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Madison senior Jade Nutley is the Madison Courier Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Murder suspect captured after year on the lam
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Troopers with the Indiana State Police arrested a Jefferson County man on Wednesday who had been wanted on a warrant for a Cincinnati murder since April of 2020.

Early Wednesday morning police responded to multiple locations in northern Jefferson County to search for Travis Edward Bailey, 26, who was wanted in the alleged murder of Megan Donahue, 34, of White Oak, Ohio, on Cincinnati’s northside last April.

Troopers with the Indiana State Police-Versailles Post along with officers with the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department had made efforts over the past year to locate Bailey, who was from Commiskey and believed to still be in the area. Those efforts led troopers with the ISP-Versailles All Crimes Policing Team to new information this week that Bailey was hiding out at a residence in the area.

Troopers from the Versailles District, assisted by two Indiana State Police SWAT Teams and officers from the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department, located Bailey hiding inside one of the residences Wednesday and he was soon taken into custody without further incident.

The investigation began when Cincinnati police responding to a car crash found Donahue shot inside her vehicle in the 4500 block of Colerain Avenue on April 9, 2020. She was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she died.

Weeks later, police arrested a woman, Shelby Geisler, 22, of Madison, who they say along with Bailey had met Donahue the night before. On the morning of the shooting, Geisler had allegedly reached into Donahue’s car and tried to take her cellphone. When that didn’t work, police say Bailey, the father of Geisler’s child, shot Donahue who then tried to flee the scene and crashed her car.

Geisler and Bailey were indicted by a Hamilton County, Ohio, grand jury in July 2020 on charges that included aggravated murder. Geisler has been in the Hamilton County jail since April 24, 2020, when she was arrested on a robbery charge in connection with the incident.

After the indictments, a warrant was issued for Bailey’s arrest with police appealing to the public for information in the case. A photo of Bailey was released at that time showing a man with a closely trimmed beard and noting that he had ties to the Commiskey area as well as Switzerland County and Milton, Kentucky. The booking picture of Bailey taken after his arrest on Wednesday showed a somewhat thinner man with a much longer beard.

After his arrest, Bailey was transported to the Jefferson County Jail where he was incarcerated pending extradition back to Cincinnati to face the charges filed there.

Duke Energy is in the process of replacing aged wooden pole structures and associated overhead lines along U.S. 421 between Madison and Versailles.

Duke upgrading poles, lines along US 421
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Duke Energy has been working for the past few months on a Grid Strengthening Project in which aged wood pole structures and associated overhead lines are being replaced.

The current project is along U.S. 421 from Madison to Versailles and while most of the work takes place on the side of the roadway, there have been some temporary lane closures.

Lew Middleton of Duke Energy corporate communications wasn’t aware of lane closure some motorists have experienced along U.S. 421, but said such adjustments are made in the interest of safety.

“Due to the margin of safety from the highway, the contractor may elect to close a lane,” said Middleton, who noted that Pike Electric is a contractor for the project.

Middleton said the work will “improve integrity and reliability of service to our Duke Energy customers in the area. Completion of this project ensures compliance with current distribution line standards.”

The work involves approximately 20.35 miles of lines located partially within the city of Madison and primarily within unincorporated Jefferson and Ripley counties.

JCBT commits $50K to Regatta, another $10K to VMI for promotion
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With sponsorship money on the decline due to revenue losses during COVID-19, Madison Regatta officials recently went before the Jefferson County Board of Tourism asking for financial help, and on Thursday night, the board held a special meeting to appropriate $50,000 toward this year’s Madison Regatta & Roostertail Music Festival with an additional $10,000 earmarked for Visit Madison Inc. to market the event.

“The Regatta needs to happen and it’s vital to the community,” said JCBT board member Trevor Crafton.

“This is huge,” said Madison Regatta president Greg Thorpe, who said JCBT’s commitment to appropriate the money and “to take the time and meet on late notice” is a strong indication of “how much they care about what’s going on in the community.”

Thorpe said the Regatta is also involved in talks with Madison Mayor Bob Courtney with hopes of receiving a similar amount of funding from the City of Madison.

