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KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — A 32-year-old Logansport man died Friday morning in an “industrial death” at a Kokomo manufacturer, the Howard County Coroner’s Office says.

He was identified as Seth Russell Badger.

The Kokomo Fire Department and medics from Ascension St. Vincent were called just after 8:15 a.m. Friday to Haynes International, 2000 W. Deffenbaugh St. in Kokomo. Badger was taken to Ascension St. Vincent Kokomo hospital, where he died about an hour later in the emergency department.

News 8 has reached out to the the manufacturer, the Kokomo Police Department and the Howard County Sheriff’s Office for more information to find out what led to Badger’s death. The law enforcement agencies and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the death, the coroner’s office says.

Haynes International makes products with nickel- and cobalt-based alloys for use in high-temperature and corrosion applications, according to its website.

Dr. Steven J. Seele, the Howard County coroner, says a forensic pathologist will conduct an autopsy later Friday.

The coroner’s office asked anyone with information on the death to call the Howard County Coroner’s Office, 765-456-1186 or the Kokomo Police Department at 765-456-7017.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Michigan-based RACER Trust says it will soon begin preparations for active soil remediation at the former General Motors Delco plant property in Kokomo. The work is part of an effort to position the more than 10-acre site for sale to a buyer looking to redevelop the property.

The organization says preparation work will begin July 5 with the installation of security fencing and mobilization of heavy equipment.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the site was used for a variety of manufacturing purposes dating back to 1915. GM acquired the property in 1953 for the assembly and testing of circuit boards until the facility was closed in 1991.

The buildings on the property, totaling about 144,000 square feet, were demolished in 1993. RACER Trust assumed ownership of the property, along with many others from GM, after it was formed in 1991.

The remediation work is expected to begin in August, though RACER Trust says while the entire site will see activity, the area to be remediated accounts for about six-tenths of an acre.

The work will include moving shallower soils as well as treating deeper impacted soils. RACER says the latter will be mixed with a material that will break down chemicals in the soil.

When the process is complete, the remediated area will be backfilled and reseeded.

RACER says there should be minimal, if any, public disruption from the project. Crews will conduct continuous air monitoring to ensure air conditions are within EPA guidelines.

The remediation project is expected to be complete in mid-November. You can learn more about the project from the EPA by clicking here.

RACER Trust was established with the purpose of cleaning up properties and facilities owned by GM prior to its 2009 bankruptcy, with the goal of setting them up for redevelopment.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Officials from the Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau say tourism spending in the city and Howard County has increased in recent years and they expect the new Championship Park on the city’s east side to push revenues higher in the future. Tourism officials just released the results of a study on spending habits of tourists in the community. The analysis, based on 2019 data, shows spending has increased 3.4% in direct expenditures by visitors since 2016.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau Manager Sherry Matlock said whether it is destination visitors or people passing through, the community is benefitting.

“There’s an economic impact to both of those types of visitors. And what the study found was that of those that traveled destination visitors to our community, lodging, food and beverage, and shopping made up seven out of $10 of the visitor spending level,” said Matlock.

The study, conducted by Kentucky-based Certec Inc, found that visitors to Kokomo and Howard County contributed approximately $150 million to Howard County’s economy in 2019, compared to $135 million in 2016.

“These study results show that it is imperative for the Visitors Bureau to continue promoting Kokomo and Howard County as an ideal destination for visitors, conference and event organizers, and pass-through travelers,” said Charlie Sparks, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.

The report shows Kokomo and Howard County had 1.3 million destination and pass-through travelers in 2019. Of that, Kokomo had nearly 894,000 destination visitors and about 446,000 travelers headed elsewhere.

“But they stop and do something as they’re traveling through the area,” which Matlock says could be food or gasoline purchases.

In 2013, the state opened a new stretch of U.S 31 on the east side of Kokomo, reducing frustration for travelers who faced numerous stoplights in the city. But it also removed potential customer traffic to restaurants and other amenities.

