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BROOKVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Richmond-based Reid Health has announced plans for a new office building near the Franklin County town of Brookville. The health system says the new facility will allow it to bring expanded services to the community.

The 20,000-square-foot building will include space for primary and specialty care, as well as lab and radiology services. The new location will replace Reid’s existing office building along Main Street in Brookville.

“We’re all excited to transition to a new state-of-the-art facility,” said Dr. Scott Marsteller, who runs the Main Street Family Medicine Practice at the existing facility. “The new building will help us coordinate care as we’ll be able to provide lab and X-ray services at the same location, which will lead to even better care for our patients.”

Reid Health says the expansion will bring more jobs as more on-site services are added, though a specific number was not provided. Dr. John McGinty, medical director for Richmond Cardiology Associates, says the facility will also allow for expanded telehealth services.

The health system expects to break ground on the building as soon as the fourth quarter with construction slated for completion in 2023.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Fountain County.

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.

LINDEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $1 million to provide broadband service in west central Indiana. The Tipmont Rural Electric Membership Corp. will use the grant to deploy a fiber network it says will connect residents, businesses and farms in Fountain County to high-speed broadband internet.

The investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program. With the funding, the department says nearly 300 people, 10 businesses and 16 farms in Fountain County will gain access to high-speed internet.

“I’m hopeful that investments such as ReConnect can help farmers operate more effectively and efficiently to deliver their products to those across Indiana – and, indeed, across the world,” said USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney.

Earlier this week, the USDA announced plans to invest nearly $4 million to connect thousands of residents in Jackson and Lawrence counties to high-speed internet.

The USDA says it received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.

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.

HILLSBORO, Ind. (WISH) — I-Team 8 revealed problems in April with an animal shelter in east central Indiana in Fountain County.

The pictures, that went viral on Facebook, were so disturbing that former volunteers reached out to I-Team 8. 

The investigation revealed a lack of oversight and laws regarding animal shelter. 

Now, the community has a new shelter largely made up of the former volunteers who blew the whistle on the former shelter. 

Kim Lawson, a volunteer at the former Hoosier Hooves and Hounds, just opened a new shelter in Hillsboro. She named it CFL Rescue and Sanctuary. The letters are her late daughter’s initials. 

Lawson took over several of the animal control contracts once held by Hoosier Hooves and Hounds in Veedersburg. She and her volunteers are self-funding the rescue and also taking in donations. 

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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NEWTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A new distillery is hoping Hoosier love for sweet corn will extend to a taste for it in their cocktails, too.

Old 55 Distillery in Newtown — that’s in Fountain County — has opened to the public, offering tastings and tours.

The owner of the distillery, Jason Fruits, says it’s the first in the world to have made a bourbon product out of 100 percent sweet corn. They also offer more traditional options of single barrel bourbon and corn whiskey.

As the battle over Sunday liquor sales continues in the Hoosier State, the distillery is an example of a shift in retail tasting room legislation. The waiting period for distilleries has shortened from three years to 18 months, and one state senator says the change could mean more tourism and revenue for a small business in a rural area.

“Creating small business opportunity and jobs, while also encouraging tourists to visit a community they may not have ever visited before, is what it is all about,” said State Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette).

The distillery, located at 311 E. Washington Street, is open from noon to 8 p.m. om Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays for tours and tastings.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana lawmakers are looking at how to expand the number of Hoosiers with access to broadband internet.

Thursday, they heard from community leaders and industry experts on what could be done.

It happened at the Statehouse during a study committee that focuses on broadband internet connection in rural parts of Indiana.

The possibilities could be endless for internet connection, including some being developed.

“This millimeter(-wave) 5G technology,” said William Soards, AT&T Indiana president. “There’s a lot of thought you can pop an antenna up in a city and beam a gigabit or more into people’s homes.”

But improvement is still needed until new technology arrives. Some rural communities don’t have access to broadband internet connection or their internet quality is quite poor and you’ll see video pixelating or, at the worst, the video will freeze.

“Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity to fully participate in our economy and society, for citizens in Indiana,” said Rep. Sharon Negele, a Republican from Attica.

