Local News

Putnam County Community Foundation Announces Spring Grant Awards

Putnam County Community Foundation (PCCF) announced its most recent grant recipients from the Community Foundation’s largest unrestricted fund, the Community Grants Endowment, as well as from its 45 named unrestricted funds, created by generous organizations and community members.

PCCF recently awarded over $140,000 in Community Grants to 10 community partners serving Putnam County. Awards will fund the following:

  • Beyond Homeless, Inc. – Purchase a new playset
  • Cloverdale Main Street– Beautification of Main Street in Cloverdale
  • Greencastle Presbyterian Church – Purchase of enclosed trailer for SAWS program
  • Greencastle/Putnam County Economic Development Center – Support for Putnam County Leadership Academy
  • Isaiah 117 House – Furnishing for new Greencastle location
  • Ivy Tech Foundation – Support for Greencastle nursing simulation lab
  • Putnam County Playhouse – Third phase of lighting update project
  • Putnam County Youth Development Commission – Support for Teen Court
  • Roachdale-Franklin Township Public Library – Support for summer fitness program
  • Walnut Chapel Cemetery – Install access driveways

These grants were recommended by the Grants Committee, comprised of 10 members, who reside throughout the county.

“These grant recipients are all doing important work to support communities throughout Putnam County. We’re excited to work with these grantees and look forward to seeing what each organization will accomplish this year,” said Austin Malayer, Chair of the Grants Committee.

PCCF’s next Community Grants cycle will take place in the fall of 2024, with grant applications due by August 1, 2024.

For additional information about grants or other opportunities at the Putnam County Community Foundation, individuals may contact Sarah Stone at sstone@pcfoundation.org or call the office at 765.653.4978.

Greencastle businesses nervous about construction fallout

Business owners knew it was coming but that is not stopping several from feeling both fear and anger when it comes to the ongoing US 231 project that is underway in downtown Greencastle. 

Brittany Overshiner, owner of Britt's Blooming Boutique, said she noticed a difference on Friday that didn't leave her with a good feeling. 

"Friday was the first day they put the road closed at the end of South Indiana by Starbucks at the light. They completely closed that off. Between that and the stop sign by Flora Brothers Painting, which my boutique is in between, they put on one side of the road a road closed sign so people think they can't come down that road," Overshiner told The Putnam County Post. 

The signs created not only confusion but a total loss of traffic into her business, Overshiner said. 

"I saw a lot of people Friday have their turn signals on, turn and not even try to find a parking spot. It was the first day I saw a negative impact from the construction. Friday is usually a busy day for us with foot traffic, and it was decreased dramatically. I think we had five customers all day, and usually, we have five customers within the first 30-45 minutes of being opened. It's very scary," Overshiner said. 

Overshiner also admitted she was "blindsided" with the closures, admitting there was no information disclosed with that section of road being closed. 

"I was blindsided by that, and I didn't know that was happening on all the side streets. I didn't know all the side streets were closing, which dramatically impacts all the businesses downtown. It makes it very hard for customers to get to downtown or get to park. A lot of people think they can't pull in there. It's very stressful and this was the first time I saw a negative impact," Overshiner said. 

While Overshiner was concerned, fellow business owner Trog, of Trog's Cloud 9, was "frustrated" as construction crews left equipment blocking his pull in over the weekend. 

"It's been pretty tough and frustrating to be honest. Big tractors and trucks blocking our pull ins makes it pretty difficult for customers to get into our parking lot," Trog said. 

Trog continued by saying it was "ridiculous" with the way equipment was left in the street for the weekend. 

"It's ridiculous. They parked it there, and blocked our exit with traffic barrels and left for the weekend. If you are leaving for the weekend, why block access to a business? When I saw him park it, I assumed they were about to do work right there. Had I known he was parking it to leave for the weekend, I would have asked him to move it. We haven't talked to city hall yet, but if this keeps happening, we will have to," Trog said. 

Both business owners said support from the local community can help them and other businesses downtown make it through the impact the construction will have on downtown Greencastle. 

"It's going to have a major impact, unfortunately. We all went through this last year and now it's a whole year of the same thing, but even worse this time. The local support definitely helps soften the blow. Our regulars and loyal customers are the reason we can make it through these construction projects. Small businesses absolutely rely on local residents, and we are grateful for them. It means a lot to have the community's support. Every little bit helps, and we really appreciate it," Trog said. 

Overshiner echoed those sentiments, saying she is "very concerned" about the future. 

"I just hope that people understand how important it is to continue to support and shop local. My message to residents is right now is the most important time to support these downtown businesses because the impact is going to be significant. We need your support. We are going to need foot traffic. If you live close or are at the park, make the walk to come up and walk around downtown businesses. If you want the businesses to be permanent, they are going to have to have your support," she said. 

 


Gov. Holcomb directs flags to flown at half-staff for Deputy Fred Fislar

Governor Eric J. Holcomb is directing flags to be flown at half-staff in Hendricks and Putnam Counties in honor and remembrance of Hendricks County Sheriff's Deputy Fred Fislar. 

Flags should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset in Hendricks and Putnam Counties on Sunday, April 21, 2024.

Gov. Holcomb is asking businesses and residents in these counties to lower their flags as well.

McCormick's Creek State Park recovery from '23 tornado continues

In April 2023, McCormick's Creek State Park guests, staff and people around Indiana were waking up to the news that an EF-3 tornado had destroyed the park's campground, damaged cabins and comfort stations, impacted both dedicated nature preserves, and blocked many park trails.

Most who were staying in the campground that weekend experienced damage to their campers and vehicles. Two lives were lost as a result of the storm.

A post by the park details a year of non-stop planning and working toward recovery while managing the parts of the park that were not impacted and reminding people that the Canyon Inn and other facilities are open and ready to welcome Hoosiers.

The snapshot of recovery as of April 2024 includes:

•The four family cabins that were damaged reopened on March 29.

•Canyon Inn remains open and ready for overnight stays, conferences, and meals.

•The nature center, fire tower and park playgrounds are open. For information on park programs, visit calendar.dnr.IN.gov.

•3.7 miles of trails are currently open.

•Removal of trees blocking other trails has ramped up from January-March with division saw crews working daily and with a five-day visit from sawyers with Team Rubicon. Many trail structures must be repaired or replaced before these remaining trails can be reopened.

•The salvage harvest to remove the massive number of damaged trees from the campground is now complete.

•The next step for the campground is removing the large number of root balls (trees were simply pushed over, roots and all) and debris from the campground. We are developing a contract to begin that work.

