WROI News Archives for 2020-04

Public's help requested to ID Kosciusko Co. human remains

Kosciusko County investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying human remains found last month.

 

On April 2, human remains were located 300 yards off of State Road 13, just south of Old Road 30; north of Pierceton. Over the past few weeks, investigators have submitted evidence for analysis. Fingerprints and DNA samples failed to produce an identification in their respective databases. 

 

DNA analysis confirmed that the remains are that of a male. Additionally, investigators believe the male subject had black hair and was approximately 5'5” tall. Investigators are now reaching out to the community for assistance. In the story on our website are photographs of the two shirts located with the body, along with a bracelet. 

 

 

The first shirt is a blue, size small Vans brand long sleeve shirt. 

 

 

The second is a sleeveless Maple Grove black jersey type shirt. 

 

Investigators have located the original owner of the Maple Grove jersey, who advised he donated the jersey to Goodwill in 2016. Additional DNA genetic genealogy testing is currently in the process; however, results have been delayed due to COVID closures. 

 

If you have information on a possible identity please contact the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Office at 574-267-5667.    

 

Bloomington company adding hundreds of jobs to make COVID-19 vaccine

A subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson may have a vaccine for the coronavirus and plans to use a facility in Bloomington to help manufacture it.

 

Johnson & Johnson says it's leading vaccine candidate for the COVID-19 virus is still in development and hopes to start conducting clinical trials in September. Until then, the company needs to make more of it and has partnered with Catalant, Inc. to do it.

 

Catalant tells Inside Indiana Business it plans to add 300 jobs to it's facility in Bloomington in order to help start making the vaccine.

Ruth Gunter joins Rochester City Council April meeting on wastewater-landfill, golf course opening

The Rochester City Council welcomed its newest member in a meeting that featured most joining via phone.

 

Mayor Ted Denton says the meeting by conference call was certainly different.

 

 

COVID-19 was a part of the meeting’s conversation.  While the mayor acknowledges that Cass County’s added cases at the Tyson plant adds to the complexity of the situation, they are going to let the golf course open for play.

 

 

 

The mayor also noted that a wastewater project with the landfill should be realized soon.

 

 

The council’s newest member was a part of the proceedings for the first time. 

 

 

Gunter was named by the Democrat party chair after District 1 councilman Gary Clevenger was charged with child solicitation, sexual misconduct with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Food stamp eligibility changes with kids at home

You might be eligible for food stamps during the pandemic, even if you weren't eligible before.

 

The income limit for free and reduced school lunches is higher than the cutoff for food stamps -- $13, 000 a year higher for a family of four. But since kids can't go to school right now, they're not getting those meals. USDA has granted Indiana permission to expand food-stamp eligibility to those families.

 

You don't have to do anything to apply -- you'll get an electronic benefit card in the mail automatically.

 

The amount of food stamp benefits is normally reduced in proportion to the amount you're earning. That offset has been suspended. That's a raise in benefits of up to $800 a month for a family of four.

 

Family and Social Services Secretary Jennifer Sullivan says the expansions will stay in place until Indiana's public health emergency ends. She says applications have more than tripled in the last six weeks.

 

Sullivan says one change prompted by the pandemic will continue even after things go back to normal: the state will now offer a delivery option for groceries purchased with food stamps.

June primary mail-in ballots available online

Indiana voters can now submit online their requests for a mail-in ballot for the state’s June 2 primary election.

 

The request form was posted online Tuesday on the state’s voter registration site — www.IndianaVoters.com. The electronic form submits the ballot request to election officials, rather than voters having to mail the ballot application form to their county election office.

 

Election officials are promoting mail-in voting as a way to protect the safety of voters and polling site workers by reducing the amount of in-person voting. The state election commission voted last month to delay the primary from its original May 5 date and allow any voter to cast a mail-in ballot without having to meet one of the excuses required under state law.

 

To access the online ballot request form, voters must log in to their registration record on the website, select “Absentee Voting” on the screen’s left side and click on “Vote By Mail.”

 

State election officials plan to have early voting sites open starting May 26 in each county. In-person voting locations are planned for June 2, although counties could have fewer sites open than usual

Indiana has no challenged races for statewide elected offices in this year’s primary.

Fulton Co. Animal Center ready to move on past COVID-19

It’s not just caring for human needs during this coronavirus pandemic.  The ability to care for furry friends is also hampered.

 

Fulton  County Animal Center Executive Director Janet Showley says the facility is quieter now than usual.

 

 

Showley says this stretch of being closed has been a strain as they try to keep busy and keep staffing going.

 

 

Like everyone, Showley ready to get back to normal.  Especially as it pertains to finances.

 

 

Showley says they keep busy on social media and adoptions have been quick.

 

 

Kosciusko Community YMCA with COVID-19 related layoffs

The Kosciusko Community YMCA has announced hundreds of layoffs.  Due to COVID-19 concerns the YMCA in Warsaw closed its doors on March 19. 

 

Approximately 300 employees, 15 full-time employees, have now been furloughed.

 

 

 

 

 

New grading scale to finish school year for Riddle Elementary

Rochester's Riddle Elementary School is adopting a new grading system for the fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.  The grading scale will be much like the Columbia Elementary grading scale. 

 

Principal Luke Biernacki said the decision was made at the April 20 school board meeting.

 

 

The school will still be doing midterms on April 29 and report cards at the end of the year.

 

E-Learning continues on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday through May 21.  Students can use Friday-Monday to catch up on any E-Learning assignments from the previous week.  If you have any questions or needs, please do not hesitate to reach out to your student’s teacher. 

 

Biernacki says the school district continues to plan and will look to add more info to the school website soon.

 

 

 

The Rochester School Corporation is continuing the food program every Friday from 11:00-12:30. If you have any questions, contact Food Service Director Kathy Wilkinson: kathy.wilkinson@zebras.net or call 574-223-2159 ext. 5004

 

When Stay-At-Home orders are removed and at an appropriate date, students will be invivted back into the building to retrieve any supplies they left in their desks.

 

 

 

Logansport mayor with executive order in wake of hundreds of Cass Co. confirmed COVID-19 cases

Over 400 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cass County prompted an executive order from the mayor of Logansport Monday.

 

For the second straight day, Cass County led the state in confirmed tests.  Testing of 2200 employees at Tyson in Logansport has sparked the increase.  Every Tyson employee is being tested. The county health department urged Tyson to test its workers when they noticed that many of the people coming down with the virus had some sort of connection to the Logansport plant.

 

273 Cass County new cases were reported Sunday.  439 in Monday’s update.

 

An executive order went into effect noon Monday from Logansport Mayor Chris Martin.

 

 

Among other counties with ten or more cases in the Monday update were Fulton with 10 and Miami with 28.

 

Gov. Holcomb signs executive order to expedite appeals of unemployment insurance claims

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today signed an executive order to speed up the review of unemployment insurance claim appeals during the fight against COVID-19.

 

The executive order 20-23 allows the Department of Workforce Development to hire additional staff to review the appeals.  

 

The executive order also waives paperwork requirements to help businesses apply for federal assistance under programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and temporarily waives requirements for documents connected to certain alcohol permits.

 

Additionally, the executive order extends the business personal property tax deadlines to June 15, 2020.

Wabash County egg business kept busy by shoppers during pandemic

People haven't just been buying a surplus of toilet paper. Eggs have also been flying off the shelves because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Sam Krouse is vice president of business development for MPS Egg Farms in North Manchester. He says right from the beginning, they saw sales jump by about 100% over that first week when you saw the panic buying.

 

Krouse says the increase is because restaurants are either closed or only offering takeout, which means more people are eating and cooking at home.

 

 

Krouse says the MPS egg facilities are still running "full tilt," with employees working overtime.

 

 

The company says it produces about nine million eggs a day,

Logansport's Tyson plant to close for COVID-19 employee testing

The Tyson Foods plant in Logansport will be closed--to allow 2200 employees to be tested for coronavirus infection.

 

Production was suspended for one day Monday for deep cleaning and sanitizing. Since then, the plant has been running at reduced capacity but even that is expected to stop before the end of this week. Testing could begin Thursday.

 

Workers will be paid during the shutdown.

 

The Cass County health officer, Dr. Dori Ditty, says the health department is pleased with Tyson's "collaboration" to protect the community.

 

Tyson says the Logansport plant produces three million pounds pork per day--and helps support more than 250 family farmers across nine states.

Caston school buses get perfect score from ISP

Recently, Indiana State Police Master Trooper Randy McPike, and his team of inspectors, completed annual school bus inspections at Caston Schools.

 

Caston received a perfect score. This means their 24 busses had no violations the first time through the inspection line.

 

"This is extremely rare," stated Master Trooper Randy McPike, school bus inspection coordinator for the Indiana State Police Peru District. "I have been doing this since 2007, this is only the second time I have done a perfect inspection.”

 

According to McPike, the state average is perennially about 85 percent.

