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BRAZIL, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in December will host a new “Breakfast With Santa” event for students in kindergarten through Grade 6.

The nonprofit training retreat will provide clothing, toiletries and food for youths. Selfies with Santa will be encouraged, the ranch said in a news release. The free event will include a meal of pancakes, cereal, turkey sausage links, juices and milk.

The event will be from 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 11 at the 62-acre ranch about 2 miles south of Brazil at 5325 N. State Road 59.

No reservations are needed, but guests are asked to “respect one another’s pandemic precautions,” the release said. Face masks and social distancing are encouraged when possible.

For more information or to donate to the ISYR Chaplain’s Fund, call 317-460-4242, go online to Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch GoFundMe page or write to the ISYR Chaplain’s Fund, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.

Organizers of the event include Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, Greene County Sheriff Michael Hasler, former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, Owen County Sheriff Sam Hobbs, Parke County Sheriff Justin Cole, Putnam County Sheriff Scott Stockton, Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom, Vermillion County Sheriff Mike Phelps, and Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse.

BEDFORD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Bedford-based economic development agency Radius Indiana has renewed its relationship with Japanese trade officials. Members of the organization met the newest Counsul-General of Japan and with members of the Japan External Trade Organization, which is based in Chicago.

Radius Indiana says the event was Consul-General Hiroshi Tajima’s first official speaking engagement in Indiana since he was appointed to the position last month. Radius Indiana is a regional partnership representing eight counties in southwest central Indiana.

“The Radius region, the state of Indiana, and Japan understand that one of the best ways to create more opportunities and prosperity for our people is to look outside our borders,” said Becky Skillman, chair of the Radius Board of Directors. “The grand evening and enthusiastic information exchange should propel the partnership forward.”

Tajima spoke about the current relationship between Japan and Indiana and the Japanese economy. For many members of the Radius, this was their first opportunity to hear from Japanese officials in terms of economic development opportunities.

“The leadership of Radius Indiana understands the deep value of and supports manufacturing investment from Japan,” said Ralph Inforzato, JETRO chief executive director. “Their leadership, particularly the mayors we met from southern Indiana, are truly focused on relationship building with JETRO to better understand how to approach and to make relationships with Japanese companies considering investment expansion in the Midwest.”

Radius Indiana says there are 344 Japanese business with facilities in Indiana, providing more than 70,000 jobs.

BLOOMFIELD & MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Hundreds of Hoosiers in the western and southwestern sections of the state will have gigabit broadband internet service following a partnership between the Utilities District of Western Indiana (UDWI) and South Central Indiana (SCI) REMC. The two companies plan to expand fiber to the north-central sections of UDWI’s territory to bring high-speed internet to around 200 unserved homes and businesses.

SCI REMC will use existing fiber assets to attach to UDWI’s existing pole plant to quickly provide internet service.

“It’s a special thing to be able to work together with other local organizations to achieve the same end goal. The partnership will allow SCI to bring fiber to areas that we normally wouldn’t be able to reach, and we look forward to working with UDWI on this project,” said James Tanneberger, president and CEO of SCI REMC.

Indiana announced the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband grant program last year, which awarded more than $50 million for 50 broadband expansion projects across the state. SCI REMC was awarded two grants and is using one of them to help build fiber in the new partnership.

“We are grateful for opportunities that allow UDWI to serve its members in ways beyond utility service. This partnership allows UDWI to further strengthen its internal goal of improving service and reliability for its members, and we are excited for this project to begin,” said UDWI Chief Executive Officer Doug Childs. 

UDWI says construction is slated to begin this year, with anticipated completion in mid-to-late 2022.

LINTON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A shovel-ready site in Linton has become the first in Indiana to receive two different site certifications. The more than 60-acre Greene County site has received certification from Verisite, in addition to the Silver Site certification from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs it received last August.

Verisite is a national site certification firm headquartered in Indianapolis. Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Executive Director Denny Spinner says the new site shows Linton is committed to economic growth.

“This shows that the Dunkerly site is ready for investment and has the resources needed to be successful. This is an exciting achievement for the community and I congratulate all community members and partners involved in making this designation happen,” said Spinner.

The state says certifications assure companies and site selectors that the site is ready for quick development, which results in cost savings. Indiana Municipal Power Agency also provided financial support throughout the certification process.

“When we say ‘You’ll like Linton’, it’s not just a slogan. We mean that sincerely, and we apply it equally to new residents and new businesses. Our community is prepared to treat newcomers with hospitality and warmth,” said Linton Mayor John Wilkes.

JASONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – An effort to redevelop a vacant coal mine in Greene County is receiving assistance from the state. Fishers-based Land Betterment Corp. has received tax incentives from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to help transform for the former Landree Mine into a “farm-to-bottle” craft distillery.

The company says it has been awarded $450,000 in Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, tax credits from the IEDC.

“We are humbled to be offered such a comprehensive incentive plan while we are scaling the impact of our investment into southwestern Indiana,” said Kirk Taylor, president of Land Betterment. “We are transforming the former mining site in Greene County, Indiana to be the new location of Betterment Spirits and its Coal Craft Spirits brand and developing a unique state-of-the-art, farm-to-bottle distillery experience.”  

The company is currently in the midst of environmental remediation at the site. Once the entire project is complete, Land Betterment says it expects to create dozens of jobs, many of which will be filled by former coal miners.