•Repairs to Friendly Shelter will begin soon.

•The saddle barn will be closed during the 2024 season for barn maintenance and pasture restoration.

•A new accessible trail is under development near the Centennial Shelter that will provide a view of Echo Canyon when complete.

•The campground redesign process has begun, but because of the scope of the devastation, it will likely be several years before it reopens. Everything, from the foundational infrastructure like water lines and roads to comfort stations, must be repaired or replaced. The campground will remain closed until we are able to welcome campers back safely and we all certainly look forward to that happening!

•Division of Nature Preserves staff, with support from Indiana State Parks, are working to manage the impacts of invasive species on Wolf Cave and McCormick’s Cove Nature Preserves.

Visit on.IN.gov/mccormicks-recovery to sign up for email notices when updates are made to photos and information on the page.


Donations opportunity, funeral services set for Hendricks County Sheriff's Deputy Fred Fislar

The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office and the law enforcement community continues to honor Deputy Fred Fislar. 

Deputy Fislar died as a result of injuries he sustained while rendering aid to the driver involved in a motor vehicle crash. 

Deputy Fred Fislar was hired with the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office in December of 2021.  He served in the Enforcement Division for approximately two and a half years.  He was a part of the 226th Basic Class of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and further served his country as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp. 

He was a graduate of Cloverdale High School.  Deputy Fred Fislar leaves behind his wife, Madi, and two young children ages 6, and six months.

Citizens are bringing flowers and other mementos to Deputy Fislar’s squad car which is ceremoniously parked in front of the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office in Danville. The Hendricks County Sheriff's office says the amount of support and outreach from the community has been staggering and deeply appreciated. 

The Indiana State FOP Memorial Team has come alongside the Fislar family and the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office to assist in coordinating final honors for Deputy Fislar.  

The sheriff's office would like the public to be aware that scammers may try to take advantage of these tragic circumstances and use the death of Deputy Fislar fraudulently for their own financial gain. They ask the community to only donate through reliable sources, and if they have a question about a donation method, please reach out to the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office for additional information. 

An account has been established with the Central Indiana Police Foundation in order for members of our community who have expressed interest in donating to support Deputy Fislar's wife, Maddy, and his two young children.

In order to be assured that donations are vetted, legitimate and 100% provided to the Fislar family, donations should be made through this link. Please be aware that scammers may try to set up fraudulent fundraisers online with less than honorable intentions. The sheriff's office is working diligently to vet all legitimate offers of assistance on behalf of the Fislar family. If you have any questions about donating, please feel free to reach out to the Hendricks County Sheriff's Office at 317-745-6269

If you prefer, you can mail a check to the Central Indiana Police Foundation in lieu of donating online. Please send it to Central Indiana Police Foundation 1525 Shelby St. Indianapolis, IN 46203. Please identify the donation by writing "Deputy Fred Fislar" in the memo line of the check.

Funeral arrangements for Hendricks County Deputy Fred Fislar have been established in accordance with the wishes of his family.  They are as follows:

Date: Sunday, April 21                          

Public visitation start time is still TBD.

The funeral service begins at 3:00 p.m.

Officer staging arrival time is 2:00 p.m. in the Auxiliary Gym of Cloverdale High School- use door #19.

Location: Cloverdale High School  205 Market St.  Cloverdale, IN  46120

At the request of the family, there will be no traditional law enforcement vehicle procession.  All law enforcement officers will be dismissed after the funeral service and final formation at Cloverdale High School. 

Burial will include a private ceremony for immediate family, invited friends, and HCSO personnel.

Engelhardt seeking Republican nod for District 24 Senate seat

The Republican race to replace outgoing Indiana State Senator John Crane is heating up with early voting underway between Anne Engelhardt and Brett Clark. The winner will face Democratic challenger and former Greencastle City Councilor Veronica Pejril in the November general election. 

For Engelhardt, who lives in neighboring Avon, she told The Putnam County Post that with her experience and considering the current needs within Indiana, she is the "best choice" to fill Crane's seat. 

"As a current school board member, I work daily with the other members and educators to provide a safe and strong educational environment. Students in Avon are seeing great gains since Covid. With this background, I am the right person to work with other legislators and the Department of Education to support students across the state," Engelhardt said. 

In addition, she said her professional career as a commercial broker has given her a strong background in economic development and she will have high expectations for transparency concerning new developments. 

"Additionally, I believe new developments must be expected to provide benefits to communities. Public input sessions should be a requirement of any new development and when taxpayers' money is being used to finance the development," Engelhardt said. 

If elected, Engelhardt noted she would continue to work on addressing literacy rates for third graders. 

"Discussing the retention of third graders should be paused until the new changes are implemented. Kindergarten and first grade student indicators will bring awareness if a student needs extra support and we should be more focused on the early educational years. The state, also, needs to make changes to ILEARN. The ILEARN exam does not provide useful data on how a student is achieving and educators need accurate information when making recommendations for supporting students," she said. 

In addition to education, Engelhardt said she will be focused on addressing rising property taxes, especially for residents on a fixed income, as well as other issues. 

"Another concern is safety and security especially due to the crime coming to Indiana from the open border. I will be a leader who will speak out against the open border and support law enforcement. I am experienced in establishing great relationships at the county and state level. I can solve thorny problems and can do so in a complex environment. My campaign is growing daily with new supporters," Engelhardt said. 

Engelhardt said in the time she has spent with voters and residents in Putnam County, she has gained a great understanding of the issues facing residents. 

"In education, students are losing educational opportunities that are needed to prepare them for post-high school advancement. I would advocate for school corporations to have access to grant writers so the schools can apply for grants to fulfill the needs of students. Many of the lost opportunities are due to funding and grants can supply the needed funds. I am also concerned about the need for infrastructure throughout the county. Many of the roads and bridges need repair and the county will need to locate another source of funding. Applying for grants is another option," she said. 

With early voting underway and the May 7 Republican primary rapidly approaching, Engelhardt said she has a message for any undecided voters or those who may not have voted yet. 

"I have the knowledge, experience and ability to be a collaborative leader. The state of Indiana is facing some real challenges and I have the skill set needed to meet the needs. I will be ready on the first day and will wholeheartedly serve the constituents in Hendricks and Putnam counties. To learn more visit standwithanne.com. I can also be found on Facebook and X. Thank you for considering me to be your next State Senator," Engelhardt said. 


South Putnam School Board gets construction update

Work is getting ready to pick up in earnest for several construction projects for the South Putnam School Corporation. 

The South Putnam School Board received an update on renovations across the district by Fanning Howey and Michael Kinder & Sons (MKS) Wednesday night. 

