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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ryan Hammer of Crazy Horse Hops in Knightstown talked on Saturday’s “Daybreak” about growing hops for beer.

On each Saturday’s “Daybreak,” WISH-TV highlights a local company together with our partners at Indiana Grown.

The harvest of hops is underway, providing fresh hops for seasonal beers at breweries for the next couple of months.

Crazy Horse Hops was established in 2016. It’s become the largest hop farm in Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Carmen Ellis was just 3 years old when she died.

For the last several years, her grandparents have ridden motorcycles in her honor.

On Saturday, they’re set to get on the road again, but a little differently this year.

This last year for Tina Smith and her husband was not easy.

“Its been tough, but it’s been filled with so many blessings,” said Tina Smith, Carmen’s grandmother.

Tough, because on Aug. 3, 2019, they had finished doing the preride for their late granddaughter’s memorial. As they headed home on their motorcycles, they pulled over on a road shoulder near Knightstown.

“A woman had come from the left lane, through the right lane and hit us. Got us both. As soon as I saw her hit him, I tried to jump off my bike but did not make it.” Smith said.

Tina and her husband each had to have a leg amputated.

Turns out, Tina says, the other driver looked at a cellphone for just a second.

Now, the Smiths are set to be on the road again, in a car this time, for Carmen’s annual memorial motorcycle ride. Tina says her granddaughter, Carmen, was 3 years old when the boyfriend of the child’s mother killed Carmen back in 2012.

“She was an amazing little girl. So happy. So full of life. Unfortunately, this man was let in her life that beat her to death and I wanted, from the beginning. I wanted to honor her.” Smith said.

The ride is about 153 miles, Tina said, with stops at American Legion locations in Indiana. Followed by drawings, auctions and raffles.
Money raised goes to Lutheran Child & Family Services, to help stop child abuse.

“We have to protect our children. We have an obligation that if we know about something, then we need to say something, even if it turns out to be wrong. It’s better to be wrong than to miss it and a child dies again,” Smith said.

The ride will start and end at The American Legion Post 495 on East 38th Street in Indianapolis. Kickstands will go up and the ride will begin at 10:30 Saturday morning. It’s $20 per motorcycle and $5 per passenger. More information on the event is online.

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — Residents and former officers confronted Knightstown officials over their handling of police department matters Thursday during a town council meeting.

Much of the hourlong meeting was spent discussing the future of the town’s dwindling police force and frustrations that led to a mass resignation of officers.

Approximately a dozen Knightstown Police Department (KPD) employees quit in June over disagreements with the town council, leaving the department staffed by only one full-time officer, two part-time officers, three reserve officers and interim chief Frank Beatrice.

KPD Chief Chris Newkirk remained on medical leave for a shoulder injury, officials said.

The meeting venue in Sunset Park was packed as full as social distancing guidelines permitted.

More than 30 residents — some wearing face coverings — sat six feet apart from each other inside the park’s Shelter House. Dozens more stood outside or followed social media updates from home.

Sarah Ward, the town council president, addressed the room with opening remarks that highlighted the importance of resolving conflict.

“Let’s bring accountability and transparency to our police department and its processes by working together,” she said. 

Officers had complained for years about the town council’s “micromanaging” and “mishandling” of internal police affairs, according to current and former KPD employees.

Tensions came to a head after town officials voted to replace Chief Newkirk’s handpicked interim chief with the less experienced Beatrice.

“It is a power struggle gone wrong,” said Kerry O’Haver, a former KPD reserve officer who resigned in June. “I would gladly come back in an instant if the town council could grow up.”

He stood to address residents and council members during the public comment portion of Thursday night’s meeting.

“I’m not sure what the town board has against Chief Newkirk, but it’s pretty much disgusting,” O’Haver told the crowd. “What is happening here is a repeat and everybody here should see it. It continually happens. Every time they can’t control the police chief, they drum up a phony investigation or something along that line.”

A council member thanked him for his civic engagement when his allotted two minutes expired.

“You’re welcome,” O’Haver replied; residents applauded.

Beatrice urged residents to “just bear with us” and acknowledged it would “take time” to rebuild the town’s police force and public trust.

He detailed efforts to maintain a law enforcement presence in Knightstown, including seeking assistance from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Council members assured residents they would not let police resignations impact the town’s public safety standards.

 “We want to assure the public that we do have a police department,” Ward said.

Officials appeared to take notes as residents presented civilian recommendations for improved police operations.

Proposals included establishing community forums and meeting regularly to discuss successful policing models used by other agencies.