 

Per Indiana statute, every school bus and special purpose bus must be inspected at least once per year by Indiana State Police personnel. Older buses (those at least 12-years-old) must be inspected at least twice a year. The Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division is responsible for overseeing all school bus inspections in Indiana. They field teams of motor carrier inspectors and troopers, within each state police district, to conduct inspections. Officers check over 50 items from the first aid kit to the engine and transmission.

 

Master Trooper Randy McPike is responsible for inspections of approximately 800 busses within the Indiana State Police Peru District. The Peru District encompasses Fulton, Grant, Cass, Tipton, Miami, Howard, and Wabash Counties.

 

Once an inspection has been completed, a bus will be approved, rejected, or placed out-of-service.  A bus receiving an approved rating passed inspection without any defects, and is ready to transport children.  A bus that is rejected has minor defects, and the school has 30 days to correct the defects.  During this period, the bus is allowed to transport children.  A bus that receives an out-of-service rating indicates that it has serious mechanical defects, and is not allowed to transport children until the defects are corrected and the bus has been re-inspected.  The busses that do not pass inspection are ordered repaired and are re-inspected until they are fixed or ordered out of service.  The inspections typically take fifteen minutes per bus. Most violations involve minor defects, such as burnt out lights, which are easily fixed.  However, some buses do need major mechanical repairs and may never be put in service.

Lt. Gov. announces 13 COVID-19 response recipients; Fulton Co. $250,000 to provide grants to small businesses

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced that 13 rural Hoosier communities will receive more than $1.96 million in federal grant funding, through the new COVID-19 Response Program.

 

In March, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-05 that allowed the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to redirect Community Development Block Grant funds to assist with COVID-19 needs, based on guidance from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

On April 1, the COVID-19 Response Program launched and, over the course of two weeks, received 108 Letters of Need, totaling an estimated $23 million in requests. Eligible activities for this program include but are not limited to:

 

  • Expanding or altering existing medical facilities to help in the increase patient load due to COVID-19;
  • Provide fixed or mobile testing;
  • Expand food pantry services to low-to-moderate (LMI) populations; and
  • Provide grants or loans to small businesses to help retain LMI jobs.

More projects will be announced as they continue to be evaluated and reviewed by OCRA. For further information on the program, visit www.in.gov/ocra/3010.htm.

Provide testing, diagnosis or other services

  • Cass County and Logansport Memorial Hospital are awarded $150,000 to provide COVID-19 testing at the Cass County Fairgrounds to residents of Cass County. Special hours will be set aside for those that are seniors aged 62 and older.

Establish delivery service

  • The City of Logansport is awarded $100,000 to deliver supplies and meals to LMI residents in partnership with the United Way of Cass County.

Grants to businesses to retain jobs

  • The Town of North Manchester is awarded $250,000 to build upon an existing Revolving Loan Fund to provide grants to local businesses with employees who have low-and-moderate income households impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis.
  • Fulton County is awarded $250,000 to provide grants to small businesses in order to retain employees.  Fulton County Commissioner Brian Lewis explains.  

 

  • The City of Knox is awarded $250,000 to provide working capital to local businesses for job retention.

 

 

 

Akron's Viking Grocery searching suppliers to keep shelves full during COVID-19

Terry Randall will tell you.  The grocery business can be hard, long days.  He would know.  He’s been doing it a long time.

 

This COVID-19 situation has often made days longer and harder.

 

Terry and Cris Randall own and operate Viking Foods in Akron. 

 

Terry says it can be a bit troubling knowing their staff is on the front lines.

 

 

Shoppers get aggravated when they can’t find what they need.  Terry explains how hard it can be to get those supplies to the store in the first place.

 

 

That can make interaction with the customers difficult from time to time.

 

 

Aside from that, Terry says the discussions and work stays pretty much the same.

 

 

Changes at the store though.  Grocery shopping can be a family experience.  But for now, amid COVID-19, Terry asks that you come just one family member at a time.

 

 

He also notes that he does have some volunteers who can help out with deliveries in the Akron area.

 

 

 

Governor issues revised Stay at Home Order. Also extends orders limiting state gov't services and restaurant, bar restrictions

Governor Eric J. Holcomb Monday issued a revised Stay At Home order that lasts through May 1 and is designed to limit interactions among Hoosiers to increase containment of COVID-19. As of today, 11,686 people have tested positive and 569 people have died from the disease in Indiana. There are now positive tests in 92 of 92 counties. Click here to see the executive order: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

 

As a part of this action, Gov. Holcomb also extended through May 1 the orders that limit in-person public activity at state government offices and put restrictions on the operation of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

 

“I want to thank Hoosiers in every corner of our state who have stayed socially-distanced and hunkered down. Lives are being saved, and we’re slowing the spread,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Continuing the course at this time is essential to flattening the curve while we also prepare to safely reopen Indiana for business.”

 

While the Stay At Home order chiefly continues as is, EO 20-22 brings clarity to some essential businesses.

  • As long as sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), staff and other supplies are available for the COVID-19 response, hospitals should conduct medically necessary procedures, such as those determining cancer diagnosis and cardiac issues, respiratory procedures, and procedures to reduce significant pain or symptoms making quality of life unacceptable.
    • Any restrictions involving medical procedures will be evaluated every seven days for appropriate and timely modifications that could be implemented.
  • Permitted outdoor activity as described in the executive order includes yard work, gardening, planting and landscaping at residential, commercial and industrial properties and farms.
    • Nurseries and garden centers may be open for business as long as they limit the number of customers in their facility at any given time to achieve the Centers for Disease Control’s required social distancing, limit their hours of operation and consider implementing separate operating hours for the elderly and other vulnerable customers, and comply with the social distancing, sanitation and other mitigation measure to protect its employees and the public.
  • Pet grooming at a pet salon, store or mobile unit is permitted.

 

The Critical Industries Hotline continues to be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to respond to business and industry questions about whether a business is considered essential. The center may be reached by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing covidresponse@iedc.in.gov

 

Answers to frequently asked questions and instructions to file for COVID-19-related unemployment are available at Unemployment.IN.gov.

 

A link to the updated Stay-At-Home Order FAQ may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm Please refer to this FAQ page for guidance and clarifications. 

Fulton Co. jail correctional officer arrested

A recent investigation by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of a Fulton County Jail Correctional Officer.

 

On Monday,  Bryce Mosee, 23, of Rochester, was arrested and lodged in the Fulton County Jail on preliminary charges of Official Misconduct - Level 6, Obstruction of Justice - Level 6, and Assisting a Criminal - A Misdemeanor. He is currently being held on a $500.00 cash bond.

 

Mosee's employment with the Fulton County Sheriff Office / Jail Division has been terminated as a result of the investigation and arrest.

 

An investigation was launched on a report that Correctional Officer Mosee provided information pertaining to an active investigation to an inmate lodged in the Fulton County Jail. This information was then relayed by the inmate to one of the suspects of the investigation.

Additionally, other individuals were also contacted concerning the investigation as a result of the information provided by Mosee.

 

Sheriff Sailors states, "I am deeply disappointed by the actions of this officer but I will not and cannot tolerate this behavior as this is a serious breach of policy and of the community's trust.

When this trust is compromised, I will hold them accountable to the public. This has been outstanding investigative work, which shows our commitment to maintain the safety and security of the Fulton County Jail. We will pursue individuals who choose to compromise the integrity of our profession."

One person injured in Sunday shooting

A domestic disturbance ended with one person wounded in a Sunday shooting.

 

Just before 6:30 pm Sunday. Fulton County 911 received a report of a shooting that had occurred in the S 1000 block of CR 400 E Rochester. At that time, dispatch sent units to the address. Rochester City Police Department Officers were already on scene at Woodlawn Hospital with the subject who had been shot.

 

Once on scene at CR 400 E, officers discovered that there was a domestic disturbance that had occurred inside the residence in which shots were fired and one of the occupants were struck.  That individual was transported to Woodlawn Hospital and later transferred to a Ft. Wayne Hospital for treatment.  Their current condition is unknown at this time. 

 

The Fulton County Sheriff Office was assisted by the Rochester City Police Dept. in this investigation.  The investigation is ongoing and findings will be forwarded to the Fulton County Prosecutor’s Office for review upon completion.   

Indiana Election Commission adopts additional procedures for June 2 Primary Election

In response to recommendations from Governor Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, and the leadership of Indiana’s major political parties, the Indiana Election Commission has issued an order implementing policy changes for the June 2 Primary Election. This follows a previous order issued March 25, 2020.

 

The complete order detailing each change is available at https://www.in.gov/sos/elections/2404.htm.

 

The Commission’s order included the following changes, which will apply to the June 2 Primary only:

  • Limited early in-person voting will be available for one week, from May 26 to June 1.
  • Poll workers are currently required to live in the county they work for. This requirement is waived so long as the voter is registered to vote in Indiana.
  • The Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Division will provide counties with training and guidelines on mail handling procedures and personal protective equipment.
  • The Commission advises that all public buildings, such as fire stations and school buildings, be available for use for the June 2 Primary.
  • All absentee ballot applications submitted after December 2 will be accepted regardless of excuse given, as long as they are otherwise compliant with Indiana law.
  • County election boards may adopt more than one central count location.
  • Counties may move a polling location after giving best possible notice to the public.

