Community News

Habitat for Humanity receives FCCF grant

Fulton County Habitat for Humanity received a $9,500 grant from the Fulton County Community Foundation to remove a fire damaged home in Rochester. The home, located at 1016 Monroe Street, was recently donated to Habitat for Humanity to be used in a future home build. With the grant, Habitat for Humanity will remove the home and prepare the lot to be used for a future Habitat home.


Fulton County Habitat for Humanity was established in 1998. Since that time, they have constructed homes for 16 familiesin Fulton County. They are currently working with their 17th family.


Habitat works to build strength, stability, and self-reliance in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage.

Indiana General Assembly approves funding to extend relief for entrepreneurs & small businesses

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced a significant expansion of the Indiana Small Business Restart Grant that will add $60 million to the program, tripling the total allocation, and allow small businesses to seek reimbursement for eligible expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. 

The program, which was first announced in May 2020, is designed to accelerate the speed of economic recovery by providing working capital to Indiana's entrepreneurs and small business owners. The state issued $34.5 million in grants through the first iteration of the program and is now adding another $60 million in federal dollars made available through the CARES Act and approved for allocation by the Indiana General Assembly. 

“I’m grateful to the Indiana General Assembly for their supportive collaboration that made it possible to extend this program for Hoosier entrepreneurs," said Gov. Holcomb. "The Small Business Restart Grant program has already done a tremendous amount to get small businesses back on track, and this extended relief funding will continue accelerating our economy’s recovery.”

Small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements can apply for reimbursement of qualified business expenses incurred at their Indiana operations between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. These qualified expenses include payroll – which may be reimbursed up to 100% – and non-payroll expenses, such as insurance premiums, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, lease payments, food delivery software service payments, and safety investments – which may be reimbursed up to 80%. 

Reimbursements may be awarded up to $10,000 for each month, but may not exceed $50,000 over a 12-month period. Businesses that have already received Small Business Restart Grants, but have not reached the maximum reimbursements, may re-apply and submit new expenses (that have not already been reimbursed through the program) for reimbursement. 

Registered Indiana businesses must: 

  • Have been established prior to Oct. 1, 2019;
  • Be registered to operate in Indiana, except sole proprietors, and must be seeking reimbursement for expenses related to their Indiana operations;
  • Be in good standing with the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) or have a DOR-approved payment plan;  
  • Have had fewer than 100 full-time employees as of Dec. 31, 2019;
  • Have been profitable in 2019 (determined by EBITDA) and have had less than $10 million (Gross Receipts or Sales) in revenue in 2019; and
  • Demonstrate a monthly gross revenue loss of at least 30% compared to pre-COVID-19 revenues (average monthly revenue in 2019).

The application, along with additional details and instruction, is available at Eligible small businesses may apply until Dec. 31, 2021, but are encouraged to apply and submit expenses for reimbursement as soon as possible, as grants will be issued in the order they are received until funding is exhausted. 

About the Indiana Small Business Restart Grant
The Indiana Small Business Restart Grant was initially announced in May 2020. The program, which, until now, reimbursed expenses incurred before Dec. 31, 2020, has already provided $34.5 million in grants to 1,644 small businesses in 85 counties across Indiana. Of the 1,644 small businesses that were issued grants, 190 are certified minority-owned and women-owned businesses (11.5%). 

For more information on support, resources and funding available to Hoosier entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit



U.S. 31 to be resurfaced in Fulton County

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces lane closures for U.S. 31 between State Road 110 and Southway 31/Old U.S. 31 beginning Monday, April 5. 


Lane restrictions will be in place through mid-September, 2021 for a resurfacing project. One lane will remain open in each direction throughout the life of the project. The ramps at U.S. 31 and State Road 25 will also be resurfaced during this timeframe, with the exact timeline to be announced at a later date.  

INDOT to host Virtual Career Fair Thursday, April 1

The Indiana Department of Transportation will host an online, virtual career fair on Thursday, April 1 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET.


INDOT is recruiting applicants for open full-time and seasonal positions in highway maintenance, fleet services, construction engineering and construction project inspections. Recruiters from INDOT will be available to answer questions and provide information on the benefits of joining the State of Indiana team. INDOT offers $250 sign on and $500 retention bonuses for eligible candidates.


