Local News

John Hartnett awarded Sagamore of the Wabash in surprise Tuesday ceremony

John Hartnett, Jr.’s contributions to the Shelbyville – Shelby County community were lauded during his recent retirement after 40 years as Executive Director the Shelbyville Boys and Girls Club.  They were highlighted again Tuesday when a number of community leaders, co-workers, friends and families gathered at Grandma’s Pancake House to see Hartnett be surprised by a special presentation.


Thinking he was just joining longtime club employee and current Shelbyville Clerk-Treasurer Scott Asher for breakfast Hartnett, instead, was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash.



Hartnett says his impact on those around him has been felt coming back to him.



Several had written to receommend Hartnett for the award at Asher’s request and shared that with the audience Tuesday.


Brian Asher


Brady Claxton


Ryan Claxton


Chris Ross


Scott Asher presents Sagamore of the Wabash

Additional important information on unemployment income; returns already filed may be adjusted by DOR

The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) issued additional guidance for Hoosier taxpayers who received unemployment compensation in 2020 and have already filed their state income tax return.

Those customers who used a tax preparation software product, online services or a paid tax professional to prepare their tax return should check for information from their software product vendor or preparer regarding software updates and how the required addback of unemployment income that was excluded from their federal adjusted gross income was handled.


Many tax preparation software products were updated to perform the appropriate addback of unemployment income. In cases where the addback of this Indiana taxable income was not accommodated, DOR will automatically perform the following review, without requiring any additional action by Indiana taxpayers:


  • Review tax returns to determine the taxable amount of unemployment compensation for Indiana;
  • Make any necessary corrections to those returns;
  • If any additional amount is due, issue a bill for that amount in June; and
  • Waive any potential penalty associated with unemployment income adjustment if the bill is paid in full in a timely manner.

“Our team has done their very best to find efficient methods to handle this very complex, and late arriving, adjustment.” said DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “With a commitment to serving Hoosiers, we are making as many corrections automatically as possible and waving penalties associated with those adjustments.”


Customers should refer to DOR’s website for additional details and instructions regarding unemployment compensation income and any other questions related to 2020 income tax filing. Visit dor.in.gov and click on the “Learn More” button under “Unemployment Benefits and Taxes”.

Waldron firemen getting to know new pumper - tanker

Members of the Waldron Community Volunteer Fire Department are still getting adjusted to the department’s newest equipment.


It wasn’t quite the timing or manner that the Waldron Community Volunteer Fire Department had planned to acquire a new truck.  But the pumper – tanker is in place now, in part, because of an accident.



Waldron /fire Chief Kyle Pruitt.



Pruitt says training is still going on and they will be working on that into the summer months.



A grant from the Waldron Hometown Community Fund held at Blue River Community Foundation helped outfit the truck.



The grant proved timely as Covid has impacted the department’s ability to host its fish fry fundraiser.  Pruitt says the department’s fire letter was received generously by area residents.



Pruitt says local volunteer fire departments like Waldron’s are crucial to their communities.



Silver Alert: Alyssa Pickett, Greenwood

The Greenwood Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Alyssa Pickett, a 16 year old white female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 180 pounds, brown hair with brown eyes, last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.


Alyssa is missing from Greenwood  and was last seen on Monday, May 10, 2021 at 8:00 am.  She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 


If you have any information on Alyssa Pickett, contact the Greenwood Police Department at (317) 346-6336 or 911.

McCordsville man sentenced to 47 months for wire fraud conspiracy

A McCordsville man was sentenced to 47 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.


According to court documents, Wesley A. Smith, 31, was employed by Seven Corners, a travel insurance business located in Carmel. His duties included processing travel insurance claims of Seven Corners clients. One of the clients is Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). FMCA was an organization of RV owners whose members received travel insurance coverage for their RVs.

Included in that coverage was reimbursement for necessary towing of a damaged RV.