“To be honest, we have not seen any type of negative impact from the bypass. In fact, if it’s done anything, it’s taken a lot of the semi traffic off of our main thoroughfare through Kokomo,” said Matlock. So that the people that do want to come to Kokomo they have a more positive perception of Kokomo because there it’s not so heavily congested.”

One of the draws to Howard County is Championship Park, which opened in April. It consists of four high school/college baseball fields and four junior/softball fields. Matlock says the park has hosted numerous tournaments, and benefits from proximity to Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield.

“We were already getting overflow into number of our hotels for teams to stay as they played there,” said Matlock. “With this new complex opening, it opens up a whole new level of travel teams coming into our city. Those travel teams often stay, that’s multi day. They’re eating at restaurants, and we’re already seeing the impacts of that.”

In addition to the ball fields, the development near U.S. 31 includes office, retail, restaurant and hotel space. While site development has taken place, construction has not yet begun. However, Matlock is optimistic.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — More than half of Indiana’s counties are now considered “broadband ready” with Howard County becoming one of the latest to receive the designation. The Indiana Broadband Office says the county has removed roadblocks that would prevent or slow investment in broadband infrastructure.

The state says more than 50 counties are now an official Broadband Ready Community. The Broadband Ready Communities Program was created as a tool to encourage broadband development throughout Indiana.

“We believe the designation of being a Broadband Ready Community meets both goals. The importance of broadband throughout Howard County has risen to the top of the infrastructure needs locally considering COVID-19 as well as the future delivery of information and education,” said Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman.

According to Indiana Broadband Office Director Scott Rudd, there has been a major uptick in communities seeking the Broadband Ready designation over the last six months.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Stellantis says it will invest nearly $230 million to retool three of its plants in Kokomo. The automotive manufacturer, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says its Kokomo Transmission, Kokomo Casting, and Indiana Transmission plants will shift to produce its fourth-generation eight-speed transmission, a move which will retain more than 660 jobs in the Howard County city. Stellantis says the move will help reach its goal of achieving 40% low-emission vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

The fourth-generation transmissions, Stellantis says, will have the flexibility to be paired with traditional internal combustion engines, as well as mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid propulsion systems. They will be used Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles.

“This investment and this transmission represent an important stepping stone in getting us to 2030 and further expanding our battery electric offerings,” Brad Clark, head of powertrain operations for Stellantis, said in a news release. “This new eight-speed is the ‘multi-tool’ of transmissions. It is a versatile transmission that can be adapted for a variety of applications, allowing us the flexibility to adjust our production as consumer demand for electrified vehicles grows over the next decade. It also offers consumers the opportunity to get familiar with this technology and explore all of the benefits that can come from electrification.”

The automaker says the investment leverages the core manufacturing competencies of its Kokomo operations, as well as the local workforce. A portion of the investment will be used to retrain the 660 employees into hybrid transmission manufacturing roles, which the company says would be met with increased wages, subject to the 2019 United Auto Workers collective bargaining agreement.

“As our industry continues to change, our focus must continue to be on our most valuable asset – our people,” he said. “This transmission program will bring new opportunities for our current workforce, as well as the manufacturing workforce of the future.”

The investment comes about a year and a half after Stellantis, then FCA, announced plans to invest $400 million to repurpose the idled Indiana Transmission Plant II and rebrand it as the Kokomo Engine Plant and create nearly 200 jobs. The facility will produce the GMET4 engine used in the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee vehicles, with production expected to begin later this year.

“I appreciate the confidence that Stellantis continues to show in the skills and abilities of our dedicated local workforce,” said Mayor Tyler Moore. “As the automotive industry makes this shift towards alternatives like electric vehicles, our workers in Kokomo are well-prepared to take up the challenge to adapt, re-focus and excel in new technologies.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Stellantis up to more than $19 million in conditional tax credits and $300,000 in training grants, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The city of Kokomo will consider additional incentives.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Automotive manufacturer Stellantis says it will share an update on its transmission operations in Kokomo on Thursday. Few details are available, though Governor Eric Holcomb and Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore will be on hand for the announcement.