Community leaders addressed lawmakers saying poor internet connection impacts home prices, the size of school districts and students’ ability to work.

“When schools go one to one with tablets and kids take them home and they cannot do their homework, they cannot research, they cannot even connect to an online textbook,” said Lucinda Nord, from the Indiana Library Federation. “That is an issue that you need to pay attention to.”

In Nashville, a town of about 1,000 people about 30 miles south of Indianapolis, about half of students don’t have internet. Town manager Scott Rudd said they don’t have a breakdown of how many cannot access the World Wide Web.

Rudd said it would cost $15 million to work with a provider to bring high-speed internet.

“How do we bridge that gap in funding? What funds do we use from a local perspective? What funds can we bring from state,” he asked.

Others said Indiana inefficiently tracks homes that can access the internet by grouping many rural communities together.

The problem is if a provider reports one home has access to broadband internet, it applies to the entire area — when that may not be the case.

Another option is tracking by street.

“Only once that is measured accurately can Indiana’s broadband challenge be resolved,” said Brent Legg, the vice president of government affairs at Connected Nation, which works to bring better internet connectivity around the country.

Tracking high speed internet can affect who gets federal subsidies to improve internet connection. There could be federal action on the issue but he said the state could do something, too.

It wasn’t discussed how much any changes could cost the state of Indiana.

ATTICA, Ind. (WLFI) – A portion of Attica is evacuated after police say they found a man with bombs in his vehicle.

Attica Police Chief Bob Cole tells WLFI in West Lafayette that Robert William Bandy II, 28, has been arrested after officers found bombs in his van. He said Bandy was also found wearing a bulletproof vest.

The initial call came into Fountain County Dispatch around 10:15 a.m. concerning the vehicle parked along Edgewood Drive. It’s located inside an apartment complex called Ravine Heights Apartments, off East North Street.

Cole says Bandy is on probation for multiple drug charges out of Montgomery County, and that’s what led to the van’s location and its contents. Probation officers were apparently stopping in for a routine check on Bandy, when they located him inside the white van.

Two bulletproof vests were also found in the van, and authorities believe one may have explosives strapped to it. They also may have found additional explosive devices.

The Indiana State Police bomb squad has been called in to assist. They are searching the van and assessing the items found.

According to Cole, investigators will search Bandy’s apartment too. The complex’s owner says it’s not his place but believes his grandmother lives there.

The area around Edgewood Drive, about half of the apartment complex, has been evacuated for safety purposes. Police still have a perimeter setup.

The owner said mostly senior citizens live in Ravine Heights.

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FOUNTAIN COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – A student has been arrested after police said he made threats to an Attica school and specific students via a social media post.

According to Attica Police Chief Robert Cole, officers responded to Attica Jr.-Sr. High School around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Cole said 18-year-old Nicholas Jordan was detained for questioning for allegedly making threats on his Snapchat account to shoot up the school. Cole said Jordan also threatened specific students.

“It was inappropriate in nature, threatening in nature,” said Attica Consolidated School Corporation Superintendent Derek Marshal. “Within a matter of minutes, they and the resource officer had him in their possession.”

Cole said Jordan admitted to sending out the Snapchats. He was then arrested and taken to the Fountain County Jail.

Marshal said he was surprised that Jordan was the one to send out the threat.

“This student has not been a threat before,” Marshal said. “As a matter of fact, I was speaking to this student’s parent this morning about how excited that he is going into the Marine Corp.”

Cole said a teacher happened to see the message and alerted the principal immediately.

“There was no lockdown today because the student was in custody immediately,” Marshal said.

The student told police he sent out the post as a joke.

“As law enforcement officers and with the shootings in the schools, we take something like this very, very serious,” said Cole. “It’s one thing to say it’s a joke, but to the other students and the families involved – they don’t find it to be very funny.”

The teen was not armed and did not have any weapons with him at the time he made the threat. Jordan now faces charges for intimidation and false informing.

“He has been expelled from the school system and he will not be returning,” Cole said.

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