window casings, crown molding, baseboards, and more.  

Rentschler says the season of home improvements has already kicked off with spring right around the corner. While official open hours and days at Grass Creek Lumber vary, Rentschler says he is typically in the area for customers wanting to stop by and check out the inventory. Customers interested in stopping by, or looking for more information on products can call Rentschler at 574-992-1648, or check out the Grass Creek Lumber Facebook page. 

Health department reports first measles case in 5 years

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) has confirmed a case of measles in a Lake County resident.

The risk to the public is low, but IDOH continues to investigate the case along with local public health officials. No other information about the case will be released to protect patient privacy. This is the first case in Indiana since 2019.                            “Measles is easily spread and can be serious, especially for young children. About one in five unvaccinated people in the United States who get measles is hospitalized, and 90 percent of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become sick,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Lindsay Weaver. “This case is a good reminder that you are at risk if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is rare in the United States due to the widespread availability of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, but visitors from other countries or U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become infected, particularly before or during travel. As of Feb. 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 20 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year.

More than 93 percent of people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to measles, and more than 97 percent will be protected after receiving a second dose. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to be fully protected. Individuals are encouraged to check with their healthcare providers to ensure vaccinations are up to date. Individuals born before 1957 are presumed to be immune to measles.

Children are routinely vaccinated for measles at 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years of age before going to kindergarten, but children as young as 6 months old can receive the measles vaccine if they are at risk. Because some children are too young to be immunized, it’s important that those around them are vaccinated to protect them. 

Measles begins with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes usually about 7 to 14 days after exposure to measles but can occur up to 21 days. The fever increases and can get as high as 105 degrees. Tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin. Then two to four days after symptoms begin, a rash starts on the hairline and face. It spreads down the back and trunk, and then extends to the arms and hands, as well as the legs and feet. After about five days, the rash fades the same order in which it appeared.

Because measles is so easily spread, a single case is considered an outbreak. When infected people sneeze or cough, droplets spray into the air. Those droplets remain infective in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

What you can do
If you are experiencing the symptoms of measles, stay home and call your healthcare provider right away before going to the doctor’s office. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and alert your doctor if you think you have been in contact with an infected person. If you are ill with measles, stay home and away from others, especially unvaccinated infants, people with diseases affecting their immune systems and pregnant women.

The public may call the IDOH information center at 1-800-382-1563 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. EST Monday through Friday with any questions. Please visit the IDOH website or the CDC website for more information about measles.

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on X at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.

Miami County's Tomlinson named District 1 Officer of the Year

Indiana Conservation Officer Tevin Tomlinson has been selected as the 2023 District 1 Officer of the Year.

Tomlinson is assigned to Miami County and has served as a conservation officer since 2021.

“Tomlinson’s commitment to upholding the core values of being a conservation officer is evident in every action he takes,” said Lt. Ashlee Jackson, District 1 commander. “He embodies integrity, professionalism, and dedication to his work, consistently going the extra mile to ensure preservation of our natural resources and the safety of our citizens.”

District 1 includes Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami, St. Joseph, and Wabash Counties in north-central Indiana.

The district award puts Tomlinson in the running for the Pitzer Award, which is given to the top overall conservation officer in the state and selected from the 10 district award winners.

The Pitzer Award is named after ICO James D. Pitzer, who was fatally shot while investigating illegal hunting activity on Jan. 2, 1961, in Jay County.

Fulton, Cass EMA agencies to receive Duke Energy grants

First responders across Indiana, including local police, fire and emergency management agencies (EMAs), will benefit from more than $200,000 in grants from the Duke Energy Foundation.

The funding will help public safety agencies increase their response capabilities during severe weather and other emergencies through advanced preparation, planning, equipment and training.

During major emergencies and natural disasters, local emergency management agencies play a critical role in providing information, resources and support that Duke Energy relies on to speed power restoration for its customers.

“Successful preparedness, response and recovery requires a community approach,” said Sean Stoops, chief of the Avon Police Department. “We envisioned equipping all of our patrol vehicles with automated external defibrillators (AEDs). With the support of Duke Energy and other community partners, we were able to bring that goal to fruition, purchasing 35 AEDs that our officers can use to deliver life-saving measures to a person in cardiac arrest.”

Among the grants awarded:


Cass County EMA

$4,000 to sponsor a hazardous materials technician certification course


Fulton County EMA

$5,000 to conduct a hazardous materials tabletop exercise

$5,000 to equip the department’s disaster response vehicle with a thermal imaging camera and provide weather alert radios to local residents

Pulaski County home to first complete mastodon skeleton unearthed, subject of upcoming program

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites’ curator of paleobiology, Dr. Catalina Tomé, will present the program at the Pulaski County Historical Society’s annual meeting, Thursday, March 21.

The feature program will held at One-Eyed Jack’s Celebration Station in downtown Winamac. The public is welcome to join the PCHS membership to enjoy an informal meet-and-greet, including desserts and coffee, at 6 p.m. A short business meeting for the election of officers and directors will begin at 6:30. The program will follow and is free for all who wish to attend.

Dr. Tomé explains that she “works to preserve and research the vertebrate fossils of Indiana to help inform future generations about the amazing natural history of the Midwest.” She will speak on the diverse fauna from Indiana’s Ice Age and how they lived and adapted throughout the state's glacial and interglacial history.

Tomé earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of California Santa Cruz. She received a Master of Science and a PhD, both in biology, from the University of New Mexico. She conducted post-doctoral research at the university of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research focuses on small mammals and their survival during the Cenozoic Quaternary (2.58 million years ago).

The curator will include information about mastodons in her presentation. Pulaski County was home to the first complete mastodon skeleton to be unearthed and displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. The skeleton was excavated by a dredge contractor in the summer of 1914. Frank M. Williams of Winamac was constructing the William D. Pattison branch ditch leading from the larger Monon ditch. This was known as the Blue Sea marsh of Rich Grove Township. (Read about Pulaski County’s mastodon at: https://bit.ly/3Uzqyeo.)

Mastodons roamed Indiana starting about two and a half million years ago, and they became extinct about 10,500 years ago. Mastodon bones have been found in most of Indiana’s 92 counties, typically in ancient bogs that previously existed in central and northern Indiana. The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites has the largest collection of mastodons in the state and also has an extensive collection of bones found from various excavations.


Mobile BYOB Irish Pub 'The Bar Cart' official launch party at Tip A Canoe Brews

Rochester residents Amanda and Brett Hooker had always talked about wanting to eventually start their own business.

Between jobs, kids, and life however, the Hooker's knew that whatever business they were to create needed to be one that could be flexible with their busy schedules. The idea of an Irish Pub on wheels was sparked by putting their heads together with Hooker's sister and brother-in-law, Becca and Nick Reynolds. Things just kind of fell into place. 



They used the Reynold's pole barn to create the micro pub from the ground up this month. Their newest business, The Bar Cart, will be officially open on March 17.


The Bar Cart is the areas first BYOB mobile bar good for a wedding, birthday party, corporate event and more.

The crew has even been looking into renting for tailgating parties at Notre Dame in the future. 



The Bar Cart will be having their official launch party on Saint Patrick's Day in Rochester at Tip A Canoe Brews. For more information and updates on the business you can follow them on social media on their Instagram page @THEBARCARTIN, or on The Bar Cart Facebook page. 



Daycare offerings by Rochester schools expected to expand

Rochester schools looked to daycare offering to help retain employees.  It looks like the effort will now grow to benefit others in Fulton County.

Superintendent of Rochester schools Dr. Jana Vance looks back to the beginning of their program.