The projects, which come with a price tag of about $20 million, include a new fieldhouse at South Putnam Middle/High School, roof replacements across the district, a new weight room and wrestling room and upgrades at the football stadium, as well as the track and field surface at South Putnam High School.

"I am particularly thrilled about the upgrades being made as part of this project. Fanning Howey and MKS have been invaluable partners in the planning and development process. Their dedication and hard work have been evident as they've collaborated with us to bring this vision to life while staying within budget constraints.Though there have been compromises and difficult decisions throughout the project, as is typical with endeavors of this magnitude, we are moving forward with confidence," South Putnam Schools Superintendent Dr. Corey Smith told The Putnam County Post. 

Smith said the project is about to enter the "disruptive phase," and he is urging caution by students, staff and community members. 

"It is exciting, but safety is a great concern when we have heavy equipment around. Please do not enter any construction areas without permission and without proper personal protective equipment," Smith said. 

Officials with Fanney Howey and MKS said the design and development of the fieldhouse was submitted a month ago and that project is about 75 percent complete on design and should be out for bid in June. 

"We are working on hammering out the details the last several weeks to make sure the building works and looks like it should. One of the challenges we have had is blending the new addition with the existing. I am excited for where it is headed and creating that front focal point," David Roan with Fanney Howey said. 

Roan said the track and field/football stadium project is also underway as MKS has started mobilizing and gearing up for construction over the summer with an Aug. 1 deadline. 

Motz Group, out of Cincinnati, received the award for the project. 

Motz Group is responsible for the construction project at Paycor Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, Ohio State, Ohio University, Rose-Hulman University and multiple high schools. 

Smith believes the projects will "transform" South Putnam's facilities. 

"Not only will it enhance learning environments, but it will also create new opportunities for student engagement and participation district-wide. The fieldhouse, track and field updates and new outdoor lighting are just a few of the visual highlights, alongside crucial updates addressing deferred maintenance such as roofing at Central Elementary and the Middle School/High School, as well as pool renovations," Smith said. 

 

Hatfield seeks Putnam County Commissioner District 1 seat

With experience as Putnam County's Planning and Zoning director, Don Hatfield is looking to put his experience to work, as he seeks the Putnam County Commissioner District 1 seat. 

Hatfield is running in the Republican primary against Andy Beck, Brad Buchanan and David Fuhrman for the seat. 

"I spent almost four years as planning and zoning director for Putnam County. I attended over 50 commissioner meetings. As well as doing all inspections and issuing permits, I am still a licensed and certified building inspector," Hatfield told The Putnam County Post. 

As a resident for over three decades, Hatfield said all five of his children attended South Putnam schools and he has four sons who have served overseas in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"Running for county commissioner was not on my list of things to do until I was approached by some people I worked with in the past that were concerned about things going on in the county," Hatfield said. 

Now that he is on the ballot, Hatfield acknowledges there are several issues facing the county. 

"The biggest issues are we need an annex soon. The courthouse is crowded and it's going to be more crowded as crime is on the rise. No one should have to go to the fourth floor to get a permit and bring inmates over to go to court," Hatfield said. 

Two other issues facing the county are roads and the need for an enforcement officer according to Hatfield. 

"There should not be any gravel roads left in the county, except along the Walnut in the Reelsville area. In 2018, I kept bringing up to the commissioners bridges in the county and nothing was done at the time. People have a great love for bridges. I drove across them every day when I was out and around. The county also needs a code enforcement officer," Hatfield said. 


Patricia Jean O'Reilly, 83, of Canton Illinois, formerly Franklin IN

Patricia Jean O’Reilly, 83, of Canton Illinois, formerly Franklin IN, passed away on March 29, 2024 at Sunset Manor Nursing Home in Canton Illinois. She was born on September 17, 1940 in Indianapolis, IN to Donald Everett and Ethel “Jeanette” (Gurney) Hunter. She married Charles Francis O’Reilly on June 17, 1960 in Indianapolis, IN. He preceded her in death on January 10, 2018. Also preceding her in death were her parents and daughter Diana Lynn O’Reilly Duffy.

Surviving are her children; Christine Ann (Jim) Hartline of Canton Illinois, and Charles Everett (Rafaela) O’Reilly of Navarre, FL, sister Nancy S. Lusk of New York, NY, seven grandchildren; John Charles (Elizabeth Kathleen) Hartline, Heidi Michelle (James Donaho) Hartline, Tessa Lorriane (Tyre Shelton) O'Reilly, Schea JayC O’Reilly, Misty Dawn Bryant, Joshua Nathaniel Bryant and Holly Lynn Bryant and five great-grandchildren; Estelle Ilithya Hartline, Sophia Rose Donaho, Thea La’Ree Shelton, Tinsley Mavis Shelton, and Tucker Myles Shelton.

Patricia retired from Methodist Home after 30 years. She was a loving Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother. She liked doing word searches, jigsaw puzzles, NASCAR, watching movies, (especially John Wayne movies), and boating at Cataract Lake.

Cremation rites have been accorded by Oaks-Hines Funeral Home and Crematory in Canton Illinois. 

Funeral will take place on April 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00p.m. at Whitaker Funeral Home 201 N. Lafayette Street Cloverdale.

To leave online condolences please visit www.whitakerfuneralhome.net

Clark seeks open Senate seat

The decision by Indiana State Senator John Crane to not run for re-election to Senate seat, representing District 24 has created a contested primary this spring among Republicans. 

 

Brett Clark is facing off against Anne Engelhardt in the Republican primary, with the winner taking on Democrat Veronica Pejril in November. 

Clark spent 32 years, including the final eight as Sheriff at the Hendricks County Sheriff's Office and said he decided to run after much prayer and consideration with his wife. 

 

"When Senator Crane announced his decision not to seek re-election, my wife and I went back and forth in an effort to decide if we should enter the race. After much prayer and consideration, we ultimately had a moment during church where someone read something that inspired us and we decided that we would go all in," Clark told The Putnam County Post. 

 

Clark that decision was in early August and he has not looked back. 

 

"So far, this journey has been outstanding. It is very busy, but you quickly realize that what happens in the Statehouse matters and has a ripple effect that is quite large. We have met some great people, and it has been interesting to see the contrast with the campaign for Sheriff. I know that I can contribute to conversations that people in our district care about and am excited for the opportunity to help. I truly want to contribute, work hard and make a difference," Clark said. 

 

Since leaving office as Sheriff, Clark has been busy working for a construction firm that builds jails, schools and fire departments, among other things. In addition, he works for a custom mobile app company that built the Sheriff's App for both the Sheriff's offices in Putnam and Hendricks counties. 
 

