Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana’s state health agency has won a $1.4 million federal grant to help it conduct an in-depth analysis of the factors behind homicides and suicides in the state.

The five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow the State Department of Health to gather critical data on Indiana’s violent deaths using the National Violent Death Reporting System.

That online system helps state and local officials understand when and how violent deaths occur by linking data from law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners, vital statistics and crime laboratories.

Indiana had 1,456 violent deaths in 2012, of which nearly 64 percent were suicides and 23 percent were homicides.

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams says that “to stop violent deaths, we must first understand all the facts.”

PETERSBURG, Ind. (AP)- The city of Petersburg has yet another new mayor.

Over the weekend, a Republican caucus selected R.C. Klipsch as the next mayor. He becomes the 3rd mayor of Petersburg since the beginning of last year.

On Jan. 1, he will take over for Frank Coleman Jr. Coleman, a retired Indiana State Police trooper, announced he was stepping down as mayor earlier this month.

The man who won his third term in the 2011 election, Jon Craig, resigned early in 2013 to become the deputy director of Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Coleman was tabbed as Craig’s replacement in February of that year.

Klipsch has worked in the mayor’s office under both Craig and Coleman as the city code inspector.

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) – Five southern Indiana counties have formed a coalition to try to secure money to clean up abandoned and oftentimes contaminated commercial and industrial sites.

The Vincennes Sun-Commercial reports ( ) Knox, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence and Martin counties are working with the Southern Indiana Development Commission in Loogootee in applying for a $600,000 brownfield grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The money would be used to identify brownfield sites, abandoned properties that could pose an environmental threat because of previous manufacturing or storage practices, and work to develop plans to get them cleaned up.

If the grant is awarded, the commission would establish a committee aimed at compiling a list of potential sites and prioritizing them for assessment.

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan to see if they can get financial and technical help for reducing fertilizer runoff from their fields.

The department says farmer in Indiana and Michigan will have until next Friday to sign up. The deadline in Ohio is Jan. 16.

Cutting down fertilizer runoff has become a big priority since algae on Lake Erie fouled the water supply in the Toledo area this past August.

Nutrients from the runoff are one of the contributors to the algae problem on the lake.

The money from the department’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program can help farmers add buffer strips and cover crops or improve their drainage and improve water quality.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)- A beetle that kills ash trees has been found for the first time in six southern Indiana counties as the pest continues its march across the state.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said Friday the emerald ash borer has been detected in Jennings, Pike, Scott, Spencer, Sullivan and Warrick counties.

That means the pest has now been detected in 79 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The agency says the new ash borer detections raise questions about the effectiveness of quarantines on wood from ash trees. The DNR says a decision will be announced next year on whether those quarantines will continue.

The beetle that’s native to Asia has killed about 50 million ash trees in the Upper Midwest since arriving in the U.S. more than a decade ago.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is setting up a showdown with Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz as part of a push for an overhaul of Indiana’s education system.

Pence said Thursday he would seek to have appointees to the State Board of Education elect their own chairman. That effectively puts Ritz’s job overseeing the board in jeopardy.

Ritz currently leads the board but has clashed repeatedly with its members. The battles have fueled a push by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to make the superintendent’s job appointed instead of elected.

Pence says he will dissolve the second education agency he created that has been at the center of some of the clashes with the Ritz-led Department of Education.

The education overhaul will be the centerpiece of Pence’s 2015 legislative agenda.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)-Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson says only 30 percent of Indiana’s 4.5 million registered voters cast votes in the Nov. 4 general election.

Lawson said Tuesday that the turnout of 1.39 million voters compared with 39 percent turnout in 2002, the last Indiana general election without races for governor or U.S. Senate on the ballot.

Lawson says eastern Indiana’s Jay County had the highest turnout rate at 52 percent. Johnson County, south of Indianapolis, had the lowest turnout among counties at 24 percent. Marion and Miami counties had 25 percent turnout.

Now locally, Dubois County’s voter turnout came in at 38 percent. Martin, Perry, Pike and Spencer counties all had at least 48 percent turnout rates. Crawford County had a 42 percent turnout. Finally, Daviess and Orange Counties each reported 35 percent voter turnout during the general election.