Stellantis was formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and rebranded after FCA’s merger with France-based automaker Peugeot.

The 3.1 million-square-foot facility in Kokomo, which began production in 1956, currently assembles eight-speed transmissions for a variety of Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler vehicles. It also produces components for nine-speed transmissions. 

While specifics of the announcement have not been detailed, it will be followed by Governor Holcomb’s ceremonial signing of House Bill 1168.

The bill, authored by State Representative Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo), establishes the Electric Vehicle Product Commission, comprised of members of the Indiana General Assembly, as well as representatives of the auto industry, labor union, Energy Systems Network, the Battery Innovation Center, and Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The commission is designed to evaluate the inventory of existing electric vehicle product facilities and production capability, evaluate the inventory of skilled and non-skilled workers in the industry, as well as opportunities and needs for training, and identify opportunities for industry growth in Indiana, among others.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers and leaders from United Auto Workers will also be on hand for the announcement, which is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Inside INdiana Business will have more information as it becomes available.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Kokomo-based biosolids management company Merrell Bros. is expanding its portfolio with the addition of a new cleantech division.

The company has invested in and is partnering with 374Water, a cleantech company headquartered in North Carolina that has developed technology designed to transform sludge into clean water. Merrell Bros. Chief Business Development Officer Dustin Smith says the company plans to construct a new building on its Kokomo campus to produce the 374Water cleantech units and create an undetermined number of jobs.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Smith said the relationship with 374Water was a “perfect fit.”

“We had the resources and ability to deploy the units and to really help them advance into the biosolids market,” said Smith. “And obviously, they had the technology that was very impressive.”

The cleantech units were developed at Duke University with the help of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The units look similar to shipping containers and have a Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO) reactor on the inside that 374Water says can convert 99.9% of the waste pumped into it to clean water and carbon dioxide in seconds.

“If [the waste streams] are organic in nature, as you pump that into this unit, the organics enter the reactor inside the machine and – under extreme pressure and extreme temperature – the organics in the waste stream that you pumped in are oxidized and essentially, they’re converted into CO2 and distilled water and then the only thing that remains at that point is the minerals that were left, anything that was inorganic…and those drop out,” said Smith. “It’s essentially the technology that we always dreamed of, being able to pump in a sludge or a waste stream and essentially get clean water and air out the other side.”

Smith says Merrell Bros. brings the ability to manufacture, assemble and deploy the 374Water units. He says the company has an exclusive agreement to begin the assembly, testing and deployment the first two units in Kokomo later this year.

“That’s really the difference where Merrell Bros. steps in is not only can we manufacture the units and ship them, but once they arrive on-site at a customer site, then our team comes on site, does the startup, the training, deploys the systems to ensure that they’re ran properly and it’s a successful installation. So, that’s really one of the reasons why 374Water was interested in Merrell Bros. being able to take it from start to finish.”

Merrell Bros. has already added three jobs to begin preparing for the build of the first two units. Smith says the new facility at the Merrell Bros. location will be dedicated to the 374Water technology.

“We want to be able to build multiple units at a time and at our current facility, we can build two units at one time but they’re in two different parts of the shop, and so we want to have everything housed under one building to be able to efficiently manufacture these units,” he said. 

Smith says the overall number of new jobs created will depend on how quickly 374Water will be able to sell the cleantech units across the country, though he says the company will be ready to scale up as necessary.

Ultimately, Smith says the goal is to bring the cleantech units to parts of the world that doesn’t have ready access to clean water.

You can learn more about the SCWO technology by clicking here.

PERU, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — As part of National Women’s History Month, the Indiana Farm Bureau is celebrating Hoosier women who are contributing to the state’s agricultural sector but also providing help to those in need. Amie Osborn, who works and lives in Miami County, is vice president of commercial and agriculture lending at First Farmers Bank & Trust.

