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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Singer-songwriter Jamie Nichole is a woman of many talents and passions, and today she performed her song “It’s True” for us on All Indiana! Not only is she a musician, but in 2013 Jamie began her professional golf career and is now a class A LPGA professional.

Jamie is Indiana-based and is originally from Martinsville, Indiana. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has a multitude of influences on her music, including pop, Americana, and country.

She told us more about her path to becoming an artist and hopes to teach her daughter to follow her dreams and passions.

You can learn more about Jamie here and listen to her music here.

NILES, IL (Inside INdiana Business) — Illinois-based Smithereen Pest Management Services has acquired Kim Mountain Pest Control, which is based in Martinsville. Smithereen says it already services clients in Indiana but the acquisition will broaden its service area to cover central and southern Indiana.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kim Mountain Pest Control has operated in central Indiana for more than four decades and serves clients in Marion, Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Hancock, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby, Brown and Monroe counties.

“Kim Mountain Pest Control shares the same commitment to customer satisfaction, proactive pest management, and practices that are safe for both people and the environment as a whole. By combining our resources, we can provide the whole state with top-tier remediation for common pests, termites, bed bugs, and wildlife,” said Smithereen director of Sales and Marketing Scott Seifert.

Smithereen operates in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The state has awarded two contracts totaling more than $1 billion to complete the last stretch of the long-awaited Interstate 69 construction project from Martinsville to Indianapolis.

The 27-mile stretch will be converted from State Road 37 to I-69 and connect to I-465. It is the last of six sections of the 142-mile I-69 corridor connecting Evansville and Indianapolis.

While multiple interstate overpasses and new local access roads were built in 2020, mainline interstate construction begins this month.

“Completing I-69 in Indiana has been decades in the making with a number of historic milestones achieved in the last 15 years, and today’s announcement of the entire final section moving to construction ranks as one of the most rewarding,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “Building this final I-69 section will fully deliver on a vision to better connect our state and further strengthen Indiana’s position as the Crossroads of America.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation awarded one of the contracts to a Reith Riley/Crider and Crider joint venture for $345 million. The contract will construct I-69 from Morgan Street in Morgan County to Fairview Road in Johnson County.

The other contract was awarded to a Walsh Construction and Milestone Contractors joint venture for $728 million. The firms will design and construct I-69 from Fairview Road in Johnson County to I-465 in Indianapolis.

The project includes the construction of a new interchange, the addition of new lanes and makes improvements on I-465 between I-65 and I-70 on Indianapolis’ southwest side.

“Once complete, I-69 will make travel between Southwest Indiana and Indianapolis safer and more efficient,” said INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness. “By better connecting people and commerce within our state and beyond our borders, I-69 is enhancing Indiana’s economic competitiveness and positioning the Hoosier State for continued growth and job creation in the decades ahead.”

This phase of the project includes the construction of 39 new bridges, 35 lanes of local access roads and the removal of 14 traffic lights between the two cities.

I-69 Finish Line is expected to open to traffic by the end of 2024.

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced plans to speed up construction on the final stretch of I-69 in Morgan County. Beginning Saturday, nearly five miles of State Road 37 in Martinsville will be closed as crews work to finish the I-69 Finish Line project.

INDOT says the closure, which is expected to last most of 2021, will allow crews to work safer and faster. The closure, according to the agency, will also allow work to be completed a full year ahead of schedule.

An official detour has been set for the area, with north-south state highway traffic following State Roads 39, 67 and 144. Long-distance traffic is being encouraged to use alternate routes, including I-65, State Road 135 and I-70.

INDOT says several east-west roads will remain open to provide local access across State Road 37. You can learn more about the closure by clicking here.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — I-Team 8 obtained a copy of the letter that Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray sent out to school leaders across the state this week.

The Republican senator from Martinsville wrote in the letter, “State law stipulates that schools will receive 85% of normal foundation funding, for any student who receives at least half of his or her instruction virtually.”

Foundation funding is the money from the state school districts receive, which is $5,548 per student this year.

As of Friday morning, there were close to 40 school districts that have opted to begin the school year virtually during the coronavirus pandemic. Janet Chandler is president of the Hamilton Southeastern Education Association. HSE will begin the school remotely, and Chandler says Bray’s letter is 180 degrees from the message sent by Gov. Eric Holcomb all summer.

