Make your home page

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Fort Wayne-based Indiana Michigan Power has donated its former service center building in downtown Hartford City. The utility says the building will now serve as the permanent home for the Hartford City Police Department, as well as a senior citizens center.

I&M moved out of the facility in 2012, and the building has housed the police department and senior center since that time. Now, the city will own and operate the building and has plans for growth.

“The generous donation of this building from Indiana Michigan Power is going to unlock a number of opportunities for Hartford City, and we could see the benefits for decades to come,” said Hartford City Mayor Dan Eckstein. “We are extremely thankful for I&M and proud to call the company a community partner.”

The city says it has plans for renovations to expand services at the building and create a large gathering space for community events. Those plans, according to city officials, will serve as a catalyst for economic development.

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana is continuing to distribute food in “tailgate” events, with new dates confirmed for the coming week.

The group expanded its tailgate events in April on the coronavirus began taking a toll on Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb dispatched 30 Army National Guard members to help with the efforts to expand the food distribution.

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana is the region’s largest hunger-relief organization serving over 100 pantries and meal programs in eight counties: Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash.

Here are upcoming food distributions:

No IDs or proof of address or need are required; all are welcome. Distribution is while supplies last. If you are walking up or coming via a vehicle too small to carry a load of food, please arrive an hour after the tailgate starts.

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.

BLACKFORD COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A Blackford County woman fought unsuccessfully for years to drain a marsh-like field adjacent to her property she described as a “septic swamp,” she said.

Toddi Lamott had contacted county and state officials with her suspicions about the source of the water flowing into her yard.

A dye test conducted in May by county health department workers confirmed the presence of sewage on Lamott’s property in the 4400 block of East 100 South, officials said.

“Every single time they flush their toilet, it’s coming here,” Lamott told News 8, pointing to the pool of standing water on the empty lot beside her driveway. “It has broken this driveway down and you can see how far into my yard the water flows by following the trail of gravel.”

A “wet patch” in her lawn extended to 15 feet in front of her house, she said.

Rainy day videos provided by Lamott show water overflowing from the “marsh,” down her driveway and into her yard.

Friends said they avoided visiting because of the stench and mosquitoes.

“It smells like somebody just went to the bathroom but 50 times worse,” said Shelly Jenkins, a close friend who had known Lamott for 25 years.

Lamott inherited the property from her parents and claimed the septic leak had been problematic for at least a decade.

“I feel like nobody cares,” she said. “People act like I’m crazy but I need this cleaned up.”

Lamott suspected several of her chronic health issues, including recurrent hives, were linked to E. coli and other contaminants in the water.

Testing confirmed sewage was flowing from a neighbor’s home into the empty lot adjacent to Lamott’s property, according to Linda Briles, the Blackford County Health Department’s environmentalist.

Officials notified the property owner with a certified letter and referred the matter to an attorney after he failed to take action for more than a month, Briles told News 8.

She had personally addressed Lamott’s concerns by visiting the leakage site, conducting water testing and installing mosquito traps, she added.

The property owner was not available for comment.

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (AP) — A Hartford City woman whose 15-year-old son took a handgun to school has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The 40-year-old woman was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty last month to dangerous control of a child. The charge refers to cases where a parent or guardian permits a child to possess a firearm.

The Star Press in Muncie reports she acknowledged to investigators she was aware her son had a firearm, but never discussed the matter with him.

The boy had been in trouble related to guns before. He took the weapon to Blackford High School on Oct. 30, resulting in a lockdown and a delay in dismissal of students. News 8 reported no students or staff were injured in the gun incident

The Associated Press isn’t identifying the woman to avoid identifying her son.

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — A 21-year-old Muncie man died Wednesday morning in a crash of his truck and another, Indiana State Police said. 

Gary Lowe died at the scene from injuries received in the crash, said a news release from state police. 

Troopers went just after 11:15 a.m. to the crash at the intersection of South Cowen Road and West Fuson Road just south of Muncie. 

The release said Lowe was driving a 2002 Chevrolet pickup south on Cowan when he disregarded a red traffic light and was hit by an eastbound 2011 Mack straight truck. Police described the striaght truck as one used to haul dumpsters. 

The driver of the Mack truck, John Rogers, 47, of Hartford City, was not hurt in the crash.

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WISH) — A student and a gun are in police custody after a nearly three-hour lockdown at Blackford High School, authorities said. 

School personnel were told about 2:10 p.m. Tuesday that a student had a gun at the high school, according to a news release issued Tuesday night by the school district superintendent, the Hartford City police chief and the Blackford County sheriff. About five minutes later, the Blackford County Sheriff’s Department had the student in custody. The release did not indicate whether the student is facing criminal charges or the student’s gender or age. 

“Students remained in lock down well after the threat was neutralized, and as an additional precaution every student, every backpack and every classroom was searched to ensure student safety,” the release said. “This led to the prolonged after school dismissal.”

During the lockdown, another student suffered an injury in the industrial technology lab and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The injury was not related to the gun threat, authorities said, but they did not indicate how serious the injuries were to the student in the lab or provide any other details. 

No students or staff were injured in the gun incident. 

Blackford County Schools will have normal Wednesday hours and will have counselors on hand if needed to help students.

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WISH) — Five central Indiana sisters took a trip down memory lane on Historic Route 66, retracing their family’s 1964 journey to the West Coast. 

