Jefferson County will be moving forward with work on a bridge on Sugan Hollow Road in Milton Township after receiving a $1,240,800 grant from the Federal Highway Administration through the Indiana Department of Transportation, it was announced at Friday’s County Commissioners meeting.
Highway Superintendent Bobby Phillips said the grant begins a five-year process with the funding due in 2025 and bridge construction to begin in 2026.
“It is a low traffic road, but everyone needs to get home,” said Phillips.
In other business, the Commissioners:
• Presented the first reading of an ordinance for designating an infrastructure designation zone in Jefferson County. The ordinance is a broadband agreement allowing Ripley County REMC to bring broadband Internet to the northern part of the county that it serves. Commissioner president David Bramer said Ripley County REMC “would like forgiveness of taxes for a certain period of time for the capital improvements they have to make.”
He said a public hearing will be required.
“We think this is a good idea,” said Bramer. “One of the things in our draft for the comprehensive plan is to bring broadband to Jefferson County, and this is a step toward that goal.”
• Paul Cronen of the Hoosier Hills Trail provided an update on a $25,000 preservation fund grant the Commissioners made in November for repairs at Camp Louis Ernst in the dining hall and some wiring. Cronen said some interior work that they have planned to do that has not yet been done. However, there is more urgent work needed on the caretaker house. “The basement entry is just collapsing in, and group is wondering if some of the funds can be used to take care of that first,” Cronen said, noting there is $6,000 remaining.
Commissioner Bobby Little thanked Cronen for his honesty on where the group hopes to use the money. “We gave it to you for bricks and mortar. I do not have a problem with it, knowing how well you have managed what we have given you. I would say move forward with it.”
• Approved allowing the Pilot Club to have access around the Courthouse during Old Court Days in both the spring and the fall. “It will be the same footprint as in the past,” said Elsie Perry-Payne, president of the Madison Pilot Club. The spring event will is 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 27 through 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 30 while the fall event is 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26.
“Except for money spent on operations, all the proceeds go back into the community,” said Perry-Payne, who noted that because COVID-19 canceled last year’s Old Court Days that the Pilot Club currently does not have sufficient funds to promote this year’s event. Bramer encouraged Perry-Payne to contact the Jefferson County Board of Tourism because he said that group may be able to help assist the Pilot Club with marketing the event.
• County resident Richard Carter voice opposition to upcoming changes in the county trash service. On March 15, the county will take over the trash service, ending its contract with Rumpke. “We’ve had Rumpke for 20 years and have never had a problem,” Carter said. “One of the problems I have is government taking over something like that, and that once government gets control of something, it starts with more regulations, then it goes right down the line.”
Carter called the decision “ill-advised and you’re going to have a lot of upset people in the county.”
Bramer said if the county were to continue with Rumpke that the contract for this year cost $300,000. While the county does have to purchase a new truck for the takeover, after that costs will be limited to salary and benefits for the driver and fuel for the truck. Little noted the county stands to save $200,000 by taking over the service.
Carter asked the Commissioners to develop an ordinance stating that they will abide by the US Constitution. Bramer told Carter that is something that they have considered.
• Sarah Morgan, administrative assistant for County Commissioners, expressed her appreciation following a fire that destroyed her house. “The county employees have been by far the greatest resource I have ever had. I didn’t realize how many friends me and Brandon (Alexander) had. I didn’t realize how big our circle is. We have got donations from employees, donations from businesses, and one of our biggest donations has been from our health insurance company” that provided food, clothes, money and gift cards. She also expressed appreciation to the firefighters. “Thank you really isn’t a big enough word to express how we feel,” she said.
• Commissioner Ron Lee reported that there will be a meeting to discuss re-use of the old county jail at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 18, at the Jefferson County Public Training Center on Green Road in Madison.
Special to the courier
A Jefferson County Circuit Court jury convicted a 22-year-old Madison man of felony Battery of a Pregnant Woman Resulting in Bodily Injury in a trial held last week.
In Jefferson County’s first trial since the Indiana Supreme Court authorized jury trials to resume following the COVID-19 shut down, Jacob Allen Edwards faces up to 12 years for the Level 5 Felony and habitual offender enhancement and has accepted 4.5 years in his plea to an unrelated jail battery and probation violation, for a total of up to 16.5 years. His trial was held on Wednesday, March 3, and sentencing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on March 29.
The investigation into the case began at approximately 9:25 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2020, when police were dispatched to King’s Daughters’ Hospital in Madison to interview the victim of a reported battery that occurred at Presidential Estates apartments.
The victim, who was six months pregnant at the time of the incident, reported 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 earlier in the morning and parked in the parking lot of Tractor Supply, where they got into a minor argument. She 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 woman described the incident as causing her to blackout and lose consciousness. She said she was held down and struck multiple times inside the vehicle and that Edwards and Hensley exited her vehicle and left together after the assault.
During the investigation, police reviewed surveillance footage provided by a citizen captured from a nearby apartment. In the footage, Edwards could be seen striking the victim several times while she was still in her vehicle. The entire assault was caught on video and lasted approximately six minutes. Hensley can be heard on the video saying, “Jake, get off her, get off her,” and then asking him to go. The video also shows the two exiting the victim’s vehicle and leaving together.