Beginning December 2015 and continuing through December 2017, Smith devised a complex fraud scheme to steal money from his employer. He recruited three of his friends, who were not employed by Seven Corners to participate in his scheme. Using his position in the company, Smith created and approved fraudulent travel insurance claims purportedly submitted by FMCA claimants. He used the names of actual FMCA members on the claims without their knowledge and indicated that a claimant's RV was towed by a towing company which sought reimbursement for that service. Smith then caused payment to be made for the fraudulent claims to each of his co-conspirators who were identified as officials of the towing companies named on the fraudulent invoices. After the co-conspirators received the proceeds, they sent approximately one-half of the funds back to Smith by wire transfer. Smith sent over $394,000 in proceeds to the co-conspirators and they sent over $194,000 back to Smith.


Additionally, on 38 separate occasions between December 2015 and April 2018, Smith sent over $105,000 directly to himself. This scheme resulted in loss to Seven Corners of over $499,000.


Smith undertook other fraud schemes during his employment in which his co-conspirators were not involved. Between March 2015 and April 2018, Smith created false scenarios to submit claims through the FMCA program. He used the company credit card for 235 fraudulent transactions to purchase airline and hotel purchases for himself, family, and friends. This resulted in loss to Seven Corners of over $221,000. Between May 2015 and April 2016, Smith caused six medical service overpayments to be directed into his personal bank account. This resulted in over a $37,000 loss. The total loss to Seven Corners caused by Smith was over $758,000.


“Stealing from your employer or any corporate business, not only affects that business, it eventually affects us all,” said Acting U. S. Attorney John E. Childress. “Smith was placed in a position of trust to make honest decisions, instead he allowed greed to dictate his decisions and he is now being held accountable.”


“Mr. Smith’s actions were fueled by nothing more than pure and simple greed and this sentence demonstrates how such fraud ends – with time in federal prison,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who engage in these illegal busines practices in an attempt to enrich themselves at the expense of their employer.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.


Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Warden and Bradley P. Shepard who prosecuted the case for the government said Smith must pay $758,164.90 in restitution and serve 2 years on supervised release after his imprisonment.

Ribbon cutting officially opens Southwestern Fieldhouse

Southwestern celebrated the opening of its new fieldhouse with a ribbon cutting Thursday.


The facility has two courts for volleyball and basketball, including side goals and bleachers.  Locker rooms, a concession stand, and a new weight room that replaces an outdated classroom that served the purpose before are also featured.




Brady Days is the Southwestern High School assistant principal, athletic director and head coach of the boys basketball program.





Days says the fieldhouse isn't just functional.  Southwestern wanted it to have the look that will inspire the 'Spartan Pride' that's painted on the walls.



Right off the bat, the fieldhouse allows for students a chance to get home earlier than they have for years.



Days says people shouldn't be surprised that a school district this size would look to construct such a facility.




Street closures set for upcoming St. Joe Festival

The following Shelbyville street closures will be in effect May 12 - 16 for the St. Joe Festival:


S. Noble St from Broadway to E. Hendricks St.


E. Hendricks St from Center to S. Noble St


The Festival will be going May 13 - 15. 


SCUFFY reaches goal

The Shelby County United Fund has never failed to reach a goal set for its annual fundraising drive.  


SCUFFY's end-of-drive dinner was held Wednesday at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.  It was revealed that the 2021 goal of $860, 000 was eclipsed by nearly $19, 000 with $878, 711.79 raised.



Drive chair Drew Little says there are several emotions as the drive closes.



Drive co-chair Ricca Macklin will lead the 2022 drive.  She says this continuing to succeed through the Covid-era builds confidence for the future.



Executive Director Alecia Gross told the audience that it doesn't come easy.



Milwaukee Tool opening new hub in Greenwood; 450 jobs by 2025

Governor Holcomb and Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers will join executives from Milwaukee Tool  to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s new tool service hub in Greenwood. 