Clark said he hopes to focus on public safety and mental health, if elected to the General Assembly. 

 

"Unfortunately, law enforcement and our jail/prisons in particular have become the defacto mental health system for too many people. We can do better," Clark said. 

 

He also said infrastructure, especially in Putnam County, is a main focus. 

 

"I also think we need to take a deep dive on infrastructure, especially in Putnam County. I spent about half a day touring the county with the county engineer to specifically look at some of the bridges. Too many are closed and this is a real problem that affects people everyday -- not only as it relates to convenience, but to public safety. It is also important to remember that infrastructure is bigger than just roads and bridges. It is also high speed internet access and water," Clark said. 

 

Clark said expanded access to high speed internet connections not only helps families in their homes, but also farmers and those in the medical field, especially in the area of mental health. 

He said it is also important to continue supporting training efforts like crisis intervention teams for law enforcement, as well as building out the 988 system. 

Watershed management and conservation, as well as adoption are also issues Clark is focused on. 

 

"We should work with all the stakeholders as it relates to watershed management and conservation. We have a real opportunity, as a state, to lead on water issues and set an example for our country. We can remove barriers to adoption and make sure kids and the loving parents who want to adopt them are supported and helped. My hope is that Indiana will continue to prosper and get even stronger going forward. I want to be a resource for our local elected officials and our citizens to get things done," Clark said. 

 

Clark said his lifetime in public service is a reason why voters should vote for him this primary season. 

 

"I have executive leadership experience and have seen first hand the effect of public policy decisions on our communities, our law enforcement officers and those in our jails. As the elected Sheriff, I dealt with public safety, budgets, laws, courts, leadership, mental health issues and running the jail," Clark said. 

 

He added that in Indiana, there are about 24,000 thousand people in the state's prison system, but no former Sheriffs in the General Assembly. 

 

"Most of us just want our community to be safe and for our families not to have to worry about violent crimes, yet only a few members of the General Assembly have any law enforcement experience. We can do better. I believe that I am in a unique position to bring real experience, perspective and knowledge to our General Assembly. I will work hard to get things done," Clark said. 


Hendricks County deputy killed responding to car crash

A Hendricks County deputy was killed as he came into contact with downed power lines at a crash.

Just before midnight on Monday, Hendricks County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a single vehicle crash in the 2600 block of South State Road 267, just north of Plainfield.  A 2009 Honda passenger car struck a utility pole and shattered the pole leaving electrical wires hanging low near the crash scene. 

Deputy Fred Fislar arrived on scene minutes later. Just after that, a passerby used Deputy Fislar’s radio to contact the Hendricks County Communications Center and advised them that an officer was down. 

Deputy Fislar was transported to Eskenazi hospital in critical condition after he sustained injuries from apparently coming into contact with the low hanging power line.  Despite all available life saving measures, Deputy Fred Fislar was pronounced deceased at 12:59 a.m. 

Deputy Fred Fislar joined the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office in December of 2021.  He served in the Enforcement Division for approximately two and a half years.  He was a part of the 226th Basic Class of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and further served his country in the United States Marine Corp.  Deputy Fred Fislar leaves behind his wife, Madi, and two young children ages 6, and six months. 

Putnam County officials discuss how to tackle bridge funding

A dire situation.

That is what Putnam County Highway Engineer Jim Peck said he presented to the Putnam County Commissioners during a work session Monday morning. 

And, he came armed with handouts, a map, a plan for maintenance for bridge work in the future and a constant theme of how the bridges in Putnam County need an overhaul, prompting a serious discussion about how to fund all the bridge work. The commissioners took no action and took everything in as discussion during the roughly 45 minute discussion. With that said, it didn't take long for commissioners to take notice of how expensive it is to maintain and fix multiple bridge issues across the county. That prompted a long discussion about how to pay for repairs, including tax increases. 

"It's going to cost over a million dollars to replace that bridge," Commissioner David Berry said in regards to replacing Bridge 78. 

Peck said bridges 86, 78, 54, 62, 105, 112, 109, 157, 124, 122, 123, 156, 175, 167, 183 and 189 are the ones that are in dire need that both the South Putnam and North Putnam school districts have asked to be fixed. 

Bridges 86, 78, 54 and 62 are north of Greencastle, while the others are south of Greencastle, with the bulk being in the southwestern portion of the county. 

"We only have like $200 thousand for future bridge projects," Peck said. 

Commissioner Rick Woodall said there is $900 thousand in the bridge cumulative fund, but some of that money has to be used for salaries, payments and other things. He asked Peck what other revenue streams were out there that could be looked at. 

"We have $200 thousand for future bridge and $100 thousand for culverts," Peck said. 

Peck said if the wheel tax was taken all the way up to 100 percent that would generate an additional $1.4 million in funds. In addition, Peck said the other thing he could think of was a referendum, where the voters are told how much is needed for bridges and they would decide on the ballot if they wanted to back it similar to what several school districts have tried to do. 

"And, the last thing is bonds," Woodall said. 

The maximum for a bond is $2 million, but Berry asked if there was a max to the number of bonds the county could have at one time. 

"As long as our finances are good to pay it back. If we bond it, we have two options. Either we make the payments ourselves or the tax payers pay it. This is where the slippery slope gets slippier. Our county has been crazy, fiscally conservative and not spent any money in the last 10. 15 to 20 years and it has bit us in the butt.  We have a sheriff who is going to be screaming for a new jail because it's maxed out and is 30 years old. We have $3 million bridges every year to fix. We have a courthouse that is crumbling so we need a $15 million annex. We have to pay for an annex, all these bridges and we have to pay for a jail renovation or expansion sometime," Woodall said. 

Peck also noted community crossings matching grant funds could be used for bridges, and that was immediately shot down by Woodall and Berry, who said those funds need to be used for roads. 

"We could go half and half roads and bridges," Peck said.

Berry responded by saying, "You know what you get when you go half on something. You get half..."

Peck responded to that response by reminding the commissioners of the condition between the two. 

"Well, okay. Our roads are pretty good, but our bridges are really crap," Peck said. 

Woodall asked how did he come up with the notion the roads were pretty good. 

"The other thing is we have 220 bridges. The question is do we look at what bridges we start closing permanently and get it down to something more manageable," Peck said. 

Woodall expressed frustration that none of the County Council members who had attended the prior Commissioners meeting stayed for the road work session, noting "they are the ones who control the purse strings."

