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COVINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Coming into the Fountain County Courthouse, people are required to wear a mask, according to the signs on most every door.

The county government has stocked the building with hand sanitizer, and most of the people working the early-voting polls are following COVID-19  health guidelines by wearing masks and doing social distancing.

However, Fountain County Clerk Paula Copenhaver, who is in charge of the election including early voting, is not wearing a mask.

Why isn’t she wearing a mask?

“There are exemptions under the governor’s mandate and, if somebody has an exemption, it is none of my business to why they are not wearing a mask,” Copenhaver told I-Team 8’s Richard Essex. “There are exemption under the governor’s mandate.”

She wouldn’t say what exemption or exemptions apply to her, but she’s made telling statements in the local newspaper.

“I said that I’m part of the government, but I will not be part of the government overreach,” Copenhaver said.

The county clerk claims to not be an “anti-masker” and says if people feel comfortable wearing one, they should.

I-Team 8 talked to courthouse visitor who were not comfortable with the clerk’s actions.

“Well, Fountain County right now is one of the highest in the state of Indiana for cases,” said “Mary,” who chose not to give her last name.

“Mary” wore two masks and two pairs of gloves as she exited the Courthouse.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Fountain County is 18%, the highest in the state. The drive-thru lanes for COVID-19 testing in Attica at the Fountain and Warren County Health Department were packed Tuesday afternoon.

Tess Milan rode her bike to the drive-thru testing. Diane and Michael Young sat in their car waiting for tests.

Dr. Sean Sharma, the Fountain County health officer, said, “It has been a challenging couple of weeks.”

Sharma says the Health Department had expected an increase in cases, as locals are finally taking the virus seriously.

He also said the department has received complaints about the Fountain County clerk not following the governor’s mask mandate.

The doctor said of the clerk’s actions, “I think it is short-sighted. It is an unfortunate interpretation of the restriction to the governor’s order on masking. I think some people look for any way to get out of safety precautions and I think that is not what we need to be doing at this time.”

News 8 asked Copenhaver if her standing in the community as an elected official meant she should follow the governor’s mandate.

“I’m not going to tell somebody that they have to wear something, that is not my job, especially an elected official,” Copenhaver said.

Fountain County is doing contact tracing and, so far, not found any patterns in positive cases linked to the Courthouse, but the Health Department is keeping a close eye on new cases.

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

COVINGTON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Another subsidiary of Illinois-based Flex-N-Gate Corp. is detailing a reduction in workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a notice to the state, Flex-N-Gate Covington and Flex-N-Gate Logistics LLC says it has temporarily laid off 300 employees at its Covington facility.

Flex-N-Gate did not provide an estimated timeline for resuming production. However, the company says it is allowing affected employees to use up to one week of vacation time and medical and dental premiums will be waived through April 30.

The layoffs come just over a week after another Flex-N-Gate Corp. subsidiary, Master Guard, announced a temporary layoff of 680 employees from its facility in the Fountain County town of Veedersburg.

Two tornadoes touched down northwest of Indianapolis during thunderstorms on Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

No one was injured in either tornado.

The first touched down about 6:30 p.m. about 4 miles north-northeast of Covington in Fountain County with maximum winds of 75 mph and a maximum path width of 75 yards. It traveled 2.36 miles, mostly across cornfields, but also glancing two homesteads, downing tree branches and overturning a large trash bin.

The second hit about 7:11 p.m. about 2 miles southeast of Buck Creek in Tippecanoe County with maximum winds of 85 mph and a maximum path width of 40 yards. It traveled 0.64 miles and blew out a barn’s skylights, collapsed an outbuilding’s wall and damaging its roof, and damaged a utility pole. Straight-line winds in the area also shifted an outbuilding off of its foundation and downed several trees.

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FOUNTAIN COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – A suspected child molester turned himself in to law enforcement in Fountain County.

Daryl Miley, 43, of Covington, Indiana, surrendered at the jail on a felony charge of child molesting.

Investigators with the Indiana State Police got involved when they were contacted by a case worker for the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The alleged crimes were committed between May and June of this year. In July, an arrest warrant was issued for Miley once the investigation was concluded.

Miley posted a $2,500 bond and has been released from jail.

COVINGTON, Ind. (AP) – A body pulled from a car submerged in a northwestern Indiana creek has been identified as that of an Evansville man.

Warren County Sheriff Bill Miller said Saturday that an autopsy revealed the man was 59-year-old Daniel Bryk of Evansville. A bridge inspector spotted his car Thursday in Opossum Creek near Indiana Route 63 in Warren County, about 80 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

Miller says Bryk was reported missing June 22 to Evansville police.

Miller says Bryk’s body appeared as though it had been trapped in the submerged vehicle for days. The autopsy revealed he died as a result of injuries from the crash.

Miller says waters in the area have been high due to flooding before receding this week. He says it’s possible the car had been completely submerged.

FOUNTAIN, CO., Ind. (WLFI) – An 18-year-old Covington man is dead after being swept through the Coal Creek low head dam Saturday.

Indiana Conservation Officers were called to the area just after 7 p.m. after Fountain County Dispatch received a report of a man that had been swept through the Coal Creek low head dam in Stringtown. Multiple agencies responded to the scene to begin rescue efforts.

At approximately 9 p.m., Covington Fire personnel found the body of 18-year-old Covington resident Brandon Simmons about a mile and a half downstream.

Simmons was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fountain County Coroner’s Office.

Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating the death.

Assisting agencies include the Fountain County Sheriff’s Department, Fountain County EMS, Covington Fire and Police Departments, Perrysville Fire, and the Fountain County Coroners Office.

According to Indiana Conservation Officers, all area waterways are flooded and dangerous following the recent rain. Officers said they have been responding to people swept away all week due to young people swimming or floating the creeks in an inner tube.

Conservation officers warn that people drown in flooded waterways because they underestimate the relentless power of moving water. They ask that people always wear a life jacket near the water, and stay out of flooded areas.

PERRYSVILLE, Ind. (WLFI) – An 81-year-old Vermillion County man was arrested over the weekend after shooting a gun across a street, police said.

The Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 5 p.m. Sunday that a man was shooting a gun across Depot Street into the area of baseball fields in Perrysville.

Several agencies were on stand by and helped with the investigation. A Covington Police Department officer arrived and made the arrest.

Police said James Whitaker was arrested for criminal recklessness with a firearm and discharging a firearm across a roadway. Whitaker is currently in the Vermillion County Jail without bond.

Nobody was injured in the incident, and Whitaker was not directly threatening anyone. Deputies said the investigation is ongoing.

COVINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Former U.S. Rep. John Myers was remembered during his weekend funeral as a congenial, upbeat man who was a statesman and a patriot.

Myers died Jan. 27 at his home in Covington at age 87 following a brief illness. The Republican had represented western Indiana’s 7th District from 1967 to 1997.

The Tribune-Star reports Myers’ wife of 61 years, Carol, the couple’s two daughters, their spouses and grandchildren attended Saturday’s funeral service, each spending a moment at Myers’ flag-draped coffin at Covington United Methodist Church.

After the service ended, Myers was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, which is also located in his hometown of Covington about 30 miles southwest of Lafayette.

Myers served in the Army in Europe during World War II and in the Army Reserve for two decades.