Milwaukee Tool, a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty power tools, hand tools, storage and accessories for the professional construction trades worldwide, announced plans in September 2020 to establish a new tool service hub in Greenwood. The company will cut the ribbon on its 150,000-square-foot facility, which will house tool repair services and warehousing space.
To support its new Indiana operations, Milwaukee Tool plans to create more than 450 new jobs by the end of 2025 and has already hired 120 employees toward that goal since November 2020.

In addition to the Greenwood facility, the company has manufacturing, distribution and operations facilities in Mississippi and Wisconsin, and has grown from 1,000 U.S employees 10 years ago to nearly 5,900 people today.

Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Inc. receives donation from Indiana Grand

Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Inc., located in Zionsville, Indiana, provides an essential service to many children and adults with disabilities in Central Indiana.


Equine-assisted therapy gives these individuals the opportunity to participate in activities that complement daily routines and standard therapeutic services.


Indiana Grand Racing & Casino began a three-year partnership with the organization in 2020 and recently provided a $10,000 donation along with 20 tons of materials and a new drag for the indoor riding arena.


“While doing a site visit to Morning Dove in 2020, we noticed the indoor arena had some dips and was in need of additional footing for the riding classes,” said Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Racing at Indiana Grand. “We specialize in dirt appropriate for riding services, and it was an easy fix for us to donate 20 tons of material utilized on our racing surface so Morning Dove can earmark the funding directly to the individuals who participate in their therapeutic riding services.”


A team of three Indiana Grand individuals, Dillon Simpson, Justin Gabbard, and Austin Johns from the Track and Backstretch Maintenance crew, spent the day at Morning Dove to prepare and spread the indoor riding arena with the additional materials. The end product will provide more cushioning for the horses, riders and assistants that walk alongside the horses during therapeutic sessions. In addition, Indiana Grand donated an arena drag to help keep the surface smooth for future classes in the enclosure.


Photo provided

Dillon Simpson (far left), Austin Johns (center) and Justin Gabbard prepare to spread 20 tons of material in the indoor riding arena at Morning Dove Theapeutic Riding Center in Zionsville, Indiana.


Like a lot of organizations, Morning Dove was affected by COVID-19 restrictions last year. However, they worked diligently to get the services back to their clients last June and, with additional security and safety protocols, have continued their work.


“Ninety percent of what we do is outside, so being able to provide this to our clients and their families was crucial,” said Brad Schleppi, Executive Director at Morning Dove. “This is their outlet, and approximately 15 percent of our kids are immune-compromised, so we took extra precautions for the safety of everyone to ensure they were back enjoying their equine therapy.”


Sessions for clients come at a price tag of $150 per hour, which includes the assistants, horse care, equipment maintenance, and facility upkeep. However, due to donations, clients are only charged $45 per session thanks to support such as the $10,000 contribution from Indiana Grand.


Photo provided

A look at Morning Dove's indoor riding arena after 20 tons of donated materials were spread over the arena.


“We are very appreciative for the continued partnership and support by Indiana Grand, because it gets kiddos on horseback,” added Schleppi. “For many, this is their social and physical interactions for the week, and thanks to organizations like Indiana Grand, we are able to continue these services to those who depend on Morning Dove for a major part of their routines.”


In addition to the funding from Indiana Grand, Harrah’s Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind., has also committed to a three-year agreement with Morning Dove for $10,000 annually.


For more information or to assist Morning Dove, go to www.morningdovetrc.org.

Bartholomew Co. leaders, agencies concerned with spike in overdose deaths

The Alliance of Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP), the Columbus Police Department, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbus Mayor’s office issued a joint warning to citizens of Bartholomew County due to a recent spike in overdose deaths.


During the first four months of 2021, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office and Columbus Police Department have responded to more drug overdoses and “suspected” overdoses than during this same time period in previous years.


“With overdose numbers rising, we feel the public should exercise extreme caution when it comes to substances and carry NARCAN® as a lifesaving precaution,” said Doug Leonard, Executive Director of ASAP.