“When I saw the letter I remember back in July and listening to Gov. Holcomb talk and saying schools would not be penalized for virtual instruction. They would receive no reduction in funds,” Chandler said.

Beech Grove Schools is also starting the year in virtual classrooms. Tom Keely, Beech Grove’s assistant superintendent, told I-Team 8 the letter provides some much-needed guidance.

“So to have the funding for virtual during a pandemic time also tied to in-person learning to be able to get 100%, I really think it is a very transparent letter that just, you know, instead of having rumor going on out there, it provides us with an opportunity to have something in writing,” Keely said.

Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, took exception to the letter in a statement: “I urge Governor Holcomb to honor the promise he made to Hoosier children to provide sustainable funding to K-12 schools, by calling a special session to address this concern. We must do better for our children and families.”

Late this afternoon, Holcomb sent an email to I-Team 8: “As I’ve said before, I am committed to providing 100 percent funding to schools as they navigate the unprecedented challenges of opening the academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many schools are returning with classroom instruction thanks to the herculean efforts of our public health officials, educators, students, parents, and communities. They all need our support now more than ever.”

State Sen. Greg Taylor, an Indianapolis Democrat, is asking the governor to call legislators back to the Statehouse and fix the problem.

“I’m concerned when school districts have to make a decision between children’s health and finances there is no equilibrium that will work in that scenario I’m very surprised that our president pro tem decided to, what I believe, send a warning to school districts that if they go remote, they are going to lose funding,” Taylor said.

Late this afternoon, I-Team 8 received a letter from the Bray to clarify his letter from earlier in the week. “Earlier this summer, my leadership team agreed with other state leaders, and still agrees, that schools should receive full funding for virtual students in the next school year for families who choose not to send their children in person due to fears surrounding COVID-19.

“In June, as the number of COVID-19 cases was declining and Indiana continued to reopen, no one I spoke to was contemplating the idea that school districts would not offer any in-person instruction at all for the upcoming school year.

“In the past week, a number of internal conversations made it clear that it had become conventional wisdom among schools that they would receive full funding for virtual students even if remote learning was their only method of instruction for the school year. Since this was not something my leadership team or I had considered, I felt it was necessary to clarify that agreement, because the underlying existing law says students receiving at least half of instruction virtually will only be funded at 85% of the foundation amount. We can all agree that we should support our students, teachers, schools and families, but it is important to keep in mind that the funding law predates COVID-19 and that all of the funding issues we are discussing now will ultimately require legislative action.

“My letter was neither intended as a change in position, nor as a threat to schools who are choosing not to reopen to in-person instruction, but as a clarification of previous comments. Schools are making significant reopening decisions, and I feel the clarification I provided in my letter is important for school leaders to know so they can make fully informed decisions that will work best for their districts. I believe it is better to communicate this now rather than to wait until the next time the legislature is in session after schools have already been operating under the reopening decisions they make for the fall.

“I am happy to continue the conversation about how those schools that do not offer an in-person option for students are funded.”

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.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana conservation officers have proposed criminal charges against people on both sides of an altercation July 4 near Lake Monroe, according to a report submitted to the Monroe County prosecutor.

The prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that it was continuing to review the evidence and, by Thursday afternoon, had announced no action.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released the report to News 8 on Thursday afternoon. Information redacted from the report included witnesses’ addresses and dates or birth, and identifying information on juvenile witnesses.

DNR conservation officers were called about 8:10 p.m. July 4 to an altercation between two groups of people southeast of Bloomington on the shore of Lake Monroe. One group was camping on property owned by Bruce McCord; the other group was camping in the Hoosier National Forest. The report said the altercation involved Vauhxx Booker, who is a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission; Sean Purdy, the boyfriend of McCord’s daughter; and Jerry “Bubba” Cox, Sean’s boss and friend.

Booker has said the altercation was racially motivated and involved dialogue about a rope and a noose, but Booker, through his attorney, rejected two requests for interviews with conservation officers about what happened. In a statement from Booker’s publicist to the news media, Booker’s lawyer has referred to the altercation as “an attempted lynching and violent prejudice fueled attack.” Booker met July 13 with FBI agents. In a news conference Friday at People’s Park in Bloomington, Booker called for a grand jury to investigate the altercation.