“We had so many great officers in this town. What happened?” a resident asked the council.

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — The Knightstown Police Department was staffed by one full-time officer, two part-time officers and three reserve officers after employees resigned en masse over disagreements with the town council, a local official confirmed Thursday.

Frank Beatrice also remained employed as the department’s full-time interim chief.

His appointment by the town council sparked complaints among officers after chief Chris Newkirk was placed on medical leave for a shoulder injury.

The status of Newkirk’s employment had not changed Thursday.

Long-standing frustrations over the town’s handling of police affairs boiled over when Beatrice was selected for the interim role ahead of a detective with more law enforcement experience, according to a former officer who resigned in protest.

Approximately a dozen officers resigned from the police department in June, employees and residents said.

Town officials maintained the mass resignations would not have a significant impact on public safety and vowed to maintain a law enforcement presence “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

“We do have a Knightstown Police Department,” Beth Huffman, the town’s clerk treasurer, said in an email to News 8.

Officer resignations and complaints were expected to be addressed during Thursday’s town council meeting.

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A mass resignation of police officers in a central Indiana town of approximately 2,100 people sparked public safety concerns and calls for increased government transparency.

Approximately a dozen officers resigned en masse from the Knightstown Police Department (KPD) over disagreements with the town council, according to employees.

“There have been 15 resignations in the last two to three weeks,” said Scott Spurgin, a Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter who said he worked closely with local law enforcement agencies.

Long-standing frustrations boiled over after town officials selected an interim police chief with less experience than the officer picked for the job by current KPD chief Chris Newkirk.

A “power struggle” ensued after Newkirk was placed on medical leave for a shoulder injury, officers said.

Town council members did not immediately respond to requests for comment from News 8.

A photo of a statement that appeared to address the resignations was posted Tuesday morning on the town’s Facebook page.

“Recently, there have been some changes within the Knightstown Police Department,” the statement read. “We, as the Knightstown Town Council, wish to assure the citizens of Knightstown, Indiana that effective measures have been taken to ensure that there is a law enforcement presence for Knightstown, Indiana 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The departing officers included KPD’s only K9 handler; Spurgin worried his resignation would impact investigative capabilities throughout Henry County.

“[County authorities] have called in for that police dog several times,” he said.

Spurgin and other residents said they feared ongoing conflict would result in the loss of more officers and longer 911 response times.

“If there’s not an available policeman here in Knightstown… dispatch will have to dispatch a Henry County sheriff’s [deputy] and that could take up to 10, 20 [or] 25 minutes to get here. By that time, who knows what’s going to happen?” he said.

Wendy Fuller, a Knightstown resident who works as an emergency medical technician, said she relied on police to secure scenes she was dispatched to.

“This definitely impacts my work,” Fuller said of the resignations. “We support our officers and we want some answers.”

Dozens of residents commented on the town council’s Facebook statement with similar calls for transparency.

“The community deserves an explanation [as] to why our officers left!” one woman wrote. “These were good officers who have done a lot for this town and them leaving the way they did means there is more that the town council needs to explain to the community.”

Residents are expected to raise concerns about the future of the police department during the town’s next council meeting.

Knightstown, Indiana, applies for free makeover

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – This Henry County town of 2,100 east of Indianapolis is submitting a proposal to get a complete makeover for free.

Creators of a new HGTV series to be called “Home Town Makeover” say it will renovate small towns.

Community outreach coordinator Kevin Richey and videographer Ben Houchins are creating a video and sending in photos of what can be renovated around Knightstown.

“We want people to experience small-town Midwest life that’s very inviting and very progressive, too,” Richey said.

To be considered for the series, small towns must have less than 40,000 people, homes with great architecture and a primary street that needs to be renovated.

Richey said Main Street, also U.S. 40, in the downtown area would qualify for improvements while preserving its history.

“These buildings are old. They’ve been around forever and they need help, too,” he said. “They not only need a roof or new windows or things like that, but they need some TLC (tender loving care).”

People hope to add more recreational space in front of the Academy Place Senior Facility, improve the downtown Public Square, and repair to nearby homes, churches and landmarks including the Knightstown Public Library. It’s been around since 1912.

Library Director Lisa Davis said the building needs updates for some patrons. “I can’t even imagine to begin to tell you how wonderful it would be and primarily to have that ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliance. Currently we can’t get these patrons in the library who would really like to use our library because we don’t have elevators, ramps and so forth.”

