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EDNA MILLS, Ind. (WISH) — A 41-year-old Clinton County man died Thursday in a head-on crash of his truck and a sport utility vehicle on State Road 26, authorities said.

Clinton County Central Dispatch in Frankfort received a call shortly after 6:10 a.m. Thursday about the crash on State Road 26 near County Road 1000 West. That’s west of the community of Edna Mills in the northwestern portion of the county.

Troy Trent, of Bringhurst, died in the crash. He was driving a 1993 Ford Ranger east on State Road 26 when a westbound 2004 Saturn Vue driven by Kiera Williams, 23, of Lafayette, hit his truck in the eastbound lane. The Vue was attempted to pass another vehicle not involved in the crash.

Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor in the crash, authorities said.

“The Ford Ranger came to rest in a plowed field on the south side of the roadway.  The Saturn Vue came to rest in the middle of State Road 26,” said a news release from Ashley Kelly, matron with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.

Williams and her passenger, Quincy Smith, 25, of Lafayette, were taken by ambulance to IU Health Hospital in Lafayette for treatment. Williams was later transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Williams’ condition was not given in the news release.

The Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office will review the crash to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An expansion of operations and new jobs are coming to the Frito-Lay plant in Frankfort. Frito-Lay parent PepsiCo Inc (Nasdaq: PEP) says it will invest $60 million in the facility and add 50 jobs, which brings the total investment in the plant to more than $230 million over the last two years.

Frito-Lay says the expansion includes a new manufacturing line and increased capacity to allow for future growth. The company says the site will grow to 135 acres with 21 operating snack production lines.

“Frito-Lay’s continued financial investment and creation of jobs in Frankfort during these challenging times, reinforces their commitment to strengthening our local economy,” said Mayor Judy Sheets. “I am grateful to the company and everyone who played a role in making this project happen.”

The city of Frankfort collaborated with Frito-Lay on a personal property tax abatement to help deliver the investment and new jobs. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. also offered the company up to $550,000 in conditional tax credits based on job creation plans. 

Frito-Lay says construction is set to begin early next year, with completion set for early 2022. 

In September 2019, the company announced plans to invest $70 million to add a new snack line, expand a warehouse, and add 45 jobs. More than a year prior, Frito-Lay announced a $159 million expansion that would create 50 jobs.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (WISH) — Christina Everman felt torn between family and finances when the coronavirus pandemic upended her life.

The single mother of three stopped working as a delivery driver so she could supervise e-learning and watch her children – all under the age of 12 – after their schools closed in March.

When Congress failed to reach an agreement to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, Everman said she was forced to choose between buying back-to-school supplies and paying bills. She was collecting only $149 a week, before taxes, without the weekly $600 payments. She chose school supplies.

By August, Everman was behind on rent. She unsuccessfully sought rental assistance from the state (her landlord refused to participate), township trustees (she was ineligible because of a filing fee on her account), the Salvation Army (they couldn’t help because she wasn’t more than a month behind on rent at the time) and other organizations.

She hid her tears from her children when she found an eviction notice on their door in late September.

“I didn’t know how to tell them,” Everman said. “I had done everything I was supposed to do and thought that I was going to have some protection.”

Everman is among a growing number of Hoosier renters facing eviction despite meeting the requirements of the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The federal order – issued to slow the spread of coronavirus – halts nonpayment eviction proceedings against covered tenants until the end of the year. But the moratorium does not explicitly protect people from lease expiration or eviction unrelated to lease violations, making it possible for landlords to find other methods of removing tenants unable to afford rent.

The National Housing Law Project, a nonprofit national housing and legal advocacy center, said tenant advocates “should argue the order prohibits any eviction” that doesn’t fall into the CDC’s five exempted categories: engaging in criminal activity on premises, threatening the health or safety other residents, violating building codes or health regulations, damaging property and violating contractual obligations other than timely payment.