NARCAN®, a opioid overdose reversal, is available with no questions asked at the ASAP Hub, located at the Doug Otto United Way Center, 1531 13th Street.


“Pure fentanyl is being purchased in lieu of other drugs like heroin, as well as being added to other substances”, said Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers. “Each and every time fentanyl is used, whether intentional or unintentional, a life is at risk,” added Myers.


“Fentanyl is 50 - 100 times more potent than morphine and 25-50 times more potent than heroin,” Columbus Chief of Police Mike Richardson said.


“There is nothing more important than the safety of our citizens,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “We want you to take great caution and to know that ASAP is there to help if you are ready to make a change.”


The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP) leads the effort to identify and establish system-wide solutions to substance misuse and substance use disorders. It is a partner in advocacy, education and support for the health of our community and every person in it.

Mainstreet Shelbyville offers Bucks with First Friday and Chow Downtown

May 7 is the first Friday of the month.  It’s also a 'First Friday'.


The day of the month that Shelbyville’s businesses have targeted in recent years with events and special attractions to encourage diners and shoppers to come downtown isn’t ready to return in full form due to the continuing concerns with Covid.  But it doesn’t mean the incentives to come downtown are gone.



Mainstreet Shelbyville Executive Director Brandy Coomes.



Coomes says it’s very similar to what Mainstreet did with a special program over the holidays.



Chow Downtown will focus on local restaurants in Shelbyville’s downtown starting this weekend.










Congressman Greg Pence introduces Bipartisan Global Investment in American Jobs Act

Congressman Greg Pence (IN-06) and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush (IL-01) introduced H.R. 2907, the bipartisan Global Investment in American Jobs Act to ensure the United States remains the premier destination to invest, hire, innovate and manufacture products.


This legislation seeks to enhance the global competitiveness, prosperity, and security of the United States by conducting an interagency review of our ability to attract foreign direct investment.


“There is no such thing as too much investment in the United States. As we see countries around us looking to outpace our economy and chip away at our hold as a major global leader on the world stage – this legislation seeks to ensure we are not leaving anything on the table,” said Congressman Pence in a media release. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that has the opportunity to bring jobs here to the U.S. and boost the economy – a bill that would be especially advantageous to Hoosiers in Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District and many other areas across the nation who are already benefitting from these kinds of global investments.”


“Foreign investment is critical to securing America’s position as a global leader,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “The Global Investment American Jobs Act will enhance America’s competitiveness for foreign direct investment – particularly in emerging technologies – by helping to reduce investment barriers while protecting against challenges posed by state-owned or backed enterprises, like those originating in China. By encouraging foreign direct investment in our country, America will create jobs, beat China, and win the future.”


If enacted, this legislation would direct the Secretary of Commerce to conduct an interagency review with relevant federal departments and agencies to determine:

  • U.S. competitiveness in attracting foreign investments
  • How the federal government can reduce bureaucratic barriers to further investments
  • Trends in global cross-border investment and date flows for information transfer between countries
  • Challenges posed by state-owned entities and the impact of their protectionist policies

Masks, face coverings extended thru May for Shelbyville - Shelby County government offices

Masks and facial coverings will be required in Shelbyville and Shelby County governmental buildings.


Shelby County Commissioner Kevin Nigh explains.



The Shelbyville Common Council approved extending the use of masks and face coverings in city buildings through the end of May, also.


Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun.





Silver Alert: Georgette Collins, Greensburg

The Greensburg Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Georgette Collins, a 40 year old white female, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 112 pounds, blonde hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a bright green Vegas T-shirt and jeans.


Georgette is missing from Greensburg, Indiana and was last seen on Monday, May 3, at 1:00 am. 


She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 


If you have any information on Georgette Collins, contact the Greensburg Police Department at 812-222-4911 or 911.