Vance has heard from business leaders and others in the community that they often face much the same issue.

With encouragement and support from Rochester Mayor Trent Odell Rochester schools will now look to expand on their initial intent.








Argos schools receive funds to fight childhood food insecurity

To further shine a spotlight on childhood food insecurity, Argos Community Schools accepted a $2,000 donation from the Plymouth Elks Lodge #2548 before the start of the February 19 regularly scheduled School Board meeting.

The Plymouth Elks Lodge received the grant from the National Elks Foundation as a reward for meeting the per capita membership goal for the 23-24 term.

Members of the lodge discussed and approved Argos Community Schools as the recipient of the Spotlight Grant to be used in their partnership with the Cultivate Food Rescue Program.

The Cultivate Food Rescue Program is currently in its second year at Argos Community Schools and uses leftover and unused food from area restaurants and establishments to provide nutritious, balanced frozen meals for students who don’t have access to meals over the weekend. Each individual meal is packaged and frozen so students can microwave when needed. Cultivate is currently serving Argos kids in grades K-8 and a small number of high school students.

Ned Speicher, Superintendent of Argos Schools, and Karra Duff, School Board Member accepted the donation on behalf of Argos Community Schools. 

Car fire, drug find sparks Pulaski County arrest

A car on fire in Pulaski County led the sheriff’s department to a drug find and an arrest.

Dispatch received a call about the car fire and deputies responded to CR 200 South and 400 West along with the Winamac Fire Department and Pulaski County Emergency Services.

After the fire was handled a deputy found a book bag nearby in the field. A surveillance detail was placed at the scene and later a man returned, seemingly looking for the bag.

Robert Breeden was taken into custody. Breeden was charged with a Level 3 felony with a total of 74 grams of suspected methamphetamine recovered inside of the bag.

Warsaw man identified as driver killed in West Lafayette bus accident

Tippecanoe County Coroner Carrie Costello has announced the name of the driver killed in a school bus accident in West Lafayette Thursday morning. 

According to a report by the West Lafayette Police Department, the bus had been turning through the intersection at U.S. 231 and Lindberg Road when it was hit by another car before slidding into a another collision with a third car. 

It was reported that no children were onboard the bus during the incident, but that all three drivers sustained at least minor injuries. 

The victim of the deadly crash, Jose Fernando Amador, 20, of Warsaw, was reportedly unconscious when he was extricated from his vehicle by West Lafayette Fire Department firefighters. Amador was rushed to a Lafayette hospital for treatment, before he was transferred to an Indianapolis trauma center. Marion County Coroner's Office officials contacted Costello on Friday to inform that Amador had died at the Indianapolis hospital.

The Tippecanoe County Coroner did not publicly release the victim's name until Monday, after Amador's autopsy.

According to the preliminary autopsy report, Amador died from multiple blunt force injuries caused from the accident. Amador's manner of death was reported to have been accidental. 

Alcohol or drugs was said to have not been a factor in the crash.

The crash is still an ongoing investigation with the West Lafayette Police Department. 

Pulaski County Council reappoints Tiede as rep for Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission

Pulaski County Council Vice-President Mike Tiede has been officially appointed as the Pulaski County representative for the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission Board.

The move occurred on February 12. Prior to the appointment of Tiede, 

Pulaski County Council President Ken Boswell had announced that the council had not yet appointed a representative for a seat on K-IRPC Board for 2024.

KIRPC is a voluntary public partnership that serves Benton, Carroll, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, Starke, Warren, and White Counties by providing assistance to local government for maximizing community and economic development opportunities, helping with things such as development grant writing and grant administration

Tiede had previously held the seat, and had stated during the meeting that he would like to continue being on the K-IRPC Board if the council. During the meeting Boswell had commented that Tiede had always done an exceptional job informing the council about K-IRPC meetings.

A motion entertained by Boswell to reappoint Tiede, was seconded and approved unanimously.

Culver man killed in car - train collision

The Marshall County Coroner’s Office is investigating a fatal accident between a train and an SUV.

Just before 9 a.m. Sunday, a Norfolk Southern Railway operator advised that a westbound freight train had struck a vehicle at the railroad crossing on State Road 17 in Burr Oak.

It was determined that the crossing arms and lights were activated and in working order.

The vehicle was driven by Scott M. Sorg, 57, of Culver.  Sorg was northbound on State Road 17 when he went around the downed arms and collided with the wtrain headed to Chicago. 

Marshall County Coroner John Grolich determined that Sorg was killed instantly.  He said the train was traveling at full speed at the time of the crash.

Assisting at the scene were Culver Police, Fire and EMS, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana DNR, Norfolk Southern Police and Safety Crew as well as Reichert and Knepp Towing.   



Man arrested trying to break into a Pulaski County home

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man trying to enter a home.

In the early morning Saturday hours, deputies responded to a call of someone trying to enter a residence. A man was found on the front porch.

David Prater was taken into custody. The sheriff’s office says Prater was in possession of a .45 caliber pistol, a crow bar and a ski mask. Prater was also wanted on two outstanding Pulaski County warrants.

IDHS recognizes Fulton County first responders that saved Rochester man

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security recently honored Fulton County first responders for their efforts in2023 that saved the life of a Rochester man that had been in cardiac arrest.

A small ceremony was held in Rochester on February 8, to recognize Fulton County dispatchers Mackenzie Gaines and Sheri Gaillard, Lutheran EMS medics Brian Corn and Michael Hicks and Rochester firefighters Brandon Cody, Tanner Medina, James Handy and Ren Zent. The team provided a quick response to Todd Martin's almost lethal heart arrhythmia in November. 


Photo provided by Jan Martin 


At the start of this year his wife, Jan, reached out to local media in hopes of publicly thanking the team who saved her husband. Although Jan had been a nurse, panic took over during the emergency. Martin's previous open heart surgery just months before the home emergency also complicated the wife's reluctancy. 

Martin stated dispatchers helped her get her head clear to perform CPR on her husband until medics arrived five minutes later. 




Photos from the ceremony Feb. 8 taken by Jay Brainard and Jeri Good. 



Indianapolis man charged with attempted murder after altercation in Miami County

An altercation in Miami County on January 27 resulted in an Indianapolis man charged with attempted murder.

According to Indiana State Police, the incident was reported on February 6. A woman had contacted the Indiana State Police about a domestic battery incident that happened in her vehicle as she drove on U.S. 31 in Miami County. 

It was reported that a passenger in the vehicle, identified as Achery Nailson, 42, of Indianapolis, had became physically violent with the woman, and had threatened her with a gun. The gun was then allegedly pointed at the victim before a shot was fired a through the roof of the vehicle. 

After a thorough investigation by Indiana State Police and the Miami County Prosecutor's Office, a warrant for Nailon was issued on February 14. Nailon was later arrested during a high-risk traffic stop in Indianapolis. He was transported to the Marion County Jail and is awaiting extradition to Miami County.

Nailon is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, criminal confinment, domestic battery, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, pointing a firearm at another person, and violation of probation stemming from a charge issued in St. Joseph County. 

The incident is still under investigation and there are still more leads ISP detectives are currently following. 

INDOT prepared for winter weather, impacts to evening commutes possible

The Indiana Department of Transportation is prepared for a quick burst of snow expected to move across much of Indiana starting late Friday morning and afternoon through the evening hours.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter weather advisories for most counties from the Lafayette area to the Ohio River.

NWS is calling for a range of one-to-four inches of snow across the state, with locally higher amounts possible. Heavier snow is expected along and south of the I-70 corridor.