The deadline to be chosen for “Home Town Takeover” is Feb. 7.

LITTLE SIOUX, Iowa — The Knightstown, Indiana, woman among three people who died after a major crash on I-29 southbound on Sunday was a longtime faculty member of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. 

Elizabeth J. Cobbs, 65, died at the scene, according to police. She was in the backseat of a pickup truck in which two other Indiana residents were injured. 

The school issued a statement on the death of the doctor on Tuesday:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Betty Cobbs, a longtime faculty member in both pediatrics and internal medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Cobbs was passionate about providing excellent care to her patients and was the consummate educator who generously taught residents and medical students for nearly a quarter century. We extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends, and to all those who worked with and learned from her.”

Cobbs was an assistant professor of clinical medicine. Her clinical interests including internal medicine. According to her online biography, she received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1976 and her doctoral in medicine from Temple University. She did her residency at the IU School of Medicine beginning in 1994.

Iowa State Police said the crash occurred around 6:15 p.m. Central time Sunday in Harrison County, Iowa, on the west edge of the state about halfway between Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. 

According to a preliminary police report, Richard Lee Van Zee, 80, was driving a 2017 Cadillac XTS car north on Interstate 29 when for unknown reasons it went off the left side of the road. The XTS continued through the median and into oncoming traffic of the southbound lanes. 

Van Zee’s car then sideswiped the Chrysler 300 car driven by Saul Escobedo Gonzales, 31, of Des Moines, Iowa. After that, Van Zee’s XTS struck the Ford F450 truck behind Gonzales’ car. 

Van Zee and passenger Mary Ann Van Zee, 77, both of Rock Valley, Iowa, were taken to hospitals, but later died, the police report said. 

The pickup was was driven by Michael E. Gerrish, 60, of Shirley, Indiana. Gerrish and his passenger, Melinda A. Gerrish, 52, of Shirley, Indiana, were injured in the crash. Michael Gerrish was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City. Melinda Gerrish was taken to Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. No information was immediately available on their conditions following the crash.

Gonzales was not hurt in the crash.

Iowa State Police were continuing to investigate. 

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A 6-year old is doing her part to help the Knightstown Police Department get a police dog. 

Ella Thomson got some help from the community at her lemonade stand on Thursday.

“I put the ice in the cups; then I get the lemonade in there, and then I give it,” she explained. 

Ella’s grandmother, Denise Peacock, who lives in Knightstown, had been raising money for the department when Ella came to visit from out of state.

“She wanted to do a lemonade stand when she was visiting. She just happened to hear us talking about the fundraiser and getting community support,” said Peacock. 

Ella’s stand is about serving — both lemonade and her grandmother’s community. She insisted that the money go toward her grandma’s efforts.

“The big takeaway is giving is better than receiving. When you’re in a position, we need to give back to others,” said Peacock.

Knightstown Police Chief Chris Newkirk appreciates Ella’s efforts: “It means the world to myself and my officers. It’s great. It makes us feel great.”

The  department hasn’t had a police dog for several years, Newkirk said. 

“The police department had a K-9 in the past, which was very successful in trying to help us to remove drugs and drug dealers from the streets. That officer went to another department and that K-9 went with him,” said Chief Newkirk.

Chief Newkirk estimates it would cost around $12,000 to get a police dog and complete training of the dog and a handler. So far, the community has donated more than $2,000. One company offered to match the donations up to $6,000. 

“I get to help people,” said Thomson.

The lemonade stand was held for a few hours on Thursday. They’re hoping to raise cash, as well as dog food and supplies. If you’d like to help out, call the Knightstown Police Department at 765-345-2785.

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – An historic Indiana landmark is in need of major renovations and the group who is behind it said they need the community’s help.

The Hoosier Gym in Knightstown was made popular by the 1980’s movie “Hoosiers”.

The gym was first built almost a century ago and served as a regular functioning gym up until the middle 60’s. 

“I played on the last team that played in this gym in 1966. I was the starting center. I started 20 games at the center of the bench so I didn’t play much and at the time we wanted to go on the road because we thought this place was a dump because all these modern gyms were around. Now, we think it’s a shrine but for me coming back, it’s the impact it has on people when they walk through that door,” said Bob Garner, who is the events coordinator for the Hoosier Gym.

The gym plays an important part in the community.

“It’s used as a community center for the local youth to come in and play basketball after school, or during the day, in fact any time we’re not rented to a group, it’s open to the public to come in and play basketball. We did 70,000 visitors last year from every state in the Union and 16 foreign countries last year and a total of 62 foreign countries over the years,” Garner added.