Click here or visit to attend INDOT’s virtual career fair. Advance registration is not required.


Summer seasonal positions run from April through October at a starting pay of $16 per hour. Candidates should have a valid driver's license and commercial driver's license (CDL). A high school diploma or GED is preferred but not required.


For questions, please email

Support group for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, April 7 at the Recovery Cafe Fulton County

The Recovery Cafe Fulton County, 715 Main St in Rochester, will be holding a support group for women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or gender-based abuse.  It will be on April 7 at 7:00 pm. 


This is a free event for those willing to share as able, commit to supporting others and have the understanding that sharing will be done in confidence. 


The group will be led by an experienced facilitator, with structural conversation and a time for open discussion. 


Major Mike's Military Surplus and Camping Supplies now open for business

Major Mike's Military Surplus and Camping Supplies was originally going to be a web-based business.


After seeing the castle-like building for rent outside of Culver, 12893 State Road 17, it was an opportunity owner Mike Cissna couldn't pass up. 




The surplus store has a little bit for everyone interested in military surplus and camping supplies or survival gear.  




Mike's military background has been his push and passion behind the store. 



Major Mike's Military Surplus and Camping Supplies had their grand opening March 6. The museum-like atmosphere has created positive public feedback.


Their hours are Thursday and Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday's from 9am-4pm. 



Rochester City Pool set for May 29 opening

The scheduled opening of the Rochester City Pool is tentatively set (weather permitting) for Saturday, May 29.


The pool was closed for the 2020 season due to Covid-19.


Governor’s instructions for operation this year express that all personnel (except lifeguards when in observation chairs) will be required to wear a mask. 


Social distancing for non-related patrons is still strongly encouraged, but will be left up to patrons’ judgment, as will the wearing of masks.


All will participate at their own risk.

New To Town: Homestyle Cooking & Grill

New to Rochester - Homestyle Cooking and Grill (BBQ) had their grand opening at their newest location at 614 East Ninth Street on March 11.


Owner RT Harris and partner Tabitha Mersch say business has been steady, 


Inspired by his grandfather, owner RT started his BBQ business in Monterrey, Indiana five years prior. 



The business is run completely by family members, keeping the tradition alive. They also still have Momma's favorite sides, made by Momma. Their hours are 11am to 7pm Thursday thru Saturday and 11am to 5pm Sunday. You can call to order at 574-223-4053.




RT shared one of his BBQ secrets. 


You're encouraged to check for recalls during Vehicle Safety Recalls Week

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) and Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) are encouraging motorists to check for vehicle recalls during Vehicle Safety Recalls Week.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, there were 886 safety recalls affecting 55 million vehicles and other equipment in the U.S. Unfortunately, approximately 25% of vehicle recalls go unrepaired, which puts drivers, passengers and other road users at risk.


Checking for vehicle recalls is a quick and easy process:


Find the vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number, which is located on the lower portion of the car’s windshield on the driver’s side. It may also be on the vehicle’s registration or insurance card.


Enter the VIN number into the search bar at


Within seconds, drivers will know if the vehicle is subject to an open safety recall.  If one exists, motorists should contact a dealer for the vehicle manufacturer to schedule an appointment as soon as possible for the free recall repairs.


If you think your vehicle may have a safety-related defect that isn’t part of a current recall, contact NHTSA online or by calling the agency’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. Even one complaint is enough to trigger a safety recall.


For more information about vehicle or equipment recalls, visit

State Road 17 bridge over Mill Creek to be closed

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces a road closure for State Road 17 between C.R. W 550 S and C.R. W 400 S beginning Monday, March 15.


The bridge will be closed through mid-May, 2021 for a bridge deck overlay project. 



Motorists should seek an alternate route. The official detour will follow State Road 16, U.S. 35, and State Road 14. 

Free FAFSA aid this Sunday

Indiana residents planning to attend college in fall 2021 should submit the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before April 15 for consideration of state-based financial aid. Families can get free FAFSA help from financial aid experts during the virtual College Goal Sunday event from 2-4 p.m. local time on March 7.  Students/families can learn more and access the event.