Candidate filing leaves two contested Fulton County races in May primary

Filing for candidates for the May 7 primary ended at noon last Friday.

Now, two contested races are slated for Fulton County.

Lorie Hurst and Kathy Adamson have filed on the Republican ticket in the race for county auditor.

There are three open Fulton County Council seats and four Republicans will be on the ballot. Steve Fishburn, Barry Baldwin, Patricia Geier and Matthew Finke have filed to run in that race.



Multiple arrests in Starke County initiative

Starke County Sheriff Jack Rosa announced operation Super Bowl Initiative during the week of the Super Bowl.

It also came after the oheriff’s office received several complaints of drug activity in Starke County.

The newly created Strategic Response Team along with detectives went out over the last week to target certain areas in the county to focus on illegal drugs.

During this time, Mark Nevil, a registered sex offender, was taken into custody for outstanding warrants and illegal narcotics located during the incident.

Deputies also conducted several traffic stops that resulted in the recovery of illegal drugs.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office says it received information regarding a house in the county from several residents in reference to an individual dealing illegal narcotics. The individual was identified as Rodney Craft, 51. After conducting surveillance Starke County Sheriff’s Office had enough information to apply for a search warrant.

The search warrant was executed with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office Strategic Response Team, detectives, and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Craft was later located and taken into custody by members of the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Knox Police Department.

The sheriff’s office notes that the arrest would not have been successful without the community, Knox Police Department, and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.

The Starke County Sheriff’s Office would encourage residents to report crime in their area. Coming soon we will have a phone designated as a hotline to report illegal activity such as illegal narcotics, warrants, and anonymous tips.

Craft's preliminary charges include:

Dealing of Methamphetamine, Felony Level 2

Possession of methamphetamine, Felony Level 3

Unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Felony Level 4

Possession of methamphetamine, Felony Level 6

Possession of a narcotic drug, Felony Level 6

Craft was held on a $29,000 cash bond and $13,000 cash bond.


During the same time charges were filed on another suspected dealer, Dan Ard.

Dealing in methamphetamine, Felony Level 2

Dealing in methamphetamine, Felony Level 4

Possession of methamphetamine, Felony Level 4

Possession of methamphetamine, Felony Level 6

Ard, 33,  was at large at the time of this report. Ard is described as a white male, 5’07” and weighing 170 pounds. Ard has a warrant for his arrest with bond set at $15,000.



Fulton County Soil and Water holds 84th Annual Meeting and Banquet

It was a packed crowd at the Geneva Center on Monday during the Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation Districts 84th annual meeting and banquet. 

Following dinner, retired Purdue Entomologist Tom Turpin presented a program on insects, their benefits, including their nutritional value.



Serving up mealworms in a frying pan, Turpin passed his plate around to each table, encouraging guests to try a bite. 



Awards were also given during the meeting, honoring those like local farmers George and Nancy Krom. They received the Joseph A. Kroft Conservation Award. The recognition honored the Krom's continued efforts to help protect Fulton County's soil and water resources.

Presenter Mike Norman said the Kroms, who had been farming in Fulton County all of their lives, had been one of the county's early adopters of no-till crop production and participated with the SWCD on many practices, including their cover crop program.


With most of the Krom's farmland being in the Tippecanoe River watershed, Norman said their collaboration with FC-SWCD has resulted in measurable positive results, including the improvement of water quality in both the Tippecanoe River and Lake Manitou watersheds.

George Krom thanked FC-SWCD. 



Shirley Needham also had an eventful night at the banquet. Needham accepted the River Friendly Farmer of Indiana Award for familiy's farm, Kern Woodlands LLC. The farm is operated by Needham and her siblings, Dr. Patricia Holmgren and Bill Kern. 



Needham was also sworn in by Fulton County Commissioner Dave Sommers as the newly appointed supervisor with FC-SWCD. Needham replaces Matt Harsh, who had been a supervisor for FC-SWCD for the past 18 years. 




Caston Lady Comets look to continue to make history

The Caston Lady Comets are making history, and they have no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

The players, coaches and staff would love to thank the whole community for coming out for the regional this past Saturday. GIANT fm Sports had a chance to talk to a few of the Lady Comets.

Senior Addison Zimpleman:



Zimpleman says as a leader of the club she tries to make sure everyone is ready and focused.


Senior Isabella Scales says sometimes to make sure they stay focused they have to get on each other during practice.



The seventh ranked Caston Comets (22-3) will take on fifth-ranked Marquette Catholic (22-4) in the second semifinal Saturday at the Frankfort Semi-State.  You can catch all of the Lady Comet’s action here on GIANT fm Sports WROI with pregame slated for around 11:30.  

Fulton County woman, Culver man charged with stealing from abandoned homes

In November 2023, the Marshall County Sheriff's Department obtained a complaint that funds were stolen from the debit card account of a county resident.

The Marshall County Sheriff's Department initiated an investigation and discovered that the suspects were also involved in breaking into abandoned buildings and homes and stealing copper and scrap.

A case report detailing those events was forwarded to the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office for formal charges.

Mackenzie Vanlue, 24, of Fulton, was charged with theft, Level 6 felony.  She was held on a $3,000 cash bond.  

Two days later, Kristofer Conley, 23, of Culver, was arrested for two counts of burglary as Level 5 felonies, and two counts of theft, also Level 5.  His cash bond was set at $25,000 cash. 


Artist Brett Manning upcoming feature in 'Eye on the Arts' on PBS

When local artist Brett Manning was recently contacted by PBS about being featured on their show "Eye on the Arts" she admitted some skepticism.

Living a secluded life in a rural Royal Center farmhouse she did some research to prove the email was actually PBS and not a scam, Manning finally agreed to let the film crew at her farm for an interview. With the filming and interview complete, Manning's work will be featured on PBS's 'Eye on the Arts,' sometime in late March. 



Decades of passion continue to guide Manning's art career.

Originally a Chicago based artist, it was a huge jump into another culture when she moved to her rural farmhouse outside of Royal Center in 2015. The change of scenery set a new tone and inspiration to Manning's work as a freelance artist and illustrator, clothing designer, entrepreneur, and store proprietor. 

Dabbling in a wide range of art mediums over the years, it was while Manning was earning a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Design from The Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago that she fully embraced her passion for drawing in ink. The black and white contrast of ink on paper help highlight Manning's unique characters that are often inspired by her real life surroundings. 





After Manning began making clothes, candles, frangrances, and more, by 2009, the artist began selling her products on her online Etsy shop, Brettisagirl. Growing a web-based fan following made moving from the city to the corn fields easier, with Manning still able to continue creating, sharing, and selling her work.


By 2016, Manning made some new trails in her career locally. She started collaborating with stores in the Logansport area, who began selling her products. In 2022, Manning stretched her wings even more by opening her own shop 'The Lantern'. It's located on the second floor of Bonus Pints, at 430 E. Broadway Suite B, in Logansport.



Store hours are Wednesday to Friday from 3 -  8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon - 4 p.m. Those wanting to check out her work online, can do so at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Brettisagirl. 


(Photos provided by Brett Manning)

Warnings of romance scams

Indiana consumers should be on the lookout for romance scams approaching the holiday season. 

“While online dating may seem like an easy way to find love, it doesn’t always end well,” Attorney General Rokita said. “We see cases of goodhearted people who truly believe they’re connecting with a genuine person and then get taken advantage of by scammers. Don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones this Valentine’s Day.” 

In romance scams, perpetrators prey on unsuspecting matches by creating fake profiles to take advantage of victims online. They go to great lengths to pose as prospective romantic partners with similar interests to lure people into providing gifts, money, or personal information. 

