July's tax deadline is next week

You've had an extra three months to finish your taxes, but time is almost up.


Wednesday is the deadline to file your state and federal tax returns. The I-R-S and Indiana extended the usual April deadline because of the pandemic.


The extra time has slowed the usual last-minute flood of returns. Indiana estimates about 200-to-400-thousand returns are still out, a fraction of what normally comes in at the deadline. Indiana Department of Revenue Commissioner Bob Grennes says that's actually helped with the processing of returns -- instead of a crush of returns all at once, he says they've been spread across April, May and June.


Grennes says there shouldn't be any delay in processing refunds. He says while the I-R-S and some states are dealing with a backlog caused by pandemic-related work stoppages, Indiana has continued operations throughout.


If three more months still wasn't enough, you can request an extension to file, but you still have to pay what you owe by Wednesday. If you can't, Grennes says you can call the department to ask about a payment plan.

Domestic dispute, standoff ends with man surrendering to Rochester Police

A brief standoff with Rochester Police ended peacefully Tuesday.


Officers were called to the area of Rochester Boulevard and Ewing Road about 10:00 pm Tuesday.  The caller stated that there was a verbal argument between neighbors. 


Police report that Howard Hart was found to be intoxicated.  Following the initial altercation, police say Howard went into his residence and returned to the neighbor’s carrying a handgun.  Howard is reported to have made threats to the neighbor with the gun in his hand.  The police report indicates Howard did not point the gun at the neighbor at any time.


Howard went back to his home and would not respond to commands from officers.  At about 11:30 pm, Howard finally came out and was taken into custody without further incident.

Reopening Rochester schools in the pandemic doesn't call for 'concrete' plans

Fluid.  Flexible.  Nimble.  Just a few of the words used to describe school plans to reopen amidst the current coronavirus situation.


Following Monday’s special work session of the Rochester School Board that was dominated by COVID-related conversation, everything from athletics to masks and PPE for staff and students to transportation, Superintendent Jana Vance has added the phrase, “on the fly.”



Vance notes that decisions made now may not be the same ones made days or weeks from now.  And she realizes new scenarios may come to the forefront once kids return.



Good news…..registration, for the most part, will be the same.  With one key box to look for.



In a note coming up this week, Columbia Elementary will be hosting Kindergarten Roundup July 8 and 9.






No injuries in gravel truck - INDOT truck crash

A rolled over semi impacted traffic on US 30 in Starke County Monday.


The accident shut down US 30 from State Road 39 to State Road 35 in Starke County Monday afternoon.  A semi loaded with gravel ran into the back of an INDOT truck that was performing road work.  The gravel load spilled all over the roadway when the semi rolled over following the collision.


No serious injuries were reported.

Independently organized parade persists with Akron tradition

Over two dozen people paraded the town of Akron Saturday, despite the official Akron Fourth of July Parade being postponed because of risks during the Covid-19 pandemic. 



The Fourth of July parade has been a tradition held high in Akron since 1961. It celebrates not only the birth of our country, but also the day Akron was founded on July 4, 1836. 


In early May, the Akron Chamber of Commerce and Akron Fourth of July Committee announced that the Akron Fourth of July Parade, Akron fireworks and associated events scheduled on July 4, 2020 would be postponed. 


In June, longtime Akron residents Amanda Carlson and Aaron Ramsey decided to take their town's tradition into their own hands by organizing their own parade. 



By word of mouth, social media and handing out flyers, their determination to uphold tradition pulled together a semi, motorcycles, floats, antique cars and whoever else wanted to participate in the drive-by parade. 


Parade watchers could be seen spread out along Mishawaka Street, as the patriotic procession followed the usual route that went west on Rochester Street and north on Mishawaka Street.  It was followed by a community picnic at Pike Memorial Park. 


The parade's official postponement date was slated for September 26, 2020 during the Akron Summer's End Festival. 


Fireworks will not take place in Akron during 2020 but the town instead hopes for a possibly bigger display in 2021. 

Fulton County Animal Center fundraiser

The Fulton County Animal Adoption Center is having its first fundraiser since the start of the cornavirus.


Janet Showley says they are planning a big one. 



Showley has the dates and details of the rummage sale fundraiser.



State responds to Alyssa Shepherd appeal

The state has responded to an appeal filed by the attorneys of a woman convicted of hitting and killing three children at a bus stop in Fulton County in 2018.


Alyssa Shepherd was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for reckless homicide, criminal recklessness, and reckless driving for hitting and killing the children as they were crossing the street to get on the bus to school. The school bus was stopped along State Road 25 with the stop-arm extended at the time of the crash.