"We've talked to them more than once about it," Woodall said of entertaining thoughts of raising the wheel tax. 

Woodall figured that with the 13 bridges in need, the county would need an average of $3 million per year to fix and maintain them. 

"If we max the wheel tax out, which is $1.4 million that we can use for bridges and we have $200 thousand in cumulative bridge. If you do an average each year, we need $3.5 million per year for funding. If council maxes the wheel tax, which we've got verbally them saying yes, but as I know, they verbally say yes for a long time, so we will force them to make a vote on it. That gives us $1.6 million per year available funding next year, which leaves us $1.9 million a year we are short. There are a couple different ways to do that. If we start with a rolling bond that is always open and a tax on the citizens, us included. We need $1.9 million every year. To me, that is the only way you fund this. We have been fiscally conservative and not done anything and now it is time to pay," Woodall said. 

Commissioners declare May Mental Health Month in Putnam County

There may still be a few weeks until the calendar rolls over to May, but that didn't stop the Putnam County Commissioners from designating the upcoming month as Mental Health Month in Putnam County.

The proclamation came after a presentation from Karen Martoglio, executive director of Mental Health America of Putnam County. 

Martoglio told those in attendance the month will actually kick off April 27 with their mental health fair, dubbed "Don't Dodge the Issues." The health fair will feature a dodgeball event, Martoglio said. 

"We wanted to make you aware of that. Also, there are green ribbons for mental health awareness. There are many organizations who promote a green ribbon for that. In conjunction with that, there is an initiative to light up public buildings green. I was really hopeful we could request that for the courthouse. You would be part of a national wide effort. Across the nation, there will be hundreds of courthouses and public squares lit up in green. We would like that in May, and I was really hopeful we could do that," Martoglio said. 

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of turning the courthouse lights green for the month of May. 

In addition, the commissioners read a proclamation stating, May is Mental Health Month in Putnam County, Indiana. 

The proclamation states 1 in five American adults experiences a mental health condition each year. 

"Mental health remains shroud in stigma, preventing many from receiving help," the proclamation states. 

The proclamation continues by saying all residents are encouraged to educate themselves and others about mental health conditions, treatment options, available resources and challenge stigma by speaking respectfully and inclusively about mental health. It also urges residents to seek help if needed. 

"Together, we can create a community where everyone feels empowered to prioritize their mental wellbeing and seek help when needed," the proclamation states.  

ISP Trooper locates missing individual at Lieber State Park

An Indiana State Police trooper was able to reunite a teenager with his parents Sunday during a boating trip at Lieber State Park. 

According to Sgt. Matt Ames, public information officer for ISP Putnamville District, a teenager was riding on a sailboat with his father on the lake when he became stricken with motion sickness. 

"The father dropped him off in an area and planned to come back and pick him up on foot. However, the son started to move and became missing for three hours," Ames told The Putnam County Post. 

ISP Trooper Kevin Fowler, along with DNR officials began searching for the missing individual, and Fowler was able to locate the individual near the lake and called for a boat from Conservation officers to be picked up due to brush in the area, Ames said. 

"Once picked up, the son was reunited with his mother and father. No medical check out was required," Ames said. 

U.S. 40 westbound to have right lane closure west of Stilesville

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the right lane of U.S. 40 westbound will be temporarily closing just west of Stilesville.

Beginning on or after Monday, April 15, crews will be closing the lane to allow painting on bridge poles along with other general maintenance.

The lane closure is expected to last until sometime in the fall.

Putnam County Council candidate won't take office if he wins

Citing personal reasons, a candidate for Putnam County Council’s At-Large primary won’t accept office if elected.

Daryn Clifford confirmed to The Putnam County Post and Giant FM Monday morning he attempted to get his name removed from the ballot but with early voting underway, he was unsuccessful.

“I am attempting to but I can’t bc of the dead line. My option now is to resign from the position if I was to get elected. So that’s my plan if I get elected,” Clifford said.

Should he earn one of the three spots up for grabs in the primary, Clifford said he will resign.

“Yes, I am going to resign from county council if elected. Just personal reasons and wanting to devote my time elsewhere,” Clifford said.

Putnam County to use Community Crossing Grant funds for paving

Putnam County is again the recipient of Community Crossing Matching Grant funds from the Indiana Department of Transportation. 

The county received over $1.4 million, which will go towards paving, according to county highway engineer Jim Peck. 

"Putnam County has been fortunate to be awarded Community Crossing Matching Grant funds every year since the program inception back in 2016. The program has evolved from INDOT arbitrary providing funding dollars for projects, to 75/25 or 50/50 funding depending on the size of a municipality, to now a maximum funding match from $1 million to $1.5 million," Peck said. 

In 2016, Putnam County was able to pave about 14 miles of roads with INDOT funding, Peck said. 

"Over time, the cost of paving has increased to a point where last year, the county was only able to pave nine miles of roads. The increase in INDOT Community Crossing Matching Grants maximum match has allowed the county to pave 14 miles of roads this year," Peck said. 

Roads in Monroe, Washington, Franklin and Floyd townships will be paved. 

And, it will happen with a change in methods when it comes to paving, according to Peck. 

"This year, the county highway department has changed its method of paving roads from asphalt milling with a double chip/seal to hot asphalt mix. The main reason is the county can no longer obtain asphalt millings from INDOT projects. Paving with hot asphalt mix not only provides a better road surface, but also has a longer life cycle. The increased cost of asphalt milling makes the use of hot asphalt mix more cost effective and save time to pave roads. The paving operation efficiency allows the county to pave more roads," Peck said. 

Putnam County Council candidates discuss solar farms

While the issue of a solar farm coming to Putnam County appears dead right now, that didn't stop four of the five candidates seeking a bid for the County Council At-Large seats to discuss the matter Thursday night during a candidates forum at DePauw University.

Republican candidates Amanda Brown, Chad Colvin, Kerry Williams and incumbent Stephanie Campbell took part in the event. Candidate Daryn Clifford had to miss due to a prior engagement. 

The discussion comes on the heels of the Putnam County Commissioners denying a rezoning request that would have helped bring a solar farm to 1,200 acres of farmland in Russell Township. That decision came after county council members voted in favor of granting a 10 year tax abatement for the proposed Cold Spring Solar Farm. 

The question that sparked the debate centered around the use of tax dollars for attracting renewable energy industries. 

Colvin said there were many solar companies that would not have needed an abatement.

"If we don't have to give a tax abatement, I don't know why we would, especially if they aren't going to employ people from our county. You have to take every situation and evaluate it on its own merits," said Colvin, adding he would have been opposed to giving one for the Cold Spring Solar Farm. 