Here are a few warning signs that someone might be more interested in your money or personal information than a relationship: 

  • Your new romantic interest sends a picture that doesn’t look realistic. Rather, the person looks more like a model from a fashion magazine.
  • The relationship is moving fast, and the other person quickly professes their love for you.
  • The person attempts to isolate you from friends and family.
  • The person requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used against you.
  • The person can’t meet you in person or communicate on facetime.
  • The person asks you for money to buy their ticket to visit you, help pay for medical expenses (for them or a family member) or invest in a business.
  • They ask for money in the form of wire transfer, preloaded gift card, cryptocurrency, or money transfer app that are hard to recoup.

If you ever suspect a scam of any type, file a complaint at indianaconsumer.com or call Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office at 1-800-382-5516. 

INDOT, ISP encourage drivers to plan ahead for upcoming solar eclipse

Indiana will play a pivotal role in hosting eclipse enthusiasts as they flock to the Hoosier State to catch a glimpse of the first total solar eclipse in seven years on Monday, April 8.

The eclipse will be visible over a large portion of the state, with the path of totality spanning from Evansville to the outskirts of Fort Wayne, entering southwest Indiana at 3:01 p.m. EDT/2:01 p.m. CDT and exiting to the northeast at 3:12 p.m. EDT/2:12 p.m. CDT.

Other parts of the state will experience a partial eclipse of at least 90 percent totality from approximately 1:30 p.m. EDT/12:30 p.m. CDT to 4:30 EDT/3:30 CDT.

Nearly 4 million Hoosiers live within the path of totality, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Indiana for the event. Increased traffic and congestion are also expected as residents and tourists alike make their way to viewing destinations. Areas near the eclipse centerline are anticipated to see the greatest influx of visitors, including Vincennes, Bloomington, Franklin and Bluffton. Indianapolis and Evansville are also included in the path.

To ensure a smooth trip, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Indiana State Police (ISP) urge drivers to plan ahead and prepare for potential travel impacts before, during and after the eclipse.

Before the eclipse

  • Research your viewing site, considering accessibility, parking and crowd size. Check INDOT TrafficWise on the mobile app or at 511in.org to plan your route and monitor traffic conditions. Plan to arrive to your destination early.
  • Anticipate increased traffic and congestion, especially in areas in or near the path of totality.
  • Reach your destination safely -- buckle up and put your phone down while driving.
  • Pack plenty of snacks and water, as well as charging cables for electronics and mobile devices, in the event you or your group become stranded.
  • Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas and top off fluids before you head out in case you’re stuck in traffic for a long period of time. Use this eclipse-ready checklist for more road trip essentials.
  • Don’t forget your solar eclipse viewing glasses! You will need specially designed glasses to avoid damage to your eyes.

During the eclipse

  • Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the main path if possible.
  • Exit the roadway to stop and view the solar eclipse. Do not stop along highways or park on the shoulder for viewing.
  • Do not take photos or videos while driving. Indiana is a hands-free state. Holding mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets while driving is prohibited by state law.
  • Do not wear eclipse glasses while driving.
  • Turn on your headlights. Do not rely on automatic lights.
  • Watch for pedestrians, especially along secondary roads.

After the eclipse

  • Plan your post-event transportation method well in advance. If celebrating, ensure everyone has a safe and sober way to return home. Designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation.
  • Exercise patience when leaving your viewing location as traffic may be heavy. Follow instructions from law enforcement or emergency personnel and be considerate of fellow drivers.
  • Stay put and stick around to avoid the post-event rush.
  • Clean up after yourself and dispose of trash in designated receptacles, or take it with you.
  • Once again, check INDOT TrafficWise on the mobile app or at 511in.org to plan your route and monitor traffic conditions.

INDOT will limit road closures and restrictions where possible on state routes to help with traffic flow surrounding the eclipse. View current construction and maintenance activities on INDOT’s TrafficWise map or the free mobile app.

Visit the sites below and follow INDOT and ISP on social media for more information regarding the total solar eclipse in Indiana.

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Compton given 14 years for his part in the 2021 death of Culver woman

A 14 year sentence has been handed out to a man connected in the death of  21-year-old Cheyenne Ruttschaw, who was found dead in a Culver home in 2021. 

According to court documents, Daniel Compton, 36, pled guilty to Aggravated Battery when the assault poses a substantial risk of death, a Level 3 felony. On January 31, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Greg Heller sentenced Compton to 14 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with four years suspended. Compton was also ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution to Ruttschaw's family. 

Police reports show that on August 30, 2021, Fulton County emergency personnel responded to a rural Culver residence regarding an unconscious person that was not breathing. Although lifesaving efforts were attempted, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene and was soon identified as Ruttschaw.



It was reported that Fulton County Sheriff's officers at the scene had noticed Ruttschaw had many injuries in various stages of healing, including a swollen and possibly sprained ankle, black eyes, and several cuts and abrasions.

During her autopsy, a forensic pathologist would determine Ruttschaw's injuries were not self-inflicted, and had even found a foreign object lodged in Ruttschaw's throat.

Others in the home were interviewed by detectives from the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and Indiana State Police. Multiple witnesses claimed Ruttschaw had fallen down a set of stairs inside the home, causing her to be unresponsive. They also stated that Ruttschaw was away from the residence for several days prior, and had just returned. 

Nearly two months after Ruttschaw's death ISP assisted the Fulton County Sheriff's officers with a search warrant of the residence, finding seven adults who had been previously interviewed by officers, and around eight children. Among those interviewed was Christina Mendoza, 27, who had also been a resident in the home. Mendoza was initially charged with aggravated battery and involuntary manslaughter after she claimed she hit Ruttschaw in the head while she showered. 

Mendoza's story would change and she would later claim that she made the story up out of fear of the Compton residence, and in particular, Daniel Compton. Mendoza claimed she had felt safer in jail. After further investigation and more than a year after Ruttschaw's death, six more people were arrested. 

Among those six people, Compton was charged with aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; involuntary manslaughter, a Level 5 felony; strangulation, a Level 6 felony; and false informing, a Class A misdemeanor. 

In early 2023, Mendoza confided in officials about what had happened the night of Ruttschaw’s death. Mendoza claimed that she was not the one who killed Ruttschaw. In her statement, Mendoza claimed that she had, however, held Ruttschaw down as Compton had put his foot on Ruttschaw's neck with all of his weight, applying pressure. By the time Compton had finally removed his foot, Ruttschaw was unconsious and not breathing. Mendoza did claim responsibility for several of Ruttschaw's injuries, but said she was instructed to do so by Compton, saving Mendoza from being beat herself. 

After Ruttschaw stopped breathing, Mendoza claimed that Compton immediately gathered the others who lived in the home and started brainstorming a story. Mendoza said Compton got the group to agree to tell officers that Ruttschaw had ran away and recently returned home injured.



Mendoza was eventually sentenced at the Fulton County Courthouse to 12 years, with six years suspended and six years probation, in cooperation to testify against the others. 


Diana Soucy, Ruttschaw's mother, said she is relieved that her daughter's death has gotten some kind of justice now that Compton has now been sentenced. 

Soucy also said she forgave Mendoza, who Saucy felt was just as much of a victim of Compton as her daughter was. 



Soucy said although no amount of justice can ever bring her daughter back, she is happy that Compton was held accountable for what he had done. 



Gov. Holcomb directs Indiana National Guard to support Texas border security mission

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced today that effective immediately he is deploying the Indiana National Guard to support the ongoing border security mission in Texas.