Garner said the gym needs upgrades to keep it in pristine condition.

“We need a new roof, we need tuck pointing of the bricks outside, and we need new windows. If anything happened to that roof, this gym would be gone and it’s ability to service 70,000 people a year would be gone,” he said.

Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. there will be a public meeting held inside the gym to discuss a potential grant the gym could receive.

The grant would come from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, also known as OCRA.

“Basically the maximum would be $500,000. That sounds like a lot of money but an old building like this to put on a roof, replace 31 windows, and point and tuck the brick, and we have to match 20 percent of that,” said Dr. Neil Shaneyfelt, who is the president of the board of directors.

Shaneyfelt said it is very important that the public shows support and comes to the meeting because that plays a part in if they receive the grant due to the competitive nature of the money.

“When this gym was first opened after the movie ‘Hoosiers’ came out it was here, it was locked up in disrepair and once we got it open as a community center, it started out as just a trickle of visitors. This is great for the community and it’s more than just a community thing honestly, it’s people around the state and even the country and even internationally, we just have visitors from all over enjoy this place,” Shaneyfelt said.

These repairs are something the group has planned on for a while now.

“We’ve been very frugal with our money over the years, scrimped and saved, and pork chop dinners, and starting out very small and we’ve been very frugal. I’m blessed with a board of directors who are fantastically good stewards of all the donations that we’ve received,” Shaneyfelt added.

The gym has received community support already. Recently, the gym was a recipient of a $224,673 gift from the estate of Mary J. Graham, a community member who believed in the gym and its mission. That money was put into an endowment fund and cannot be used for the needed repairs.

“We cannot touch that money. That money is going to be here, that’s going to be in this foundation long after we’re all gone. It’s to preserve, protect this gym in perpetuity so the only money we get from that is the small amount of the interest that the money earns from that endowment fund. The interest amount we do get is used for our normal operating budget,” said Shaneyfelt.

More on The Hoosier Gym can be found here

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — The Indiana attorney general has filed a complaint against a central Indiana veterinarian accused of inhumane euthanasia, and a disciplinary hearing has been set by the state board.

The complaint was filed in January for two incidents. The disciplinary hearing is scheduled for April 25 for Dr. James Wilson.

During that time, the Indiana Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners will address the complaint and determine what to do next with his license to practice.(Please note some of the details in the complaint can be graphic.)

James Wilson told 24-Hour News 8 he has been a veterinarian for 40 years. We stopped by his office in Knightstown, and he told us off-camera he had “no comment” and that the allegations are “ridiculous.”

Wilson is accused of putting two cats down in a way described as inhumane by the attorney general.

The complaint alleged that Wilson in February 2016 taped a cat’s front paws together with masking tape and then tied one of the cat’s back legs with twine to the examination table.

The cat’s owner told the vet, “Please don’t do that to her. Don’t treat her like that.”

The vet told her he needed to find a vein.

The owner of the cat was there with her father. The complaint shows the father asked the vet, “Why do you have her taped and stretched across the table?”

The vet responded saying that if the cat bit him, he would have to cut its head off and have it sent to a laboratory to have it analyzed. The complaint went on to allege the vet shaved the cat’s back leg and injected a white liquid and did not inform the father and daughter what substance he was injecting into the cat and how the act would react.

The complaint alleged the cat convulsed 10 to 15 times, flayed, gasped repeatedly with her tongue out, and twitched. The 15-year-old cat named Sweetpea was put down.

“I hate to hear things like that, because they’re part of the family, just as much as anybody,” said Larry Wheat, who lives in Knightstown.

Wheat is not involved in the complaint and doesn’t know the vet. He and his wife have three cats: Jasper, Simon, and Theo.

“We tried to take the best care as we can, to give them their shots feed them good food do the best we can for them because we want them to be healthy and happy,” he said.

The complaint then alleged last July Wilson stuck a cat in her back legs with a needle 15 times over the course of approximately 10 minutes.

The complaint shows the cat screamed and bit the owner in the nose. The owner told the vet, “Look just stop. I’ll take him home. I’ll put a bullet in his head. It would be a much kinder way for him to go.”

Eventually, Wilson put the cat down.

We learned from the complaint Wilson pleaded guilty in January and was convicted of failure to make, keep or furnish records.

A spokseperson for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency told 24-Hour News 8 Wilson is on probation but can still practice under certain terms and conditions.

Wilson’s disciplinary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 25.