Local Coverage

Though Operation Double Trouble just wrapped up on Wednesday, cases from Operation Big Brother continue to wind their way through the court system.

Tasha FreemanIn a news release, Dubois County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Beth Sermersheim says 25-year-old Tasha Freeman of Huntingburg entered into a plea agreement and was sentenced yesterday in Dubois Superior Court. Freeman, who pled guilty to a Class B felony for Dealing Heroin, was sentenced to 10 years. The first 7 of those years will be at the Indiana Department of Corrections while the remaining 3 years will be split between Work Release and Home Detention. Additionally, Freeman will have to pay $500 restitution to the Dubois County Sheriff’s Community Strike Fund.

Freeman also pled guilty to Class A misdemeanors for Possession of a Synthetic Drug and Possession of Paraphernalia. She will pay a fine and court costs under a plea agreement for those charges.

Now Freeman is not the only Operation Big Brother defendant whose case is moving along. 42-year-old Margaret “Faith” McDonald of Huntingburg pled guilty to a Class B felony for Dealing in Methamphetamine. Her sentencing is set for July 15th at 2 pm.

Sermersheim says there are just 4 defendants from Operation Big Brother that still have charges pending. These are Joseph Christmon, Brock Gill, Ryan Groeschen and Brian Perez. All 4 are set to go to trial over the next few months.

Sermersheim says to date, Operation Big Brother cases have yielded 103 years of total sentencing, 85 of which are jail time.

A fuel leak caused a pickup truck to catch fire at one of Jasper’s busiest intersections last night.

Just after 7 pm, Jasper firefighters were called to the intersection of State Road 56 and St. Charles Street on the city’s west side. When they arrived, fire chief Kenny Hochgesang says a 1990 Ford Ranger pickup truck belonging to Luke Hopf of Jasper was fully engulfed in flames.

Hochgesang says the truck died on Hopf as he was driving on State Road 56. Hochgesang says Hopf then pushed the truck onto St. Charles Street to get it out of traffic. At that point, Hopf discovered a fuel leak underneath the truck and Hochgesang says the fuel was burning and soon fully engulfed the truck in flames.

Hochgesang says Hopf was not injured and nobody else was riding in the truck with him. The truck was a total loss.

The Jasper Fire Department responded with 2 trucks and 28 men. They were on scene for about half an hour.

A Huntingburg woman was jailed after crashing her SUV while driving drunk..and left the scene.

Shannon StuckeyAt around 11:40 last night, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies were called about an accident near County Roads 350 West and 100 South in Jasper. While en-route to the scene, deputies learned that the driver of the SUV involved appeared intoxicated and was trying to flee the scene. The female driver became irate with the person who was calling in the accident, so deputies say the caller backed away. The driver (33-year-old Shannon Stuckey) had left the scene by the time deputies arrived and found her 1995 Chevrolet Blazer halfway submerged in a stream.

Jasper Police officers were called in to help search for Stuckey. She was found a short time later about 50 to 100 yards from the crash site. She was then handcuffed and taken back to the crash site and deputies found that she was intoxicated after further investigation. A series of field sobriety tests and a blood draw at Jasper’s Memorial Hospital found her BAC to be .25% or more than 3 times the legal limit.

As for the accident, deputies say they learned from a Huntingburg police officer that Stuckey had hit a Dubois County highway gate set up to keep people off of Old Huntingburg Road. She then crashed through a 2nd gate prior to ending up in the ditch.

Stuckey was booked into the Dubois County Security Center on a Class A misdemeanor for operating while intoxicated endangering a person and a Class B misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident.

Memorial Hospital EMS and a wrecker from Uelbehor and Sons also assisted.

Local authorities say yesterday’s conclusion to Operation Double Trouble is only the tip of the iceberg in combating drugs in Dubois County.