Gov. Holcomb joined 13 other governors at the U.S. – Mexico border in Texas earlier this week to receive a detailed briefing from the front lines.

“Federal negligence enforcing immigration law and the failure to secure our country’s border jeopardizes national and economic security, affecting every state, including Indiana,” Gov. Holcomb said.  “We’ve worked too hard in Indiana attacking the drug epidemic for more Hoosier lives to be put at risk by a constant supply of killer drugs spilled over an open U.S. border. The only way to resolve this is to stop the historically high flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border.”

Following the recent direct request from Governor Greg Abbott, Gov. Holcomb is sending 50 Hoosier Guardsmen to the southern border to support the Texas National Guard on their security mission. These soldiers will begin mobilizing for the mission immediately and will arrive in Texas in mid-March. The soldiers being deployed will spend one week at Camp Atterbury for training on the operations of the mission and will then deploy to Texas for ten months.

“Whatever the mission – whether it’s supporting a Hoosier community in the face of natural disaster, standing with our allies or against our adversaries overseas, or protecting the border – the soldiers and airmen of the Indiana National Guard are uniquely trained, equipped and capable of mobilizing whenever and wherever we’re called,” said Major General Dale Lyles, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. “We stand ready to support the Texas National Guard in securing the southern border.”

The Indiana National Guard has a long history of supporting the mission to secure the southern border. From October of 2020 to October 2023, 300 Indiana Guardsmen and women have served various federal missions at the southern border.

The Indiana National Guard is comprised of thousands of soldiers and airmen, Army National Guard armories and units across the state, training facilities at Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and Air National Guard wings in Fort Wayne and Terre Haute.

Mentone man arrested for OWI after disturbance at Etna Green cemetery

A Mentone man was recently jailed after he allegedly caused damage to an Etna Green cemetery while driving under the influence with a child. 

According to police reports, Kyle Michaelson, 33, of Mentone, was charged with two Level 6 felonies for operating a vehicle while intoxicated with an alcohol concentration equivalent of .15 or more with a passenger under the age of 18, and operating while intoxicated with a prior conviction.

Michaelson was also charged with two Class A misdemeanors for operating while intoxicated with an ACE of .15 or more, and cemetery mischief. 

The arrest happened on January 25. The Koscuisko County Sheriff's Department received a report of a loud vehicle driving through a rural Etna Green cemetery after 10 p.m.  When the deputy arrived at the cemetery, he found Michaelson, an adult passenger, and a child  in the vehicle.

Michaelson claimed they were at the cemetery to pick up brush, and pay respect to a deceased relative. Michaelson's vehicle was also reported to have mud and grass around its wheel wells. The deputy noticed burnout tire marks on the pavement, several tire tracks through the grass, and multiple grave sites that appeared to have been messed with. The adult passenger of the vehicle offered to pay for any damages, but denied that they had caused any damage to the cemetery. 

Michaelson eventually admitted to consuming three beers, and failed several field sobriety tests given. A certified chemical test result revealed Michaelson's BrAC was 0.17%. Michaelson was arrested and booked at the Koscuisko County Jail. He has since been released on a bond of $750. 


Milford bid awarded over Rochester contractor for Culver paving projects

The Culver Town Council approved a bid for work on the list of paving projects within a Community Crossings Matching Grant Program fund award.

The bids were opened during a recent meeting. Phend & Brown out of Milford provided a bid of $302,040, and E&B Paving of Rochester submitted a bid of $350,690.

The bids were taken under advisement during the meeting before being awarded to Phend & Brown.

The Culver paving projects include Academy Road from State to Town Limits East, Academy Road from Slate to School, Lakeview from Washington to College, Lake Street from Lake Shore to Washington, Jefferson Street from Main to Slate, Marmount from Main to Slate, Tampa from Main to Nueva Gorda, and Cardinal which will be a mill to end and lots.

Fulton, Cass, Marshall among local soil and water districts awarded funds for water quality initiatives

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the State Soil Conservation Board awarded $2,313,287 in matching grant funds to 26 projects within soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and soil health organizations through the Clean Water Indiana program.

“Providing farmers and landowners with tools and funding to keep our Indiana waterways clean and their soil structure healthy is key to keeping Indiana agriculture thriving,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “This funding will allow 48 organizations across 26 projects to improve their local water systems, keep their soil healthy and keep their communities thriving. Last year's increase in Clean Water Indiana funding from the general assembly is already making a lasting impact." 

The Clean Water Indiana program is administered by the state’s soil conservation board. The program, led by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), provides financial assistance to landowners and conservation groups that are working to reduce runoff from non-point sources of water pollution, whether it’s on agricultural land, urban areas or eroding streambanks.

Once received, districts can use the funds to partner with other counties or address specific needs within their jurisdiction. Some examples include participating in a cost share program, hiring staff, providing technical assistance, implementing cover crop incentive programs or increasing watershed capacity.

Clean Water Indiana (CWI) is managed by ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation and funded by a portion of the state’s cigarette tax. Projects can be up to three years in length and grantees could apply for any dollar amount that was necessary to complete the project. Funded projects ranged from $10,000 to $300,000. In addition to CWI funds, each grantee is required to produce a match for their project, which can be cash or in-kind. Projects requesting staffing were required to have a 25% match for that component, while all other project areas required a 50% match. Many SWCDs will target producers not currently served by other conservation programs.

Among areas agencies receiving awards:


Fulton County SWCD- $145,461

The Nature Exploration Conservation Station (NECS)- This grant will allow Fulton County SWCD to add a part-time District Administrator. The new administrator will be responsible for the operation and management of the SWCD office and the preparation and delivery of conservation education programs. This grant will also add a brand new outdoor mobile classroom that will allow residents of all ages to learn about the local environment, understand and make informed decisions regarding environmental impact and connect residents to technical and financial assistance for implementing conservation practices and technologies.


Cass County SWCD – $48,600

Administrative Assistant Staff Position, Part-time, for Cass Co. SWCD- Cass County SWCD currently has one employee who was hired to do both administration and outreach. In order to continue to maintain and build current programming and introduce new programming and outreach into the community additional staff support is needed. Funds will be utilized to pay for a part-time administrative assistant. This new position will allow the Cass Co. SWCD to continue to build momentum and grow to better support the county.


Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts- $300,000

Urban Soil Health Program- Urban Soil Health Program (USH) was launched in 2021 to support urban and small-scale producers across Indiana. The program is designed to serve all districts, all conservation partners and all communities. This model ensures that there is equitable access to the program from districts and partners who wish to engage. There is a strong connection with ICP partners and conservation programs. The USH Program cultivates locally led initiatives and provides state-level support and coordination amongst traditional programs.


Marshall and St. Joseph County SWCDs- $86,250

Marshall and St. Joseph Counties Landowner Invasive Management Cost Share Program- A cost share program through the districts for invasive species removal. The land would be managed by the applicant who would agree to follow set guidelines. Three-year programs would be used for the 10 applications for 10 acres or over of woodlands, and the management plans for under 10 acres could be more flexible, depending upon the ability of the landowner’s desires and ability to assist/participate.