 

The Commission is next scheduled to meet on April 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

 

Eligible Hoosiers can register to vote online, check their registration status, and request an absentee ballot by visiting www.IndianaVoters.com

 

 

Walorski bill to suspend penalty on Social Security recipients working amid COVID-19 pandemic; Walorski on WROI

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.)  introduced legislation to provide immediate economic relief to seniors who continue working or return to work after claiming Social Security benefits.

 

“Older Americans who keep working or return to work after taking Social Security shouldn’t have their benefits reduced or delayed – especially during this national crisis,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “By suspending an unnecessary penalty on Social Security recipients, we can provide immediate economic relief to seniors in the workforce, including those returning to work out of financial necessity or to help fight coronavirus. This simple, commonsense reform would help America’s working seniors at a time when they need it most.”

 

This legislation would suspend for one year the Retirement Earnings Test (RET), a penalty on Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) beneficiaries who choose to enter, remain in, or return to the labor force. This would provide immediate relief to Social Security recipients who must return to work due to financial hardship, as well as those such as health care retirees who return to work to help in the coronavirus response effort.

 

Last year, Walorski introduced the Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act to permanently repeal the RET, which affects younger seniors who work after claiming Social Security benefits. In 2000, Congress eliminated the RET for those who are at or above their full retirement age. The legislation would build on that reform by eliminating the earnings penalty for all Social Security OASI beneficiaries.

 

Rep. Walorski spoke with John Adams on WROI:

 

 

Business tax deadlines remain unchanged for upcoming months

The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) has recently announced several tax filing and payment deadline extensions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, filing and payment requirements and dates for taxes collected by businesses remain unchanged.

 

All recently announced extensions for state individual and corporate tax filing and payment deadlines are listed on DOR’s Coronavirus web page at dor.in.gov/7078.htm.

 

Business taxes, including sales, withholding income, food and beverage, county innkeeper’s and heavy equipment rental excise tax remain due on the standard due dates as listed on DOR’s website at dor.in.gov/3344.htm. Interest and penalties will apply if filing and payment deadlines are missed and will not be automatically waived.

 

Filing on time is critical. After completing the required filing, if a business owner is unable to make a scheduled payment, payment plans are available.

 

“The DOR team is here to help all Hoosiers continue to comply with their tax filing and payment requirements,” explained DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “Ignoring those requirements results in additional penalties and interest that can be avoided by filing on time and reaching out to our team for assistance.”

 

DOR's Customer Service Team is available to help answer questions and setup payment arrangements Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., EST.

 

  • Customers with questions regarding sales, county innkeeper’s or food and beverage taxes should call 317-233-4015.
  • Customers with questions regarding withholding income tax should call 317-233-4016.

$96.52 million to Indiana airports in response to COVID-19; Fulton and surrounding counties receive funds

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $96,523,889 in airport aid to 65 airports in Indiana to help respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This historic grant funding is part of the Trump Administration’s newly created Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Airport Grant Program, an effort to provide unprecedented and immediate relief to American families, workers, and businesses. 

 

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

 

This funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.

 

Among the Indiana recipients:

 

Rochester - Fulton County - $30,000     

Knox - Starke County - $30,000                    

Logansport - Logansport/Cass County - $30,000

Peru - Peru Municipal - $30,000                    

Plymouth - Plymouth Municipal - $30,000

Wabash - Wabash Municipal - $30,000

Warsaw - Warsaw Municipal - $69,000         

Winamac - Arens Field - $20,000

 

 

 

“Thank you to the dedicated men and women from the FAA’s Office of Airports for creating an entirely new program in record time to assist airport sponsors in desperate need of these funds,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. 

 

View a list of Indiana airports receiving funding on an interactive map, along with funding for all U.S. airports on FAA’s website.

 

The FAA encourages airport sponsors to spend the grant funds immediately to help minimize any adverse impact from the current public health emergency. Airport sponsors should work with their local FAA Office of Airports field office on the application and grant-agreement process.

 

The CARES Act also provides funds to increase the Federal share to 100 percent for grants awarded under the fiscal year 2020 appropriations for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and Supplemental Discretionary grants. Under normal circumstances, AIP grant recipients contribute a matching percentage of the project costs. Providing this additional funding and eliminating the local share will allow critical safety and capacity projects to continue as planned regardless of airport sponsors’ current financial circumstances.

 

The FAA will use a streamlined application and grant-agreement process to make this funding immediately available for critical airport needs. The funds will be available as soon as the airport sponsor executes a grant agreement.

 

The CARES Act provides new funds distributed by various formulas for all airports that are part of the national airport system. This includes all commercial service airports, all reliever airports and some public-owned general aviation airports.

Bremen man sentenced on charges of trying to sell guns to a drug dealer

Charles Hartsell, 48, of Bremen, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty for conspiracy to sell and dispose of one or more firearms to an unlawful user of controlled substances, announced United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

 

Hartsell was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. 

 

According to documents in this case, in February of 2019, Hartsell met a male associate at the Four Winds South Bend casino, which is located on tribal land of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. The two men transferred a .22 rifle and a 9 mm pistol from the associate’s car to Hartsell’s car. Hartsell then drove with his associate to a location in South Bend in order to meet a man referred to as “J”, who was known by Hartsell to be a drug user. Hartsell tried to sell the two firearms to “J”, but “J” decided not to purchase the two firearms. Hartsell and his associate then purchased some heroin and methamphetamine from “J” and drove back to the casino. When they arrived back at the casino, Hartsell and his associate were detained by Pokagon Band tribal police officers. The two firearms were recovered from Hartsell’s car by police. 

 

“The United States has an important relationship with the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians and crimes that occur on this federally-recognized tribal land of the Pokagon Band will be taken seriously by my office,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch.  “We will continue to work in unison with the Pokagon Band to protect the safety of its tribal citizens, while respecting the Pokagon Band’s sovereignty and culture.”

 

Pokagon Police Chief William Lux said, “The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is a federally-recognized sovereign nation and is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in the U.S. government to protect all who visit its trust land and to prosecute those who violate the law on Pokagon land. This case is a great example of team work between our officers, Pokagon Tribal Police Investigations Unit and the St. Joseph County Police Department. We appreciate the support of the FBI and U.S. Attorney Kirsch in prosecuting Mr. Hartsell for crimes committed while at Four Winds South Bend, which is on sovereign Pokagon Band land.”

 

This case was investigated by the FBI and ATF with the assistance of the Pokagon Tribal Police Department and to St. Joseph County Police Department. The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II and Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke N. Reilander

It's a wintry April forecast

Several inches of snow are expected to fall beginning late Thursday night across much of northern Indiana.

 

“We’re expecting it to move in and spread rather rapidly as we get into the overnight hours. Right now we’re looking at overall snow amounts of 3-5 inches. It's less as you go further down towards the U.S. 24 Corridor and points south,” says National Weather Service in Northern Indiana Meteorologist Lonnie Fisher.

 

Fisher says the hardest-hit areas are going to places like Valparaiso, Plymouth, and Warsaw.

 

“South Bend may kind of dodge the worst of it, but it could be right dead-on in Fort Wayne. We’ll just have to keep an eye on it and see what it does,” Fisher says.

 

Some cities up north could see even as many as six inches of snow. Central and southern Indiana will mostly get rain and cold temperatures.

 

“I can’t rule out a few flakes in the Indianapolis area, but the majority of central Indiana is going to see rain with this system,” says National Weather Service in Indianapolis Meteorologist Crystal Petit.

 

The entire state will be dealing with below-freezing temperatures Friday night and into Saturday morning, but then a warming trend begins.

 

“After that, we’re looking at mostly dry conditions and temperatures getting back into the 50s. Monday and Tuesday we’re looking at temperatures getting back to normal for this time of year, which would be in the 60s,” Petit says.

Knox school bus driver and grandson discover a home gas leak while delivering meals

A bus driver with the Knox Community School Corporation and his grandson are being called heroes.

 

Gerald Shadrix and Landon Savant were delivering meals to students on Monday, when they smelled natural gas at one of their stops.

 

Shadrix told WNDU that his grandson smelled the gas through his masks. The smell was so strong they decided to go back and double check, and asked the homeowner Jade Draper if she had a gas leak.  She said no, but then went over to the oven and noticed one of the knobs was turned all the way up.

 

It had been left on for over 12 hours. She said she remembered feeling tired that morning, and that her kids hadn't been as energetic.

 

She said Shadrix and Savant saved her family's life.

Rochester and Fulton Co. authorities meet with church leaders to discuss COVID-19, services

Coming off an Easter weekend where drive-in service was discussed and debated, local officials are hopeful that continued social distancing will bring people together again soon.

 

Rochester Mayor Ted Denton says he was disappointed not to attend an Easter service but felt social distancing remained a top priority.

 

 

Fulton County Commissioner Brian Lewis says a number of area officials and pastors got together Wednesday to talk more.

 

 

Lewis says the consensus out of the meeting, for now, is to take a little more time encouraging social distancing.

 

 

Lewis says they’ll continue to meet weekly as a group to keep the situation updated.

