A Trimble County man was arrested on Thursday in connection with the death of a Madison man on Wednesday in the 700 block of Walnut Street in downtown Madison.
Based on an investigation by Madison Police Department Detectives Ricky Harris and Shawn Scudder, Keith Telesh, 48, of Milton, Kentucky, has been charged with Murder, a Level 1 felony, and Obstruction of Justice, a Level 6 felony, in connection with the death of Dana Paul Hodge, 65, of Madison.
Madison Police had opened a homicide investigation at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday after responding to a report of a man lying in the backyard of a residence in the 700 block of Walnut Street in downtown Madison. Detectives Harris and Scudder responded to the scene, along with Jefferson County Coroner Rodney Nay, and upon further investigation determined the man was an apparent victim of a homicide.
According to a release by MPD Chief John Wallace, Telesh was identified as a suspect in the slaying after information received during the investigation revealed that Telesh had been looking for Hodge in connection with a theft he believed Hodge had committed several days ago.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Madison Police and Trimble County Sheriff Charlie Kelton executed a search warrant at Telesh’s residence on US 421 in Milton. As a result of that search, officers established probable cause to seek and receive a warrant for Telesh’s arrest.
Telesh, who according to social media has lived in Milton about a year, works as a bar tender in Madison and also goes by the nickname ‘Vegas,’ was arrested and taken into custody by Kelton and transported to the Carroll County Regional Detention Center in Carrollton, pending extradition to Indiana.
Hodge was currently on probation after pleading guilty on Aug. 10, 2021 to Theft, a Class A misdemeanor, in Jefferson Superior Court. He had been sentenced to 180 days jail, all suspended except for six days served, and released on supervised probation for 174 days while paying $300 in court costs and fees plus restitution to be determined.
Detectives Harris and Scudder were assisted by MPD Detective Kyle Cutshaw while Indiana State Police Crime Scene Technician Merit Toomey processed the crime scene. The case remains under active investigation and anyone with information should contact MPD at 812-265-3347.
Wallace said police initially withheld the identity of Hodge pending notification of family, but when no immediate family was identified by Thursday evening a decision was made to release his name with hopes that a family member might come forward. Anyone with information on next of kin is asked to call the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office at 812-265-8900.
Madison Police have opened a homicide investigation into the death of a man found lying in the backyard of a downtown residence in the 700 block of Walnut Street on Wednesday.
Police responded to the residence at approximately 4:45 p.m. Wednesday and located a deceased adult male lying in the backyard.
Detectives, along with Jefferson County Coroner Rodney Nay, responded to the scene and upon further investigation, it was apparent the man was the victim of a homicide. The man has been identified; however, his identity is being withheld pending notification of relatives.
MPD Detectives Ricky Harris and Shawn Scudder are leading the homicide investigation. Indiana State Police Crime Scene Technician Merit Toomey processed the scene.
According to a release issued by MDP Chief John Wallace, police don’t believe the case was a random act of violence, and there is no reason to believe that other citizens are in danger.
The case is under active investigation and anyone with information should contact Detectives Harris or Scudder at 812-265-3347.
While new cases of COVID-19 remain high in Indiana and Kentucky, a forecasting model for the United States on Thursday projected nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the Associated Press.
The US, gripped by a fourth wave of infections this summer — now powered by the highly contagious delta variant — has seen hospitalizations soar and death totals climb.
“Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainable the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop delta in its tracks, but we can change behavior overnight.” Meyer said that means doubling down again on masks, limiting social gatherings, staying at home when sick and getting vaccinated. “Those things are within our control,” Meyers said.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that hospitalizations have increased daily without exception for the past 42 days, from 239 people on July 14 to a record 2,074 people Aug. 25. Before the delta variant, Kentucky’s record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations was 1,817 on Dec. 17, 2020.
Indiana’s hospitalizations on Thursday totaled 2,186 and on Friday the Indiana Department of Health announced 4,893 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Both Jefferson and Switzerland counties hit threshold milestones for positive cases earlier this week with Jefferson going over 4,000 total cases and Switzerland over 1,000. Jefferson County’s 30 new cases lifted the county’s count to 4,049 while Switzerland County’s 11 new positive cases brought the total there to 1,016.
Meanwhile, Trimble County reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 to bring its overall total to 899 while Carroll County had 19 more for a total of 1,311 during the pandemic.
In Kentucky, there were 5,401 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday, the third highest single-day increase since the pandemic began. And of that total, 1,759 of the cases were children and teenagers age 18 and younger — that’s about 33%.
On Thursday, the Switzerland County Health Department released data that 70 of the county’s 177 positive cases in August (39.5%) have been from persons 17 and under. Only 16 of Switzerland County’s COVID-19 cases have involved those 60 and older. And 92% are persons who have not been vaccinated.
The 7-day positivity rate in Jefferson County is 11.7% with Switzerland County at 9.6%. Carroll County’s positivity rate is 11.24% while Trimble is 19.7%.
On Tuesday from 3-6 p.m., Ivy Tech Community College Madison, 590 Ivy Tech Drive, in partnership with the Jefferson County Health Department will offer a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic offering the Moderna and Pfizer options. A state issued ID will be required. Those under 18 will need parental consent, which can be completed on site.