Thorpe noted the race “has never been canceled” due to funding but funding will determine how much they are able to do for this year’s event, which is scheduled for July 2-4. He said COVID-19 has impacted business and industry and that has reduced the amount of sponsorship dollars that are available.

“We’re not at the level of sponsorship dollars that they need,” Thorpe said. “We definitely want to do a Regatta. It’s just how that’s going to look.” He said the $50,000 commitment from JCBT “definitely helps” toward having a more full program for the Regatta.

The amount of funding received will impact what the non-profit Madison Regatta Inc. is able to offer this year. A few years ago the group voted to no longer go into debt to stage a race so if less dollars are available, there will have to be cuts made in the race program.

Thorpe said that could be a “cut down on the racing, on how many boats we have, cut down on the music, and how the big the bands we have are.” But if they can generate the funds “we’ll be able to have more of a traditional and normal Regatta.”

Thorpe said partnerships with local businesses and entities are important to the Regatta and the tourism industry and local business. The bigger and better the Regatta is the more tourists it is likely to draw and the more money will be spent at local businesses and hopefully remain local.

“Because of COVID our sponsorship dollars are down but I think we need to be working” with local entities, he said. He said the marketing arrangement in which VMI receives $10,000 from JCBT to work with the Regatta on promoting the event “keeps it local.”

Sunrise changes on pace to balance golf course budget
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Less than a month into spring, the City of Madison’s combination of belt-tightening, rate increases and a new approach to monetizing play at the city’s Sunrise Golf Course has the 18-hole municipal links on course to balance its budget in 2021 and perhaps even generate a small profit.

Earlier this year Mayor Bob Courtney and Parks Director Matt Woolard asked for and received approval to pass along more of the operating costs at Sunrise to users through rate increases while also trimming the budget by reducing full-time employees in favor of seasonal help and seeking more sponsorships and a three-way alcohol sales license.

Receipts for season passes, private cart usage and cart storage, most of which were increased as part of the plan, are down so far this spring but not at a level that concerns the city at this point, especially if that means more users will opt to pay daily greens and cart fees to play and the city can attract more golfers from outside the community through its online registration system RecDesk.

According to Courtney, one of the reasons the course has struggled to make ends meet in the past is that the city has devalued the cost of a season pass with some users playing 80 or more rounds annually for the cost of about two dozen rounds by daily greens fee golfers. The course stays busy — 25,806 rounds last year alone — but only 6,759 of those rounds were by players paying daily greens fees and even then the fees charged were well below the going rate for a course as popular and well maintained as Sunrise.

The result was about a $300,000 deficit that was wrecking the city’s Parks Department budget — a fund that must pay the upkeep and operation of 27 total parks — while providing no opportunity to set aside funds for long range maintenance and improvement projects to preserve Sunrise’s standing as one of the best municipal courses in the region.

The report Courtney and Woolard provided to Madison Parks Board Tuesday indicates that some season pass golfers have opted to not be members this season or are delaying payment until warmer weather that’s more suitable for play.

However, almost 1,200 rounds of golf were played in March and, depending on the weather, play typically doesn’t pick up until April. The course has taken in more than $100,000 to date in adult, youth, spouse and college season passes as well as cart usage tags and cart storage reservations. Combined with cuts in expenses, a plan to sell tee-box sponsorships and the prospect of adding alcohol sales on the course and at other related events and outings, both Courtney and Woolard are projecting a revenue increase that combined with the reduction in expenditures will erase the $300,000 deficit from 2020 and leave about $10,000 in profits on revenue projections of $589,290 and expenditures of $579,169.

However, both Courtney and Woolard both said to hit those revenue marks, Sunrise will need to remain being a popular place to play and attract more daily greens fee players whether they live locally or visit from out of town. But if the city can hit its goal of balancing the budget at Sunrise — even by a dollar — that will put $300,000 back into the $1.5 million budget of the overall parks system and that could have a huge impact on the two dozen non-revenue producing parks the city hopes to make improvements to moving forward.