 

 

 

Rochester McDonald's operational after reported COVID-19 case

It won’t count toward COVI-19 cases confirmed for Fulton County but there was a direct impact on a Rochester business involving a case.

 

Fulton County Nurse Rhonda Barnett says McDonald’s was quick to respond to their developing situation.

 

McDonald’s was back up and running with drive-up service on Wednesday.

 

Barnett commended area business for their continued efforts in a tough time.

 

 

A turning point in Indiana's COVID-19 battle?

Is Indiana turning a corner in the COVID-19 pandemic?  Wednesday’s press conference with the governor and state health commissioner offered some hope in that direction.


State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box.


 


Governor Eric Holcomb said ‘opening’ Indiana could be a region-by-region endeavor.  He noted if information continues to trend weland Hoosiers keep helping that it could mean good news soon.

 


Dr. Box tried to clarify Tuesday’s order that authorized long-term care facilities to transfer, discharge, transport or relocate residents in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19 to this vulnerable population.

 


A copy of the order can be found at https://coronavirus.in.gov.

Disaster program gives Hoosiers greater access to food assistance amid COVID-19 pandemic

Indiana residents who need help feeding their families during the COVID-19 pandemic will have greater access to assistance from food banks and pantries through a Disaster Household Distribution program approved by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).?

 

The disaster distribution program uses commodity foods from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is administered by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), and is effective from today through May 14, 2020. The goal is to increase access to food assistance to those in need. Priority will be given to Hoosiers who are suffering significant economic losses.

 

During the COVID-19 response, food banks and partner agencies have largely shifted to drive-through distributions. Through the DHD program, current TEFAP food banks will use the network of new and existing mobile pantries to distribute food packages to families in need. It is anticipated a total of 250 sites, including mobile pantries, will assist with food distribution throughout the state, primarily in rural areas. Marion County will use Indianapolis Public School buses, community centers and a drive-through location at Gleaners Food Bank to ensure that families have easy access to food resources.

 

Each household receiving food through this program can receive one prepackaged 25-pound box that includes a variety of foods, including, but not limited to, canned and packaged fruits, vegetables, soups, sauces, noodles, beans, nuts, juices and meats. If frozen and/or refrigerated storage is available at a site, those items also will be distributed.?

 

Individuals should contact their local food bank or pantry to determine whether they are participating in the DHD program. For additional information, please visit wic.in.gov or find a food pantry near you by using Indiana’s food assistance map.

Polaris Boats announces layoffs now, closure in July

A business shutdown in northern Indiana that's NOT related to the coronavirus.  Polaris Boats is shutting down its plant in Kosciusko County.

 

Some of the plant's 120 workers will be laid off immediately, and the rest will be laid off by mid-summer.

 

Polaris says it will no longer produce the Rinker, Striper and Larson FX boats that are made at the plant.

 

The company expects the plant to be shut down by July 14.

State health commissioner issues order authorizing transfers of long-term care residents

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box Tuesday authorized long-term care facilities to transfer, discharge, transport or relocate residents in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19 to this vulnerable population.

 

All moves would be done in collaboration with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).

 

 

The goal of the order is to help facilities group residents who have tested negative to protect them from infection and better serve residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 by allowing facilities to establish COVID-dedicated units. Box said such units can allow facilities to better care for these residents and protect healthcare workers while helping to conserve personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns.

 

 

A copy of the order can be found at https://coronavirus.in.gov.

Rochester's Towne Home Furnishings anxious to get back to business

The hours of operation listed on the Towne Home Furnishings website don’t read something like 9-5 Monday - Saturday, closed on Sunday’s.  Instead the listing says “by appointment only.”

 

The Rochester store has been closed during the COVID-19 crisis.  Owners Don and Mary Kay Towne have had some public contact with phone calls.  But, for the most part, it’s been a quiet stretch of time.

 

 

Mary Kay says they were ready with new inventory before COVID.

 

 

Towne says they were running a sale and intend to re-open that when they re-open the store.

 

 

 

 

Driver captured, one person seriously injured in ORV crash

Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating an off-road vehicle (ORV) crash that occurred Saturday just east of Ridinger Lake in Kosciusko County. 

 

Kosciusko County Central Dispatch received a 911 call just after 7:40 p.m. advising of an ORV crash with injury.  It was reported that the passenger on the ORV was unresponsive and CPR was being administered by a passerby.  It was also reported that the driver fled the scene on the ORV.

 

Preliminary investigations indicate that a 2014 Polaris Ranger was being operated by Joel Zehner , 39, on when the crash occurred.  An adult male believed to be the passenger fell out of the ORV as it made a turn. The ORV rolled to its side pinning the male passenger.  A passerby assisted in rolling the ORV over and began CPR on the unresponsive male.  He was then airlifted to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

 

The driver fled the scene on the wrecked ORV.  Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputies located the abandoned ORV three miles from the crash scene at Deniston Natural Resource Area on Old State Road 30 at the Kosciusko and Whitley County Line.  A Whitley County K9 unit tracked the driver across the property to a campsite where the driver displayed a firearm.  Around 9:15 p.m. officers on scene were able to talk the driver into putting the firearm down and he was then taken into custody.

 

Units assisting Indiana Conservation Officers at the scene include Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Pierceton Police Department, North Webster Police Department, Kosciusko County Fatal Crash Team, Warsaw Medic 7, Milford Medic 1, Lutheran Air

Two killed, one injured in Saturday Kosciusko Co. crash

Two people were killed in a crash near Winona Lake.

 

The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office says they were called to the intersection of Packerton Road and CR 225 S just before 5:00 pm Saturday.

 

The preliminary investigation shows that a Pontiac Montana drove into the path of a Dodge Journey.

 

The occupants of the Montana were from Milford.  Beverly Flannery, 73, and Linda Musselman, 78, were killed in the crash.

 

Karlee Marshall, 31, of Warsaw, was transported to a Fort Wayne Hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries.

 

The crash remains under investigation.

COVID cases continue to rise; new test sites for healthcare, first responders

More people in Indiana are testing positive for COVID-19, the Indiana State Department of Health said Saturday.

 

A total of 7,435 Hoosiers have now tested positive for the virus, according to ISDH. 39,000 Hoosiers have been tested overall.

 

ISDH said 330 Hoosiers have died from the virus. A majority of the deaths were people over the age of 60.

 

As numbers continue to rise ISDH has partnered with local health officials for free drive-thru testing clinics for healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers who have symptoms of COVID-19

 

Clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 13-17 at the following locations:

 

CK Newsome Community Center, 100 E. Walnut St., Evansville

Ivy Tech, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd., Fort Wayne

St. Timothy Community Church, 1600 W. 25th Ave., Gary

Ivy Tech, 8204 Hwy 311, Sellersburg

 

You'll need your driver's license or a State of Indiana-issued I.D. card, and documentation of place of employment.

 

Tests will be limited to one person per car.

 

More information about coronavirus is available at coronavirus.in.gov.

More details on 56 chihuahuas seized from Silver Lake home

Silver Lake police seized 56 chihuahuas from a home Tuesday night after firefighters responded to a gas fire and discovered the conditions the dogs were living in.

 

Silver Lake Fire Chief John Conley and Silver Lake Town Marshal Jason McGlennen held a press conference and revealed that misdemeanor charges against the Hilltop Lane homeowner may be coming down from the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office.

 

The man, whose name has not been released, is staying at a hotel currently provided by the American Red Cross.

 

The investigation is ongoing. The dogs were taken to the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County late Tuesday evening.

Shepherd's Chevrolet Buick explains how coronavirus impacting inventory, business

Tax refund season is often the catalyst to a new car purchase.  With the COVID-19 season still in play, as well, that’s not been the case in 2020.

 

Bobby Shepherd with Shepherd's Chevrolet Buick says the virus impact comes at a bad time.

 

 

He says the automakers shutting down production will impact local sales inventory.

 

 

Even the parts and service department has felt the impact.

 

 

Shepherd says parts also come out of South Bend.  But what used to be deliveries of sometimes twice a day are now more like twice a week.

Frosty start to Easter weekend

Protect your vegetation and prepare for colder temperatures. That’s the message from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

 

A frost warning goes into effect from 2 am to 9 am Saturday.

 

“The winds are going to be much weaker. Winds are only going to be 3-7 mph, which allows for that dew to freeze into that frost you see in the morning, which causes issues with the vegetation. If things have been planted up to this point, they are generally very sensitive to the cold weather, especially those first few weeks,” says National Weather Service in Indianapolis Meteorologist Andrew White.

 

White says it is not just this weekend that cold temperatures will stick around.

 

“If people have gone and put out some of their spring gardens or some of their spring flowers, in addition to the planting that any farmers would have done, those will be susceptible to the cold tomorrow and then into next week. If you can get some of it inside, that would be great, especially because we’re considering this cold weather really to continue through the middle of the month,” White says.

 

If you can’t bring it in, then White recommends you cover it up or doing anything you can to limit the exposure the plants get during the overnight hours.