“This battery left a pregnant woman with bodily injury. The defendant knew she was pregnant and proceeded to batter her. It’s never OK to batter someone, but it is particularly terrible to harm a female, knowing full well she is carrying a child,” said Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter.
Edwards was arrested on Oct. 29, 2020 and held at the Jefferson County Jail where he has remained in custody pending trial. He was also found guilty of the habitual felony offender enhancement due to prior unrelated felony convictions. While incarcerated, Edwards also was charged with Battery Resulting in Moderate Bodily Injury, a Level 6 Felony, for assaulting another inmate. Following his conviction, he entered a guilty plea on the additional battery charge. Edwards was also on probation on the date of both offenses and entered an admission to violating his probation following the guilty verdict. He had also been charged with Criminal Confinement, Communication Intimidation and Possession of Paraphernalia as well as a hold warrant for Dearborn County.
“I want to particularly thank Chief Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Campbell and Detective Kyle Cutshaw for their assistance at trial and the excellent police work that led to this conviction,” Sutter said. “Finally, I want to thank the victim for coming forward and testifying and the citizen who provided video footage of the crime.”
The trial, which normally would have been held at the Jefferson County Courthouse, was moved to the Venture Out Business Center on Madison’s hilltop to provide a safer venue during the COVID pandemic.
“I want to extend my appreciation to the jury for their service in this case as well as the Venture Out Business Center for providing a trial venue that allowed our proceedings to continue per state protocols,” Sutter said. “I also want to thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department for providing security during the trial.”
The body of a former Switzerland County man was recovered from flood waters near his Perry Park, Kentucky, home Friday after he had gone missing a day earlier and drowned.
According to Owen County Coroner Mark Garrett, Travis Michael Webster, 32, of Perry Park, died from an apparent accidental drowning near his home in Perry Park, which is located along the Kentucky River just off Kentucky Highway 355 between Worthville and Gratz in Owen County.
Other details of Webster’s death are not known at this time other than the area where his body was found was not in the actual river but in backwater that had overflowed the river. However, an obituary on his death said he likely suffered from a seizure.
Webster had been reported missing Thursday and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officers conducted a search of the area then but were unable to locate him. At 8:26 a.m. on Friday, Kentucky State Police Post 5 in Campbellsburg, Kentucky, received a call from the Owen County Emergency Management agency that a body had been located in the Kentucky River floodwaters.
Garrett pronounced Webster dead at the scene. He said no foul play is suspected but what caused Webster to end up in the water is pending further investigation.
Kentucky State Police were assisted on scene by the Owen County Sheriffs Office, The Kentucky River Fire Department, Owen County Rescue and the Owen County Coroner. The case remains under investigation byThe Kentucky State Police Post 5.
Webster was a 2007 graduate of Switzerland County High School where he was a standout baseball and basketball player and cross country runner. As a senior he was both all-conference first team in Ohio River Valley Conference baseball and All-State Honorable Mention in Class 2A of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and was MVP of the boys basketball sectional in 2006. He also played summer baseball for the Madison Post 9 American Legion team.
The City of Milton Muncipal Building was closed to in-person traffic Monday due to an employee who has been exposed to COVID-19, according to Angie Dunaway, Milton city clerk-treasurer.
“We’re taking precautions in keeping it closed until that person’s quarantine clears,” Dunaway said.
Monday’s announcement stated the building is closed until further notice, and also stated the closure includes the water department. Water bills, property tax and business license payments can be made by telephone, online or dropped in the drop box on the south side of the municipal building.
As of Friday, there have been 631 total cases of COVID-19 in Trimble County with 19 active cases and five total deaths, according to the North Central Kentucky Health Department. Carroll County has reported 900 cases of COVID-19 with 10 total deaths.
On Monday, Jefferson County had no new cases of COVID-19 with the overall number at 2,965 since the pandemic began 12 months ago with the first case reported locally. So far 14,894 residents have been tested and the seven-day positivity percentage is currently 3.2% and the unique positivity rating is 8.9%. The total numbers of deaths attributed to the virus pandemic in Jefferson County is 74.
In Switzerland County, there also were no new cases of COVID-19 with the overall number at 756. So far, 3,830 residents have been tested and the seven-day positivity is currently 2.5% and the unique positivity rating is 12.1%. A total of eight deaths have been attributed to the virus pandemic in Switzerland County.
At the most recent update, about 6,391 Jefferson County residents have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Switzerland County, 1,172 have received at least the first of two doses of the vaccine.
Overall the state of Indiana reported five new deaths and 480 new positive cases. So far there have been 667,736 positive cases overall and 12,315 deaths.
In Kentucky, 526 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on March 7, according to the Kentucky Department of Health. There have been 410,709 positive cases overall and 4,819 deaths including 13 new deaths.
COVID vaccine and appointments for the vaccination are being taken by the Jefferson County Health Department for residents age 65 and older, first responders and health care employees. Appointments must be scheduled by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.