DSC_4869Of course, the 2nd round of Operation Double Trouble netted 7 more arrests and 20 people in all were charged with felonies for drug dealing over the course of the operation. Authorities have charged 36 people in Dubois County with felonies for dealing drugs including methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, and various Schedule 2, 3 and 4 controlled substances through Operation Double Trouble and its predecessor Operation Big Brother, which took place last summer.

Dubois County Deputy Prosecutor Beth Sermersheim says though both undercover operations have been significant steps in fighting drugs, more will have to be done:

Sermersheim has been working with Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Officer John Anderson on both of these operations. She says a 3rd operation is in the works, though of course she did not provide any further details.

Now there was also a bit of a difference in procedure for Operation Double Trouble versus Operation Big Brother. Sermersheim says the defendants were arrested in 2 waves instead of all at once as was done previously. Sermersheim says the goal was to make things a little bit more efficient:

Sermersheim says Operation Double Trouble actually turned out to be less expensive despite having more people charged. She says the prosecutor’s office spent about $5,000 for Operation Double Trouble versus about $5,600 for Operation Big Brother.

The race continues to become one of America’s Best Communities..and Jasper city officials want your help in getting there.

Mayor Terry Seitz says fundraising for the city’s $15,000 local match is continuing. He remains confident that this opportunity will not pass the city by:

Now the Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition and the Jasper Chamber of Commerce are leading the way in this fundraising effort with some help from city ABC partner NBC universal. In total, Jasper received $50,000 by advancing to the quarterfinal round of the competition. The remaining $35,000 is being provided by program sponsor Frontier Communications.

Of course, Jasper is 1 of 50 communities competing for the right to be a semifinalist in the America’s Best Communities competition. Seitz says the competition will be fierce:

Seitz says the city will also partner with local media to help with the promotions efforts.

Jasper’s ABC team, made up of 5 local business representatives and 5 non-profit representatives, is now working in its 6 month time frame to complete revitalization plans. The deadline for those plans to be submitted is September of this year. Up to 15 semifinalists will then be selected in November of this year and will win the right to present their proposals at the America’s Best Communities summit in January of next year.

8 finalists will be selected after the January presentations. 3 overall winners will be chosen, with $3 million being awarded for 1st place, $2 million for 2nd place and $1 million to the 3rd place finisher.

A problem with a refrigerator led to a call for Dubois firefighters yesterday evening.

Just after 8:35 pm, Dubois volunteer fire crews were called to a potential structure fire at the John Baker Jr residence in the 11000 block of East State Road 56. When they arrived, Dubois Fire Department spokesman Zach Eichmiller says fire crews found a room inside of an apartment filled with smoke and a refrigerator had flames coming from underneath it. Fire crews were able to get the fire out quickly and the refrigerator was taken out of the room.

Eichmiller says Baker Jr had been working in the garage on the building’s lower level when he noticed smoke coming through the floor. Eichmiller says Baker Jr went upstairs to his apartment and found smoke coming into the apartment.

Eichmiller says Baker Jr was able to get into an empty room next to the apartment after finding that the wall was hot. Baker Jr found a refrigerator that had smoke and flames coming from underneath it. Baker Jr then left and went to his dad’s shop across the street for a fire extinguisher, which only put flames out briefly. At that point, a family member then called 9-1-1.

No injuries were reported. Eichmiller says Baker Jr will be able to live in the apartment again once an electrical inspection is completed. Eichmiller says there was a working smoke detector in the room and it was going off at the time the fire was discovered.

The Dubois Volunteer Fire Department responded with 3 trucks and 29 men. Crews were on scene for about an hour.

Wrong way driving led to a Jasper woman’s jailing on intoxication charges yesterday.

At 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, an officer with the Jasper Police Department noticed a Chevrolet Impala that was driving the wrong way on Mill Street heading towards 3rd Avenue. JPD says the Ruth Knebelvehicle was pulled over at the 3rd Avenue bridge a short time later.

59-year-old Ruth Knebel identified herself to the officer as the driver of the vehicle. The officer soon smelled alcoholic beverages and Knebel was found to be intoxicated with a BAC of .09%.

Knebel was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center for operating while intoxicated.