“It is our duty to efficiently manage city assets,” Courtney said. “The plan we presented to the Parks Board will completely reverse the negative financial trends at Sunrise Golf Course that has cost the city millions in taxpayer dollars and simultaneously create a source of fresh capital for our neighborhood parks, all without raising a penny of taxes.”

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, City Planner Nicole Schell said Madison is currently working to update its Parks Department Master Plan and part of that work is to solicit public comments and feedback on the parks system. She said an online questionnaire is being prepared for the city’s main and parks websites and Facebook pages and a couple of open house meetings will be scheduled at later dates to allow residents a face-to-face opportunity to discuss the parks system.

The parks board also approved the hiring of Doug Buckler as manager of the 34-space Madison City Campground overlooking the Ohio River on Vaughn Drive. Buckler has previous experience as a campground attendant in Monroe County and will live on-site in his own recreational vehicle with $7,700 compensation for the seven-month camping season.

The Parks Board also adopted new deadlines and penalties related to the Jefferson County Soccer Association’s rental of Rucker Sports Complex fields for games and practices in 2021. The new payment deadlines will be May 1 in the spring and Sept. 1 in the fall and the penalty for late payment will be 10% rather than 5%. Spring season rental is $1,000 while the fall is $2,000.

Edwards gets 13 years in assault on pregnant women
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A Madison man has been sentenced to 13 years in the Indiana Department of Correction in connection with the October 2020 battery of a Madison woman who was six months pregnant at the time of the beating.

Jacob A. Edwards, 22, was sentenced on March 29 in Jefferson County Circuit Court after being convicted at a jury trial on March 3. Edwards was convicted of battery on a pregnant woman, a Level 5 felony, and later pleaded guilty to a separate pending Level 6 felony battery case — an assault on another inmate — and as a habitual felony offender. In addition, the convictions resulted in a revocation of a suspended sentence in an additional matter, allowing the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office to secure a 13-year sentence.

The trial and sentencing were the culmination of an investigation that began on Oct. 29, 2020, when police were dispatched to King’s Daughters’ Hospital in Madison at approximately 9:25 a.m. to interview the victim of a reported battery that occurred at the Presidential Estates apartments on Madison’s hilltop.

The victim, pregnant at the time of the attack, told Madison Police Patrolman Joseph Gibson that she had been battered by Edwards and Breanna Hensley, 24, at the apartment complex. The victim stated that she and Edwards had gone to get food in her car earlier in the morning and had parked in a lot at Tractor Supply, where they got into a minor argument. The victim told police Edwards then drove to Presidential Estates where they began arguing again over her not wanting to engage in a relationship with Edwards while he was involved with another woman.

The victim told police Hensley pulled up during the argument and it was at that time that Edwards struck her and that both Hensley and Edwards knew of her pregnancy. The victim said the incident caused her to lose consciousness and she was held down and struck multiple times inside the vehicle before Edwards and Hensley exited her vehicle and left together.

During the investigation, police reviewed video surveillance footage provided by a citizen captured from a nearby apartment. The footage showed Edwards striking the victim several times while she was still in her vehicle. The entire recorded assault lasted approximately six minutes and Hensley can be heard on the video saying, “Jake, get off her, get off her,” and asking him to go. The video also shows the two exiting the victim’s vehicle and leaving together.

“The punishment certainly fits the crime here,” said Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter. “Mr. Edwards engaged in extremely violent conduct against a pregnant woman. That, plus his lengthy criminal history, justifies his commitment to the Indiana Department of Correction for over a decade. Our community is safer, and the victim can sleep easier.”

The case was the first trial held in Jefferson County following a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proceedings, which normally would have been held at the Jefferson County Courthouse, were moved to the Venture Out Business Center on Madison’s hilltop to provide a safer venue and comply with new state protocols.

Sutter said the court system has reopened to a heavy caseload and additional trials are scheduled for the coming weeks.

“By the time of sentencing in this case, we have already completed another jury trial with several more scheduled in the coming weeks,” said Sutter. “My office and I will remain vigilant in our fight to keep our streets safe and will make every effort to maintain the results the people of Jefferson County have come to expect and deserve.”