 

After 9 am Saturday, temperatures will warm up to a high near 60 in some places across Indiana. Then on Sunday, there is a chance for thunderstorms.

 

“Here locally in Indiana, there are some chances for some thunderstorms during the day Sunday. At this point, it is still a little too early to think we’re going to see anything other than thunderstorms,” says White.

Lane closures scheduled for U.S. 35 in Cass and Pulaski

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces lane closures on U.S. 35 from C.R. 100 N to State Road 16 beginning on or after Monday, April 13. Approximately 16 miles of U.S. 35 will be impacted. 

 

Crews will be completing a bridge deck overlay on the bridge over the Tippecanoe River (1.94 miles south of State Road 119) and asphalt resurfacing on U.S. 35 from C.R. 100 N to S.R. 16. The work is expected to be completed by the end of August, 2020. All work is weather dependent. 

 

 

INDOT urges drivers to stay alert near crews and follow traffic directions carefully. Drivers are encouraged to allow extra time when driving through this area. Drivers should slow down, use extra caution and drive distraction-free through all work zones. 

Governor issues guidance for places of worship

Governor Eric J. Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, today issued guidance for places of worship in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

“During this time of uncertainty, faith is more important than ever, and I am deeply grateful to our religious leaders for their efforts to find safe and creative ways to serve their communities,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The purpose of this guidance is not to restrict religious liberty, but to save lives during these extraordinary times. I look forward to the day where we can once again worship side-by-side without the threat of spreading coronavirus.”

 

Gov. Holcomb’s executive order 20-18 states all public and private gatherings, including religious and spiritual, should follow CDC guidance, which restricts gatherings to ten or less people. Click here to see executive orders: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

 

To continue safely serving their communities, faith institutions are directed as follows:

  • Church buildings and other physical locations for worship should be closed.
  • Livestream or other virtual services are best.
    • The minimum number of necessary personnel should be used at all times for any services.
    • Staff and volunteers who are not speaking should wear masks.
  • Drive-in services may be conducted only under these conditions:
    • Attendees must be inside vehicles at all times.
    • Attendees should not interact physically with clergy, staff or participants in other vehicles.
    • Vehicles should contain only members of a single household. Do not bring your neighbors or others outside of your household.
    • Cars must be spaced the equivalent of every other parking spot or approximately 9 feet apart.
    • No one may exit a vehicle at any time.
    • Portable bathrooms are not allowed on the premises and no church facilities may be used by attendees.
    • It is preferred that no communion be distributed.
      • In instances when communion is distributed, only prepackaged communion may be used and must be prepared and distributed in a manner that meets food safety standards.
    • The following individuals who are vulnerable and at higher risk for illness should not attend:
      • Persons who are 65 years and older.
      • Those who have severe underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes.
      • Individuals who are sick.
  • The CDC has provided the following guidance for the faith community: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html

Nubiano's does take-out and delivery and it's been a lot of both during COVID-19

Joe and Christine Siciliano have owned and operated Nubiano’s for about 20 years.  COVID-19 is a different kind of challenge to their business than they’ve encountered over those years.

 

 

 

Christine says they continue to alter what they do to fit the coronavirus business model.

 

 

At a time when some businesses are cutting staff or reducing hours because they don’t need as many employees Nubiano’s is actually using more people.

 

 

 

The menu has been affected a bit by decisions about what works currently and what’s available from suppliers.

 

 

Cash and credit cards are both welcome although Nubiano’s is encouraging credit card use to aid in social distancing.  But, there is a cost with that.

 

 

Hours of operation have remained unchanged for Nubiano’s.  Again, they’ll deliver but if you’re picking up you can call in when you arrive in the parking lot and they’ll bring your order out and take your payment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 50 dogs removed from Silver Lake home

A late night investigation at a home in Silver Lake resulted in 56 dogs being taken to the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County.

 

The AWL, along with Silver Lake Police, removed the dogs from the home on Tuesday night. The organization said that the removal was part of an ongoing investigation.

 

They are currently in need of items such as towels, blankets, dishes, flea and tick meds, and others along with monetary donations to cover the care of the dogs. The AWL is also asking for volunteers to assist with the care of the dogs since their staffing is limited at this time.

Putt's Bar and Grill undergoing interior changes hoping the doors open to customers soon

Starting a new business is hard enough.  Try doing it in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.

 

That’s exactly what Monica Smith is doing at Putt’s Bar and Grill in Rochester.  She says the closure during the pandemic has led to an earlier than planned remodel.

 

 

 

Smith says the restaurant business can be up and down under the current circumstances.

 

 

Smith keeps looking for the positives including introducing new pieces to the menu.

 

 

She notes alcohol sales do continue to be a part of the Putt’s business.

 

 

During a time that is trying for everyone Smith feels appreciative for the community and its support as she works to operate everyday and get prepared for when life returns to normal.

 

 

Call Putt’s for curbside service at 574-223-2715 Monday thru Saturday.

 

 

 

 

Cold front could be accompanied by storms

Weather is in the news with dropping temperatures and potential severe weather in the forecast.

 

Severe storms are possible this evening and overnight ahead of a cold front. Damaging winds, large hail, isolated tornadoes are all possible. Locally heavy rain and frequent lightning are possible with any storm.

 

The primary window for severe weather is 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM EDT.

 

 

During the day today look for partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. Much colder air moves in for Thursday.

Health department announces 30 new COVID-19 deaths, updates statewide case count

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 439 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 5,943 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

 

A total of 203 Hoosiers have died to date. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

 

To date, 30,869 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 28,764 on Monday.

 

Marion County had the most new cases, at 151. Other counties with more than 10 new cases were Bartholomew (11), Hamilton (29), Hancock (12), Hendricks (17), Johnson (19), Lake (43) and St. Joseph (13).  The Lake County totals include results from East Chicago and Gary, which have their own health departments.

 

The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.in.gov which will be updated daily at 10 a.m. Cases are listed by county of residence. Private lab reporting may be delayed and will be reflected in the map and count when results are received at ISDH.

 

The dashboard also has been updated to make corrections based on updated information provided to ISDH.

Fulton County property tax statements

Fulton County’s 2019 payable 2020 tax statements will be mailed April 14th.  You will see that the tax bills will look different this year.  You will need to use the appropriate spring or fall coupon when making your payments.  If you are paying for the whole year at once, you can pay with one check but please send us both the spring and fall coupons and make sure your check totals both the spring and fall coupons.

The County Annex building is currently closed to the public until further notice.  Please look for updates from the County Commissioners.

Property tax due dates are May 11th for the spring installment and November 10th for the fall installment.  Due dates have not changed.  Please make every effort to pay on-time.  We are aware that the Governor has indicated late penalties will be delayed until July 10th.  We have not received final details on this from the state yet.  There are many questions and concerns that have not been finalized relating to the penalty delay.

It is understood that this is a difficult time for everyone, every household, every business and every government entity.  Your property taxes provide funding for many government and public entities that must continue to have proper funding to provide the public services that are needed for all of us.  Paying on-time is important.

As we exercise caution in dealing with the current health situation relating to the COVID-19 Virus, we are requesting the public NOT come to the Fulton County Annex building to pay your property taxes, unless it is absolutely necessary.

Please follow the guidelines listed below:

  1. Please limit your exposure to public places.  Be extremely cautious if you have any underlying health concern that may further compromise your health if exposed to this or other viruses.

 

  1. If you feel ill, or have any symptoms of illness, please DO NOT come to the annex building.

 

  1. If you have been around anyone who has been ill, please DO NOT come to the annex building.

 

  1. If you have questions about your taxes – CALL US 574-223-2913.  We will be happy to answer your questions over the phone or email me treasurer@co.fulton.in.us.

 

There are multiple PAYMENT OPTIONS that are available to you:

  1. Pay by MAIL.  Your envelope must be postmarked by the due date to be consider on-time. Send a self-addressed/stamped envelope if you want a return receipt(s).  Check or money order is accepted.  DO NOT SEND CASH.

 

  1. ON-LINE BILL PAY with YOUR bank.  There is typically no charge by your bank for this service.  Use your Parcel Number or your Duplicate Number as your account number when paying by this method.

 

  1. Pay by DEBIT or CREDIT CARD with a service fee of 2.50% (charged by the service provider) of the total you are paying.  Go to www.co.fulton.in.us under the Treasurer’s page and follow the links.

 

  1. DROP BOX outside the Annex Building.  We are providing a drop box outside the Annex building by the south doors.  We will be checking this drop box several times a day.  Please have your payment in an envelope or we have an envelope box on the side of the drop box. Please place your check and payment coupon in the envelope.  If you want a receipt, please provide a self-addressed/stamped envelope.  Check or Money Order Only – NO CASH in the drop box.

 

  1. Local Banks – Lake City Bank and Community State Bank in Kewanna will be taking payments.  Please have your coupon and pay exact amount only.

 

Partial payments are always accepted anytime throughout the year.  If you have any questions, please contact the appropriate office –

 

  • Tax Payments – Treasurer’s Office at 574-223-2913
  • Exemptions – Auditor’s Office at 574-223-2912
  • Assessed Values – Assessor’s Office at 574-223-2801
  • Drainage Assessments – Surveyor’s Office at 574-223-3317

Thank you for your time and understanding and I appreciate your cooperation.