Brown said the solar issue has become a hot topic that if people are not discussing, they are itching for it to be discussed. 

"I am Putnam County and putting Putnam County first, what is it really doing," Brown said, sharing a story of how a coal mining company ruined the town where her husband is from before leaving after its decade old abatement finished. "If they are going to use our resources and not give us anything in return, not employ our citizens, then what are they doing for Putnam County. I am not for the tax abatement idea."

Campbell, who was part of the county council that voted for the abatement, said while a hot topic, she, personally, is not in favor or against of the matter. 

"If they can do it without them, that's great. If they can't, then the county can benefit. That money can come in and go towards roads, bridges. There can be a benefit," Campbell said. 

Williams called the use of abatements a "slippery slope." 

In his rebuttal time, Colvin mentioned the county was dealing with a company who never completed a solar farm.

"They came into Russell Township and lied to the farmers, saying they had people signed up who were not signed up. They also told us they were an employee owned company and they are not. They are owned by the California Teachers Union, the country of Dubai and a Swedish investment firm and all those people are over hundreds of billions of dollars and we are supposed to give them a tax abatement," Colvin said. 

Brown said there will always be something coming out that will spark debates and discussion and it is important to plan ahead and be ready for when they come. 

Later in the forum, the candidates were asked what recent county council decision would they change, and the discussion came back to the abatement for the proposed solar farm. 

Colvin said he would have been against the tax abatement. 

"I would have opposed that," he said. 

Campbell noted she is sure mistakes have been made during her time on council.

Williams said there is nothing he could say council did wrong, as he was not there for discussions or to offer suggestions. That was a point that was echoed by Brown. 

Brown said it is hard for her to say what she would change because she was not a member of discussions and that it would be tough to tell others they aren't doing their job correctly without knowing what the information is. 

That prompted a response from Colvin, who said did not mean to tell anyone they were doing their job wrong. 

 

Temporary closure coming to S.R. 59 in Clay County

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces a temporary closure of S.R. 59 between County Road 300 W and C.R. 200 W, located just inside and west of Howesville.

Beginning on or after Monday, April 15, the road will be closed to allow crews to replace a small structure in the area. 

Work is expected to last until early May but is weather permitting and subject to change. 

The official detour around the project is S.R. 246 to S.R. 159 to S.R. 48.

Putnam County Council At-large candidates talk issues at forum

Topics facing Putnam County were at the forefront of a candidates forum held Thursday night at DePauw University. 
Four of the five Republican County Council at-large candidates were in attendance, as Amanda Brown, Chad Colvin, Kerry Williams and incumbent Stephanie Campbell all took part. Daryn Clifford was absent due to a prior commitment that was set up well before the forum. 

The question of whether the county council should provide financial assistance to businesses impacted by the 231 construction generated quite a bit of response from the candidates. 

"I believe the boards we have now between the county commissioners, county council and the new current mayor in the city of Greencastle are working towards to improving not just the city or the county, but are working together as a team to improve things as a whole. I would think if there was a need to help detour extra traffic around, that we could. To help with signs to show there are businesses in the downtown district are open, the county would help," Campbell said. 

Williams said it was his hope recommendations would come from the mayor or the state and be brought before the council. 

Colvin said it was critical to talk to businesses and find out what they are truly up against.

"Then we've got to see if that is even feasible to help them with. We only have so much money. If it's something that we can help them with, then we have to because we need our businesses functioning for our taxes and such," Colvin said. 

Brown said it was important to examine how the county could help the businesses. 

"We are coming off post Covid-pandemic. We saw them really struggle during the pandemic and now we are fixing the roads. Road repairs are important, but to do these road repairs we are going to have to limit access to these specific areas. It is hard because to give money, you have to have money to give. We are working with Putnam County as a whole, and it is important to work with different towns. We are Putnam County proud and able to support our own in these times, but we do have to talk with them and see where their need is to address it," Brown said. 

In addition, the candidates were asked what their highest priority was and how they would achieve their priority. 

Williams said it was important to highlight the current businesses and go to extra lengths highlighting what is there with the goal of bringing in other businesses. 

Colvin said it goes back to talking to current businesses and see what they are up against. In addition, he touched on the talk of a housing shortage in Putnam County. 

"Our town is going to move away to other counties where they can get housing and then we are not going to be attractive to businesses if they can't get homes," Colvin said. 

Brown said the highest priority is Putnam County has to change with the times and getting more of a presence. 

"We do have people and businesses leaving our county. When you hear businesses are leaving our county because times are changing, those are people we need to stand behind and support," Brown said. 

Campbell said people and businesses from Hendricks and Vigo counties, as well as Terre Haute are coming to Putnam County currently. 

"We need to change with the times and update things. There is a housing study that is being down between the city and the county so we can grow and develop. Cloverdale is working on developing and growing. We need to keep changing with the times," Campbell said. 

In addition, candidates were asked what role taxpayer dollars should play in private sector development. 

Brown said when it comes to taxpayer dollars, it is a "very tense subject."

"Everyone thinks they know what the money needs to go to. Unfortunately, what I say isn't necessarily what is going to happen. I will say how I feel the money should go is making our community liveable," Brown said. 

Campbell said she would do a survey to see what the needs are of residents and business owners. Williams said it is a "slippery slope," much like tax abatements. 
Colvin said it has to be a business that adds to the community as a whole. 

"You have to have your priorities in line. You have to make sure our communities are safe, get our roads right and when we get done with that, we can see what we have left and how we can help businesses that would help our community," Colvin said. 

When it comes to what the greatest impact a council member can have on the day to day life of a resident, the answers varied. 

Campbell said the greatest impact centers around making sure first responders are taken care of with equipment, staff and salaries that they need. 

"If we don't do that, they can't do their jobs," Campbell said. 

Williams said the concerns need to be brought before a transparent board, and that retaining employees needs to be addressed. Colvin a balanced budget needs to be the number one impact. 

"We also have to get our roads in shape, and keep our first responders and police," Colvin said. 

Brown said the greatest impact is presence. 

"I am not a career politician. I didn't see my life taking this turn, but I felt the need to make a change and be a part of this change. It is huge to say eight years ago, I had no idea who was a commissioner or a councilor and I was really surprised to hear they had regular meetings," Brown said. 

Putnam County Commissioner District 1 candidates talk issues at forum

With early voting underway ahead of the May 7 primary, all four Republican candidates for County Commissioner District 1 took part in a forum Thursday night at DePauw University. 
Candidates Andy Beck, Brad Buchanan, David Fuhrman and Don Hatfield shared their ideas about needs facing the county, county land use regulations protecting residents, government transparency and also gave their reasons why they should be the one to represent the Republican party in the November general election. 