Before attending the event, new student filers and one parent are each encouraged to apply for their U.S. Department of Education FSA IDs.  The 2021-22 FAFSA will collect 2019 tax information. Most families will be able to use the IRS data retrieval tool built into the FAFSA to retrieve their tax data, but parents should also have available the 2019 IRS tax return, 2019 W-2 forms, and current bank statements and investment information for manual data entries. Students who worked in 2019 should have their own income information available as well. Current students 24 years of age or older may complete the FAFSA with their own 2019 IRS tax return, 2019 W-2 forms, and current bank statements and investment information. 


The Division of Financial Aid provides financial aid information to students and families through community outreach, via email, and online.


Purdue University’s Division of Financial Aid can be reached by calling 765-494-5050 during the hours of 8 a.m to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or by emailing

Specialty crop growers eligible for federal funding

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is currently seeking project proposals from Indiana’s specialty crop industry to present for funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The proposals must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Indiana, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. 


“Indiana is a thriving home to many agricultural endeavors, which includes producing a variety of outstanding specialty crops,” said. Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “This funding opportunity will allow our specialty crop industry the ability to advance through research, market development, and education and training.”


The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program offers federal funding annually to the state departments of agriculture to support their specialty crop industries. The allocation amount for Indiana is unknown at this time.


Applicants can include non-profit and for-profit organizations, governments and public or private colleges and universities. ISDA encourages applicants to develop projects focused on issues such as enhancing food safety, pest and disease control, developing organic and sustainable production practices, and developing local and regional food systems.


Funding will not be awarded to projects that benefit a particular commercial product, or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Each project must identify at least one expected measurable outcome that specifically demonstrates the project’s impact on enhancing the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops.


ISDA's funding priority will focus on three main areas:

  • Funding Area I: Market Enhancement
  • Funding Area II: Access, Education and Training
  • Funding Area III: Research

“It is more important now than ever to leverage these financial opportunities, and I want to encourage all eligible businesses or organizations to apply,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director. “These dollars will go a long way in ensuring Indiana’s robust specialty crop sector remains thriving for years to come.”


Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 25, 2021, and proposals must be submitted online through the Indiana State Department of Agriculture's Grants Management System.

For more information and the solicitation click here.


For a full list of eligible specialty crops please click here.

Fulton County Bark Park coming this spring

A dog park is making its way to Fulton County, thanks to a group project from the Fulton County Leadership Academy Class of 2020.


Group member Ashely Burrus explained how the idea came together. 



The class started the project at the end of September 2019. Group member Adrienne Thompson said the group managed to keep in contact, despite dates for graduation and projects getting pushed back because of the pandemic. 



Their goal is to provide a park where a dog and owner can enjoy themselves. 



Burrus says they hope to have the park open as soon as this spring. 




You can reach out to them on their Fulton County Bark Park Facebook page or via email at 




The community support has been encouraging. 





Celebrate Recovering: Fulton County brings hope to the surrounding area

Hope is coming to Rochester, with the upcoming 'Recovery Cafe' at 715 Main Street.


Pat Brown, Executive Director of the Recovery Cafe Fulton County says this nonprofit organization was made to be a safe haven. The cafe will welcome anyone in need that's struggling with not only addiction, but also abuse, loss, PTSD and more. 


Brown was inspired to help others with addiction, after he experienced its devastating effects with his own families struggles. On a quest to find hope for humanity, Brown wanted to offer more help and resources to those struggling in the community. 




Brown says he hopes to have the cafe open by March. 




It's something, he says, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 




Brown says if all goes well in the future, he has high hopes of also starting a program with the jail, that helps inmates rehabilitate after being released. 



The cafe opened the eyes of the public with an open house February 13.



Anyone wanting to join or help is welcome. 




BBB issues cryptocurrency scam warning

Cryptocurrency scams are becoming a popular way for fraudsters to trick people into sending money, and take on many forms. Most crypto scams appear as emails or texts trying to blackmail or threaten someone, online chain referral scams, or fake investment opportunities. Recently these scams have targeted people looking for love on popular dating sites and apps such as Tinder.


BBB reminds dating app users to not let their quest for love blind them to the red flags of a scam. 