Shepherd and her attorneys filed an appeal in the case in mid-January saying the state "failed to present substantial evidence from which recklessness could be inferred." They argue the state did not prove Shepherd made the "conscious choice" to pass the school bus and that the whole thing was simply an accident.


In a 53-page document filed by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and Deputy AG Ellen Meilaender, the state responded to Shepherd's appeal.


"The evidence is sufficient to sustain the jury’s convictions finding Defendant acted recklessly when she disregarded a stopped school bus," read the brief. "Driving past a stopped school bus is a voluntary improper act, and failing to slow down at all when approaching a stopped bus is refraining from doing a proper and prudent act."


Hill and Meilaender added in the brief that the state also proved that Shepherd knew it was a stopped school bus as she approached.


"There is no dispute that Defendant drove past the school bus and that she did so without slowing down until the literal last second before she hit the children," the brief read. "Her truck’s crash data recorder showed that the Defendant was driving nearly 60 miles per hour less than 3 seconds before impact."


Where the state does agree with Shepherd's attorneys is her conviction for reckless driving. The appeal argues convictions for reckless driving and criminal recklessness constitute the same action and thus are a case of double jeopardy. The state said Shepherd's conviction for reckless driving would be vacated, but her criminal recklessness conviction still stands.


It's not clear when Shepherd's appeal will be heard in court.

Governor announces modifications to state's Back on Track Plan; most restrictions, capacities stay in place

Governor Eric Holcomb announced the state will modify the Back On Track Indiana plan through at least July 17.


While a few restrictions will lift on July 4 in version 4.5 of the plan, most will stay in place. Elkhart County will remain fully in Stage 4 until at least July 17. Local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines.


“While most of our health indicators remain positive, our data indicates a need to be extra cautious, which is why we will pause much of our Back on Track roadmap,” Gov. Holcomb said. “I urge Hoosiers to maintain vigilance in social distancing and wearing masks so we can continue to reopen our state for business.”


Gov. Holcomb has used data to drive decisions since the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus in early March and he continues to do so as the state continues a sector-by-sector reset. The state will move to reopen while continuing to monitor and respond to these four guiding principles:


  • The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days
  • The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators
  • The state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees
  • Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing


Through at least July 17, the following restrictions will continue:


  • Social gatherings following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines will be limited to up to 250 people. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties, and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time, particularly indoors.
  • Dining room food service may continue operations at up to 75 percent capacity as long as social distancing is observed. Bar seating in restaurants may continue operations at 50 percent capacity. Bars and nightclubs may continue operations open at 50 percent capacity as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Cultural, entertainment and tourism sites may continue operations open at 50 percent capacity.
  • Movie theaters, bowling alleys and similar facilities may continue operations open at 50 percent capacity.
  • Amusement parks, water parks and similar facilities may continue operations open at 50 percent capacity. Reservations are encouraged to limit the number of customers at any one time.
  • Raceways may continue operations open at 50 percent grandstand capacity.


Beginning July 4, fairs, festivals and other similar outdoor events may open. Pari-mutuel horse racing and county and state fair racing may begin with 50 percent spectator capacity. Youth overnight camps may open.


K-12 school operations may begin the 2020-21 academic year on July 1. Extra-curricular, co-curricular activities may resume July 6.


Outdoor visitation is required at assisted living facilities and nursing homes beginning July 4 and indoor visitation may begin. Hospital visitations with precautions are encouraged.


Hoosiers 65 and over and those with high-risk health conditions – who are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus – should adhere to social distancing guidelines and remain cautious. Face coverings in public places are highly recommended.


Gov. Holcomb and Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, today announced a statewide initiative to encourage Hoosiers to wear masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.


The #MaskUpHoosiers initiative is launching with videos and photos of state government leaders, celebrities, and Hoosiers from all walks of life sharing their heartfelt reasons for wearing a mask in public, which is one of the strongest steps possible to limit the spread of COVID-19, saving lives and allowing the state to continue its phased re-opening. Additional photos and videos will be featured as the educational campaign progresses. Visit www.coronavirus.in.gov/maskuphoosiers to learn more.


To learn more about the different stages and the associated dates to get a better understanding about where we’re going as a state, click here to see the full plan: BackOnTrack.in.gov


The Governor signed an executive order implementing these changes to the Back on Track Indiana roadmap. The Governor also signed an executive order extending the public health emergency through Aug. 3. The executive orders can be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

Indiana's Stage 5 for re-opening will wait a couple weeks

Stage 5 of Indiana’s reopening plan isn’t coming this weekend.  It’ll be at least another two weeks.