The DNR case data report of the altercation at Lake Monroe suggests these criminal charges:

Purdy told conservation officers he had encountered people throughout the day who were trespassing on the McCord property. According to the report, Purdy “would explain to them all, where the property lines were, and that the McCord’s (sic) did not wish to have them on their property.”

Booker and his friend Watkins were among people who Purdy encountered on the McCord property. Purdy said he gave Booker and Watkins a ride on a cart to direct them to a campsite on adjacent property. Purdy told conservation officers that “Booker was not friendly to him during that encounter and further explained that they did not like his (Purdy’s) hat. Purdy described his hat as a cowboy hat with a confederate flag on it,” the report said.

Purdy said he later noticed Booker yelling while “as close as two inches” to his girlfriend, Caroline McCord, but did not hear what was said because of a radio being played nearby. Booker and McCord were on a hill near Booker and Watkins’ campsite, Purdy told conservation officers.

The report said, “At that point, Purdy said he forced his way in between Booker and McCord by pushing Booker (He demonstrated this with his hands). Purdy later said that he did not move Booker with the push, due to Booker being much larger than he was. Purdy said, he told Booker ‘Don’t talk to my lady like that, you are over here on our property, you are not going to come over here and do this.’ Purdy then said he got punched in the jaw, causing the bruise on his chin. Purdy said he went down after the punch and then his memory was a little blurry after that because of the punch.

“Purdy said he didn’t remember how they ended up in a position where he was holding Booker up against a tree. He specifically said ‘I don’t remember a minute or so’. He said he was mainly holding Booker up against the tree with his legs. Purdy said he did not think Booker was trying very hard to get out of being held up against the tree. Purdy said he remembered Booker could breathe fine and said ‘I was just holding him in place, not letting him go, were gonna, you know. I wanted to stop it from happening, ready for it to be over, you know’. Purdy said he did not know when/how Jerry Cox got involved. Purdy also said Caroline said he (Purdy) had been hit three times but he only knew of one time. Purdy said he did not say any threats to Booker and did not hear any others. Purdy admitted to drinking quite a bit that day. I also asked Purdy why he did not report getting punched that evening (July 4, 2020). Purdy said he just wanted it all to go away.”

Conservation officers interviewed Cox, who is from Danville, on July 6 at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office in Martinsville. Cox said Purdy has been his boss and friend for 15 years, the report said. Cox had a black eye at the interview.

Cox was drinking with other people on a boat near the shoreline when he saw the interaction between Booker, McCord and Purdy.

The report said, “Mr. Cox said that he could hear Mr. Booker talking about Sean Purdy’s Confederate Flag hat that he was wearing that day. Mr. Cox said that the next thing he saw was Sean Purdy and Vauhxx Booker ‘rolling around in the bushes.’ Mr. Cox states at that point he ran over to that location to ‘get things settled’ and got Mr. Booker stood up, and that’s when he said Mr. Booker punched him in the face. Mr. Cox said that he punched Mr. Booker back after he was punched and further stated that his right hand was hurting him pretty bad the next day. Mr. Cox said that he believed he punched Mr. Booker ‘a couple times.’ Mr. Cox said that after that, they told Mr. Booker to just leave and get out of the area. Mr. Cox stated that he knew that we had seen the video and that he said some things that he shouldn’t have said.”

Later in the interview, “Mr. Cox said that he did not really ‘remember greatly’ exactly how everything happened once the fight started,” the report said.

Cox also told investigators that he never stated “get a rope,” “get a noose” or anything similar to that.

The report said, “Mr. Cox said the reason he was so angry was because Mr. Booker punched him in the face and also because of some things he had said during the incident. Mr. Cox commented that ‘you could clearly see in the video that he wanted me to call him the ‘N’ word’ and that Mr. Booker said ‘just do it, just do it, you know you want to.'”

Cox told investigators he was sorry for directing a racial slur toward Booker.

“Mr. Cox said that Mr. Booker wasn’t trying to resolve things and was making things worse,” the report said.

Conservation officers who responded to the incident said injuries were minor. Cox had a small cut on his forehead and redness under his eye. Booker had a small scratch on his left cheek and complained of a headache.

The next day, July 5, Booker reported to DNR that he’d had pieces of his hair pulled out and had suffered a concussion in the altercation.

The conservation officers interviewed 15 people, obtained multiple videos and photos received from people at the altercation, and made transcripts of audio from the videos, the report shows.

One person at the campsite where Booker and Watkins stayed, Fredrick “Max” Walsh, refused to turn over his videos of the altercation to the FBI and conservation officers.