The Nature Conservancy- $82,500

Indiana Cover Crop Premium Discount Project- Over 85% of cropland acres carry crop insurance, and linking resilient practices, like cover crops, to crop insurance has the potential to catalyze conservation adoption and keep Indiana as the epicenter of soil health. This project mirrors statewide efforts previously established in both Illinois and Iowa, and it provides eligible participants a $5/acre premium discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

Farmers participating in the project will be awarded a $5/acre insurance premium discount from USDA-RMA through normal crop insurance processes. Only acres in cover crops (absent other state or federally incentivized cover crops) will be eligible for the premium discount. Applications reviewed and confirmed by ISDA will be forwarded to the USDA-RMA for processing premium discounts on crop insurance premium invoices for their cash crop. Being a first-time cover crop user is not a requirement but will be given priority for funding. The 2024-2025 Cover Crop Premium Reduction Program will support 30,000 acres of cover crops.

Marshall-Starke Development Center wraps up filming for first official movie 'Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine'

The Marshall-Starke Development Center is a group based facility in Plymouth that helps adults with developmental disabilites by working one-on-one with clients for potential employement and independent living. The facility's goal is to help clients live a happy, normal adult life. 

Recently starting a MSDC performing arts division in 2021 has allowed the facility to open even more doors of self discovery in their clients with things like talent shows, plays, and their newest project, a feature-length Hallmark style film. 

In 2022, the MSDC performing arts division had filmed their own version of 'The Wizard of MSDC,' which was later shown in the Rees Theater. Due to copyright laws, however, the crew was never allowed to make or sell copies of the feature. 

Free from copyright laws, the MSDC original film, 'I Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine,' has been their newest project, with filming that started during the summer of 2023. 

MSDC’s performing arts coordinator, Tabitha Johnson, says the filming was started as a brainstorm, but has really taken off. Nearly 95% of the film's cast, including the behind the scenes production and crew, are adults with developmental disabilities, who are clients at MSDC.



Johnson is co-directing the film Phil McFarland, a Direct Support Professional at MSDC, along with Director of Photography Tadd Pugh. 



McFarland has 15 years of career experience in theater, film and television.

Through his experience he has been able to make connections with other professionals. Previously working with film professionals, McFarland hopes to use those connections to get some well known figures in the film industry from surrounding areas to come do a live discussion panel after the premier. The panel will give their clients a chance to comment, share stories, and ask them questions about being in film.

Writing the story, McFarland said the story's theme is based around being a small-town love story, that hopes to capture the heart of its viewers. 



The premiere of 'Heard It Through the Blueberryvine' will have its official premiere at The REES Theater in Plymouth April 25 and 26. Additional showings will be announced in the near future. 

Clients involved in the movie, like Scott Wormsberger says the film helps them expand their creativity. Wormsberger, who plays the Sheriff in the movie, says he's always had a passion for being on stage. 



Client TJ Trusty, who acts alongside Wormsberger as the deputy, says the film has built confidence in him and has been a lot of fun. 



The team is also hoping to sell DVDs of the movie, using the proceeds to help future projects in the MSDC performing arts department. An early version of the movie's trailer can be found on the 'I Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine - Movie' Facebook page. The Facebook page also continues to post updates on the movie, behind the scene footage, and progress. 


Cyber kidnapping warnings as false ransom threats rise

After recent, heartbreaking cyber kidnapping stories have surfaced in the U.S., regular families are warned to beware of false ransom threats.  

“This type of attack largely targets our students as they travel overseas,” Attorney General Todd Rokita said. “These malicious scammers are willing to dupe and terrify families as they create a false kidnapping heist – all to convince them to hand over their hard-earned money.” 

Cyber kidnapping occurs when victims are tricked into paying a ransom fee to free a loved one who they believe has been threatened with violence or death. In reality, cyber kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone, but they have instead obtained a photo of the alleged person alone in a secluded area.  

The worrisome photos are used to create the illusion that an individual has been kidnapped and needs immediate aid. After the family members or friends receive this information, they are asked to wire ransom money immediately.  

According to the FBI, these cases are extremely difficult to investigate since the calls typically come from outside of the country. 

This crime often occurs when family members are unable to track the location of the person, contact them, or verify their safety.  

“Do not hesitate to contact our office if you suspect or witness this type of crime,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Our Consumer Protection Division is dedicated to helping Hoosiers when they’re faced with these devastating situations. When your loved one is being threatened, it is your natural instinct to jump to their aid, but we also need to be informed of the newest scams.” 


  • Beware of incoming calls coming from an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856). 
  • Beware of calls that do not come from the alleged kidnapped victim's phone. 
  • Beware of callers who go to great lengths to keep you on the phone. 
  • Beware of callers who prevent you from calling or locating the "kidnapped" victim. 
  • Beware of ransom money that is only accepted via wire transfer service.    

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered: 


  • Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, "How do I know my loved one is okay?" 
  • If the callers don't let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle the victim drives, if applicable. 
  • Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if he/she speaks. 
  • Attempt to call, text, or contact the alleged victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone. 
  • While staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone. 
  • To buy time, repeat the caller's request and tell them you are writing down the demand, or tell the caller you need additional time to meet their demands. 
  • Don't directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady. 
  • Request the alleged kidnapper allow the victim to call you back from his/her cell phone. 
  • At the earliest opportunity, notify your local police department. 

For more information, visit indianaconsumer.com or call (800) 382-5516.   

Culver-Union Township Public Library names new director

The trustees of the Culver-Union Township Public Library (CUTPL) have announced that Joseph (Joe) Fox has joined the CUTPL staff as Director.

His first day at work was Monday, February 5.

A graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis with a Masters in Library Science, Fox has a wealth of experience having filled roles at libraries in Indianapolis, Fishers, Wabash and Marion. Most recently, he was the Youth Services Librarian at the Peabody Public Library in Columbia City.

According to CUTPL trustee board president Becky Strati, “Joe is a great fit for Culver. He has an eye for detail and a strong view of what’s possible for small-town libraries. He blends a calm leadership style with a passion for community outreach.”

Fox notes, “I see my role as supporting the growth and well-being of the staff while overseeing changes to the facility and services we provide. The library is the cultural and educational heart of Culver, and we want to provide the best experiences and materials for our patrons."

The CUTPL board of trustees would like to thank the greater Culver community for their strong support of the library throughout this leadership transition. A special thank you goes to Interim Director Cathy Thomas – her work over these last months has been above and beyond the call. Thanks also to Leigh Marshall and Paul de Benedictis for their assistance in our search for a new director.

Rochester native Elmo Lincoln, first-ever actor to play Tarzan, remembered on 135th birthday

On this day 135 years ago, February 6, 1889, Otto Elmo Linkenhelt, also known as Elmo Lincoln, was born in Rochester, Indiana.

He was a star in the slient era and famously known as being the first-ever man to play Tarzan on the silver screen in 1918. Lincoln, the first of 22 actors to play Tarzan in a movie, would go on to play the Ape Man role in several more silent movies, as well as many other action films. 

Between 1913 and 1952, Lincoln performed in over 100 screen productions. 


At 18, Lincoln left Rochester to begin a railroad career as a brakeman. His travels landed him other careers, which included work as a dockman, sailor, and a boxer prior to his debute on the big screen. 

Lincoln's acting career began under director D.W. Griffith. Griffith influenced the performer's name change, and featured Lincoln in his first role, The Battle of Elderbush Gulch in 1914. 

Following the fall of the silent movie era, Lincoln left Hollywood for a short time and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to try his hand at mining and other forms of business. It wasn't until the late 1930's that Lincoln again would return to the film industry, and was said to be most often employed as a movie extra. His final work in the industry was in 1952, with a brief uncredited role in the movie 'Carrie.' 

After a heart attack on June 27, 1952, Lincoln passed away at the age of 63. Lincoln's body was placed in a mausolem in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. His contribution in the motion picture industry's start also had landed him with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.