Indiana State Fair returns this year

The Indiana State Fair announced today that this year’s State Fair will take place Friday, July 30th – Sunday, August 22. The Fair will dedicate this year’s theme to celebrating all things Indiana and the resiliency of the Hoosier Spirit. State Fair officials have been actively working with the Indiana State Department of Health as planning continues in the coming months.


“We have almost three full months before we open the 2021 Indiana State Fair, and we are confident that with our 250+ acre, mostly outdoor campus we will be able to host our Fair late this summer,” Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye said. “We are thankful to the State Department of Health for their collaboration and continued guidance on getting us back to hosting this important community event.” 


This year the State Fair will add a weekend to the front end of the Fair schedule and will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays weekly.


According to Hoye, “We know this year’s State Fair may look a little different, and we are prepared for that. By adding an additional weekend, it allows us to spread Fair attendance across a new weekend. This event matters to our State and our fairgoers; it’s an important part of annual Hoosier family traditions.”


The Fair is planning to bring back fairgoer favorites including carnival rides, fun, wacky fair food, 4-H competitions, free entertainment, and much more. Stay tuned for new spectacular experiences to the 2021 State Fair.

Cossairt Florist & Greenhouse celebrating 125 years in business

Spring planting, landscaping and soon-to-be Mother's Day tend to make the opening of May a busy time for Cossairt Florist & Greenhouse in Shelbyville.  Enhancing that this past weekend was the celebration of a 125th anniversary.


Nancy Cossairt on reaching 125.



Starting online last week Cossairt Florist saw the run begin on patio geraniums and some of the usual springtime favorites.



Nancy says going to work isn't just a job to them.  It's in the name.

















































Nancy Cossairt says it's not just going to work for them. 



























Indiana Grand donates $40,000 to annual SCUFFY drive

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino announced a $40,000 donation Monday to the annual Shelby County United Fund For You (SCUFFY) fundraising drive.


“Indiana Grand has a longstanding partnership with SCUFFY, and it is important to us to contribute our level of support for such a worthy cause,” said Mike Rich, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Indiana Grand, in a media release. “Our team members also get involved in the process and donate through a few promotions we hold here at our facility. These funds help so many individuals in our community and we are glad to assist with this annual drive.”


SCUFFY’s 2021 goal is to raise $860,000. Nearly $700,000 has been raised so far by drive chair Drew Little and co-chair Ricca Macklin.


Photo provided

SCUFFY executive director Alecia Gross, second from left, was presented with a donation from Indiana Grand Racing & Casino on April 28. Participating in the presentation were Indiana Grand Senior VP and General Manager Mike Rich, SCUFFY board member Deannette Pryor, Guest Services Manager Casey Gideon, VP of Marketing Elena Lisle and jockey DeShawn Parker.


Funds raised in the drive go directly to 12 member agencies, including Boys & Girls Club of America, Girls Inc., The Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Girl Scouts, USO, Cancer Association of Shelby County, Project Clothes for Kids, Crossroads of America Council for Boys Scouts, Turning Point Domestic Violence, Shelby Senior Services, and National Head Start Association.


A total of 85 cents for every dollar raised is allotted to these organizations.


“Indiana Grand is one of our strongest partners,” said Alecia Gross, Executive Director of SCUFFY. “We appreciate all they do for us and the community.”


The 2021 SCUFFY drive ends soon. To make a donation, visit www.scuffy.org.

Columbus man hurt in car - motorcycle crash

A Columbus man was lifelined from a car - motorcycle accident on Friday.


Just after 5:00 pm Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Henry Lakes Blvd / Daniel Drive, in reference to a crash involving a motorcycle.  On arrival, it was determined that a vehicle driven by Melissa Pass, 38, Edinburgh, was attempting to turn onto Daniel Drive when it was struck by a motorcycle ridden by Alex Garcia, 31, Columbus.


Garcia was ejected from the motorcycle and was flown to Indianapolis via Lifeline.  Ms. Pass was uninjured. 