Beck told those in attendance he was running to give back to a county that had given him so much. 

"I want to give back by serving in the public role, help make decisions and help benefit all people of Putnam County. Also, I will do my best to represent and oversee the budget and policy making functions of our county. I will make sure you are listened to and heard," Beck said. 

Hatfield touched on his experience as the former director of planning and zoning for the county in his opening statement. 

"I drove all around Putnam County doing inspections and meeting people. I like living here and see what I can to do to help it grow and stay on the right path," Hatfield said. 

Fuhrman also touched on his prior experience in county government during his opening statement. 

"I am the best candidate for the office. I am not a single issue candidate, haven't been in jail and don't need a job. What I can offer is 12 years on the council, last stint as president. We, as a team, balanced the budget without any new bonds or loans. Experience counts. County management is more complex each and every year. On day one, I will save the county at least $20,000 because I will not accept the health benefits and I challenge my opponents to do the same. I don't think a part time job should get full time benefits," Fuhrman said.

Buchanan informed voters about his time on the county council, as well.

"We achieved great things. I was the vice president for all four years. Besides the roads and bridges, energy is a big issue facing us right now. Putnam County first is my slogan," Buchanan said. 

When it came to the top three needs facing the county, the candidates offered various responses, but all four agreed at some point, a courthouse annex needs to become a reality. 

Hatfield said the county needs a code enforcement officer, while Fuhrman said bridges, pay for law enforcement and first responders, road maintenance, broadband and maintenance for covered bridges were the needs. Buchanan said roads and bridges, as well as looking for more grants to help offset costs, along with broadband, intelligent growth and energy. 

Beck said the roads and bridges need to be fixed, but people need to understand how the gas tax affects the fixing of roads and bridges. 

Hatfield said he believes all the candidates are on the same page about the need of an annex. 

Furhman said he is no longer for the annex.

"I was on the original study committee for the courthouse annex. Initially I was for it, but I can't say I am for it anymore. I look at the courthouse and I see a lot of unused space, a lot of large counters, and I think for the foreseeable future, we can make the current courthouse more efficient and have a storage facility for our documents. I think the price of a new annex is better spent for the bridge issue I've talked about before," Fuhrman said. 

All the candidates agreed Putnam County is changing and the county's land use regulations are also changing. 

"Land use regulations is an evolving concept because the needs of the county and the residents and landowners change over time. I am not going to speak to a specific regulation. This election is coming down to one issue and I feel that -- I spent 21 years in the Marine Corps and freedom is an important concept and when a landowner is told he cannot do something that is legal, I have a problem with that. Regulating what someone can or cannot do with their property is an issue that strikes pretty deep and I think it's a slippery slope," Furhman said. 

Buchanan noted the county finds itself in the midst of an "ever changing society."

"You have to have growth, but it needs to be intelligently done and correctly. We are an ever changing society. I think the rural areas need to be preserved, to a degree. I can accept the facts that there are certain things that don't fit in certain areas. There has to be some guidance," Buchanan said. 

Beck said there are plenty of laws currently and with the zoning board and the newly formed UDO board, Putnam County is "well protected."

Hatfield said it was his belief the county permit process needed to be tightened up. 

"I ran into a guy in the county once that built a whole house, but a septic system in and put a well in and didn't get a permit or anything. He looked at me and said the fine would be cheaper than the well and the septic. There is a lot that can be done in the county. I'm on the same page with these guys, nobody likes to be told what they can do on their property," Hatfield said. 

The question of government transparency came up with all candidates saying it was their belief the county officials were doing a good job of being open with constituents. 

However, if there was one area of improvement, it could be getting more people to attend meetings. 

"Look in this room, we have less than 30 people who are interested. Commissioner meetings are somewhat full. Council meetings hardly ever have someone there unless they have a specific issue. I think we are as transparent as we can be. We probably need to be more outgoing in getting people involved," Furhman said. 

The primary is scheduled for May 7. 

Gov. Holcomb awards READI 2.0 funding, expected to yield $11B in generational quality of place investments

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced plans to award $500 million to 15 regions representing all 92 counties to support quality of place and quality of life initiatives statewide.

The funding, made available through the expansion of the Indiana Regional Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), was approved today by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) board of directors at a special session hosted by the governor and Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg. READI 2.0 will grow the state’s overall program commitment to $1 billion, marking an unprecedented state-led investment in cultivating vibrant, modern and sustainable communities that attract and retain top talent.

“Indiana is leading the way in future-focused investments in our economy and in our communities, ensuring that all Hoosiers of today and tomorrow have the opportunity to prosper,” said Gov. Holcomb. “READI has already resulted in more than $12.6 billion invested in quality of place and quality of life assets. The second iteration of the initiative – READI 2.0 – along with additional committed investments from the Lilly Endowment, will bring billions more to Hoosier neighborhoods, preparing communities, industry and talent for the next generation and beyond.”

In February, the 15 regions submitted proposals for READI 2.0 funding, outlining each region’s vision for its future as well as growth strategies and action plans to improve its quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity. An external review committee evaluated the applications based on a variety of factors, including economic development potential, alignment with the state’s priorities, such as population growth, per capita income growth, growth in employment opportunities, educational attainment, housing units developed, childcare capacity and innovation activities as well as the level of focus on rural communities, and the degree of regional collaboration.

“Almost every conversation I have with a company, whether an established Hoosier business or a new company coming to the state, begins and ends with workforce,” said Sec. Rosenberg. “READI is an essential component for the state retaining and growing our population and workforce talent. Under the governor’s leadership, Indiana is investing an historic $1 billion to build vibrant and healthy communities that attract top talent, support families, cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship, and catalyze continued economic and job growth. Companies around the world are taking notice of this program, and the General Assembly’s investment in these areas has unquestionably been a business retention and attraction tool.”

This funding will build on the momentum of the state’s initial commitment to READI, which has yielded $12.6 billion (26:1 investment leverage ratio) in committed capital investments by public and private sources in Indiana’s communities. The 15 regions awarded funding through READI 2.0 will be eligible to access an additional $250 million grant awarded by Lilly Endowment Inc. (LEI) to enhance the impact of Indiana’s investments through READI, focusing on projects targeting blight reduction and redevelopment and enhancing Indiana’s vibrant arts and culture ecosystem. Much like other quality of place initiatives led by the IEDC, READI 2.0 and its expansion through LEI is expected to attract a minimum 4:1 match of local public and private funding. Based on the plans outlined in READI 2.0 applications, the state's $500 million investment alone is expected to yield nearly $11 billion overall invested in increasing the vibrancy and prosperity of Hoosier communities.