Learn more about Lincoln, including his career and start to life as a Rochester native, by checking out the Elmo Lincoln exhibit at the Fulton County Historical Museum. 


North Manchester's Car Recyclers earns Indiana Clean Yard-Gold award for fourth time

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) presented Car Recyclers, located at 13685 N State Road 13, North Manchester, with their fourth Indiana Clean Yard-Gold Level award in recognition of the company’s efforts to protect the environment.

Hani Sharaya, IDEM Senior Environmental Engineer, presented a commemorative certificate to Kelly Kerlin, owner, during a site visit.

Salvage yards receive and store wrecked vehicles containing antifreeze, gasoline, oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, batteries, mercury switches, and tires. If not managed properly, wrecked vehicles stockpiled in salvage yards can pose an environmental threat. IDEM is committed to helping auto salvage recyclers ensure environmental protection.

IDEM has partnered with Automotive Recyclers of Indiana, Inc. (ARI) to develop the "Indiana Clean Yard" recognition program to reward auto salvage yard operators who meet two different levels of requirements: “Indiana Clean Yard” and “Indiana Clean Yard-Gold Level.”

All Hoosier businesses, including auto salvage recyclers, can obtain free, confidential compliance assistance and request confidential site visits by contacting IDEM’s Office of Compliance and Technical Assistance (CTAP) at 800-988-7901 or by visiting the CTAP website at idem.IN.gov/ctap. For more information about IDEM's Indiana Clean Yard program visit idem.IN.gov/partnerships/indiana-clean-yards or the IDEM auto salvage program web page at idem.IN.gov/waste/waste-industries/auto-salvage-recycling.


Photo, from left to right, Hani Sharaya, IDEM's Senior Environmental Engineer, presents the Indiana Clean Yard-Gold Level certificate to Kelly Kerlin, Owner of Car Recyclers, Inc. in North Manchester.

Bourbon Street Pizza in Argos hosting fundraiser for Joe's Hope Foundation

Since Joe's Hope Foundation, Inc. was started as a non-profit entity on September 23, 2020, the family of Joey Shidler continues to raise money for cancer research and provide help and resources to local families dealing with cancer-related issues. 

Despite Shidler's passing a decade prior at the age of 19, after a three year battle with leukemia, his legacy still lives on through the foundation. 

Bourbon Street Pizza's Argos location is willing to help Joe's Hope Foundation with a sponsor night fundraiser event on Sunday, February 18, from 4 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Twenty percent of all sales during that time will go to Joe's Hope Foundation. 

Customers wanting to help support the cause must state they are supporting the Joe's Hope Foundation sponsor night in order for the foundation to get credit. 

Secretary Diego Morales alerted of potential ballot petition signatures issues

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales and his election administration staff are closely monitoring reports of attempted candidate petition signature fraud coming from county election offices where workers are responsible for verifying signatures and addresses.

As the February 9 deadline for candidate filing for Indiana’s 2024 Primary Election nears, last week a handful of county election offices reported concerns involving apparent fraudulent signatures and invalid addresses on nomination petitions filed for voter certification.

The Secretary of State’s Office has been in communication with election administrators in the counties reporting these issues. Proper protocol, which involves preserving materials and notifying law enforcement agencies, is being followed. The Secretary of State has requested the Indiana State Police and Indiana Election Division assist the counties involved. Only petitions signed by registered Indiana voters are acceptable for candidate qualification.

Secretary Morales commends county clerks and staff for professionalism and attention to detail in the verification of thousands of nominating petition signatures and addresses, to assure candidates meet qualification requirements.

“I’m reminding each of our county clerks and election administrators across the Hoosier state to be vigilant during the filing review process. As Indiana’s Chief Election Officer, I hold election integrity to the highest standard. Be assured that my staff and I are taking this matter seriously.  Hoosier voters deserve secure and trustworthy elections,” said Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales. 

Farm Credit Mid-America recognizes Medaryville's Derrick Stalbaum with Annual Forward Thinker award

Derrick Stalbaum of Medaryville is the recipient of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Forward Thinker Award. The honor is given each year to a young or beginning farmer who exemplifies outstanding leadership, community involvement and implementation of unique practices that drive the growth of his or her farming operation and the industry as a whole.

Stalbaum is a fifth-generation farmer and a third-generation pork producer. After graduating with a degree in elementary education from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Stalbaum began his professional career as a math teacher, allowing him to spend his evenings, weekends and summers working on his family’s farm.

In 2022, Stalbaum and his wife made significant investments into the farm, which grew the operation to its current capacity of 30,000 pigs and made it possible to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps of farming full time. Stalbaum’s farm also produces and markets corn, soybeans, alfalfa and mint. He recently diversified his livestock with the addition of Boer Goats.

“I believe the thing that sets my family’s farm apart from many other farms is our mission of transparency and positivity, and I’m honored to be recognized by Farm Credit Mid-America for our progress,” said Stalbaum. “The driving force of my ambition is continuing my family’s legacy by ensuring it continues long after me through modernization and growth. We are creating positive community awareness of agriculture and prioritizing the ownership of our farm within our family.”

Stalbaum is also deeply involved in his community with a number of civic and agricultural leadership positions, which include the Indiana Pork Association, Indiana School Board Association and Pulaski County Zoning Board. He is committed to ensuring his community and neighbors have access to safe and reliable food and has donated more than $2,000 worth of frozen pork to the local food pantry.

The Forward Thinker Award is made possible through Growing Forward®, Farm Credit Mid-America’s program for young, beginning and small farmers. This multi-year program provides eligible customers with continuing education opportunities that focus on financial management and help these customers position their operations for growth and long-term success.

“Serving young, beginning and small farmers is a critical part of our mission to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture. It’s important for us to highlight and reward innovative thinking among these customers who represent the future of our industry,” said Dakota Everts, vice president of Growing Forward and Lending Partnerships for Farm Credit Mid-America. “This award is a small way to recognize producers like Derrick for exceptional work and community impact. We hope his story will inspire others to pursue creativity and fresh ideas within their own operations.”

Forward Thinker Award recipients are recognized at one of the cooperative’s Know to Grow conferences. They also receive $5,000 and a personalized plaque. Applications for the next  Forward Thinker Award will open later in 2024. Applicants must be customers of Farm Credit Mid-America and either belong to or have graduated from the Growing Forward® program.


Fulton County Veteran Services receives new van intended to transport vets to medical appointments

After two years of waiting the Fulton County Veterans Service Office has finally received a new van to provide local vets with free transportation to medical appointments.

Fulton County Veteran Service Officer Ric Foust said the van was made possible thanks to donations by community members, businesses and grants given by Ford Motor Company and the Disabled American Veterans.

Foust said the 2023 Ford Transit's cost was around $43,000. 



The use of the van is intended for veterans only. Fouts said since the van is designated medical appointments only, and for appointments in Fulton County, home pick-ups can be done. All those with out-of-county appointments will need to meet at the courthouse for pick-up. 



Foust has been the Fulton County Veteran Service Officer for the past nine years, and says the free transportation provided to our local vets are important. 



Fouts says there is no set time or day for the van's availability. Veterans wanting to arrange a ride with the can do so by first contacting Fouts at 574-223-2217. Fouts then arranges for the drivers to contact the vet and arrange the pick-up.

Fouts said he is extremely thankful for his three drivers - Rick Baber, Nathan Salvagni, and Dana Smart - for their time and dedication helping vets get to their medical appointments. 


Thanks to the new van, Fulton County Veterans Service Office can continue to be responsible for providing veterans transportation to and from a VA Medical Facility. More than just helping with transportation, the Veterans Service Office also offers other services to vets, which include help for service connected disability compensation, pension benefits, survivor benefits, burial benefits, and more. 