Linda Briles, Donna Norton, Carma Reidy, Sandy Leer and Anita Langdon described their road trip this summer as “the experience of a lifetime” and said they became closer after spending 19 days together in an RV.

The Hartford City sisters set out on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois and traveled to the “End of the Trail” in Santa Monica, California driving about 350 miles a day. Their parents had taken the same route 54 years prior, when the family briefly relocated to Santa Ana. 

“My father wanted to be there before he was 40, so there we went,” said Briles. “We put everything that we owned in [the car] and we took off.” 

Their mother was pregnant with Langdon, the youngest of the sisters and the only one born in California. She was a year old when the family moved back to Indiana and, unlike her elder siblings, has no memories of living in the Golden State. 

“It just felt like part of me was missing, not knowing about the place I was born,” Langdon told News 8. “I’ve wanted to visit California as far back as I can remember.” 

She said finding the two-bedroom house in Santa Ana where she had spent the first year of her life was “deeply emotional.” Finally visiting the places she had only heard about from her sisters and seen in family photos marked a personal turning point for Langdon. 

“I feel complete now,” she explained, wiping away tears. “Certain things would make me cry [like] standing in front of the house.”

The trip was also filled with lighthearted moments; a favorite memory for all the sisters was the panicked reaction of Norton when she mistakenly thought no one was behind the wheel of the moving RV. 

“It was a senior moment!” she laughed. “I’m happy we were all able to do this before we get too old to enjoy it. I was the one that was kind of dragging my feet but I knew that I didn’t want to miss this. This was something that would never be the same with one of us missing.” 

The sisters visited nearly every major landmark along Route 66, including the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park, Badlands National Park, the Route 66 Museum, DeSoto’s Salon, trading posts in the southwest and Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona. 

“The best part of the trip was probably the people we met everywhere we stopped,” said Briles. “Or just getting to spend time with my sisters.” 

The sisters’ advice to anyone with a family adventure or road trip on their bucket list? “Stop waiting. There’s never a convenient time to drop everything and travel. Just make it happen.”

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WISH) — Getting kids ready for school and on the bus every morning can be a big job.

But, it’s an even bigger job when children have special needs. One mom said her school district was making it even more difficult. She said they refused to treat her son with the same courtesies as other students with special needs, so she contacted I-Team 8.

“Chadd is 9, he was born premature, he’s still ‘diagnosis unknown,’ he doesn’t walk or talk,” said Chadd’s mom, Tabitha Fraze.

Chadd is in a wheelchair and fully depends on his mom for everything. Fraze said Chadd spent much of his life in Riley Hospital of Children at IU Health in Indianapolis and has a very weak immune system, which makes waiting outside in the cold for the bus very tough. So, Fraze asked repeatedly for the bus to pick him up at their door — as is stated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“It makes me angry, but it also kind of upsets me because it’s like you can push and do all that you can and try to be the good parent and your child’s advocate and I feel like I’m not getting anywhere,” Fraze said.

Amber Bye, another mom who lives in the same apartment complex and also has a son with special needs, echoed Fraze’s concerns.

I-TEAM 8: “So other kids on this bus are getting door-to-door service?

BYE: “Yes, and my child is not because we live here.”

I-Team 8 called the Blackford County School District and reached out to Superintendent Chad Yencer to ask why they refused to pick Fraze’s son up at his door — or at least farther back inside the apartment complex.

“I think that they just don’t understand how much of a difference it would make,” Bye said.

After weeks of calls, a new small school bus arrived to pick Chadd up at his door!

“It’s upsetting that it took all of that to get something accomplished for our kids, but it let them know that we were serious, and WISH-TV stepped right in there and got it taken care of, and we’re very grateful for that,” Fraze said.

When we spoke with Superintendent Yencer, he said they were already planning to buy the smaller bus before we got involved as part of their annual bus replacement plan. But, he did not have an explanation as to why the district had previously refused to drive the existing bus farther into the complex. The new small bus picks up Chadd every day and is also used wherever else it’s needed throughout the district.

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (AP) – Indiana’s appeals court has overturned a man’s child molestation convictions after finding that a judge shouldn’t have considered incriminating statements the man made following an FBI search.

Thirty-two-year-old David A. Wright was sentenced to 60 years in prison in September 2016 by Blackford Circuit Court Judge Dean Young, who convicted him of four molestation counts following a bench trial.

The Star Press reports the appeals court overturned Wright’s convictions after finding that Young shouldn’t have considered statements Wright allegedly made admitting to sexually abusing two children.

The court found that Wright made those statements after an FBI agent made an unconstitutional search of his computers.

Senior Judge Carl Darden wrote that those statements “were thus the fruit of the poisonous tree.”

Prosecutors plan to retry Wright in the case.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission has filed four misconduct charges against a northeastern Indiana judge over a dispute with his county’s clerk.

The commission said Wednesday the charges against Blackford Circuit Judge Dean A. Young allege he barred then-Blackford County Clerk Derinda Shady from the courthouse while she was hospitalized in August 2015 with chest pains she suffered after refusing to attend a meeting with Young and Superior Court Judge John N. Barry without a witness.

The charges allege, among other things, Young’s conduct didn’t promote public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

Young has 20 days to answer the charges. A telephone call to his Hartford City, Indiana, chambers for comment Wednesday afternoon rang unanswered.

Barry was publicly admonished for his involvement in the incident but isn’t facing disciplinary charges.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV