A pair of bills filed by District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer aim to make life easier for Indiana wineries.

The bills are Senate Bill 337 and Senate Bill 338. Bill 337 is designed to make it easier for distributors to directly sell their wine to consumers. If passed, wine distributors would no longer be required to meet face to face with their consumers. New provisions would be put into place for direct shipping if proper guidelines are followed. Additionally, the current limits on wine that can be shipped in Indiana would be raised to 2 and a half times more than the limit under current law.

Meanwhile, Bill 338 is more aimed at farm wineries. If passed into law, it would allow for those wineries to get permits for selling and shipping their products.

However, there would be price limits put into place. The limits would be $301 per bottle or gallon and no more than 5 thousand gallons sold or shipped over a permit period.

Messmer says the changes in policy are long overdue:

On a related note, Messmer presented Special Joint Resolution 2 at the Indiana Statehouse last week. The resolution honored the Indiana Winery and Vineyard Association for 40 years of service. Messmer also recognized them for providing Hoosier jobs, supporting Indiana’s economy and nurturing Indiana’s grape and wine industry.

Wineries in attendance included Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Huber Orchard and Winery of Starlight, Wildcat Creek Winery of Lafayette, Owen Valley Winery in Spencer, and Indianapolis-based Easley Winery.

Now Messmer has several other bills he is working on this session. He says you can go online to iga.in.gov and find resources to keep up with what’s going on at the Statehouse:

Questions may be directed to Messmer’s office at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Messmer@iga.in.gov.

A leaving the scene accident and not cooperating with police led to a Huntingburg woman being put in jail overnight.

Just after 8:05 last night, Huntingburg Police were called to the 600 block of North Washington Street on a report that a white SUV had hit 2 trees in the area and was possibly trying to leave the scene.

When they arrived, police found 44-year-old Joan Noble behind the wheel of the Jeep Cherokee that had damage to the front end. Police immediately noted the smell of alcohol coming from Noble.

Noble chose not to cooperate when police asked her to step out of the vehicle, so officers removed her from the vehicle and detained her. After further investigation, police found that Noble was intoxicated with a BAC of .24%, 3 times the legal limit. Noble also was found to be driving on a suspended license with a prior conviction.

After being medically cleared at Memorial Hospital, Noble was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center on several charges. These were Operating While Intoxicated, Driving While Suspended with a Prior Conviction, Disorderly Conduct, and Resisting Law Enforcement. Damage to Noble’s Jeep was estimated at 25 hundred dollars.

Jasper Police and Memorial Hospital Staff also assisted.

Dubois firefighters were called to a fire last night which turned out to be a property owner cleaning up debris from another fire.

Just before 9:30 last night, Dubois firefighters were called to the Steve Stackhouse property in the 8300 block of North Cuzco Road North after a passerby called with a report of flames that could be seen from a distance. After arriving at the scene, firefighters found a pile of debris burning that the landowner had intentionally set.

Nobody was on the property when firefighters arrived, so the fire was put out. Dubois fire department spokesman Zach Eichmiller says a house on the property burned down early last year and the fire was set to clean up debris that was left from the home.

3 trucks and 26 men went to the scene. Fire crews were there for about 15 minutes.

The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with all 4 Dubois County high schools for a motivational speaker.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the department says Janie Burkett Harrison will be speaking at each of the 4 high schools. Next Tuesday, Harrison will speak at Dubois High School from 8 to 9 am and at Forest Park High School from 1 to 2 pm.

Then on Wednesday, Harrison will speak at Jasper High School from 9:30 to 10:30 am. She’ll be at Southridge High School from 1 to 2 pm.

Now Harrison’s life testimonials at each of the high schools are aimed at students. However, the public is invited to attend free of charge. Harrison will also talk to inmates at the Dubois County Security Center in a private presentation.

The daughter of a pastor, Harrison chose a life of bulimia, drug addiction, and alcoholism as a teenager. That led to her being imprisoned at 22 years old. She was paroled after 18 months though she was still dealing with her addictions. Harrison then received a 40 year prison sentence for breaking her probation in December of 2008. 6 weeks after being sentenced, Harrison went to a rehabilitation center and has since become an author and speaker.

Harrison’s passion is to help people and their families who are affected by drug or alcohol addiction. For more information, you can go to janieburkett.com.

Expenses were covered by the inmate commissary fund and a grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation.

Authorities have not yet been able to definitively identify remains that were found at the scene of a house fire north of Dubois over the weekend.

Dubois County Coroner Bob Veatch says an examination of the remains by a forensic pathologist found that they are of a man in his 50s who died in the fire. The date of death is listed as Saturday and the location is in the 9700 block of North 400 East near Dubois.

Veatch says the name of the victim could not be determined. He says an anthropologist will now be consulted to try and definitively identify the remains.

WBDC News has received an obituary for a Michael Bauer of Dubois who passed away at his home at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon. The obituary from the Becher Kluesner Funeral Home in Jasper says Bauer was 56 years old and funeral arrangements are pending. Dubois fire officials say a Michael Bauer is presumed to have died in the fire, which burned for more than 12 hours on Saturday.

Now the fire was originally called in at around 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Dubois fire department spokesman Zach Eichmiller says the fire probably started sometime between 1 and 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. He says the fire burned so long since the house was in a rural area, thus making it hard for anyone to have seen it burning.

A house and 3 other buildings on the property were total losses.

The autopsy reports for 3 people who were killed in a Jasper apartment fire back in November have been released.

In the reports, Dubois County Coroner Bob Veatch says the deaths of 20-year-old Alex Snedeker, 20-year-old Linsey Parsley, and 3-year-old Robert Parsley on November 26th were accidental. The cause of death for all 3 is listed as asphyxia due to inhalation of soot, super heated air, and carbon monoxide.

The autopsy also contained other findings. Veatch reported that Snedeker and Parsley had levels of methamphetamine and THC in their bodies. Linsey Parsley was additionally found to have amphetamines and benzodiazepines in her system. Robert Parsley’s autopsy turned up levels of methamphetamine.

Now the fire broke out at 4:45 in the morning back on November 26th. Jasper fire chief Kenny Hochgesang says the upstairs apartment where the 3 lived was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived on scene. He says emergency personnel tried to get into the upstairs apartment only to be pushed back by heat and flames.

Hochgesang says the fire started in a clogged dryer vent in the apartment. He says batteries were removed from a downstairs smoke detector and upstairs smoke detectors didn’t appear to be working at the time of the fire.

With continued concerns at the state level about funding for infrastructure, one area state senator says tweaks to the fuel taxing system might be the answer.

District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer says state lawmakers need to continue looking at ways to adjust the state fuel excise tax. He says there also could be provisions made to get more revenue out of people who drive alternative fuel vehicles. Messmer says that could involve creating a provision that would require alternative vehicle users to pay into the system.

Now the state has already imposed a gasoline usage tax. That tax, which took effect on July 1st of last year, replaced the prepaid sales tax on gasoline that was previously collected from retail merchants.

The new tax, which is a rolling tax, is calculated by taking the statewide average price per gallon and multiplying it by 7%. The Indiana Department of Revenue says the gas tax in July came out to roughly 23 cents a gallon. The previous gas sales tax was at 19 cents per gallon prior to the July change.

Messmer says finding solutions will take up the bulk of the legislative session. He says though changes are needed, sweeping change is unlikely:

Hoosiers are currently paying an average of $1.97 a gallon according to GasBuddy.com. That equates to a tax rate of just under 14 cents a gallon.