“The effect is going to be the same [no matter what somebody is evicted for],” said Andrew Bradley, policy director at Prosperity Indiana. “If people are put out on the streets, then that still increases the threat to public health if they’re not able to be stably housed.”

A University of Pennsylvania study found every 70 households evicted during the pandemic corresponded with at least one additional coronavirus death. Researchers leading the epidemiological simulation used a mathematical model of COVID-19 spread to predict the potential impact of evictions on public health. Even a “low eviction rate scenario” resulted in a “relatively large death rate attributable to evictions,” according to the study.

An estimated 248,000 to 313,000 Hoosier households are at risk of eviction.

“That means that there could easily be 3,500 to 4,500 additional deaths in Indiana unless we successfully prevent those evictions,” said Bradley.

Everman fought to keep her family housed. She emailed a signed declaration to property management stating she qualified for protection under the CDC’s order. Her landlord filed for eviction anyway. 

She immediately sent the sworn statement again via priority mail with signature confirmation. A property manager signed for it but didn’t acknowledge receiving it when Everman asked. She sent a third declaration to her landlord’s attorney but never got a signature confirmation receipt.

Everman’s eviction hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7. If the judge rules against her, she and her children will likely stay with relatives in the type of congregate housing arrangement the CDC sought to prevent amid the pandemic.

“It feels like the protection’s not actually there,” Everman said of the federal order. “I’m sure I’m not the only person going through this.”

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Several southern Indiana organizations have raised $360,000 to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Forgivable Loan Program says it has provided forgivable loans of up to $10,000 each to 37 businesses in Clark and Floyd counties.

Clarksville-based S&R Towing & Recovery was a recipient of a $10,000 loan. “With the help of this loan, our small business will stay afloat amid these uncertain times,” said owner Bobby Raggard.

New Albany’s Donum Dei Brewery also received assistance from the program. “It will also give us the opportunity to replenish our raw materials that have been depleted by making hand sanitizer for the community,” said owner Richard Otey.

Partnering organizations include: One Southern Indiana, which is the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for Clark and Floyd counties, as well as the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

More information can be found by clicking here.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Frankfort Redevelopment Commission and the city of Frankfort have created a forgivable loan program to provide financial relief for small businesses. Businesses that have experienced a financial impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive up to $2,000 through the new Emergency Relief Forgivable Loan program.

The city says it will start accepting applications on Wednesday.

“We want to help our small businesses and show them we haven’t forgotten about them. This forgivable loan program is a step in the right direction,” said Frankfort Redevelopment Commission President Joe Palmer.

To be considered eligible for the loan, the city says businesses must be located within the Frankfort TIF district and have no current property tax liens or legal judgments and cannot be a part of a national chain or franchise.

The city says the emergency loans are 100% forgivable after 12 months if the business continues to operate and does not relocate outside of the Frankfort TIF district.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (WISH) — The Frankfort Police Department is investigating the death of a 4-month-old child.

Police said investigators were called to Turtle Creek Apartments around 7:15 a.m. Thursday.

The infant was found unresponsive and taken to a local hospital, where the child was pronounced deceased.

Detectives are investigating along with the Clinton County Coroner’s Office.

No arrests had been made by early Thursday afternoon.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The new mayor of Frankfort has officially taken office. Judy Sheets was sworn in as mayor Saturday, exactly one month after former mayor Chris McBarnes announced his resignation.

Sheets has served as Frankfort clerk-treasurer for the past 12 years. She was elected to become McBarnes’ successor by a Republican caucus last month.

“I plan to hit the ground running and show residents that I am committed to working to promote growth and stability in this community,” Sheets said in a news release. “I want this community to know that I work for them and that I will do so through an open, honest, and transparent government.”

McBarnes said in late January he was stepping down after accepting a job as executive director for a Wyoming-based nonprofit The WYldlife Fund. McBarnes was first elected in 2012 and became the state’s youngest mayor at the age of 23.

