Two arrested in counterfeit cash incident

Feb 3, 2016 439

An alleged attempt to pass counterfeit money at a Columbus business Monday night led to the arrest of two people. Lt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus police, says that officers were called to the convenience store at Gladstone Avenue and State Street at 11:30 p.m. and found two suspects in front of the store. A 17-year-old boy allegedly gave the officer a fake name at first and was found to be wanted on a warrant. When he was taken to the detention center, police allegedly found three small bags of methamphetamine that the boy had dumped on the floor of the patrol car. He was arrested on preliminary charges of false informing, dealing methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and a Bartholomew County warrant 18 year old Carlos Garcia is facing preliminary charges of false informing, forgery, and possession of drug paraphernalia. ...

Money for salary increases found within city budget

Feb 3, 2016 310

Columbus officials won’t have to reallocate money to pay for higher salaries for two city department heads. In the first meeting of the year, the new administration of Mayor Jim Lienhoop asked City Council to reallocate just over $21,000 to pay for higher salaries for Director of Administration and Community Development Mary Ferdon and Director of Public Works David Hayward. The top of the new salary ranges would put those Ferdon’s job $9,000 higher than her predecessor and Hayward’s job almost $8,400 a year higher. But at last night’s meeting, Ferdon explained that the administration had found the funding within the existing budget and the reallocation would no longer be needed. Mary Ferdon on ordinance She asked the City Council to let the proposal die and the council chose to do so. One audience member questioned Lienhoop about whether he planned to take a pay cut to offset the raises for the new department heads since they seemed to be taking on some of the mayor’s responsibilities. Lienhoop said he did... ...

Council approves refinancing proposal

Feb 3, 2016 347

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the month when the Redevelopment Commission will next consider the refinancing. It is later this month, Feb. 15. Columbus City officials are moving forward with a plan to refinance $9 million in bonds under today’s low interest rates, so the city can save more than $684 thousand dollars in interest. The bonds were issued in 2007 to build the Fourth and Jackson Street parking garage. The Columbus Redevelopment Commission agreed last week to refinance those bonds and brought their proposal before the City Council last night. Heather Pope, director of redevelopment for the city, explained the reasoning. Heather Pope on refinancing After last night’s approval by the City Council, The commission is expected to vote to approve the refinancing at its meeting next month, followed by the City Council’s final approval. The refinancing would move forward by early March, according to the city’s financial advisers from Reedy Financial. ...

Ivy Tech offers help with student-aid application

Feb 2, 2016 340

Ivy Tech is offering Indiana students free FAFSA filing help as part of College Goal Sunday. Columbus Campus Spokesman Chris Schilling says that college-bound students and their families have an opportunity to learn more about financial aid and get help filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the statewide College Goal Sunday event. The free event is set for 2 p.m. February 21 at more than 40 sites across Indiana, including the Columbus Learning Center. Schilling explains that the FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships and student loans at most colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools nationwide. The FAFSA must be filed by March 10 to be considered eligible for Indiana financial aid. He adds that the event, now in its 27th year, has helped more than 90,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time. “Far too often families don’t know who to ask for help with their FAFSA,” said Bill Wozniak, co-chair... ...

Eastside Community Center to find new life

Feb 2, 2016 420

Eastside Community Center will see new life, under a plan approved this morning by the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety. The center, on McClure Road in the East Columbus neighborhood, closed last fall and its board of directors disbanded after running into serious financial problems. But under a plan put together by the United Way of Bartholomew County, the Heritage Fund and City Councilman Dascal Bunch, the center will reopen for some events. Mark Stewart, president of the local United Way, said there are some functions that neighborhood needs and the United Way would open the center up for those, such as tax preparation, homework with a cop and community events. Eventually, the United Way hopes to find a permanent solution to the situation, Stewart said. The city owns the building where the center was located and has rented it to Eastside Community Center since 1978 for $1 a year. The Board of Works terminated that lease this morning and agreed to a new, six-month lease with the United Way.... ...