May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers reminds riders – and drivers – that everyone needs to do their part.


“Check twice for motorcycles.  Motorcycle riders are more vulnerable and have less protections than those in vehicles.  We can safely share the road together by following the rules of the road and looking out for one another," said Sheriff Myers.


“Drivers should double check twice for motorcycles – especially in blind spots. Motorcycle riders have the same rights to the road as other vehicles.  Motorcyclists should always wear a helmet and appropriate gear," said BCSO Chief Deputy Major Chris Lane.

St. Paul man died in one-car crash

A St. Paul man died in a late night Saturday car crash that was discovered hours later.


Shelbyville Police were called to 2200 North Riley Highway about 2:00 am Sunday.  The driver of a 2002 Ford Explorer was reported to be dead at the scene.


The accident report shows that the vehicle, driven by Jeffrey Holt, 61, of St. Paul, went off North Riley Highway just south of Intelliplex Drive.  It then traveled over a ditch before striking some bushes.  The vehicle continued on through a fence owned by Ashford Place, through the Ashford Place parking lot and hit an unoccupied, parked bus.  The bus and the vehicle sustained heavy damage.


It appears the accident happened over two hours before being discovered.  A nearby resident reported hearing a loud noise outside of his residence about 11:30 pm Saturday.

2-car Shelby County crash with driver ejection on N. Michigan Road

A Shelby County two-car crash included an ejection Saturday evening.


In the 6800 block of North Michigan Road a car driven by Cameron McIver, 20, of Shelbyville, struck a vehicle driven by Alexander Hunt, 15, of Fairland.


The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department says McIver’s vehicle then left the road and rolled several times.  McIver was ejected.  He sustained leg and head injuries and was transported to Methodist Hospital by Shelbyville medics.


The Sheriff’s Department is investigating and says speed was a factor in the crash.

4 cars, several injuries in a State Road 9 accident Saturday

Multiple vehicles, injuries in a State Road 9 accident Saturday afternoon.


According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, four vehicles were involved in the accident at the entrance to Trotters Chase.  Two vehicles were northbound stopped in traffic to turn right into Trotters Chase addition when a vehicle driven by William Erwin, 39, of Greenfield, struck the vehicle driven by Robert Plue, 48, of Shelbyville. The collision caused Plue’s vehicle to strike a vehicle driven by Tammie Jones,  55, of Shelbyville. 


A car driven southbound by, Jovalen Arena, 29, of Lexington, Kentucky, struck Plue’s vehicle as it entered the southbound lanes. 


Erwin was injured with a complaint of chest pain and head pain. He and his juvenile passenger were transported to Methodist Hospital.  The juvenile passenger was transported for complaint of chest pain. 


Plue and his two juvenile passengers were transported to Methodist and Riley.  The two juvenile passengers were injured in the form of chest pain and arm pain.   Plue sustained arm, head and chest pain injuries.


Jovalen Arena was injured with back and leg pain.  A female passenger complained of hip pain.  They were transported to the MHP Medical Center.  


Shelbyville Fire Department and medics as well as Fountaintown medics assisted in transporting the injured to hospitals. 

Pursuit from Shelby to Decatur County ends with 4 arrests, guns found

An attempted traffic stop turned into multiple arrests Friday.


Just after 11:00 pm the Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies tried to stop a Volkswagen for improper display of license plate.  The driver failed to pull over and led a pursuit from the 109 mile marker of I-74 into Decatur County.  The driver fled the car after it was brought to a stop with a tire deflation device.


Keith Iglesias, 32, of Kansas City, MO, was arrested after a foot pursuit.  He was charged with reckless driving, resisting law enforcement in a vehicle, resisting, fleeing, and possession of a firearm without a license. He was also cited for speeding and improper display of license plate.


A passenger in the vehicle, Barbara Verser, 26, from Kansas City, MO, was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm without a license.


 The second passenger in the vehicle, Carville Seals, 40, from Glendale, AZ, was arrested for possession of a firearm without a license with a prior conviction.


