2019 in review: Our top stories October through December

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

In October, a baby was found in a plastic bag on the side of the road in Seymour. A person walking their dog called the police to say they found the infant alive along a fence row about 20 yards from South Jackson Park Drive. The child was taken for an examination at Schneck Medical Center and determined to be healthy.

Also in October, a Columbus police car was contaminated with fentanyl after a trespassing arrest at Walmart. A suspect, 20-year-old Alexis R. Daniels was put into a patrol car. But when officers arrived at the jail, they found a white substance, later identified as as mixture of heroin and fentanyl, on Daniels’ hands and in the floorboard where she was seated. The car was quarantined and the interior was later cleaned by members of the county’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team and Indiana State Police Clandestine Lab Team.

Later in the month of October, 21-year-old Kyla M. Ortlieb of Columbus died while biking near near 11th & Chestnut Streets. She was struck by an SUV that left the scene of the crash and was abandoned nearby. A few days later, Columbus police arrested 27-year-old Eric Michael Winship at his northern Bartholomew County home on preliminary charges of failing to stop after an accident resulting in a death and possession of a legend drug injection device.

In November, Democrats took over Columbus City Council after a tight race, coming down to a one vote margin in East Columbus. In City Council District 1, Democrat Jerone Wood won by a single vote, 260-259 over incumbent Republican Dascal Bunch. Michael Kinder came in third place with 81 votes. Bunch would later file for a recount, which affirmed Wood’s single vote margin of victory. Democrats also picked up one of the at-large seats on City Council, with Grace Kestler picking up that seat for the party.

Just after Veterans Day in November, a local veteran was honored with an award from the French government. 95-year-old World War II veteran Marvin Sabatino, a Columbus resident, received the French Legion of Honor at a ceremony in Indianapolis.

Also in November, Cummins said it was preparing for an expected downturn in business this year. At a meeting with analysts and shareholders in New York City, the company’s leadership team said it would be lowering costs by $250 to $300 million dollars this year.

President and COO Tony Satterthwaite explained the cost-cutting.

A few days later, Cummins announced plans to cut its global workforce by 2,000 early this year.

Later in November, Bartholomew Consolidated Schools canceled classes because so many staff members requested personal time off to participate in “Red For Ed Action Day” in Indianapolis. The Indiana State Teachers Association said the goal of the event is to let state legislators know about the importance of adequately funding public education. BCSC also could not hold an e-learning day because so many of the educators were in Indianapolis. Students will make up the day by losing a day during spring break.

In December, BCSC announced a proposal to increase local property taxes to pay for teacher and staff raises. School Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts made the case to the school board in December, pointing out that even with the increase BCSC would still be below the state average tax rate and the rates of surrounding school districts. For the owner of the average priced home in the school district, with standard deductions, that would mean an increase of about $120 a year in their tax bills. The school board will be considering the tax increase later this month and if approved, it would go to the voters on primary election day in May.

In December, a bus aide died in a Jennings County School bus crash at the split of State Roads 7 and 3, just south of Vernon. 74-year-old Mary Boyd, of North Vernon, was taken to St. Vincent-Jennings Hospital where she was pronounced dead. She was a bus aide who rode on the bus route to monitor the students. She had been employed with the school district for about ten years. No children were on board the bus at the time of the crash.

Later in the month, Columbus police recovered drugs, guns and money and arrested 12 people in a raid on California Street. An investigation led police to believe that guns and drugs were inside the home and a city-county SWAT team raided the home in 2100 block of California Street. Police found methamphetamine in a small child’s bedroom. They also found about a pound of methamphetamine, a quarter ounce of a heroin/fentanyl mixture, marijuana, several controlled substances, as well as drug paraphernalia, syringes, scales, and drug packaging material. Several rifles were recovered including AR-15s and an AK-47, plus four handguns, ammunition and cash.

Also in December, a recount gave control of Columbus City Council to Democrats. Jerone Wood’s single vote margin in the District 1 race was affirmed after a recount requested by Republican Councilman Dascal Bunch following his loss as he sought his third term. Bunch, was defeated 260-259.