New Indiana pavilion at 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo announced

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced they are hosting an Indiana pavilion at the 2024 Sweets and Snacks Expo from May 14 – 16, 2024 at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Indiana snack and confectionery companies are invited to exhibit in this pavilion alongside fellow Indiana companies.

The pavilion was created to highlight Indiana companies on the exposition show floor through amplifying brand presence and providing a competitive advantage for exhibitors. Companies exhibiting in the Indiana pavilion will receive a 10’ x 10’ booth at the discounted National Confectioners Association member rate. Only snack and confectionary companies are eligible.

“It is no secret to Hoosiers that Indiana creates exceptional products,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “We hope that the Indiana pavilion at the 2024 Sweets and Snacks Expo will be a platform to share our exceptional products to the rest of the U.S. and world.”

The Sweets and Snacks Expo is hosted by the National Confectioners Association to promote confectionery and snack manufacturers. With over 800 exhibitors, it is the largest U.S. trade show devoted to candy and snacks. Visit the Exhibitor Prospectus to learn more about the benefits of exhibiting.

Suppliers to confectionary and snack manufacturers for products such as ingredients, flavors, packaging, machinery, business services, etc. are encouraged to apply for the Supplier Showcase on May 13 – 14, 2024 rather than the Indiana pavilion show floor.

Financial resources and cost reimbursement programs are available for exhibitors. The IN-STEP and Food Export Branded Program are cost reimbursement programs for exporters. Non-exporters, who are Indiana Grown members, can receive financial assistance via Indiana Grown Trade Show Grants.

“The timing of this opportunity couldn’t be better for Indiana snack and confectionary businesses,” said Drew Sherman, ISDA’s International Trade Director. “Consumers worldwide are demanding convenient and innovative snack and confectionary products, making exhibiting at Sweets & Snacks Expo even more critical as distributors and retail chains attend this show and compete to find their next best product to fill store shelves and promote to their customers.”

Companies interested in learning more, exhibiting in the Indiana pavilion or accessing financial resources should contact ISDA International Trade Director, Drew Sherman (Asherman@ISDA.in.gov).


Miami County man sentenced to federal prison for child pornography

A Miami County man was sentenced to six years in prison on child pornography charges.

Cody Shanks, 29, of Bunker Hill, Indiana, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty after pleading guilty to receipt of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson.

Shanks was sentenced to 72 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

According to documents in the case, between November 2022, and March 2023, Shanks, an elementary school teacher, received child sexual abuse material files via the internet.  

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Indiana State Police, the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, and the Howard County Sheriff’s Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John M. Maciejczyk and Hannah T. Jones.

RHS boys bowling semistate runner-up, headed to state finals

The Rochester High School boys bowling team is headed to state, after falling into the step ladder by winning the semistate runner-up by a single pin on Saturday in Fort Wayne.

Coach Eddie Lawson said the teams ultimate goal is to win the state title. The team will be competing at Championship Lanes in Anderson on February 17. 



Coaching the team for the past three years, Lawson says the team has grown in skill since expanding their competition. 



Culver Winterfest next weekend

Culver Winterfest is a fantastic 3-day festival is set for next weekend.

Activities begin on Friday, February 9, with the sledding hill in the park all day long.  The ice tours are all day throughout Culver.  These hand-carved works of art are created live by professional ice carvers.

Cupid’s Crawl, a town-wide shopping event is on Friday from 4 - 7 p.m.  Shop in at least four of the participating businesses, get your card punched, and then drop it off at Café Max by 7 p.m. to be entered into the 7:30 p.m. drawing.  Friday’s activities wind up that evening at the Lakehouse with Cupid’s Karaoke and Cocktails starting at 9:30 p.m. 

On Saturday the sledding hill and ice sculpture tour is available all day.  The morning begins with breakfast at the Train Depot.  The Culver Lions Club will be serving a pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. Cupid’s Dart, a 5-K fun run, and a 1-mile option are at 9 a.m. at the Beach Lodge.

Other free Saturday activities include yoga at 10 a.m. at the Beach Lodge and the Indoor Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Culver Library. Enjoy Valentine’s Tequila & Canvas class at Frida’s Mexican restaurant at 4 p.m. and the Lakehouse will have Acoustically Speaking at 9:30 p.m.   

The main event on Saturday is the Super Bowl-themed beer garden and “Ice Fights” where ice sculptors go blade to blade competing to create the best sculpture. The event is open to all ages and marshmallow roasting is part of the fun. 

The festival concludes on Sunday with the famous chili cook-off and The Polar Plunge into beautiful Lake Maxinkuckee. The sledding hill will be open all day and you can take another look at the ice sculptures. The lake is also open for skating and fishing all weekend long.




Alabama man arrested on weapons charge after pursuit with law enforcement

An Alabama man will face gun charges after he tried to elude authorities in Fulton County.

Fulton County deputies on Wednesday were dispatched to the area of the 4300 N block of SR 25 for a report of suspicious vehicle. The complainant further advised they heard several gunshots and provided a vehicle description as the vehicle left southbound on SR 25.

K-9 Deputy James Dulin observed the suspect’s vehicle north of Rochester and attempted to stop it. The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Keon Driver, 20, of  Sylacauga, Alabama, refused to stop and led the deputy on a short chase.  Driver turned into the parking lot of the Mill Creek Church, exited the vehicle with what appeared to be a handgun and fled on foot. With the assistance of Deputy Dulin’s K-9 partner, other Fulton County deputies, and the Rochester Police Department, Driver was taken into custody without further incident.

A handgun was later recovered in the area in which Driver ran. The handgun was a Glock 19 which had been modified with a “Glock Switch.” The Glock Switch converts the handgun into a fully automatic weapon.

Driver was lodged in the Fulton County Jail and charged with possession of a machine gun without a license (Level 5), operating a machine gun without a license (Level 4), resisting law enforcement with a motor vehicle (Level 6), resisting law enforcement without a vehicle (A Misdemeanor), and criminal recklessness (A Misdemeanor). He is currently being held on bond.

“This incident is an example of the extreme dangers our deputies face yet continue to be pursuant in their duty to protect. This is two nights in a row a violent individual in our community attempted to evade law enforcement and both individuals were taken into custody without incident. I commend our deputies in their service to our citizens and county,” stated Sheriff Travis Heishman.

Warsaw father facing drug and neglect charges after children describe drug paraphernalia being used in their presence

A Warsaw father was arrested on drug and neglect charges, after accusations were made that he used illegal substances in the presence of children. 

According to police reports, Damian Henry, 38, of Warsaw, was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail on January 24. Charges include possession of methamphetamine, neglect of a dependent, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphenalia, and possession of marijuana with a prior conviction. 

Court documents revealed that on August 11, 2023, an Indiana DCS caseworker contacted the Warsaw Police Department, requesting the assistance of an officer at a local restaurant. DCS had previously received a report of Henry using drugs in front of his children. It was reported that Henry may be homeless and living in the vehicle with the two children. 

Once interviewed, both children were able to explains that drug paraphernalia that had been used in their presence. Henry had admitted to officials that he had used meth a few days prior. A search done on Henry's vehicle discovered drug paraphernalia, meth residue, and marijuana. 

The children were taken to Fellowship Missions, an emergency shelter care facility. 

It was discovered that Henry has had prior convictions dealing marijuana, dealing a controlled substance, meth possession, and maintaining a common nuisance. At the time of the incident, Henry also had an active criminal case for marijuana possession.