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MADISON COURIER BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hard work pays off for Madison's Luke Miller

Local firefighters have busy weekend
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Local firefighters were busy over the weekend with several runs — one a garage fire at a home on US 421 and the other an exhaust vent fire at a local restaurant — as well as rescuing a driver involved in a car crash.

Fire destroyed a detached garage Sunday night at a home in the 4600 block of US 421, but firefighters were able to contain the blaze and minimize damage to the nearby house.

Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Black said the fire was reported at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday.

“There were reports of explosions,” Black said, which he thought may have been due to the fuel tank on a vehicle in the garage that was destroyed by the fire. He also said a lawn mower was lost in the blaze. There had been one other vehicle in the garage but Black said the owner was able to get in out before it being damaged in the blaze.

Black said the two-story home was located about 25 feet from the garage, but firefighters were able to contain the fire enough to minimize damage. He said the house received some water damage along with damage to the siding. Additionally, he said the fire melted the electrical meter which he said has impacted the electronics in the home.

There was a propane tank in the vicinity of the fire that Black said firefighters successfully protected from the fire. Black said if the tank had overheated firefighters would have been dealing with much more severe consequences.

“The fire got hot quick,” he said, noting he was pleased by the fast reaction by firefighters and the solid firefighting tactics used to contained the fire. Black said about 15,000 gallons of water was used during the battle called relayed to a portable dump tank on site from nearby Madison Township Fire Department.

Assistance was received by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in closing that section of US 421 while firefighters fought the blaze. North Madison Fire Department 5 and Rykers Ridge Fire Department also fought the fire with support by other firefighters. King’s Daughters’ Hospital emergency medical service was also on the scene.

At about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, firefighters from Madison were called to the Burger King, 544 Clifty Drive, when dark smoke was discovered coming from the kitchen exhaust vent on the roof. Firefighters soon determined that the fire was only in the exhaust system, and the fire was quickly extinguished. Madison Fire Department responded along with Madison Police Department, KDH EMS and Jefferson County Health Department.

At 10:11 p.m. on Friday, firefighters responded to the scene of car accident on Dawson Smith Road to extract a driver from the vehicle. The accident, which occurred on Dawson Smith Road west of the railroad tracks at Paper Mill Road. Black said the vehicle was wedged between two trees, and first responders had to use a chainsaw to cut the trees before they were able to extract the driver from the vehicle.

In addition to Madison Township Fire Department, the rescue effort also involved Rykers Ridge and Madison Clifty 6.

“It was a great team effort by everybody,” said Black.

KDH EMS was also on the scene along with officers from Hanover Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

After nearly 30 minutes, the driver was extracted. A passenger in the vehicle had been able to get out without assistance.

On Friday at 5:50 p.m., Madison Township Fire Department was called to Woodside Mobile Home Park where juveniles had set a shed on fire. Black said the fire was put out in three minutes by a neighbor who doused the blaze with a garden hose.

On Saturday at 3:53 a.m., Madison Township Fire Department was called to brush fire near Michigan Road and Hutchinson Lane, but it was also put out quickly, Black said.

Madison pledges $50K to Madison Regatta
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The City of Madison has pledged $50,000 to this year’s Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Mindy McGee announced at Monday’s Board of Public Works meeting.

“We want to help continue this long-standing tradition,” said McGee, who noted the Regatta has been challenged duirng a time impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Bob Courtney noted 2021 will be a milestone year for the event — the 50th anniversary of Miss Madison’s Gold Cup victory at the 1971 Madison Regatta and the 70th anniversary of the race.

“We felt it was important this year to support that” and to also signify an investment toward “rejuvenating local events that we did not have in the last year.”

Courtney said the $50,000 from the city serves as a match to the $50,000 awarded by the Jefferson County Board of Tourism at its meeting last Thursday.

The dates for this year’s Madison Regatta would be July 2-4, and Courtney said he anticipates an announcement from the Regatta later this week.

In other business:

• Courtney reported the American Queen Steamboat Company has submitted a docking agreement to city which he said the board will consider at its next meeting. “It’s great what they bring to the community for tourism and business for the City of Madison,” Courtney said. “I am not sure that we have signed a docking agreement before, but I am not opposed to it.”

However, Courtney said the five-year agreement being sought by the American Queen Steamboat Company may be too long.

