2019 in review: Our top stories July through September

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

In July, Columbus agreed to purchase a property owned by the mayor’s aunt to be used for parks department storage. The former Machinery Moving site was found to have environmental contamination during the appraisal process. However, local officials expressed confidence that the issue can be remedied at little expense locally. Pam Harrell, director of business services for Columbus Parks and Rec, explained.

In late July, residents were concerned after funnel cloud was spotted in northern Bartholomew County, and tornado sirens sounded, but no Everbridge alerts went out to the community. The National Weather Service said that the funnel was not a tornado, but rather a rare cold air funnel. And no tornado warning was issued by teh agency. Without that warning, the Everbridge system did not activate.

Also in July, a Jennings County woman was arrested after she showed up to a probation hearing wearing someone else’s dentures that she had allegedly stolen. Deputies received a report from a victim in Country Squire Lakes who said that Joann Childers had taken her dentures. The false teeth were out in plain view in Childer’s home, and even had the victims’ name on them. The stolen teeth were recovered and Childers is facing preliminary charges of theft, according to police reports.

In August, Columbus Regional Health was looking at how it would use the space in Fair Oaks Mall, which it purchased with the city at the end of 2018. Jim Bickel, the health system’s president and CEO, said the hospital will be using the facility for a community focus on health and wellness and the physicians who will be supporting those efforts.

Also in August, a Jackson County inmate walked away from the jail. 39-year-old Daniel A. Coomer was recaptured by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI. He escaped when he was taken by jail staff into the outdoor recreation area with other inmates and discovered a door to the outside was unlocked.

The Columbus resident who headed the Indiana National Guard stepped down in August in the face of a lawsuit alleging harassment, defamation and a vendetta against a former Guard military contractor. Maj. Gen. Courtney Carr had served as Adjutant General since 2015.

In September, Bartholomew Consolidated Schools were making plans to borrow $900 thousand dollars to provide for the technology needs of students and staff next year.

Chad Phillips, the assistant superintendent for financial services, said that the loan is needed because of decreasing revenue from the state due to tax caps.

The district plans to spend just over $586 thousand dollars to purchase laptops for next year’s estimated 997 incoming freshmen.

Also in September, the city of Columbus made plans to pay its share of an additional $5 million dollars for the downtown railroad overpass project. New estimates from INDOT indicated that the project would cost $35.66 million dollars instead of the previous $30 million estimate. Officials said that the extra expense came from the state spending more than expected to buy up property for the right-of-way, along with increased construction costs.

Nine Jennings County High School students were detained and charged after they walked out of the school in September. A small group of students staged a demonstration inside the school over safety concerns and then moved their group to the sidewalk just outside of the building. City police were asked to intervene when students began leaving the school grounds without permission The students were charged with truancy and released to a parent or guardian.

Three Jennings County school students were arrested earlier in the month after threats were made against schools and students.