Bike and pedestrian improvements to be unveiled

Feb 2, 2016 295

Columbus residents will get their first look at possible improvements to intersections between Noblitt, Donner and Lincoln parks next week. The city had an open house last fall where it asked for residents’ opinions on the bike and pedestrian safety betwen the parks and found eight intersections residents said they were concerned about. Those include: 17th and Washington streets 16th and Washington streets 17 Street and Central Avenue 19th Street and Central Avenue 22nd Street and Central Avenue 25th Street and Central Avenue 17th Street and Hawcreek Avenue 19th Street and Hawcreek Avenue Emilie Pinkston, a senior planner with the city, said that the city is first looking at improving the intersection at 17th and Washington Streets. Emilie Pinkston on the intersection The city, working with Columbus Regional Health’s Reach Healthy Communities, will be using grant money to make improvements. The city will be holding an open house starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Donner Center to get your thoughts on the final draft of the plan. ...

Seymour hospital chosen for Ebola emergencies

Feb 2, 2016 362

Schneck Medical Center has been designated as an Ebola assessment hospital by the Indiana Department of Health, one of only six such facilities in the state. Stephanie Furlow, Schneck’s director of marketing, says the designation means that Schneck has demonstrated it has the appropriate staff, equipment, and resources to provide up to 96 hours of evaluation and care to persons suspected of having the virus while awaiting results from an Ebola blood test. Furlow adds that Schneck has also sent eight people to the National Ebola Training and Education Center in Atlanta for Ebola Preparedness Training. She notes that as an officially designated Ebola Assessment Hospital, Schneck may receive Ebola patients from other area hospitals that are not fully prepared for the care of such a patient. ...

Seymour Chamber offers tickets for Assembly visit

Feb 2, 2016 284

2016 Statewide Chamber Day at the Statehouse is next Tuesday. The Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce will be joining over a dozen other Chambers from around Indiana for this event. Seymour residents, business owners and company representatives will get a chance to see the Indiana General Assembly in action. Participants can tour the Statehouse, hear presentations and have lunch with other chamber advocacy teams from throughout the state. The Chamber adds that a visit and photo opportunity with Governor Pence will take place in the morning. Reservations are $35 per person and can be made at www.seymourchamber.com. The deadline to sign up is Thursday. ...

Council considers details of hiring slowdown

Feb 2, 2016 295

The Bartholomew County Council is still working out how it will implement a hiring slowdown. The council was asked to consider letting the county health department refill a dental hygienist position that checks county school kids for problems and teaches lessons on dental health. During last year’s budget crunch, the County Council decided to closely evaluate every open position before deciding whether it could be filled or not. Council members at a work session last night had several views of what that approval process should look like and when it should be made. The council hopes to reduce the county’s workforce by as much as 10 people to help trim costs in the county budget, council members said during last year’s budget hearings. Amanda Organist, the county’s director of nursing, said that the county’s dental hygienist is leaving at the end of the week. She said the hygienist position is paid by the county, but the program itself is paid out of grant funds. She said it is important because there... ...

Driver alerts sleeping resident to house fire

Feb 2, 2016 383

A passerby noticed a garage fire yesterday in Columbus and alerted a sleeping resident of the home to the danger. Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department, says that Amy Jackson was driving at about 4:35 p.m. when she noticed smoke drifting across the roadway. Wilson said Jackson stopped and saw the smoke rolling out from under the roof of the home in the 1400 block of Laurel Drive. Jackson knocked on the door, entered a breezeway and yelled to anyone who might be inside before retreating to safety. A 25-year-old resident of the home who had been sleeping, was woken by Jackson’s shouting emerged from the home and also got to safety. Firefighters discovered a fire in the walls of the garage, which they extinguished after pulling down the walls. Wilson said that inspectors believe an electrical short caused the fire. Wilson said the home did not have any working smoke detectors and praised Jackson for her efforts, which may have saved the resident’s life. ...