Governor Eric Holcomb on Wednesday labeled the next two weeks, July 4 – 17, instead, as Stage 4.5.  It marks a mostly status quo with allowance for outdoor events.



The governor says certain types of events can go ahead if they adhere to social distancing and other guidelines.



Aside from that, most restrictions, capacities remain the same.



Moving to Stage 5 is now targeted for July 18.


Warsaw mayor tests positive for coronavirus

The mayor of Warsaw has tested positive for the coronavirus.


In an e-mail from the city on Tuesday, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer sought testing when he first noticed a slight fever.  He has been working from home since last Wednesday, June 24. He said in the press release he is relieved that he feels good and is able to work from home remotely.


The mayor is strongly recommending that anyone with symptoms or who feels like they have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive to get tested immediately.


As of Monday, Kosciusko County had 501 COVID cases with three deaths.

Man arrested for murder, arson in Plymouth

In Plymouth, a man is accused of killing a woman and setting a house on fire over the weekend.


Duane Longacre, 35, of Plymouth, is charged with murder, arson, and resisting arrest.  Police say he killed Jill McCarty with a machete, put her body in a bathtub, and then set several fires.


McCarty's body was found by firefighters.


Longacre was arrested and taken to the Marshall County Jail.

Rochester man killed in car - motorcycle crash

Deputies with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Fatal Team were requested at a crash that occurred early Monday evening in Scott Township. The preliminary results of the investigation indicate that Bryce Hershberger, 26, of Rochester, and Kathryn Miller, 69, of Osceola, were traveling on CR 1100 W just south of 1200 N. Miller crossed Hershberger’s path of travel, as she began to make a left-hand turn onto a private driveway.


Hershberger’s Yamaha motorcycle struck the passenger side of Miller’s Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Hershberger, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office. Miller was not injured.


This collision remains under investigation.


The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Nappanee Police Department, Nappanee Fire Department, Nappanee Emergency Medical Service, Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office and the Parkview Samaritan Air Ambulance responded to the crash scene.

Fire run turns to stabbing investigation, arrest in Plymouth

Police say a Plymouth man was arrested after a deceased victim was discovered following a fire at a Plymouth residence.


The Plymouth Fire Department put out a fire in the 900 block of North Plum Street on Sunday morning.  Plymouth Police say they were called to the scene with a report of a possible stabbing and were on contact with a man in the home.  Duane Longacre was apprehended as he tried to escape out the home’s back door.


Plymouth Police were assisted at the scene by the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Marshall County coroner, Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office and Indiana State Fire Marshal.


South Bend man arrested after pursuit, crash

A South Bend man will face several charges following his arrest after a pursuit in Fulton County.


The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department says a vehicle pursuit led to the arrest of Maurice R. Jackson, 29.  Jackson was incarcerated in the Fulton County Jail to face criminal charges for resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, possession of marijuana, possession of a Scheduled narcotic and dealing a scheduled narcotic. 


At approximately 9:00 pm, Thursday, a Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a traffic stop of a speeding motorist on SR 25 near 600 South for allegedly traveling 85 mph in a posted 55 mph zone. While conducting the traffic stop the driver, Jackson, took off and fled.  This led the deputy on an approximate 10 minute pursuit into Cass County and the City of Logansport.  The chase ended when Jackson struck a retaining wall at the curve on Michigan Ave. (SR 25) and Miami Ave. The wall separates Michigan Ave. and the Eel River. 


Jackson was taken to Logansport Memorial Hospital and observed overnight.  He was cleared by the hospital on Friday and transported to the Fulton County Jail.


Assisting the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office was the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Logansport Police Department.

Thunderstorms in the Friday evening forecast

Most of Indiana could see thunderstorms Friday afternoon and Friday night, but the threat of severe weather gets stronger the more north you go.


Indianapolis and other parts of central Indiana are under a "marginal" risk of severe weather, which is the lowest level on the National Weather Service's scale. Areas like Lafayette, Kokomo and Fort Wayne under a "slight" chance, which is Level 2 of 5. The far northern part of Indiana, like Valparaiso and South Bend, are in an "enhanced" risk of severe weather, which is Level 3.


"Only general thunderstorms are expected for the southern half of the state, and once you go more north, the more severe threat there is," says Michael Skipper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana.


He says that means heavy rain, strong winds, hail, and even a tornado are possible.


"We're thinking about, probably, between 6-8 p.m., starting in northwest Indiana," Skipper said.


Areas north of U.S. 30 have the strongest chance of severe weather, including Valparaiso, South Bend and Angola.