FRANKFORT, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A manufacturer of track and field equipment is growing in Clinton County. Richey Athletics has invested nearly $2 million to relocate to a vacant building in the Frankfort Industrial Park and add a small number of jobs.

The more than 70,000-square-foot building along State Road 28 more than double’s the company’s previous manufacturing capacity. Richey says the move also brings its manufacturing and distribution operations under one roof.

Richey Athletics was founded in Michigantown in 1962. The company manufactures high jump and pole vault standards and pits, as well as related equipment, that are used by high schools and colleges nationwide.

Co-owner Michael Griffy tells Inside INdiana Business the company invested more than $1.8 million to acquire and renovate the Frankfort facility. Plans are also in place for an additional $300,000 investment in new equipment that will allow the company to enter the football equipment space.

Richey Athletics employs more than 20 at the facility and Griffy says the company added two salespeople. Additionally, the company has formed a partnership with The Crossing School in Elkhart, in which students will become interns at the facility.

The project went forward with the help of a $690,000 U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan provided by The Farmers Bank and the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corp. 

CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A Frankfort man has been arrested after deputies found marijuana and THC vape cartridges in his vehicle.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office says 24-year-old Hugo Lopez was arrested Friday in the case.

Sheriff Rich Kelly saw a speeding vehicle on westbound State Road 38 near County Road 200 East.

Kelly says he was able to smell marijuana while he was talking to Lopez, leading to a search of the vehicle.

The searched turned up “raw, packaged marijuana” and THC vape cartridges, according to the sheriff’s office.

Lopez faces a preliminary charge of marijuana possession.

The case now goes to the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office.

CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The former Purdue student accused of rape at a fraternity event pleaded not guilty Friday morning in a Clinton County courtroom. Richard Chan, 18 of New Jersey, is facing two counts of rape and one count of attempted rape. Prosecutors say the alleged crime was recorded on his phone camera.

According to court documents, Chan was attending a party at a barn on County Road 0 N/S on Oct. 19. The party was hosted by the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity at Purdue University. Prosecutors said Chan was a pledge for the fraternity and was “drinking a lot” at the party.

Prosecutors said the victim had also been drinking and was intoxicated. Toward the end of the party, the woman went to use a portable bathroom and was followed by Chan, according to court documents. The woman told investigators that she did not know Chan, but knew of him through social media.

Chan sexually assaulted the woman against her will in the restroom and recorded the crime, according to prosecutors. Court documents said the woman then ran out and disclosed what happened. She was taken back to Purdue’s campus by bus.

Deputies from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office were contacted when the woman showed up to a Lafayette hospital.

Chan was found and taken to the sheriff’s office to be interviewed. Chan admitted to being in the bathroom and that he recorded the crimes, according to court documents. Detectives observed the videos with Chan’s permission. Prosecutors said the video showed the victim saying “no” to Chan several times.

Chan then admitted to detectives that there was a problem and it was because “he forced [the woman] to have sex.”

The judge said Chan could face between 3 to 16 years in prison. A no-contact order has also been granted between Chan and the victim.

Chan was accompanied Friday by his family and his attorney, Tom O’Brien. The attorney declined to speak following the hearing.

Chan is currently out on bond. A trial date was set for Jan. 27, 2020.

Purdue University has suspended Chan, who was a freshman. Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity has also been suspended, pending an investigation.

Sigma Tau Gamma Communications released the following statement:

On October 20, 2019, Sigma Tau Gamma Headquarters Staff learned of a report of a Title IX allegation involving a former associate member of the Beta Theta Chapter at Purdue University. Due to the allegations, the associate member has received notice of removal from the organization. The chapter has been placed on Cease & Desist by Sigma Tau Gamma Headquarters Staff to support the university’s investigation into the allegation. The safety and security of Sigma Tau Gamma members and guests is our top priority. All members have been encouraged to cooperate with authorities during the investigation.

Sigma Tau Gamma Communications