The first scheduled docking at Madison in 2021 will be the American Duchess on Sunday, April 25, with another docking Tuesday, April 27. The American Duchess is also scheduled to dock at Madison on Tuesday, June 8 and Sunday, June 20. The American Queen is scheduled to dock at Madison on Tuesday, June 29 and Sunday, July 11.

• Approved a resolution for street closings around Bicentennial Park for a concert hosted by Unbroken Circle Productions featuring guitarist and bluegrass musician Billy Strings. The street closings on West Street from First Street to Vaughn Drive, Vaughn Drive from West Street to Central Avenue, and First Street from West Street to Central Avenue were approved for Friday and Saturday, May 21-22, from 8 a.m. to noon daily.

• Approved a resolution for street closings around the Broadway Fountain for a wedding Saturday, Oct. 23, filed by Brock VanWye, whose grandmother, Linda Barbeau, was at the meeting to discuss details with the board. Courtney noted that the Farmers Market, hosted by Madison Main Street, has permission to use streets in the area until 1 p.m. that day, and that the VanWye request started at noon. Courtney asked for feedback from Nicole Schell, who serves on the Main Street Madison board, and Schell said the Farmers Market ends at noon and that vendors begin tearing down their spaces after that, and a workable time for the use of the space for the wedding might be 12:30 p.m. The board unanimously approved reserving the area from 12:30-4:30 p.m. for the wedding.

• Approved final reports on three PACE grants. At 910 West Second Street, a home owned by Marlene Baker, $1,412.02 for removing five damaged storm windows and replacing with five new ones. At 301-309 West Second Street, the Talbott-Hyatt House owned by Historic Madison Inc., $5,452 for rehabilitating the historic wrought iron fence and its stone base. At 701 Walnut Street, Northside Liquors owned by Jacki Knoebel, $1,720 for replacing gutters.

• Reported on the mid-point of a project at 819 Walnut Street by James Davis for work on the exterior at $3,750. Also, an extension was approved for 707 West Main Street until May 18, 2022 for work that has been delayed due to work in that area by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

• Approved an amendment to the leak adjustment policy that increases the adjustment total to $1,000 before the request must require attendance at a Board of Public Works meeting. The adjustment total limit had previously been $500.

• Approved updates to the city police’s standard operating procedures on the requirements in which officers may be eligible for promotions with captains going from the current six year requirement to five years, lieutenants going from five years to four years, and sergeants from four years to three years.

INDOT pulls trash can from gateway
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Madison Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Mindy McGee said city officials met last week with representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation concerning several ongoing projects in the community.

Providing an update at Monday’s Board of Public Works meeting Monday, McGee noted that a trash can that had been located in front of the “Welcome to Madison” coming off the Milton-Madison Bridge on US 421 has been removed from that location after complaints by the city and several residents. McGee said INDOT officials were “surprised about the placement” when they saw it. “We met on Tuesday and it was removed by Thursday,” McGee said.

As far as the trash can itself, Mayor Bob Courtney noted it is a good trash can and they still have it. “We did not lose a trash can. We just moved it.”

McGee noted some lane changes on U.S. 421 are coming at East Main Street where traffic will go from two lanes down to one lane. INDOT is also is the process of determining the location of crosswalks in that area. She said all of that will be communicated once finalized.

Efforts to route trucks away from Hanging Rock Hill continue, said McGee, and one way that is being tackled is by removing that route from GPS mapping for truck routes so that they won’t be directed that way.

Courtney said many people think that heavy trucks are not allowed on Hanging Rock Hill, but they actually are allowed on the hill, but the city still wants to discourage them from using the route. For trucks that have travel that way, there is a point where they travel State Road 7 to Hanging Rock Hill that their only option is to proceed that direction. Courtney noted that signage is also being updated with weight limits reduced from 12 tons to 10 tons along with selecting better locations for signage to discourage trucks from taking the route.

McGee reported on an issue concerning blocked drainage at US 421 and Main Street that the city has contacted INDOT about. She said the city street department has tried to clear the clog but more needs to be done and a service request has been submitted to INDOT.

She said the city has also requested INDOT permission for the city to mow grass at the roundabout at US 421 and State Road 62, and on US 421 at the gateway into the city from the Milton-Madison Bridge. She said INDOT only mows twice a year, and “that’s not enough” especially with those both being entry points into the city.