How the Scam Works 

When “swiping right” on an attractive male or female, the app then instantly matches you with them. Once sparking up a conversation, the alleged mate may quickly try to take the conversation off the dating platform and move it to a texting app such as WhatsApp or WeChat. The scammer starts talking about how they have a family member who is a very successful cryptocurrency investor, and have inside trading information that could make you rich! They pique your interest with the idea that you can make lots of money by taking advantage of this exclusive opportunity, and direct you to a fake cryptocurrency trading platform. Once making a deposit on the website, the money is gone forever, and the new “love” blocks you on all platforms. 


One victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker that after talking to a woman on Tinder, she persuaded him to invest on a fake trading platform called Once he tried to withdraw the full amount, the funds were automatically reversed back into his account by their "system security" to help prevent money laundering. The victim was then told the account needed a balance of up to $3,000 before withdrawing funds without any type of limit. After trying several times, the victim was unable to recoup his money.? 


Protect Yourself From this Scam: 

  • Never send money or personal information that can be used for identity theft to someone you’ve never met in person. If they continue to pressure you to invest on a crypto trading platform, research the investment platform first. 
  • Stay secure. If a love interest appears to be in a hurry to get off the dating app to an unsecure chat app, that is a red flag. 
  • Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may stumble over remembering details or making a story fit. 
  • Research the dating profile. Many scammers steal photos from the web to use in their profiles. Conduct a reverse image lookup using a website like? see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else. Search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t. Report what you find to the dating app. 


Bill Wyatt celebrates the gift of life February 14 for National Donor Day

National Donor Day has shared February 14 with Valentine's Day every year since 1998, after it was started to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation. To people like Bill Wyatt, an Instructional Assistant at Rochester High School, the gift of life is sweeter than candy. 


At the age of 31, Wyatt was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, an inherited disorder that causes cluster cysts to develop, enlarging the kidney and eventually causing it to lose function over time. 



As the years faded, so did Wyatt's kidney function, but he said it was his kids that kept him going. In 2013, Wyatt was placed on dialysis. 



Wyatt was working at the school when he got the call about a transplant being ready for him. It's a day he will never forget. 



On August 22, 2018, Wyatt finally got his transplant. Several months had passed by when a letter came in the mail from his donor's family. Over the next year, he would learn all about his donor from photos, letters and eventually meeting her family.


Wyatt said he still gets goosebumps thinking about it. 




Wyatt's donor not only gave him life, she also saved two other people with her heart and other kidney. According to the U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, everyday 17 people die while on the national transplant waiting list.


Wyatt says he can't express the importance of being an organ donor enough. 


Visit for more information on organ donation or how you can become a donor. 

Rochester continues with water tower repairs

The City of Rochester Water Department is making some necessary repairs to the Northeast side (Indiana Ave) water tower. 


Residents in this area may experience discolored water for the next couple days.  The water is safe to use and drink.  The city recommends letting it run a few minutes to help clear it up. 


Avoid washing white clothes while water is discolored. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Water Department at 574-223-3412.

State snack - popcorn?

Should Indiana have a state snack? One state senator says yes -- and he knows exactly what it should be.


A bill by State Sen. Ron Grooms (R-Jeffersonville) would designate Indiana-grown popcorn as the state's official snack.


Grooms' bill says Indiana is second in the nation in popcorn production, behind only Nebraska. Hoosier farmers grow more than 500 million pounds of the crunchy stuff each year.


If the bill passes, popcorn would join other state symbols including the state bird, state flower, and state insect.

Conservation Reserve Program general signup began January 4 and ends February 12

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can sign up for the popular program Jan. 4, 2021, until Feb. 12, 2021. The competitive program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.


“This signup for the Conservation Reserve Program gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term,” Steven Brown said. “This program encourages conservation on sensitive lands or low-yielding acres, which provides tremendous benefits for stewardship of our natural resources and wildlife.”


Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to their local region and the nation’s environment and economy. CRP general signup is held annuallyand is competitive; general signup includes increased opportunities for wildlife habitat enrollment through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.


New cropland offeredin the program must have been planted for four out of six crop years from 2012 to 2017. Additionally, producers with land already enrolled but expiring on Sept. 30, 2021, can re-enroll this year. The acreage offered by producers and landowners is evaluated competitively;accepted offers will begin Oct. 1, 2021.


Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. The program marked its 35-year anniversaryin December 2020. Program successes include:


  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks.
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95% and 85%, respectively.
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road.
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, which is enough to go around the world seven times.
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows, and many other birds.


All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue to work with our producers by phone, email, and using online tools. More information can be found at

Another Boilermaker to make mark on moon

Purdue University graduates Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan were the first and last humans to set foot on the moon. Now a Boilermaker will be on the team tasked with returning to there. Astronaut Scott Tingle is one of the 18 members who will make up the Artemis Team, NASA announced this week.


Tingle, has spent 168 days in space and performed one spacewalk. While aboard the International Space Station in May 2018, he famously hooded fellow Purdue graduate Drew Feustel with an honorary doctorate degree, a moment streamed live to Purdue commencement ceremonies in West Lafayette.


Pictured:  Purdue alumni astronauts Andrew Feustel (left) and Scott Tingle, play guitars in 2019 aboard the International Space Station, some 250-plus miles above Earth.


Purdue, known as the Cradle of Astronauts, counts 25 alumni as astronauts. Loral O’Hara, a 2009 Purdue graduate, is the newest, moving from candidate to astronaut last January.


Tingle earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1988, with a specialty in fluid mechanics and propulsion. He was one of nine astronaut candidates originally selected by NASA in 2009 from among more than 3,500 applicants.


He has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours in 48 types of aircraft, including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. His decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, six Navy Commendation Medals to include a Combat V, four Navy Achievement Medals and various unit commendations.


Tingle and his wife, Raynette, have three children, Amy, Sean and Eric.

Happy Birthday Indiana

Today is Indiana's 204th birthday.


On December 11, 1816, President James Madison made Indiana the 19th state.


Corydon was the first state capital for nearly the first decade of Indiana's existence, until Indianapolis became the capital in 1825.

Santa Claus is coming to Kewanna Public Library on December 12

Santa will make a special appearance at the Kewanna Public Library on Saturday, December 12 from 10:00-11:00. 


Due to social distancing restrictions, Santa will be outside the library.   Families will be able to drive up to see him.  He will have his Christmas mailbox available so that the children can add their letter of Christmas wishes.  Santa will be passing out a prepackaged treat. 


The library is located 210 E. Main St., Kewanna.


Children of all ages are welcome to attend this holiday event


For more information call Kewanna Public Library at 574-653-2011, visit our website or check out our Facebook page.


Join us to see Santa, and don't forget your Christmas list!


Psychologist Dr. Frank Choate's new therapy, woodworking.

Living in the old Sandhill Church off Old Us 31, Dr. Frank Choate, a retired psychologist, has switched his therapy sessions from the office to the woodshop. 


A hobby-turned-career that started 20 years ago, Choate is careful to not get burnt out from his passion. 


Chaote says he can make almost anything. All he needs is a photo and estimates are free. 


He not only makes furniture and furniture repairs, he also does custom gifts. 


The amount of time he takes on each piece varies, as he takes his time personalizing and perfecting until it's complete. 



You can find some of Choate's work at several stores around Rochester. 


For the most part, everything is made after an order has been placed. 


Flirt Boutique: New owners, same vibes

Flirt Boutique's hands have changed but the vibes have not after mother-to-be and dentist Dr,Caitlin Rich and husband Michael Rich bought the Rochester establishment from former owner Treva Mattingly Mulligan over the summer. 


Rich wants to keep the same vision for the store as the original store owner had. 


The nostalgia and bringing people together is an important part of what Rich wants to keep. 



Giving Tuesday - Blood donations requested

December 1 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving that celebrates generosity and community impact. Instead of monetary donations, Versiti Blood Centers is asking community members to commit to giving a donation of blood.


One donation of blood takes less than an hour and can help save up to three lives. Although blood is typically used by a patient within 24 to 48 hours of being donated, it can be safely stored for 42 days until it’s needed.


Due to COVID-19, safety precautions will be in place, including social distancing and mandatory masks. COVID-19 antibody tests are being performed on all donations as part of Versiti’s standard testing. The test will inform the donor if they have antibodies reflective of a prior COVID-19 infection.


On December 1, Giving Tuesday, the public is asked to visit to commit to making a blood donation during this holiday season.

Community News