2019 in review: Our top stories from January to March 2019

We are taking a look back at our top stories of the year 2019.

In late January, the bitter cold temperatures were the top story. Forecasters said the wind chill could hit 20 below. Shannan Hinton, Bartholomew County’s director of emergency management, said that your best bet was stay indoors…

Earlier in the month, a Seymour grandmother and grandson were found dead after a suspected murder/suicide. The Seymour Police Department said that dispatchers received a 911 call from 68-year-old Wanda Huber. Huber made sure that police had her correct address, noting that a murder had just occurred. When police arrived at the home, they reported finding that she had apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Officers also found her grandson shot in the head.

Also in January, rescue workers futilely searched Big Blue River looking for a possible victim who disappeared into the river. A caller to 911 reported a man who went into the frigid water from the top of the dam near State Road 252 and River Road at Edinburgh and was swept downstream. The search was eventually called off and no victim identified.

In February, the candidacy of Chris Rutan for Columbus City Council was being challenged in an attempt to remove him from the ballot. He was facing accusations of financial wrongdoing in his role as a rental property manager, but there were no felony convictions against the candidate. Rutan denied the charges made in the complaint.

Ultimately, the Bartholomew County Election Board voted that it had no grounds to remove Rutan from the May Republican primary ballot.

Also in February, police rescued a 12-year-old girl on Interstate 65 after a carjacking in Seymour with the girl still inside the vehicle. A Seymour woman reported that her car was missing from the Dollar General Store on Tipton Street, and that her daughter was still inside. The girl then called dispatchers, saying that she was inside the car and that a woman had taken the vehicle and was not letting her go.

The girl stayed on the line and continued to provide information and landmarks until Columbus police and Bartholomew County deputies caught up with the vehicle on Interstate 65 at the Columbus exit.

Earlier in the month, an early morning fire seriously damaged the Burger King restaurant in Taylorsville. Firefighters located the fire between the building’s roof and the drop ceiling in the kitchen. Firefighters on the roof discovered the fire extended to the building’s rubber roof and the kitchen ventilation system.

In March, Columbus Regional health officials announced that high rates of smoking in Bartholomew and surrounding counties are leading to higher rates than expected of lung cancer.

Dr. Mark Henderson, a radiation oncologist at Columbus Regional Health explained:

Henderson says that the vast majority of lung cancers are directly related to smoking.

Also in March, the town of Hope decided to move forward with a grant request for a project to beautify and brighten the town square. The Town Council approved a request from the non profit Main Street of Hope organization to apply for state funds to replace more than 40 aging and dim street lights in and around the square, and to upgrade the sidewalks and trails through the small park to make them accessible under ADA standards.

Susan Thayer-Fye, director of the Main Street group explained.

Earlier in the month, the Brownstown area was hit by a tornado during a bomb cyclone weather event. The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado briefly touched down, damaging a barn, grain silo, trees and irrigation system. The estimated winds were 94 mph and the 40-yard wide tornado was on the ground for about a mile and a quarter.