Bradford Raths

Stakeholders across southwestern Indiana have now completed their work on a new regional economic development strategy.

The new strategy was officially presented to regional leaders at an event held in French Lick yesterday. The strategy effects 11 counties in all. That includes Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Martin, and Orange counties locally.

Officials say the new plan is aimed at fostering new growth and capitalizing on existing assets in the area. Specific assets include Indiana University and Naval Support Activity Crane. The plan lays out 6 interconnected strategies that focus on regionalism, workforce development and education, economic development, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and R&D technology transfer.

Work on this strategy was made possible through a 650 thousand dollar planning grant from the Lilly Endowment. The grant was awarded back in July of last year.

Since the grant’s awarding, officials have held hundreds of meetings, interviews, and focus groups as directed by the initiative’s steering committee. That committee is made up of 8 invested stakeholders and leaders from the region.

The steering committee also partnered with project coordinator Energy Systems Network and research consultants at Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. Additionally, committee members went to 3 ‘benchmark’ regions to meet with local business and government leaders on economic development. These were Huntsville, Alabama, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina. Listening sessions were held in all 11 counties through the work of various community foundations and Radius Indiana.

A full copy of the plan is available by going online to radiusindiana.com or energysystemsnetwork.com.

An Orange County man was taken into custody after a reported theft at a Jasper business.

At 6 o’clock last night, Jasper Police officers recieved a report about a theft that had taken place at Meny’s True Value. Officers found a man matching the description of the suspect near the intersection Charles Fryof 47th and Newton Streets. The man (50-year-old Charles Fry of Paoli) was taken to the Jasper Police station for further questioning.

During questioning, Frye admitted to stealing 6 extension cords and 3 packs of AAA batteries. The total value of the items: 54 dollars.

Fry was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center on theft charges.

Huntingburg Police are continuing to investigate a hit and run accident that occurred recently.

The department says the accident happened at the intersection of 14th and Main Streets. Police say the suspect vehicle is believed to be a red or maroon passenger car with damage to the driver’s side. The vehicle could also be missing the driver’s side mirror and driver’s door window.

The vehicle was last seen going northbound along Old US 231 from Swifty’s Gas Station. Anyone who has any information is asked to call the Huntingburg Police Department at 683-4111.

You can also call the department’s anonymous tip line at 684-2992.

An Orange County man who broke into a home early this morning lost his life after an encounter with the homeowners.

At about 1 o’clock this morning, Indiana State Police say 23-year-old Jacob Grimes of Paoli entered a residence in the 7900 block of South County Road 700 East in Hardinsburg. Police say the homeowners (59-year-old Barry Frost and his brother 61-year-old Terah Frost) heard Grimes come in. They then moved their mother (86-year-old Yvonne Frost) into a nearby bedroom to protect her.

Barry and Terah Frost then went downstairs to find the intruder. They did not find Grimes initially and went about looking for tools to repair the door. Upon opening the basement door, Barry found Grimes and punched him, touching off a physical altercation.

State police say Terah was in an adjacent room and heard the fight going on. He then entered the room and saw Grimes fighting with Barry. After seeing a knife in Grimes’ hand, Terah pulled out a handgun and shot Grimes.

Grimes was pronounced dead at the scene. The autopsy was completed this morning in Bedford according to authorities.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department also assisted.

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (AP) – A man has pleaded guilty to charges he fatally shot a man outside a rural southwestern Indiana home and then raping a woman inside the house.

Jason Lee Caldwell of Solsberry has been jailed since he was arrested at an Indianapolis motel in July, two days after authorities say he waited in the driveway of 54-year-old David Lamm’s Greene County home and shot him when he arrived.

Officials say a woman who was found naked and bound with rope and duct tape told police Caldwell raped her at gunpoint after the shooting about 15 miles west of Bloomington.

The Greene County Daily World and The Herald-Times report Caldwell pleaded guilty last week to murder and rape charges. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Although Black Friday is coming up later this week, Dubois County officials are referring to yesterday as ‘Black Monday’ in the wake of recent financial news.

Last night, the Dubois County Council heard that the State Board of Accounts found issues with the county’s proposed 2015 budget. Specifically, the proposed general fund was $1.2 million dollars more than the funding coming from the state. The state will send $8.2 million to the county’s general fund for 2015.

The news had the council scrambling to find ways to cut the $1.2 million out of the budget for next year. The end result was approval for 4 funds being transferred out of the general fund and into COIT funds to make the cuts.

County council president Greg Kendall says the county was told about the budget issues within the last couple of weeks. He says having to make the cuts at the last minute is not easy on anyone:

Kendall says things such as property tax caps, the elimination of the inventory and inheritance taxes, and changes in state excise taxes are at the root of the funding shortages. He says the county was fortunate to be able to make the needed changes:

Now state lawmakers are still looking into the possibility of cutting the business personal property tax. The idea came up during last year’s legislative session, but did not make it into law.

Also last night, the council voted to cancel funding for a previously planned salary study for county employees following a heated debate. The possibility of county department heads coming up with job descriptions for the employees was mentioned during last night’s debate by Dubois County Clerk Bridgette Jarboe. That possibility led to the discussion of cancelling the study.

Last month, the council voted 4-3 to set aside 50 thousand dollars to fund the study, which would have been done by Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele, and Associates.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is now warning Hoosiers about an FBI alert related to fraudulent online sales as the holiday season approaches.

The department says the FBI’s Cyber Division is alerting folks to fraudulent postings for sales of automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, and outdoor equipment this holiday season.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has gotten almost 7 thousand complaints about criminals targeting consumers through false advertisements for big ticket items since June of 2009. The losses from these scams adds up to more than 20 million dollars.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana State Police and the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center recommend consumers buy products from reputable sources after determining the legitimacy of the seller.

In this particular scam, criminals post a false advertisement offering the item for sale. The advertisement usually includes a fraudulent photo. Within the advertisement, the criminal includes a contact telephone number. The consumer leaves a message and the perpetrator responds via text message. The text message normally requests that the consumer provide an e-mail address. Once the e-mail address is provided the consumer is sent additional details to include multiple images of the item for sale.

The perpetrator provides logical reasons for offering the item at such a discounted price. These include moving to another location; the sale was part of a divorce settlement; or overseas military deployment.

To avoid being scammed, the FBI has made several recommendations. These include using search engines to research an advertised item and/or the person selling the item, searching the Internet for negative feedback or reviews on a seller, and being cautious when responding to any advertisements or special offers.

Anyone who suspects being the victim of an Internet-related crime may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.