Besides McGee and Courtney, Nicole Schell, director of planning, and Tony Sorrells, street supervisor, participated in the meeting.

Traffic stop, ongoing investigation leads to multiple drug, weapon charges
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A Madison man initially arrested on drug charges during a traffic stop on Wednesday, March 31, is now facing additional charges after Madison Police extended that investigation to recover 86 grams of methamphetamine the suspect was allegedly keeping in stash facilities in both Madison and Milton, Kentucky.

Robert Ralph Francis Taylor, 44, of Madison, is charged with dealing methamphetamine, a Level 3 felony; possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a Level 4 felony; possession of methamphetamine, a Level 5 felony; and obstruction of justice and possession of a legend drug, both Level 6 felonies as well as possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, theft and possession of a schedule II drug, all Class A misdemeanors; unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and battery, both Class B misdemeanors; and possession of an altered license plate, a Class C misdemeanor.

The investigation began when Madison Police Patrolman Cameron Blankenship conducted a traffic stop on Main Street near Broadway after observing a vehicle involved in several traffic violations.

Patrolman Brad Demaree and his K-9 partner “Champi” assisted Blankenship on the stop with the dog conducting an open air sniff on a white Jeep driven by Anna K. Perfect, 24, of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

“Champi” made a positive alert for the presence of narcotics in the vehicle, giving the officers probable cause to search the Jeep. Officers located within the vehicle two different white substances and paraphernalia associated with the use of drugs and a field test performed on the substances tested positive for both methamphetamine and cocaine.

Perfect and Taylor, who was a passenger in Perfect’s vehicle, were taken into custody and transported to the Jefferson County Jail. During the jail booking process, Perfect was found to be in possession of additional narcotics and paraphernalia.

Perfect was charged with trafficking with an inmate, a Level 5 felony; possession of methamphetamine and possession of cocaine, both Level 6 felonies; and possession of paraphernalia and marijuana, both Class A misdemeanors while Taylor was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of cocaine, both Level L-6 felonies.

However, Madison Police continued to investigate the case and identified two storage lockers being rented locally by Taylor — one in Indiana and the other in Kentucky — and at that time involved the Trimble County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation. Officers from both agencies applied for and obtained search warrants for the storage lockers in their state rented by Taylor and on Friday, April 2 officers located the additional narcotics, drug paraphernalia and a firearm in those units and charged Taylor with additional felony and misdemeanor charges.

Taylor is being held in the Jefferson County Jail on a $100,000 full cash bond while Perfect is being held on a 15-day hold as well as a $10,000 full cash bond.

Age 16 older all eligible for vaccine now in Kentucky, Indiana
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All Kentuckians and Hoosiers 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination — effective Monday for Kentucky residents and last Wednesday in Indiana.

Indiana has now had more than 3 million residents vaccinated with 3,015,788 total doses administered. This includes 1,771,330 first doses and 1,244,458 individuals who are fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated number represents individuals who have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines as well as those who received the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In Kentucky, 1,482,959 have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 888,314 have been fully vaccinated.

More than 16,000 have been vaccinated in Jefferson County with 6,649 residents fully vaccinated while 9,636 have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID vaccine. Switzerland County has vaccinated more than 3,000 including 1,248 that have been fully vaccinated and 1,838 that have received the first of a two-dose vaccination series.

As of Monday, Jefferson County had seven new cases for an overall total of 3,032 COVID-19 cases. Jefferson County’s seven-day positivity percentage is currently 4.3% and the unique positivity rating is 11.4%. Jefferson County had one new death since Friday due to the virus pandemic to bring the total deaths to 79.

Switzerland County had no new cases of COVID-19 with a total of 765 positive cases. The total COVID-19 deaths remains at eight. The seven-day positivity in Switzerland County is 1.7% and the seven-day unique positivity rating is 7.1%.

The Indiana Department of Health announced Monday that 762 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 691,625 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus. To date, 12,668 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of one from the previous day.

In Kentucky, 587 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on April 3, according to the Kentucky Department of Health. There have been 429,106 positive cases overall and 6,149 deaths including eight new deaths, and 12 additional from new audit deaths.