In addition to her full-time job at the bank, Osborn and her husband Vince founded the nonprofit organization BOGO Foods.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Osborn explained while volunteering at a homeless shelter in Kokomo, they discovered a big need.

“The coordinator explained that those experiencing homelessness or who are food insecure oftentimes are protein deficient,” said Osborn. “Given our love and knowledge of agriculture and animal protein, we thought we may be able to help and that’s how BOGO (Buy One Give One) Foods started.”

Osborn did not grow up on a farm, but she was a member of her high school FFA in California and competed in poultry judging events. After completing their degrees out west, Osborn and her husband moved to Indiana to further their education at Purdue University.

“California agriculture is extremely diverse, but it doesn’t have corn and soybeans,” said Osborn. “If we’re going to be in the livestock industry, we need to understand the feed side of it.”

Osborn says after taking part in AgriInstitute’s Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program, and as a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau, she felt the need to make a difference in her community by helping those less fortunate.

“My husband and I like the protein industry. We appreciate animal agriculture. We know that there’s some sort of barrier…between the production and those that are experiencing homelessness,” said Osborn. “How can we be part of that connection to break down the barrier?”

BOGO Foods is a nonprofit focused on providing protein to those in need, specifically those who are experiencing homelessness. The Osborns raise broilers and sell the locally produced protein at a premium. Broiler chickens are raised primarily for meat rather than to lay eggs. They use profits to buy larger quantities of wholesale protein.

“There are people who are willing to buy a premium product and support local agriculture while doing good for others,” explained Osborn.

Osborn says they raised 50 broilers in their first flock. Because of a donation and with the BOGO proceeds, the nonprofit was able to deliver 288 pounds of animal protein to a local shelter in February.

As Osborn and her husband look to the future of the nonprofit, while also maintaining their full-time jobs, Osborn recognizes the need to use her agribusiness network to make a difference.

“Maybe we can combine 4-H projects, FFA groups, local Indiana County Farm Bureau’s to come together to then be able to expand it further,” said Osborn. “I don’t think BOGO is going to be the sole focus. (It’ll) be a connector, bringing different organizations together to the table to say this organization is in need, this organization has a product. How do we get it there and how do we connect.”

Based on data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 31,000 of all farmers in Indiana are women.

Indiana Farm Bureau says you’ll also find women working in agribusiness, starting a non-profit or small business and using their voice to raise awareness for agriculture, like Amie Osborn.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Osborn explained how the nonprofit got its start.

BURLINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A Peru man who had been reported missing Monday in Kokomo was found dead Tuesday morning in a crashed truck that went into a ravine in western Howard County, police said.

Anthony M. Benedict, 26, was driving south on County Road 1150 West from State Road 22 to County Road West 00 North-South when his purple 1994 Ford Ranger drove straight through a curve, went off the road, struck a tree and came to rest in a steep ravine out of view from the road, according to a news release from Capt. Jordan J. Buckley, patrol commander of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office in Kokomo.

A Burlington Fire Department crew and Community Howard Regional Health medics was called to a report of the crash about 9:35 a.m. Tuesday. Benedict was pronounced dead at 10 a.m.

The crash site was about 2 miles east of Burlington.

An autopsy was set for Wednesday at Community Howard Regional Health, a hospital in Kokomo.

Anyone with information was asked to call Deputy Keith Chesshir at 765-614-3469.

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — The Kokomo Police Department has identified a man shot by an officer after displaying a handgun outside of a Goodwill Store earlier this week.

KPD said 18-year-old Cody Wright of Kokomo was shot by a seven-year veteran of the department. The officer’s name has not been released.

Kokomo police responded to a shots fired call just after 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 28.

The officer arrived to find a man displaying a gun while standing outside of a truck in the 2200 block of E. Markland Ave.

Wright was taken to a local hospital before being flown to a hospital in Indianapolis.

The officer is on administrative leave and was not injured in the altercation.