Please, if you have any questions, call us at 574-223-2913.

Kathy Easterday

Fulton County Treasurer

125 E 9th Street Ste 112

Rochester, IN 46975

treasurer@co.fulton.in.us

574-223-2913

NTSB releases findings in October 2018 Rochester bus stop crash

The National Transportation Safety Board released Tuesday the abstract of the final report for its investigation of the fatal, Oct. 30, 2018, Rochester, Indiana, pedestrian crash in which three students died when a pickup truck driver failed to stop for a school bus.

 

The NTSB determined the crash was caused by the pickup truck driver’s failure to stop for the school bus, despite the bus’s activated and clearly visible warning lights and stop arm, as well as a roadway warning sign for an upcoming school bus stop.

 

Contributing to the cause of the crash was the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s inadequate safety assessment of school bus routes, resulting in the prevalence of bus stops that required students to cross high-speed roadways to board a bus. Also, there was no clear policy established by Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation for school bus drivers to follow in determining when it was safe to signal students to cross a roadway to board a school bus, the NTSB report stated.

 

The fatal collision happened when the pickup truck failed to stop for the school bus, which was stopped on the northbound side of a two-lane road with a posted 55 mph speed limit. The school bus had stopped to pick up students who were waiting on the opposite side of the road. The school bus’s red warning lights were active, and its stop arm was extended. After being signaled by the school bus driver to cross, four students entered the roadway. The pickup truck, which was traveling south, struck the four children. A 9-year-old and two 6 year-old students died as a result of the crash. An 11 year old student suffered serious injuries. None of the occupants of the pickup truck or others waiting for the bus were injured.

 

The NTSB noted in the report the pickup truck driver did not respond to the activated warning lights and stop arm of the school bus or attempt to stop the vehicle until the students were in the roadway, for reasons that cannot be determined from the available evidence.

 

A judge sentenced Alyssa Shepherd in December to four years in prison for the crash.  She filed in January to appeal that conviction. 

 

“When our school-aged children walk out the door to meet the school bus in the morning, parents have the right to know that everything possible is being done for their safety,”

said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “This crash tells us that we can and should do more. While the school bus is still the safest way for students to travel to and from school, it is imperative that other drivers on the roads obey the law and stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students,” said Sumwalt.

 

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB issued a total of 12 safety recommendations with two each issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, and the Indiana Department of Education; four to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation ServicesNational Association for Pupil Transportation, and National School Transportation Association.

 

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia; the International Association of Chiefs of PoliceNational Sheriffs’ Association, and National Association of School Resource Officers each received one safety recommendation.

 

The report also reiterated three previously issued recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Indiana DOR waiving use tax on donated COVID-19 supplies

The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is taking steps to encourage the donation of medical supplies and other goods to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On March 6, 2020, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-02, declaring a public health disaster emergency in Indiana due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Later, on March 19, 2020, Gov. Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-05 to provide the following tax incentives for COVID-19 donations:

 

  1. Manufacturers making donations of medicine, medical supplies or other eligible items to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Indiana will not incur a use tax obligation for those donations; and
  2. Groups or organizations making donations of medicine, medical supplies or other goods will not incur a use tax obligation for those donations if sales tax was not paid when receiving the item.

“Gov. Holcomb is inspiring us all to do everything we can to help Hoosiers during this medical emergency,” said DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “Waiving use tax for COVID-19 supplies will empower more companies and organizations to help Hoosiers battle the spread of COVID-19.”

 

Use tax typically applies to retail transactions when items are not subject to sales tax at the time of purchase. Eligible items for the COVID-19 use tax waiver include, but are not limited to:

  • Medicine
  • Medical supplies (such as personal protective equipment, ventilators and dialysis machines)
  • Food donated to food banks or other charities helping feed those in need because of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Clothing, bedding or personal care products donated to homeless shelters or other charities helping those displaced or in jeopardy because of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Soaps, sanitizers, disinfectants, detergents and other cleaning supplies to medical facilities and the charities mentioned above.
  • Building supplies, beds and other materials used to construct and furnish field hospitals or other temporary medical facilities.

Companies and organizations must get approval from DOR to use the COVID-19 waiver by emailing COVID19donations@dor.in.gov and providing the following information:

  1. Name of the donor.
  2. The donor’s Tax ID or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
  3. Identify if the donor is the manufacturer or purchaser of the donated items.
  4. A list of all items donated, including the cost or purchase price of the items.
  5. The organization(s) receiving the listed items.
  6. A confirmation by the receiving organization(s) that the items have been or will be donated. Email confirmations are accepted.

After reviewing the information, DOR will confirm if the donation has been approved for the waiver. If approved, the donor will not be required to report the use tax on their next sales and use tax return, their income tax return or a consumer use tax return.

 

Eligible donations made prior to March 19, 2020, will be considered; however, donation of such items will not entitle the donor to a refund of any sales or use tax previously paid to DOR or to a vendor.

 

Any changes to this guidance, additional modifications to normal operations or changes to tax filing and payment deadlines will be posted on DOR’s website, as well as DOR’s social media accounts.

Governor issues new Stay at Home order; Also extends orders limiting state government services and restaurant, bar restrictions

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today issued a new two-week Stay At Home order designed to limit interactions among Hoosiers to increase containment of COVID-19. As of today, 4,944 people have tested positive and 139 people have died from the disease. There are now positive tests in 89 of 92 counties. Click here to see the executive order: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

 

As a part of this action, Gov. Holcomb also extended for two weeks the orders that limit in-person public activity at state government offices and put restrictions on the operation of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

 

“Hoosiers have done a great job adapting to the new rules put in place during this public health emergency, but I believe the next two weeks to month could be the most critical for all of us,” said Gov. Holcomb. “So I am asking you to take even more precautions: only make in-person purchases when absolutely needed and use other delivery and pickup options when available. Limit who is traveling with you and entering stores.”

 

While the Stay At Home order chiefly continues as is, modifications and restrictions have been made to limit interactions among people. Here are some highlights of EO 20-18:

  • Retail businesses that provide necessities of life may remain open but should limit the number of customers in the establishment at any given time; implement hours for elderly and other vulnerable populations, as well as limit hours of operation to restock and clean; and comply with all mitigation measures to protect employees and the public. A list of such businesses is included in the executive order.
  • All other retail business may remain open if they restrict sales to online or call-in ordering with delivery or curbside pickup.
  • Professional services should be conducted virtually or by telephone.
  • All campgrounds will be closed except for those who use recreational vehicles or cabins as their primary residence. State parks remain open to daily visitors.
  • Hoosiers are reminded that all public and private gatherings of any kind that include more than 10 people are prohibited.
  • All employers, regardless of type, must continue to comply with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) standards and safety and health standards established and enforced by IOSHA. IOSHA is actively accepting and investigating complaints of violations. The complaint process may be accessed at https://www.in.gov/dol/
  • In addition to IOSHA investigations, Gov. Holcomb has directed the creation of a multi-agency enforcement response team, led by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to respond to and investigate other violations of the new order. Much like the enforcement of the restaurant, bar and nightclub executive order, this team will be charged with helping business owners comply with the order before issuing a directive to close a business.

 

To allow retail, campgrounds and other establishments to make adjustments, enforcement will not begin until 24 hours after the order takes effect. The effective date and time of the order is 11:59 p.m. April 6 (today).

 

The Critical Industries Hotline will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to respond to business and industry questions about whether a business is considered essential. The center may be reached by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing covidresponse@iedc.in.gov

 

Answers to frequently asked questions and instructions to file for COVID-19-related unemployment are available at Unemployment.IN.gov.

 

 

INDOT project on U.S. 31 postponed

The Indiana Department of Transportation has postponed lane closures for installation of a Weigh-in-Motion system on U.S. 31 in Argos between mile marker 216 and mile marker 218.

 

This was set to impact travel through Wednesday of this week but has been postponed and new dates have not been set yet.   

E- Learning starts back this week for Rochester Schools

It's back to the classroom...sort of......for Rochester schools.  E-Learning is back after time off for spring break. 

 

Superintendent Jana Vance sets the schedule.

 

 

 

 

Vance says that they had a feeling that school could close for the year due to COVID-19

 

 

 

$600 CARE Act money still to come to unemployed

Some workers unemployed because of coronavirus cutbacks have received their first unemployment checks, only to find they didn't get the extra $600 they'd been hearing about.

 

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development--like similar agencies in other states--is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor. The payments are authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Put aside the controversy over giving laid off works more money than they would get for working--Congress passed the bill and the President signed it into law.

 

Once states figure out how to implement it, the payments will be made retroactive to March 29.

Motorcycle accident results in death of Rochester man

A Rochester man was killed in a Thursday motorcycle accident.

 

At approximately 9:15 pm, Thursday, April 2, 2020, Fulton County 911 received a call of a one vehicle crash near the residence of 5387 E. 250 S., Rochester.