The third passenger, Larce Crawford, 35, Kansas City, Kansas, was arrested for possession of a firearm without a license. 

Law enforcement in Johnson, Morgan counties make child solicitation arrests in Operation Guardian

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Police Department, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Police Department, and the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office conducted a joint child solicitation operation entitled Operation Guardian.


Operation Guardian was similar to a child solicitation sting conducted in December, 2020.


Operation Guardian took place in the City of Franklin where detectives posed online as a child under the age of 14. During chat room conversations, several adult men solicited sex and arranged to meet with a detective they believed to be that underage child. These men were among many others waiting in online chat rooms to prey on and solicit sex from children. There were even warnings from other individuals in these chat rooms that law enforcement frequently posed as children, but these men still solicited sex despite those warnings. When the suspects appeared at the agreed-upon location to meet with the undercover detectives, they were arrested and transported to the Johnson County Jail.


These arrests were a team effort by all agencies involved and were the result of several days of hard work and cooperation by detectives committed to locking up these types of predators.  All arrests will now be reviewed by the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office for formal charges and prosecution. Numerous charges are alleged including child solicitation, disseminating obscene / pornographic material to a minor, possession of methamphetamine, dealing in methamphetamine, resisting law enforcement, and driving while suspended.


Eight arrests were made in the operation including men from Greenwood, Franklin, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Nashville, Zionsville and Pendleton.  The ages of the men ranged from 24-60.


It is the continuing goal of Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess, Franklin Police Chief Kirby Cochran, Martinsville Police Chief John Richards, and Morgan County Sheriff Richard Myers to protect the children in our communities and surrounding areas. Law enforcement cannot eliminate this problem alone. Parents and guardians need to have an active role in their children’s lives to ensure they are aware of what they are doing on the internet.


Parents should keep an eye on what sites their children are visiting and who they are talking to in chats, games, and social media. This is an ongoing situation where children are regularly being targeted and seduced by predators to engage in sexual conduct. Please speak to your children about this issue and help eliminate these threats.

Modern Julius Joseph Fountain paying tribute to its original design

The Julius Joseph Fountain became the centerpiece of downtown Shelbyville in 1923.


In 2022, the very same fountain will have a modern operational system but will present a very similar design to its original version.


As the massive downtown Shelbyville redevelopment project was being discussed, the presentation of the fountain and the historic Bears of Blue River statue were prevalent in every conversation.


“The centerpiece of the fountain and the Balser Statue were never discussed as far as removing,” said Tom Davis of Genesis Property Development, the locally-based company overseeing the downtown project. “Now we discussed how we presented them, what the fountain would look like and how much should we modernize it versus how much we should keep the intent.


“It was always to try and make it look like it was original, or as close to the original as we can and keep as much of the original fountain as we could. That was always the top priority.”


Grover Museum photo: The Julius Joseph Fountain became operational in downtown Shelbyville in 1923. The fountain is currently being rebuilt as part of a downtown redevelopment project to reflect its original look, including the eight light poles running along each side of the fountain.


Representatives of Genesis and Ratio Architects met with Alex Krach, director of the Grover Museum in Shelbyville, to get a sense of the original design.


The museum has a photo of the original fountain that sat within a small island inside the public circle. Four street lights ran along each side of the island.


The 2022 version brings back the wider pool area and the four street lights along each side, but the island is much larger now.


The three flag poles will be relocated from the south end of the island to the north end while the Bears of Blue River statue will flip to the south end and be turned inward to face the fountain.


“The pool is a little bit different (from the most recent incarnation) as far as the size,” said Davis. “It is maybe more of a look to mirror what the road is going to look like. It’s a little bit different but they really tried to stick with the concept of what you’ve seen in the older pictures with the light poles.”


The foundations are already in place for the eight light poles and Davis expects the foundations for the flag poles and statue to be poured once the base of the fountain is complete.


