Local Coverage

Martin County authorities are trying to sort out the details of an apparent homicide that took place earlier today.

Martin County Prosecutor Mike Steiner says an elderly male was the victim of an apparent shooting in an area north of Shoals.

Steiner says the body was discovered around 9:30 this morning (WED) at a residence north of Dover Hill near Trinity Springs.

Now a suspect identified as Nathan Baker has been captured. Baker was reported to have lead authorities in a chase that started in Willams and ended along State Road 158 west of Bedford around 2:30 this afternoon. Baker at that time was taken into custody without incident.

As a result of the shooting officials in both the Shoals and Loogootee school corporations decided to put their schools on lockdown at around 12:30.

This a a developing story we’ll have more on the WBDC News once more details have been released.

A deer is being blamed for a 2 vehicle accident in southwestern Dubois County this morning.

Just after 6:30 am, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies were called to State Road 64 just west of County Road 585 West. Deputies say Jack Parks of Oakland City had been going westbound on State Road 64 at the same time as Marleny Soto de Mendez of Velpen was going eastbound. Authorities say Parks had to swerve after a deer ran out in front of him. Deputies say Parks’ vehicle then hit Soto de Mendez’s vehicle in the left front side after Parks swerved. Parks’ vehicle continued westbound and off of the south side of State Road 64 where it came to rest on the edge of a field. Meanwhile, Soto de Mendez’s vehicle continued east for a short distance before coming to rest in the middle of the highway.

Soto de Mendez complained of ankle pain and had cuts on her face according to authorities. She refused treatment at the scene. Parks was not injured.

Both vehicles were totaled in this crash. State Road 64 was closed for about an hour while debris was removed from the highway.

Huntingburg Police, Memorial Hospital EMS, and wreckers from KARS and Uelbehor and Sons all assisted.

Though there has been much debate surrounding the salary of the new director at Dubois County Community Corrections, talks are also continuing on how to fix the county’s budget going forward.

The Dubois County Council held another lengthy discussion on the matter earlier this week. Of course, this marks the 2nd year in a row that Dubois County is facing a budget deficit. It was $1.6 million this year after being around $1.3 million last year.

Now councilman Craig Greulich stated earlier this week that the council should start taking some sort of action on budget cuts at each meeting going forward. He said the idea is to avoid having an even bigger budget hole to climb out of next year. The county council had to make some $1.7 million in reductions and moving of items to county EDIT funds to avoid the shortfall.

Council president Greg Kendall says budgeting for needs and not wants will help the county in the short and long terms:

The 2016 general fund for the county originally came out to just over $9.7 million originally. The cuts brought it down to around $8 million, the same as it was last year. The council also gave employee raises at $15 bi-weekly for full-time employees and added an assistant security officer at the Dubois County Courthouse.

A public hearing will be held September 9th and the budget will likely be adopted at the council’s September meeting.

Officials with the Tri-County YMCA have announced the creation of a new endowment to support programs and operations.

The new endowment is being started with the help of the Dubois County Community Foundation. In a news release, Tri-County YMCA Executive Director Mike Steffe says the Y is setting the stage for future growth. Steffe says the endowment was part of the Y’s strategic plan and gives donors the chance to contribute to the organization’s long-term stability.

Of course, the goal of the endowment is to be a permanent source of funding for the Tri-County YMCA. The endowment will generate a grant to benefit the Y each year forever.

The Tri-County YMCA serves Dubois, Perry and Spencer counties. It focuses on 3 areas, which are Healthy Living, Youth Development and Social Responsibility. The overall mission is to utilize Christian principles which build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

For more information on the endowment or to contribute, you can go online to dccommunityfoundation.org. You can also call (812)-482-5295.

Huntingburg Stellar Communities projects continue their move forward.

The city has advertised requests for qualifications for the Market Street Park project after recent approval of final design reports by the city’s Stellar committee. Mayor Denny Spinner says the city will be hearing back from engineering firms within the next 30 days.

Additionally, Spinner says the city is putting together requests for proposals for the 4th Street Heritage Trail project. Spinner says those will be going out within the next 2 weeks.

Spinner says the recent movement has slightly adjusted the timeline for each project’s completion:

Spinner says the differences in timing are largely due to funding and the organizations involved. The Market Street Park project will be funded through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs whereas the 4th Street Heritage Trail will be funded through the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Of course, design concepts for both the 4th Street and Market Street projects were unveiled back in June. The planning was coordinated by Taylor Siefker and Williams Design Group of Indianapolis.

On a final note, Spinner says the city is also moving ahead with its street department relocation efforts. The city submitted its funding application for that project to the Federal Emergency Management Agency this past Friday. The project also includes a safe room in the event of bad weather, something that Huntingburg currently does not have.

Spinner says the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, who is also helping with funds for the project, considers the project a funding priority. Thus, Spinner and other city officials are hoping to get an answer on funding by the end of this year.

Ferdinand residents are being encouraged to attend a meeting later this week that town officials say will go a long way towards laying out the future.

The Ferdinand Town Council will be hosting the meeting tomorrow night. It will be from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Ferdinand Community Center. Town officials will first go over what has been accomplished in the current comprehensive plan before taking public input on shaping the next plan.

Now the town is looking to put together a comprehensive plan which will cover the next 10 years. It will largely involve making updates to the current comprehensive plan, which was adopted back in 2007. The effort is being facilitated by Kathy Kleindorfer of Evansville.

Of course, tomorrow night’s meeting is the latest of several meetings which have been held so far. Kleindorfer and town council president Ken Sicard have led 3 small group meetings to date. These were with students, businesses, and volunteer/non-profit organizations.

Sicard says though a lot has been accomplished over the last 8 years, more needs to be done, including a more concerted effort to attract young people to Ferdinand and Dubois County. He says it all starts with better promotion:

Some of the early ideas that have come out of the group meetings include more affordable housing, adding sidewalks along Main Street and making a run at the Stellar Communities designation in the future.

Prosecutors locally and statewide are urging state lawmakers to roll back looser drug sentences that have been in place for 2 years.

Up until 2013, the prison timeframe for drug dealing offenses in Indiana was between 6 and 20 years with some circumstances allowing sentences of up to 50 years. Recent revisions to the state’s criminal code set the maximum drug dealing sentence at 12 years and it now takes an extra aggravating factor such as dealing near a school or while armed to provoke a longer sentence. David Powell with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council says many drug addicts don’t want to be treated and shorter sentences take away leverage from the justice system that could force them to go into treatment.

Of course, the sentencing changes are being felt here in Dubois County as prosecutors work to sentence those arrested in connection with the recently completed Operation Double Trouble. The new sentencing guidelines went into effect after Operation Big Brother was wrapped up last year. Operation Big Brother defendants have been sentenced under the old guidelines.

The changes have left Dubois County chief deputy prosecutor Beth Sermersheim among those frustrated with the state:

Prosecutors are pushing to allow sentences up to 30 years if dealers are armed and working near schools. They also want longer sentences for fatal overdoses that can be linked to specific dealers.

Meanwhile, Larry Landis is with the Indiana Public Defender Council. He argues the code revision was done to keep the state prison system from being overrun by drug offenders, thus leaving space for violent criminals.

Landis says drug offenders took up 2/3rds of prison beds statewide when the new criminal code went into effect. He says longer sentences would be a step backward, putting the state back where it was 2 years ago.