Skipper added that another round of rain and thunderstorms are expected for the entire state on Saturday and into Sunday.

Fulton Co. United Way approved to receive a $125,000 COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant

The Fulton County United Way released the following information:


Fulton County United Way is pleased to announce that it has been approved to receive a $125,000 COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant, made possible through a partnership between Lilly Endowment, Inc. and Indiana United Ways, the state professional association of which Fulton County United Way is a member.  These special funds will be used to boost the efforts of selected area human and social service nonprofits on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Fulton County United Way has been a key convener and coordinator of our community’s response to meet human needs for decades. Even before this crisis, we knew that over 13% of families in Fulton County were not able to make ends meet - despite working. Without a robust local nonprofit safety net, those needs are bound to become even more dire. Thanks to generous support from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., we are now more strongly positioned to help our community’s nonprofits deal with the immediate impacts of Covid-19,” said Kim Hunter Board Chair for Fulton County United Way.


The COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant calls for United Ways that receive funding to leverage partnerships and relationships to better meet Covid-related essential and basic needs, which could include safe, emergency childcare, and to address other Covid-19 critical issues as they emerge. Specifically, Fulton County United Way plans to use the ERI funds that will directly impact families and/or individuals from Fulton County that meet the ALICE guidelines, as well as those on low fixed income. These clients will be vetted by our service providers to ensure they meet these guidelines. Funds distributed will be utilized to support clients most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with rent, mortgage, utilities, food access and critical transportation. Fulton County United Way will begin accepting funding requests from area human and social service nonprofits in good standing beginning June 29, 2020.  Interested organizations should consult Northern Indiana Community Foundation’s website for guidance on funding intent and application instructions.


Andrews, IN, population 1149, without drinking water

A disagreement has left Hoosiers in Andrews in an "impossible situation."


The town has been under a Do Not Drink order after a water well tested positive for fifteen times the safe level of vinyl chloride. The Journal Gazette reports that the Department of Environmental Management says Andrews can drop the order once the well is shut down and flushed out. But the town says they can't do that because they wouldn't have enough water pressure to fight fires.


The Do Not Drink order is still in effect and it's unknown when residents will be able to use the town water again.

Fulton Co. Sheriff's Dept among agencies aiding ISP in pursuit investigation

Recently a vehicle pursuit led to the arrests of Shacarla M. Williams, 19, Virginia Beach, VA and Dante Bishop, 22, South Bend, IN.  Williams was incarcerated in the Miami County Jail to face criminal charges for resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and reckless driving. Bishop was transported to the LaPorte County Jail. He had an active arrest warrant for failure to appear on a larceny charge. 


Just after 10 pm TuesdayIndiana State Police Trooper Dakota Anderson was monitoring traffic, on U.S. 31, when he initiated a traffic stop on a 2020 Toyota near Miami County Road 1050 South. The Toyota was allegedly traveling 95 miles per hour in a posted 60 miles per hour zone. The driver of the Toyota, later identified as Williams, failed to stop and led the trooper on an approximately 23 minute pursuit. The chase ended when Williams stopped, after hitting two sets of stop sticks, on U.S. 31 near U.S. 30 in Marshall County.


Further investigation revealed that Bishop, a passenger in the Toyota, was wanted on an active warrant from LaPorte County. Williams, who is pregnant, complained of pain. She was checked and cleared by a local hospital prior to being transported to the Miami County Jail.


Trooper Anderson was assisted in the investigation by Trooper Kyle Miller, Trooper Derek Rine, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, and the Plymouth Police Department. 

Saharan dust on the way

Dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa will be impacting the air here in North America in several ways this weekend.


WISH-TV Meteorologist Tara Hastings says the U.S. is regularly impacted by clouds of dust from the Sahara once or twice a year. But, she says the cloud of dust that is heading this way this year is a little more intense than in year's past.


"We're tracking the Saharan dust that is traveling across the Atlantic," Hastings said. "Right now it's in the Gulf (of Mexico) and we expect it to travel a little further north into this weekend."

Far enough north to reach Indiana where Hastings expects poor air quality and advises anyone with respiratory problems or issues to be advised and plan accordingly.


We're going to be seeing a milky looking sky," said Hastings. "It's going to look a little hazy at times. Similar to what you might see when there is a lot of smoke or haze in the atmosphere."

Though that is a negative impact of the dust, Hastings says there are several positives.


"One cool thing we are going to be seeing are vibrant sunsets and sunrises," she added. "The dust particles in the atmosphere, they're going to scatter that light and we should be seeing some cool sunrises and sunsets."