 

When Fulton County Sheriff's deputies arrived, they found a 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle in the side ditch with the driver in the roadway unresponsive.  The driver was identified as Harold Honeycutt, 51, of rural Rochester.   Lifesaving procedures were initiated by Fulton County Deputies until EMS arrived on scene.  Honeycutt was then flown from the scene by Samaritan to Lutheran Hospital in Ft. Wayne.  He passed from his injuries early Friday morning.

 

A passenger on the motorcycle was treated and released at the scene by medics. 

 

Based upon preliminary crash investigation, the 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle was westbound on CR 250 S near CR. 500 E and for an unknown reason left the north side of the roadway on a curve coming to rest in the side ditch.  Honeycutt was thrown from the motorcycle.  He was not wearing a helmet. 

 

The crash continues to be under investigation at this time and speed may be a contributing factor.  Assisting the Fulton Sheriff's Office with the crash were the Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS and Samaritan.

2nd Fulton County COVID-19 result reported

A second test has come back positive for COVID-19 i n Fulton County.

 

Fulton County Health Nurse Rhonda Barnett.

 

 

Barnett continues to promote social distancing asking people to stay home if at all possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Rochester Community Schools graduation press release

It is RCSC’s desire to make sure we honor all students, especially the seniors as they complete their last year at Rochester High School.   I will be formally asking the board to change graduation to the evening of June 26, 2020.  We hope by changing the date, we will have a greater opportunity to host a traditional graduation ceremony.  As we are uncertain as to what restrictions may still be imposed, we are working on contingency plans that will also allow the students and their families to be recognized.

 

Prom at this time has been postponed.  We will look to have a prom this summer in our high school gymnasium, if the timing is appropriate.

 

Senior honors night will look quite differently this year.  We will be asking all donors to generate a 30 second video to highlight their scholarship and then notify the recipient.  We will then utilize social media, our school websites as well as RCTV4 to help us broadcast that out to the community.

 

We will continue to engage in e-Learning as planned starting again next week.  As I get further instructions and mandates from the state, we will keep you apprised of how we will continue to educate our students.

 

We are all experiencing a level of uncertainty we have not seen before.  As information is still very fluid, we will do our best to communicate plans to you.

 

Wishing our students, their families and our community good health!

 

 

Jana K. Vance, Ed.S

Superintendent

Rochester Community School Corporation

Lane closures scheduled for S.R. 10 in Argos

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces lane closures on S.R. 10 in Argos beginning Thursday, April 9 at 7 a.m.

 

The section of S.R. 10 from the east side of U.S. 31 to Juniper Rd. will be impacted. Lane closures will occur daily between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for patching and preventative maintenance. 

 

 

Butler, Fairman & Seufert, Inc. will be completing this project, which is expected to be finished in mid-July, 2020. All work is weather dependent. 

 

INDOT urges drivers to stay alert near crews and follow traffic directions carefully. Drivers are encouraged to allow extra time when driving through this area. Drivers should slow down, use extra caution and drive distraction-free through all work zones. 

Possible human remains found in Kosciusko Co.

Shortly after 3:00 pm Thursday, the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office 911 Communication Center received a call regarding potential human remains located on a property west of State Road 13, south of Old RD 30. Arriving deputies were directed to the edge of a field, several hundred yards off of the roadway, near a swamp.

 

Witnesses reported that they were walking in the area and happened upon the unidentified remains. The Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office and crime scene investigators were requested to respond to the location. Utilizing state of the art technology, the scene was thoroughly processed and the surrounding area was searched for potential evidence.

 

According to Kosciusko County Coroner Anthony Ciriello, the unidentified human remains will be transported to the Northeast Indiana Forensic Center for further examination. This incident remains under investigation by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s and Coroner’s Offices.

 

Officers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Pierceton Police Department assisted with the investigation.

 

 

Indiana schools to remain closed the rest of the academic year

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick said that schools will remain closed through the rest of the school year. Schools must switch to remote learning.

 

High School seniors who have their credits, including those for classes they're currently enrolled in, will get their diplomas. For every other student, requirements to move on to the next grade are unchanged.

McCormick working to get students educated and moved on to the next grade.

 

 

McCormick says there’s no clear answer as to the impact on things like summer school and the next school year.

 

 

Gov. Holcomb also ordered all non-public schools to close.

Rochester Community School press release

First and foremost, a sincere thank you for your patience and support as we all continue to adjust and build new plans around COVID-19.

 

Governor Holcomb announced today schools will be closed for the remainder of this academic year.

 

On behalf of the entire school corporation our hearts are sinking with the knowledge that we won’t be seeing students the remainder of this academic year.

 

We will continue with E-Learning next week and we ask you to engage with your students and support them educationally as best you can.

 

After receiving further guidance and instruction from the State Department of Education, we will be sending out a comprehensive plan around our seniors and plans for graduation, meeting our educational obligations for this year and the best form of deploying instruction moving forward.

 

Again, thank you for your patience and support.

 

Please abide by the Governor’s statement to stay at home and only leave for necessary appointments and needs.

 

If you have anything that RCSC can help you with, please contact your student’s principal and we will do all we can to support your student, their family and our community at large.

Health department announces 13 new COVID-19 deaths, updates statewide case count

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 474 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 3,039 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

 

Seventy-eight Hoosiers have died to date. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

 

To date, 16,285 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 14,375 on Wednesday.

 

Marion County had the most new cases, at 192. Other counties with more than 10 new cases were Decatur (10), Clark (11), Floyd (13), Hamilton (21), Hendricks (24) and Lake (28). The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.in.gov/, which will be updated daily at 10 a.m. Cases are listed by county of residence. Private lab reporting may be delayed and will be reflected in the map and count when results are received at ISDH.

 

The dashboard also has been updated to make corrections based on updated information provided to ISDH.

Additional updates on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak may be provided later today. 

Fulton County COVID-19 April 1 daily brief

 

Fulton County COVID-19 Daily Brief by the Authority of Fulton County Health Officer Dr. Kevin Reyburn and Fulton County Health Nurse Rhonda Barnett RN

 

**All information is subject to change**

 

General Guidelines:

          SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

  • FEVER
  • COUGH
  • SHORTNESS OF BREATH OR DIFFICULTY BREATHING
  • TIREDNESS
  • ACHES
  • RUNNY NOSE
  • SORE THROAT
  • NAUSEA
  • DIARRHEA
  • RED BURNING WATERY EYES
  • LOSS OF SMELL AND TASTE

 

IF YOU ARE HAVING SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 YOU MUST SELF ISOLATE AND CONTACT YOUR PHYSICIAN.  ISOLATION MUST BE AT LEAST 7 DAYS AND 72 HOURS FREE OF FEVER WITHOUT FEVER REDUCER.

 

TYLENOL (ACETAMINOPHEN) SHOULD BE USED IF YOU HAVE COVID-19 SYMPTOMS.  IBUPROFIN USAGE IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

 

          WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY, MINIMUM 20 SECONDS

 

AVOID TOUCHING YOUR EYES, NOSE, AND MOUTH WITH UNWASHED HANDS

 

CLEAN AND DISINFECT FREQUENTLY TOUCHED SURFACES AMD OBJECTS.

 

NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES SHALL BE CLOSED / FOOD SERVICES PICK-UP ONLY

 

          ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY IS RECOMMENDED

 

Hospital:

          Total Positive Tests – 3

          Fulton County Residents Positive – 1

          Out of County Residents Positive – 2

 

**REMINDER**

 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR COVID-19 YOU MUST GO HOME AND SELF-ISOLATE IMMEDIATELY TILL RESULTS ARE CONFIRMED.  CONTACT A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE TO DO ANY ESSENTIAL ERRANDS YOU MAY NEED DURING THIS PERIOD.  FOLLOW THE RECOMMED SELF-DISTANCING PROCEDURES.

 

 

ER Open for Emergency’s

          Surgeries - Case by Case decided by your Doctor

          Visitation - No visitation with limited exceptions

 

IF YOU ARE RETURNING FROM A HOT SPOT COUNTY THAT HAS MULTIPLE POSITIVE CASES OF COVID-19. YOU MUST SELF-IOLATE FOR (14) FOURTEEN DAYS.  DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE AND IF YOU DEVELOP SYMPTOMS CALL ONE OF ABOVE NUMBER IMMEDIATELY.

 

Reminder that Essential Travel only. Essential Businesses must have 10 persons or less with the exception of Agriculture (food production) that remains 50 persons or less with social distancing.