Julius Joseph


German-immigrant Julius Joseph moved to Shelbyville in 1877 and opened a men’s clothing store at the site of the current Liberty Tax Service, 28 Public Square.


Joseph eventually transitioned into the furniture business and found success.


Upon his death in 1921, he left a $5,000 gift to the city to build a fountain.


Grover Museum photo: George Honig, shown here, was tasked with creating the Joseph Fountain. The three youth that sit atop the fountain are a tribute to Joseph's love of youth sports and games.


George Honig


The city turned to Evansville’s George Honig to create the fountain.


Honig’s best known creation is the Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport, Indiana. He also created sculptures on display in Denver, Colorado, the Evansville Coliseum Stadium, and the St. John’s Memorial in Joliet, Illinois. He also assisted on the George Washington statue in New York City.


Honig tapped into Joseph’s philanthropical nature with regard to youth and sports.


The original fountain was topped by three small children depicting their preparation for games or sports.


“The children represent outdoor life, as well as ‘the spirit of play that is inherent in every child,’” according to a prepared document from the Grover Museum.


Six plaques representing children’s faces were attached to the structure. Each was meant to represent a season as well as the mid-seasons when planting and harvesting took place.


There also was a plaque commemorating Julius Joseph.


Fountain dismantled


The Joseph Fountain was shut down and taken apart in 1951 after falling into disrepair.


“It was becoming an eyesore,” said Krach. “It was removed rather than repaired.”


The parts of the fountain were taken to the city garage where they stayed for the better part of three decades.


Grover Museum photo: The Joseph Fountain was returned to downtown Shelbyville in 1980 after being removed in 1951.


Downtown revitalization


Mayor Dan Theobald inherited his role in the midst of a downtown facelift. Talk centered around sprucing up the downtown area.


“I always remembered it as a kid growing up,” said Theobald of the fountain. “They were re-doing downtown, I inherited it from the previous administration, and we were looking at other things to bring downtown.”


Finding the fountain parts proved to be easy.


“Everything was in pretty good shape,” recalled Theobald. “Things needed to be cleaned up quite a bit but structurally it was all intact.”


Over a three-week span, Theobald oversaw the reinstallation of the Joseph Fountain in downtown Shelbyville. The new base was not as wide, giving it a more squat look than its original inception.


“It went well. Everything really fell into place,” said Theobald.


The Bears of Blue River statue also was added to the downtown area during this renovation phase.


Bigger, better fountain


The base of the fountain currently being finished is 24 feet wide and almost 40 feet long.


The top part of the fountain is currently in North Carolina being professionally cleaned to determine if it is in need of repair.


“We brought in a forensic expert (from Florida) to look at it and see if we could restore it,” said Davis. “We realized it is granite and not limestone. That last renovation, they coated it for some reason. It probably had some lime and calcium build up on it.


“So we sent it out to have it restored by someone that can clean that off and see what we have. We haven’t made a final decision on what we are going to have to do to it because we have to get it cleaned up first. The goal is to bring it back. It’s 100 years old and we want to try and reuse it.”


The bronze statue of the three children is currently sitting safely in the Genesis Property Development offices.


“It’s in pretty good shape,” said Davis. “It needs to be topped off … the bronze does. Overall, it’s in really good shape.”


Once the fountain is running, it will maintain about 18 inches of water in the pool area. Davis does not expect the fountain to be operational in 2021.


“We are going to try and run it and test it then we will probably winterize it,” he said. “So I doubt we will run it very long since it will be late in the season. The goal for us is to get it all running and tested.”


The redevelopment plan is currently on track to be completed by November. Work will continue on the west two quadrants and the downtown island through August. The process will then flip to the east two quadrants.


Once completed, traffic flow will take a straighter path through the downtown area and the four quadrants will make the area more desirable for pedestrian traffic.


“Honestly, at the end of the day, people are going to be pretty happy with the end product,” said Davis.