Associated Press

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.

LINTON, Ind. (AP)- Authorities say a body found in a shallow creek is that of a southwestern Indiana man suspected in the stabbing death of his author mother.

Greene County Coroner Sherri Wilson said Monday that 22-year-old Jorrell Houldson of Linton died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. His body was found Saturday.

His mother, 47-year-old Ruby Moon-Houldson of Linton, was found stabbed more than 20 times on Oct. 1. Court documents charging her son with murder indicated she was mad at him because he was late paying rent on a house she owned.

Moon-Houldson was the author of more than 30 books, including science fiction and several “Star Trek” tribute books. She also taught nursing at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Illinois.

HARDINSBURG, Ind. (AP) – A southern Indiana prosecutor says no charges are expected against a homeowner who fatally shot a knife-wielding intruder.

Orange County Prosecutor Kelly Minton tells The Times-Mail ( ) she’s reviewed state law pertaining to the use of deadly force to protect life or property and says no charges are likely in Tuesday’s killing of 23-year-old Jacob Grimes during a home invasion.

State Police say the Paoli man entered a rural home near Hardinsburg, about 35 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky, shared by two brothers and their 86-year-old mother.

Detective Craig Starr says 61-year-old Terah Frost fatally shot Grimes after finding his 59-year-old brother, Barry Frost, fighting downstairs with Grimes, who was wearing a mask and was armed with a knife.

Police say Grimes had no known connection to the Frost family.