Local Coverage

2 people were arrested in separate theft cases at Jasper businesses yesterday.

The first report came from Holiday Foods at around 11:25 am. Jasper Police say employees of Holiday Foods had detained 34-year-old Ryan Braunecker of Huntingburg for shoplifting. Police say Ryan Braunecker

Braunecker had tried to steal a can of tobacco worth $1.79. He later admitted to stealing a can of tobacco worth $4.65 from the store on Friday. Braunecker was booked into the Dubois County Security Center on a Class A misdemeanor for theft.

Amy DurcholzThen at 2:10 yesterday afternoon, JPD was called to the north side Walmart for yet another attempted theft from that store. After arriving there, police found that 46-year-old Amy Durchholz of Jasper had tried to steal baby items, other food items, and yarn valued at just over 67 dollars. Police also found that Durchholz had been involved in other shoplifting incidents at the store.

Durchholz was arrested and booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She is charged with theft and criminal trespass.

Durchholz was also banned from Walmart due to the other shoplifting incidents.

A pair of scams that happened yesterday have authorities warning residents to be on the alert.

The scams were first reported at around 10:30 yesterday morning. Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies say a rural Holland couple was contacted by a scammer portraying himself as their grandson. Deputies say the scammer had enough personal information to convince them that their grandson had been taken into custody in Mexico City on drug charges. The couple were told that the grandson needed just under 12 hundred dollars to bond out of jail and they needed to send the money via Western Union. Convinced that it was their grandson, the couple wired the money.

A short time later, deputies say the couple received a second call from the person who had them speak with his supposed attorney. The attorney stated they needed to send another thousand dollars in attorney’s fees. At that point, the couple realized they were being scammed. That was confirmed when they called another family member, who told them their grandson was fine.

However, this scam was not the only one reported yesterday. The sheriff’s department says a resident was called on her cellphone early yesterday morning by someone claiming to represent the IRS. The woman was told that her son owed back taxes and the Sheriff’s department would be showing up at her house to arrest her son on tax warrants if the taxes were not paid.

Now the sheriff’s department is issuing a pair of reminders with this story. First of all, the department says scammers will not have all of your personal information and can be very convincing at times. You are encouraged to simply hang up the phone.

Secondly, sheriff’s deputies say the IRS will never contact you by phone about back taxes and sheriff’s deputies will not come to your house to make arrests on tax warrants.

The Mid-States Corridor Project continues to move along, but project leader Hank Menke says a little extra funding won’t hurt.

Over the next few weeks, Menke will be travelling around to Jasper, Huntingburg, and Ferdinand to ask for each municipality to chip in some more money for the project. Menke says he isn’t necessarily looking for a large amount of money. He says the money is mostly needed just to keep things moving:

Now the project was given Tier 2 status last year by the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Transportation. The Tier 2 status means the highway is slated to be built within 5 to 10 years.

Menke says though the economic development benefits are great for the area, he is also concerned about safety in light of major accidents along US 231 in recent years:

The most recent major accident along the highway claimed the life of 60-year-old Susan Grundhoefer of Dale last month.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group is still closely monitoring the construction of Interstate 69. He remains confident that stretch of highway will be finished. Menke also says communities such as Washington are already reaping the benefits of having an interstate. Several major companies have built along the highway and a new project that would add a warehouse, a railroad branch line, and infrastructure to the area is still in the works.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group can learn a lot from that development:

Menke says now is the best time to keep pushing for the Mid-States Corridor with all of the local representatives who are in the Statehouse. He says though he still wants the highway to be interstate grade, he is willing to wait for the interstate designation.

Sunday sales of alcohol continues to be a hot topic at the Indiana Statehouse.

Just last week, the project received new support in the Indiana Senate. Senate leadership stated that if a bill makes it to his chamber that he will not block it.

The bill to allow sales was co-authored by House Public Policy Chair Tom Dermody. The new bill would allow grocery, pharmacy, and liquor stores to be open on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm to sell liquor. The bill has met with some opposition from liquor store owners. They say they wouldn’t make enough money in Sunday hours to be able to pay their employees.

District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer says the bill has a real chance to go further than previous versions have:

Messmer says inconsistencies need to be ironed out before the bill makes it to the Senate for review.

The bill is expected to come before the full House within the next couple of weeks.

Several complaints of erratic driving led to a Jasper woman’s arrest on intoxication and other charges.

Just before 3:10 yesterday afternoon, Jasper Police were called about an intoxicated woman sitting inside of a parked car along St. John’s Street south of 6th Street. Before officers arrived, JPD says the driver (42-year-old Elizabeth Backer) started going northbound on St. John’s Street.

At the same time, police say a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Jason Dilger of Evansville was going east on 6th Street approaching the intersection with St. John’s Street. Witnesses told police Elizabeth BackerBacker ignored the stop sign and turned west onto 6th Street. Witnesses say Backer’s vehicle then hit a curb on the north side of 6th Street before crossing the middle lane and hitting the driver’s side of Backer’s vehicle.

Backer was taken to Memorial Hospital for a blood draw. She was found to be intoxicated with a BAC of .2 percent, 2 and a half times the legal limit.

After being medically cleared, Backer was booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She is facing driving while intoxicated, driving left of center, and failure to yield charges.

Authorities are continuing to look for a vehicle they say hit a Ferdinand Police Jeep and left the scene.

Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies and Ferdinand Police were called to 17th and Virginia Streets in Ferdinand at 1:50 yesterday morning on a reported hit and run. When they arrived, authorities say a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee belonging to Ferdinand Police had been hit. Witnesses told police they had heard the crash and a silver vehicle left the area going northbound on Virginia Street. The police vehicle sustained more than 5 thousand dollars worth of damage and has been taken out of service.

Now authorities are looking for a slate blue or grey 1998/1999 Toyota Avalon 4 door passenger car. Police say the suspect vehicle has heavy damage to it and will be missing part of the front bumper on the passenger’s side. The vehicle also leaked out fluid as it was leaving the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ferdinand Police Department or the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department. All callers may remain anonymous.

The Spencer County Regional Chamber of Commerce celebrated a big anniversary over the weekend.

Saturday night, the chamber hosted its 15th annual membership dinner in Chrisney. The dinner saw several people recognized for their efforts. Original chamber board member Gene Steinkamp was recognized as the Board Member of the Year on Saturday. Steinkamp says public service has always been important to him:

Several other awards were presented Saturday night. One of those was the Ambassador of the Year award. This year’s winner was Mary James.

The final announcement of the night may have been the biggest one for the future, however. Executive Director Debbie Barrett says she will be leaving the chamber next month. Barrett is set to take over as General Manager for Santa’s Lodge.

Barrett, who has led the chamber for the last 6 years, says a lot has been accomplished during her time as director. She says community gatherings have been the best part of her job:

The Spencer County chamber has been incorporated since 1999.