“Building local support of all stakeholders first is vitally important as our impact and exposure grows coast to coast.”

The company is also partnering with Texas-based Kodiak Metals Recycling to recycle retired coal railcars and old coal mine infrastructure at the Jasonville site.

LINTON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Rural School Clinic Network says Greene County is now the first Indiana county to offer telemedicine at all of its public school districts. Officials cut the ribbon Tuesday on new telehealth school clinics at White River Valley High School, Shakamak School District and Linton-Stockton Schools.

The new telehealth clinics bring the number of facilities in Greene County to seven. The IRSCN says each clinic is served by medical professionals associated with My Virtual Clinic, an online immediate care network operated by Greene County General Hospital.

“Through these state-of-the-art clinics, rural students throughout Greene County will have access to an Indiana licensed physician or provider from a hospital who will use high-tech and high-resolution diagnostic technology – such as an electronic otoscope or digital stethoscope – to digitally view ears, eyes and throat as needed during a student’s visit,” Kathleen Chelminiak, project director of the IRSCN, said in a news release. “Our goal is to provide high quality healthcare quickly and remove any barriers to accessing primary care.”

Funding for the new telehealth clinics is provided by a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, which was made available to the Indiana Rural Health Association. The IRHA says the goal is to help diagnose and treat students without an off-site school visit by a physician or daytime trip to a hospital.

“Through this innovative approach of incorporating telehealth into the school setting, we are confident children will receive quality healthcare that is more accessible to them than it ever has been before,” said IHRA Executive Director Don Kelso. “Parents won’t have to take time off work, struggle with getting an appointment with their doctor or worry about transportation issues. They can now receive help in getting their children healthier, instead of the limitations they may face with seeking primary care during the school day.”

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Accessing health care in rural parts of Indiana is often difficult without making a significant investment in time and travel, and that challenge is even more burdensome at schools in rural counties.

That’s why a growing number of schools in outlying areas are using high-tech equipment to connect with a medical professional.

One such example is Eastern Greene Elementary in the southwest region of the state. A new “telehealth” clinic has opened to serve that school and the neighboring middle school.

“Having this secure, state-of-the-art connectivity to My Virtual Clinic adds a new dimension of service for our students here at the elementary and middle schools,” said Sharon Abts, principal of Eastern Greene Elementary. 

Students can see a doctor or medical provider through secure video-conference connectivity. The clinic uses a digital stethoscope and other sensory tools to help the health provider make a diagnosis. School nurses and school staff have received several hours of training on how to utilize the equipment. 

The medical provider can send follow-up information to the children’s physician and prescriptions directly to local pharmacies for pickup. 

“Parents won’t have to take time off work, struggle with getting an appointment with their doctor or worry about transportation issues. They can now receive help in getting their children healthier, instead of the limitations they may face with seeking primary care during the school day,” said Don Kelso, Indiana Rural Health Association executive director.

Greene County area schools have been working with the Indiana Rural School Clinic Network to develop a countywide “telehealth” clinic network. It’s a service of Greene County General Hospital.

“This ongoing expansion of services to Greene County students continues to extend our professional services in a positive and cost-effective way,” said Brenda Reetz, chief executive officer, GCGH. “My Virtual Clinic health professionals will provide timely and quality services in this innovative program.” 

To participate, children must have prior parent/guardian consent. The school says any fees are billed to insurance. 

BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Greene County Sheriff’s Department is searching for a 17-year-old boy who was last seen at a residential group home in Indianapolis. 

Chaise Smith was described as 5-feet-9 or 5-feet-10 and 185 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. According to the sheriff’s department, he was last seen about 4 p.m. Friday at 1404 S. State St. in Indianapolis. That’s the address of the Resource Treatment Center of Acadia Healthcare. 

No other information was provided by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department. 

SOLSBERRY, Ind. (WISH) — Police are investigating the death of three people in southwestern Indiana as a double murder-suicide.

A neighbor called 911 around 8:30 a.m. Thursday to report screaming and shots being fired from inside a residence in the 7000 block of North State Road 43, about 1.5 miles south of Hendricksville.

Deputies with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office arrived to find two women and one man dead, according to a release from police. 

On Tuesday night, state police identified the deceased as 73-year-old Peggy Burks, who lived at the home, 58-year-old Debra Floyd, a caregiver, and 71-year-old Lawrence Burks, all of Solsberry. 

State police on Tuesday night said a motive had not been established in the case, but detectives had discovered a protective order was in place against Lawrence for Peggy. Other court proceedings were also underway, police said. 

Online court records show a petition for dissolution of marriage had been filed in August.  

No information on the weapons used or the causes of death in the case were being released on Tuesday.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation, with Indiana State Police and Indiana Conservation Officers assisting.

According to officials in Greene County, there was no threat to the public in connection with the deaths.

GREENE/SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Ten people are facing charges following a drug bust in Greene and Sullivan counties.

For the last four months, investigators with the Indiana State Police and Greene County Drug Task Force have been working on tips about illegal drug activity in Greene and Sullivan County.

After obtaining an arrest warrant, investigators arrested the following either at their home or during a traffic stop on drug related charges:

All ten suspects were jailed in either the Sullivan County Jail or Greene County Jail.