“There were others around the tree but Purdy appeared to be the only one holding Booker down. Multiple people could be heard instructing Purdy to ‘let him go,'” the report said.

One video showed Booker being pinned against a tree. Booker also was “bent over and appeared to be being held down” by Purdy, the report said.

A conservation officer on July 7 found the tree Booker had been pinned against in the video but found no evidence of blood or hair at the site along Lake Monroe, which is a reservoir. “The tree was clearly within the Corp of Engineers property line,” the report said.

Other videos showed the interactions between the two groups as Booker’s group was walked back to its campsite.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the altercation led to at least three demonstrations in nearby downtown Bloomington, including one demonstration that led to a 66-year-old woman being criminally charged after two people were injured.


“In an extraordinary and prejudicial move the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) officers who on July 4th 2020 refused to arrest the very people who called Vauhxx Booker by ugly racist slurs and threatened to lynch him, have improperly released a record of their investigation, which they refused to even admit they were conducting.

“This is inappropriate conduct by a law enforcement agency to publicly release documents which are generally denied even under Indiana Public Access Laws. Why are they doing it? Because they are threatened and embarrassed, since they didn’t do the right thing two weeks ago.

“Vauhxx Booker is the victim.

“Even suggesting that a victim of a hate crime is a suspect is inexcusable, immoral, and more evidence that racism is systemic.

“Vauhxx Booker has not committed any crimes and is a free man. He did not refuse interviews with law enforcement in fact he has been and continues to work with the FBI. He refused to be subjected to an interview with the same DNR officers who refused to listen to him July 4th when he was attacked.

“Vauhxx was being held against his will, battered, and threatened because of the color of his skin. Vauhxx Booker’s friends saw it and they put it on tape. The DNR report confirms Booker’s previous accounts that Sean Purdy had been wearing a confederate flag hat.

“This is yet another outrageous example of how Black people in America cannot get justice and are repeatedly re-victimized by the system. We again call on The United States Attorney to pursue Hate Crime charges and convene a grand jury to examine this case.

Statement from Vauhxx Booker and his attorney, Katherine Liell, from publicist Shoshanah Wolfson

“Based upon a press release yesterday on behalf of the accuser, it appears Mr. Booker’s lawyer and publicist want to strong-arm a prosecutor’s decision by stirring up the sentiments of a public who does not yet know all the facts. Mr. Booker was the bully fake county commissioner on July 4. Now his lawyer and publicist are acting like bullies, calling the Monroe County Prosecutor out by name yesterday (a person Booker has previously openly declared he had supported during her campaign), publicly imploring her to ‘do the right thing.’ For Mr. Booker, his lawyer, and his publicist, the ‘right thing’ seems to be what they want, not what the evidence demands. It is what they have done from the beginning of this shameful ordeal – loudly push out a narrative that accomplishes Mr. Booker’s financial and notoriety goals regardless of the truth. Ms. Liell has been a licensed attorney for over 31 years. Surely she knows prosecutors cannot and do not issue warrants. Or perhaps yesterday’s press release was written by Mr. Booker’s publicist,, who is untrained in the law but apparently is learned in ways to make more money and garner more attention for her client. Was it Mr. Booker who said the local paper in Bloomington wasn’t big enough for his story, or was that Booker’s publicist speaking again? Putting public pressure on elected officials to try to get your way is sad and desperate. It is also wrong. The Bloomington and Monroe County communities should appreciate they have, in Erika Oliphant, an elected prosecutor of high integrity and strong character who makes charging decisions in high-profile cases only after thoroughly following where the evidence and the law lead, not allowing baseless, histrionic calls for action to dictate her timeline in doing so.”

The criminal defense team of Baldwin, Perry and Kamish PC, which represents Sean Purdy

ELLETTSVILLE and MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Construction has begun on a high-speed internet fiber project that will serve as many as 3,400 rural residents and businesses in Monroe and Owen Counties when completed in 2023. Ellettsville-based Smithville and rural electric co-op SCI REMC say construction is underway for the first 350 residents and businesses.

The partners say, when completed, the project will deliver high-speed, reliable fiber-based internet service to residents and businesses in common service areas around Ellettsville, Lake Monroe, and Gosport.