 

 

 

Medication (Pharmacy):

Kroger                                    (574) 223-6347

Drive-through & Walk up window Open

Monday - Friday                                           9AM – 9PM

          Saturday                                                      9AM – 6PM

          Sunday                                                        11AM – 6PM

 

CVS                                        (574) 224-4304

          Drive-through

          Monday – Friday                                         9AM – 8PM

          Saturday & Sunday                                     10AM – 5PM

 

Walgreens                               (574) 223-3249

Drive-through & Some shopping if needed

Seniors                                                       

Tuesday Morning Only                             8AM – 9AM

Monday – Friday                                         9AM – 7PM

Saturday                                                      9AM – 6PM

Sunday                                                       10AM – 6PM

 

Walmart                                  (574) 223-9482

          Drive-through only “side by hotels”

          Monday – Friday                                         9AM – 8:30PM

          Saturday                                                     9AM – 3PM

          Sunday                                                       Closed

 

Webb’s (Akron)                      (574) 893-4413

Curbside pick-up only/ Deliveries on extreme cases

Monday – Friday                                         9AM – 6PM

Saturday                                                      9AM – 1PM

Closed Sunday

 

Webb’s (Rochester)                 (574) 223-2216

Curbside pick-up & delivery / Drive through / Front Door is locked

Monday – Friday                                         9AM – 7PM

Saturday                                                     9AM – 3PM

Closed Sunday

         

 

 

 

 

 

Grocery Store Hours:

Kroger                                     (574) 223-3881                                 

Seniors and at-risk shoppers                      7AM – 8AM

Daily                                                           8AM – 9PM

Save-A-Lot                               (574) 224-3434                               

Daily                                                           9AM – 6PM

                                                                  

Dollar General (Akron)          (574) 353-0168

Seniors and at-risk shoppers                      8AM – 9AM

Daily                                                           9AM – 9PM

 

Dollar General (Rochester)     (765) 319-8775    

Seniors and at-risk shoppers                      8AM – 9AM

Daily                                                          9AM – 9PM

Viking Foods                           (574) 893-4563    

Monday – Saturday                                     7AM – 6PM

Sunday                                                       11AM – 4PM

 

Walmart                                  (574) 223-9481

Seniors and at-risk shoppers

Tuesday Morning Only                              6AM – 7AM

Daily                                                           7AM - 8:30PM   

 

Food:

          School Meals

PDF files of Rochester, Akron & Caston School Lunch

On County and School Websites.

 

Church Meals / Food Banks

Grace United Methodist Church Cancelled Free Meals on Wednesday

 

The Cross                                 (574) 223-3107

“Matthew’s Market” 100 West 3rd Street, Rochester

Monday, Friday                                           11:30AM – 1:30PM

Thursday                                                     4PM – 6PM

*Gatherings will be kept to a limit due to social distancing*

 

Kewanna Food Pantry            (574) 653-9052

114 South Toner St, Kewanna

Serving Aubbeenaubbee, Union, and Wayne Townships

Thursday                                                     8:30AM – 10:30AM

 

 

UWS Ministries of Akron       (574) 893-4121

301 S West St, Akron

Serving Henry and Newcastle Townships by Appointment Only

Thursday Pickup                                          2PM – 4PM

 

 

Area Special Announcements:

  • For Information Regarding Federal Aid Contact Terry Lee at Fulton County Economic Development.  Phone:  574-223-3326
  • Daily Meetings are being held with Community Leaders. 
  • All County Buildings are still officially closed to the public
  • Rochester City building is closed to the public/drive-through only
  • Limited Travel advisory per Governor Holcomb (limitations stated at https://www.in.gov/gov/) Information Websites listed above
  • All non-essential businesses are closed (example: gym, salons, barbershops, nail, tattoo, country clubs, service clubs, bowling alley)

Pulaski Co. Health Dept confirms first case of COVID-19 but then learns patient a Starke Co. resident

The Pulaski County Health Department reported the first positive COVID-19 case in Pulaski County on Wednesday afternoon.

 

The department then reported on its Facebook page that after due diligence during the Covid-19 investigation, it was discovered that the patient is actually a resident of Starke County. Pulaski County Health Department is still involved with the investigation and all contacts have been notified. This should show up on the Indiana Heat Map as a Starke County positive case.

 

The patient is hospitalized.  No other information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws. 

 

Officials with the Health Department are working with local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and monitored and all infection control protocols are being followed. 

 

Pulaski County Public Health Nurse Andrea Keller reminds residents that COVID-19 is commonly spread from an infected person by respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as shaking hands, touching an object or surface with a virus on it then touching the face, and rarely fecal contamination. 

 

Keller urges residents to keep washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer.  Stay home if ill, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Single car crash injures Rochester woman

Fulton County law enforcement and fire and medical personnel responded to a one vehicle crash Monday evening.

 

At approximately 8:35 pm, Monday, Fulton County 911 received a call of a one vehicle crash with entrapment near the residence of 4266 Ft. Wayne Rd., Rochester.

 

When Fulton County Sheriff's deputies arrived they found a 2017 Maroon Kia passenger car in a field on its top with the driver entrapped in the vehicle.  The driver, Brandy Bilby, 38, of rural Rochester was extricated from the vehicle by Rochester Fire and transported to the Fulton County Airport by Lutheran EMS then flown by Samaritan to Lutheran Hospital in Ft. Wayne for unknown injuries sustained due to the crash.  She has been listed in stable condition as of the latest report.

 

Based upon crash investigation, the 2017 Kia was eastbound on Ft. Wayne near CR. 400 E and for an unknown reason left the south side of the roadway and struck a utility pole.  The vehicle then continued and rolled several times before times before coming to rest in a field.

 

The crash continues to be under investigation at this time and speed may be a contributing factor. 

 

Assisting the Fulton County Sheriff Office with the crash is the Rochester Fire Department, Lutheran EMS and Samaritan.

BBB warns of coronavirus scams

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis is forcing people to distance themselves from others, work remotely, and spend time indoors and online. While social distancing is a good health practice to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it may be helping scammers.

 

Research from the Better Business Bureau, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, and the Stanford Center on Longevity found that people are more likely to lose money to a scam when they are socially or physically isolated from others, if they are actively engaging online, and if they are financially vulnerable (BBB.org/ExposedtoScams). ? 

 

“According to our research, social isolation is a key risk factor for susceptibility to scams, as is financial vulnerability,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, BBB’s foundation that conducted the research. “

 

Add increased time spent online and coronavirus creates the ‘perfect storm’ for scammers, because all three of these factors have increased dramatically.” 

 

As bricks-and-mortar businesses close or curtail services and the financial markets experience a high level of volatility, many consumers are left to wonder if they will have a job or an immediate way to provide for their loved ones. As people turn to the Internet seeking new or temporary employment, they are also at increased risk of employment scams. BBB research deemed employment scams the riskiest scams of 2019, making up 9.3 percent of all scams reported and a median dollar loss of $1,500. 

 

Despite these factors, there are steps everyone can take to protect themselves and their family from losing money and compromising personal information. 

 

  • Don’t be afraid to contact a friend, or a company or organization you trust for advice. Isolation is a risk factor for scams.?Feelings of loneliness were associated with being more likely to engage with and lose money to scammers. This was especially true when the individual felt he or she lacked companionship and was isolated from loved ones, according?to?Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-victimsFact: Scammers will try to isolate their victims. 

  • Before clicking a link or sharing personal information online, stop, pause, and research the company or person.?People are more likely to lose money to scams perpetrated online. According to the?2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report,?consumers who are approached online (email, website, social media, internet messaging, and online classifieds) are significantly more likely to report losing money. Fact: A staggering 81.2 percent of consumers lost money to online purchase scams in 2019. 

  • Beware of job offers that sound too good to be true. Employment scams were the No. 1 riskiest two years in a row, according to the?2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report.?As traditional jobs are cut and workers begin to seek new roles or remote opportunities to fill the void, they must be wary of job offers that sound too good to be true.?Read BBB’s tips for avoiding employment scams
    Fact: Scammers prey on jobseekers, particularly those seeking remote jobs. 

  • Learn about scammer tactics to help avoid falling prey to scams and be wary of any offer to “get ahead” that seem too good to be true.?Those who are financially vulnerable are more susceptible to scams. Individuals under financial strain and those with lower levels of financial literacy may be more susceptible to scammers, according to the?Exposed to Scams?report. Specific risk-factors include: 

    • Household income of $50,000 per year and below. 
    • Spending more per month than one’s earnings, not saving money, and having significant amounts of debt. 
    • Feeling compelled to “catch up” or “get ahead” financially. 
    • Fact: According to the?Exposed to Scams?report,?those who heard about the scam before they were targeted were significantly less likely to lose money (9 percent vs 34 percent). 

For more consumer information:?BBB.org/coronavirus

For more business information:?BBB.org/smallbusiness

To report a scam:?BBB.org/scamtracker

To report price gauging:?BBB.org/adtruth

Health department announces 16 new COVID-19 deaths, updates statewide case count

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 409 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 2,565 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

                                                                                                                                             

Sixty-five Hoosiers have died to date. Deaths have occurred over multiple days and are reported based on when data are received by ISDH.

 

To date, 14,375 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 13,373 on Tuesday.

 

Marion County had the most new cases, at 159. Other counties with more than 10 new cases were Hamilton (49), Hendricks (21), Johnson (17) and Lake (25). The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.in.gov, which will be updated daily at 10 a.m. Cases are listed by county of residence. Private lab reporting may be delayed and will be reflected in the map and count when results are received at ISDH.

 

The dashboard also has been updated to make corrections based on updated information provided to ISDH.

 

Additional updates on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak may be provided later today. 

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