The regions and funding allocations are:

Accelerate Rural Indiana – awarded $30 million
Led by: Accelerate Rural Indiana Regional Development Authority
Counties: Decatur, Rush, Shelby + City: Batesville

Central Indiana – awarded $45 million
Led by: Central Indiana Regional Development Authority  
Counties: Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Putnam 

East Central – awarded $35 million
Led by: East Central Indiana Regional Partnership 
Counties: Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Wayne   

Greater Lafayette – awarded $35 million
Led by: Greater Lafayette Commerce Community and Economic Development Foundation
Counties: Benton, Carroll, Fountain, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Warren, White 

Indiana First – awarded $15 million
Led by: Southwest Indiana Development Council
Counties: Harrison, Knox, Perry, Pike, Spencer

Indiana Uplands – awarded $30 million
Led by: Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc.
Counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen 

North Central – awarded $35 million
Led by: North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council
Counties: Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Tipton  

Northeast – awarded $45 million
Led by: Northeast Indiana RDA
Counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, Whitley   

Northwest – awarded $45 million
Led by: Northwest Indiana Forum
Counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, Starke   

Our Southern Indiana – awarded $45 million
Led by: Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority
Counties: Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott, Washington   

South Bend-Elkhart – awarded $45 million
Led by: Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority
Counties: Elkhart, Marshall, St. Joseph  

South Central – awarded $30 million
Led by: Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corporation
Counties: Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings + Town: Edinburgh  

Southeast – awarded $10 million
Led by: SEI READI Inc.
Counties: Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Union, Franklin, Ripley (excludes city of Batesville)   

Southwest – awarded $45 million
Led by: Southwest Indiana RDA (SWIRDA)
Counties: Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick  

Wabash River – awarded $10 million
Led by: Wabash River RDA
Counties: Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo

The READI 2.0 review committee includes: Marianne Cusato, Notre Dame Housing and Community Regeneration Initiative; Robert Gallardo, Purdue Center for Regional Development; Tom Guevara, Indiana Public Policy Institute; Will Hagen, Taylor University; Andrea Kern, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs; Bill Taft, Local Initiatives Support Coalition; David Terrell, Ball State Indiana Communities Institute; and Brad Vogelsmeier, Urban Land Institute.

Now that investment allocations have been finalized, the IEDC will coordinate with each of the 15 areas to identify regionally significant capital and infrastructure projects for investment. In conjunction with these discussions, each region will identify specific projects focused on blight reduction and redevelopment as well as arts and culture initiatives for funding opportunities made possible with the support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

Local communities receive state funding to roll ahead on road projects

Putnam County and Bainbridge can roll forward with road and bridge projects thanks to a recent boost in state funding supported by State Rep. Beau Baird (R-Greencastle).

A total of 252 communities across the state will receive over $207 million through Indiana's Community Crossings Matching Grant Program. Funds can be used for road and bridge preservation, road reconstruction, intersection improvements and other items.

"Maintaining infrastructure can be a costly endeavor for any size community," said Baird, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for crafting the state budget. "These grants have helped locals across the state finish essential projects faster so our roads, bridges and intersections receive necessary improvements."

Putnam County received over $1.4 million and Bainbridge received $396,618.

To qualify for the competitive grant, smaller municipalities provide a 25 percent match in local funds, while larger communities provide a 50 percent match. State law requires 50 percent of the available matching funds be awarded annually to communities within counties with a population of 50,000 or fewer. 

Since 2016, Community Crossings has awarded more than $1.6 billion to improve local roads and bridges.

Warnings to Hoosiers of flood-related fraudsters

Following the heavy rainfall throughout the state, Attorney General Todd Rokita is warning Hoosiers of scammers who use bad weather and pose as repairmen to gain personal information from hardworking homeowners to drain their bank accounts.  

April showers might bring May flowers, but they also bring con artists to your area claiming to help with flood damage.  

“When storms of any kind hit the state, it can cause good-hearted people to trust others’ deceitful intentions when they offer to help,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Please be cautious if someone approaches you about storm-related repairs and do not give your information away before doing your research.” 

Unfortunately, far too many dubious con artists appear on people’s doorsteps, promise to make needed repairs, and then disappear with their victims’ down payment in their pockets — never to return to do the work. 

Attorney General Rokita is sharing the following tips to help Hoosiers avoid falling victim to storm-chasing scammers: 

• Be skeptical of people promising immediate cleanup and debris removal.
• Know that FEMA doesn’t charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that’s probably a scam.
• Check out contractors’ reputations before enlisting their services.
• Ask for IDs, licenses, and proof the contractor is both bonded and insured.
• Get more than one estimate for work.
• Don’t believe any promises that aren’t in writing.
• Never pay by wire transfer, gift card, cryptocurrency, or in cash.
• Don’t pay the full amount for the project up front. 

Dealing with a flood or any weather-related disaster is never easy, but when scammers target people just trying to recover, the experience can become even more difficult. 

If you ever suspect a scam of any type, file a complaint at indianaconsumer.com or call Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office at 1-800-382-5516. 

Supreme Court addressing attorney shortage in Indiana

A 23-member Commission on Indiana’s Legal Future is now established by Supreme Court order.

The Commission is tasked with exploring options for addressing Indiana’s attorney shortage and presenting findings and recommendations to the Court on future actions.

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush explained, “We currently have a critical shortage of lawyers, which is impacting access to justice in each of our 92 counties. It’s imperative that we address this issue now and act. But we must do so diligently and holistically. I am confident that this new commission will thoroughly examine potential solutions and come back to us with meaningful, transformative recommendations.”

The Commission will be chaired by Court of Appeals Judge Nancy Vaidik and Supreme Court Chief Administrative Officer Justin Forkner. It includes members from each branch of government, judges, lawyers from across the spectrum of practice, leaders from Indiana’s legal education institutions, and experts from the Office of Judicial Administration. Additionally, the Commission will launch five work groups, each having membership with a broad spectrum of relevant professional expertise. The work groups include:

  • Business & Licensure Models
  • Pathways to Admission & Education
  • Incentivizing Rural Practice
  • Incentivizing Public Service Work
  • Technology Applications

A written report is to be provided to the Court by July 1, 2025, and interim recommendations with legislative changes or funding recommendations are to be provided by August 1, 2024. For more information on the Commission, visit courts.in.gov/admin/legal-future/.

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