Hastings also said the dust is a welcome sign for those living on the eastern seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico. She said the dry air from the dust "inhibits tropical development", meaning the dust stalls the atmosphere's ability to produce thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes.


As long as the dust is in the atmosphere around North America that means there is less of a chance for powerful storms such as these to hit the U.S.

Bagged salad mix recall at Aldi

Aldi is recalling bagged salad mix because it might make people sick.


Aldi said its Little Salad Bar Garden Salad could be contaminated with Cyclospora, a parasite that causes nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fatigue.


The salad mix was sold in 12-ounce bags and the bags have Best If Used By Dates of May 1 through June 29.  The salad was distributed throughout the Midwest by Aldi, Hy-Vee, and Jewel-Osco stores.

As of June 22, the salad mix has sickened 122 people in seven states, according to the CDC.


If you own any of the recalled salad, you should not eat it. You should throw it away or return it to the store for a refund.

School board approves Rochester re-opening plans

The Rochester School Board approved several measures leading to the planned reopening of school buildings for the upcoming school year.


Superintendent Jana Vance says you can read the school’s reopening policy documents and more on the school corporation’s website.  Vance says interaction with the public, local health leaders and more helped form the plan which will remain fluid understanding that change may be needed.



There are several layers to the protocol.  Use of masks, transportation, athletics, just to name a few.


First, who wears masks and when.



How transportation will be handled.



Lunchroom seating will be assigned.



As for the classroom, social distancing will be recognized.



For those who are not yet comfortable attending class in the school building Vance says there will be virtual learning available.



To athletics, the IHSAA has already outlined its plan for a return to sports this fall.



As for games, we’ve already heard talk of pro sports returning to no spectators.  Spectators at high school events remain a talking point at this time.



The superintendent notes that information is available on the school’s website.  They also plan to create a type of alert system for constant monitoring of the situation as the year goes on.



Packed crowd at Friday's Cass County Council meeting on WSP

More than 45 demonstrators lined Logansport's Broadway and Third Street near the Cass County Government Building Friday morning, during the Cass County Council meeting. 


"Honk if you don't want to be poisoned," chanted 11 year old Ashira Guiterrez. Between holding signs and chanting her objections among the rest of the protestors, Guiterrez was also strapped with a ukulele, singing and playing a song she wrote with her cousin about her views on WSP. Her family home is located just 20 feet from the proposed plant causing privacy concerns.



Patricia Rozzi, an organizer who made the 'No to WSP' signs, petitions and website dontpoisenus.com, was also among the demonstrators Friday.  Rozzi says the next step will be Monday, when she'll be unrolling new ideas and recruiting people for a door-to-door grass-root movement, in both Spanish and English. 


She hopes the grass-root movement will last long after the proposed Waelz Sustainable Products concerns are over and will help bring together the community, despite any language barriers or differences. 


Ongoing honks were heard for the entire County Council meeting, which lasted two hours and met its maximum capacity  for public attendance.


Those attending inside the meeting say they felt satisfied that their voices were being heard and respected by council members, who took notes and shook their heads in acknowledgement with speakers during the public comments at the end of the meeting. 

Among those attending the meeting was Cindy White, a Logansport resident who's lived in the area for the past 15 years. "Emotions are running high right now because we are worried about our families," said White. 


Construction at the proposed plant still remains ongoing. 

Governor announces $61 million Education Relief Fund for remote learning

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced Indiana PK-12 schools and higher education institutions can now apply for a needs-based, competitive $61.6 million grant program providing funding to improve remote learning.


“Teachers, administrators and superintendents have faced this pandemic with innovative solutions to ensure our students continue to receive the best education possible,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Our Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds will help meet technology needs and grow educator development while working to reduce the disparities between districts.”


The $61.6 million Indiana received in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding, provided though the federal CARES Act, will be focused on three areas:

  • Device Availability – Address the need for access to digital learning devices to support remote learning for students in PK-12.
  • Connectivity – Develop comprehensive community-level and regional-level solutions to address gaps in internet connectivity for remote learning.
  • Educator Capacity – Support partnerships between higher education and PK-12 to develop professional development and curriculum opportunities as educators throughout Indiana continue to build expertise in remote learning.


In a collaboration among the Governor’s Office, the Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana State Board of Education, the state expects to award dozens of grants. There is no minimum or maximum threshold, however grants may not be funded at the full amount requested. Traditional public school corporations, public charter schools, accredited non-public schools, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities are eligible to apply.


The deadline is Friday, July 17. To apply, click here.

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