JCHD is also accepting walk-ins at its office for COVID-19 vaccinations at its office at 715 Green Road, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available. Individuals ages 12-17 must receive Pfizer vaccine and have an adult present.
Switzerland County Health Department continues to operate a vaccine clinic at 1190 West Main Street, Vevay.
All Kentuckians can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment near where they live or work at vaccine.ky.gov.
Mayor Bob Courtney and Deputy Mayor Mindy McGee pitched their proposal to calm traffic on Madison’s Main Street to the neighborhood that would be most dramatically affected Wednesday and the plan received mixed reviews in a public meeting attended by about three dozen residents.
McGee explained the proposal to the gathering and Courtney expressed why he thinks the city’s current Main Street stabilization project — a $1 million contract to patch holes, fill cracks, apply a two-step sealer and re-stripe the highway from Jefferson Street to the top of Hanover Hill — is the perfect time to experiment with alternate traffic patterns ahead of a multi-million dollar milling and repaving of Main Street scheduled to begin with a $5 million grant in 2026 but cost more than $20 million to complete.
The proposal would reduce the one-half-mile section of Main Street from Broadway to Cragmont streets from its current four traffic lanes with parking on each side to three lanes with a turning lane in the middle, wider parking on each side and room for a bike path.
Courtney says highway engineers hired by the city to study Main Street estimate the change will slow and calm traffic in the predominantly residential section of Main Street — an area that is also home to Lydia Middleton Elementary — while increasing peak commuter times by less than 10 seconds and providing better and safer parking and a bike trail.
The plan was for the most part well received — the most consistent concerns related to the volume of traffic the area already sees during school drop-off and pickup times and during busy weekends and festivals — but one resident voiced multiple concerns with the plan and submitted a three-page document outlining those points.
Rick Grote, who owns a commercial property on Main Street, said no changes should be made to Main Street until a “complete traffic study” is conducted because Main Street is “the major artery through downtown” and “possibly is the most important element in the entire infrastructure of downtown Madison. It is critical that it function properly. And at maximum capacity — safely,” he said.
Grote noted that anything that slows or congests traffic on Main Street will likely push more traffic onto side streets like Second and Third streets and Vaughn Drive — the first two already narrow and congested and the latter heavily involved in tourism and city parks.
He also pointed out that Main Street is currently “a major corridor for our water, sewer and gas utilities” and that maintaining those services often requires digging into pavement to make utility repairs and reducing the lanes from four to three would possibly leave less room for work crews and traffic to share the roadway.
Grote said Main Street — like much of the downtown historic district — is a tourist destination and even more so on busy weekends and during the city’s many festivals and restricting traffic to three lanes could create bottlenecks and traffic jams that would frustrate visitors and leave some hesitant to come back.
Courtney said the city has already done its due diligence in developing the proposal. The issues have been studied by a traffic committee and by highway engineers using data to calculate the impact of the reduction. He agreed there will be issues — like congestion related to school traffic and festivals — but the school problem is separate from Main Street and he thinks a solution for the festivals can be reached by better planning and execution.
He said identifying better routes into and out of the city’s festivals could help mitigate traffic issues on those busy weekends and Madison Police can be utilized to help direct and regulate traffic as needed. Courtney noted that events like the St. James Court Art Show in Louisville, Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay and tourist districts like Franklin, Tennessee, are examples of events that manage heavy traffic — both vehicular and pedestrian — on two lane highways.
Courtney has said that Madison may have no better time than now — the years leading up to the city’s major overhaul of Main Street — to re-envision how the highway serves residents, businesses and tourists. He noted when the city took over Main Street as part of the agreement to get Indiana Department of Transportation to construct a new gateway to the city from the Milton-Madison Bridge it marked the first time in 75 years that Madison has controlled the destiny of its Main Street.
He noted that roads like the US 421 cut north and south to the hilltop and Clifty Drive east and west across the hilltop were designed to take heavy traffic off Main Street. Those road upgrades also put in motion more than 30 years ago the possibility of making Main Street a street rather than a highway.
“Do you just say it’s been good enough for the last 75 years or do you try to make it better?” Courtney asked. “We believe there is an opportunity here before we’re spending $5 million on Main Street in 2026. Do you just do it as a paving project or do you try to make it something better?
“It’s not just a highway anymore. It’s what we want it to be?” he added.
Although there are few businesses in the proposed area to be impacted, city officials met with business owners earlier on Wednesday. McGee noted that the next phase of the Main street stabilization project is scheduled to begin Monday, weather permitting, when no traffic or parking will be allowed in the area where work is taking place. She said workers will strive to completely finish a section each day so that the roadway can be reopened the following day as work progresses from Jefferson Street west.
Once the cracks are filled and the two coats of sealer has been applied and allowed to dry, the crews will then begin on re-striping traffic lanes, crosswalks and parking. At that point the decision will be made on how many lanes the section of roadway will have. Courtney wants to experiment with the three lanes with the option of painting over and re-striping if the change proves negative.
“We got to this point after hiring a design firm, conducting independent traffic studies, forming a steering committee, and engaging the community about this important phase of the project,” the mayor said. “After analyzing traffic patterns, speeding, accidents, road capacity, traffic volume, and commute times, it is clear we can modify Main Street to be a safer, more pedestrian friendly corridor for all involved without sacrificing the importance Main Street has to the fabric of Madison.”