“This joint project will help both companies move forward in closing the digital divide in rural areas by providing high-speed, highly reliable fiber-based internet connectivity,” said Darby McCarty, chairman and chief executive officer of Smithville Communications.

Smithville and SCI REMC say customers living in the first phase area, between Spencer and Gosport, can expect to have improved internet service by the end of the year.

The partnership says the fiber service will also replace copper-based services currently being used.

“By working with Smithville, we are able to meet our electric smart grid needs and ensure businesses and residents have access to world-class high-speed internet in the most expeditious, fiscally responsible way possible,” said Tanneberger.

James Tanneberger, chief executive officer of SCI REMC, said customers will be able to choose service from either Smithville or SCI REMC when the fiber network is built and active.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The full effects of coronavirus on a child’s development and education have yet to be seen, but some groups of students could be worse off than others.

About 17% of children nationwide have one or more developmental disabilities, which makes the worry of educational regression real for many parents.

Erin Siebert is a mother of six children from Martinsville, Indiana whose youngest son has Down syndrome.

Siebert says she relies on a laundry list of therapies for her 3-year-old son, Fenton, to thrive, but COVID-19 changed it all.

“I remember hearing that Indiana was going to shut down and I started to panic and wonder, how am I going to do all of this with him and my kids and keeping everybody going?” Siebert said.

Siebert turned to where so many other students have also moved: the internet.

While the switch to virtual therapy sessions has added some relief, Siebert admits it has been a challenge.

“I have him and my kids in another room. Now, I’m holding him and I’m holding the phone and I’m doing the therapy. It’s a bit of a circus, but we are learning,” said the central Indiana mom.

It may be a circus, but for legal reasons, resource centers like Easterseals Crossroads has tried to help reduce the challenges by providing virtual therapy sessions.

Still, one of the challenges is screen time and while many students are able to sit in front of the screen and learn, that’s harder for students like Fenton.

“Even though his development continues, I think it has slowed down where he could be. That worries me,” added Siebert.

Dana Holcomb is the director of Children’s and Medical Services at Easterseals Crossroads and says therapists and parents are having to get creative with new ways of engaging kids. For example, teaching how to communicate their needs in a real-world setting as opposed to a classroom setting with time restraints.

Holcomb says the real-world setting does put extra pressure on parents, but both women agree academic expectations need to be adjusted during the pandemic.

And, maybe that’s alright.

“There are so many factors that influence a child’s ability to move forward that I’m not ready to say ‘because of this interruption in service, this individual will never be able to reach their full potential,” added Holcomb.

Holcomb also addressed students with disabilities who may not have access to WiFi and offered telephone solutions if necessary, even if insurance may not cover the session.

“The world may have changed, but our value to deliver resources to caregivers and people with needs hasn’t changed,” said  Holcomb, who also notes businesses like Easterseals Crossroads benefit from community support.

As for Fenton, who looked up from drawing circles on his doodle board for just long enough to give the camera a smile: “He’s happy. Education is important, is a priority, but being with family is right up there,” said Siebert.

For more information on serving children with needs during COVID-19, click here.

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Two businesses are launching a joint effort to accelerate the delivery of fiber broadband internet to south-central Indiana.

Ellettsville-based Smithville Communications Inc. and electric cooperative SCI REMC have announced a partnership to get high-speed internet to 3,400 customers around Ellettsville, Lake Monroe, and Gosport.

“Smithville is pleased to partner with SCI REMC for this project,” said Darby McCarty, chairman and chief executive officer of Smithville. “We both serve customers in the same geographic area, so it makes sense to work together to provide service, particularly with the high cost to build in rural areas.”

Even though the two organizations are jointly building the infrastructure, residential and business customers will be able to choose service from either Smithville or SCI REMC.

Both companies will independently market services to customers within the project area.

The two organizations say building separate physical fiber networks represents a costly option.

“By working with Smithville, we are able to meet our electric smart grid needs and ensure businesses and residents have access to world-class high-speed internet in the most expeditious, fiscally responsible way possible,” said James Tanneberger, president and CEO of SCI REMC

SCI REMC, which is based in Martinsville, says it plans to continue building its own fiber network beyond the common service area where members currently don’t have access to high-speed internet.

The project will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by June of 2023.

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Martinsville-based Twigg Corp. has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense. The entity says the contract to build T404 support turbine assemblies was a competitive acquisition with two offers received. 

Twigg Corp. secured the 11-month contract with no option periods. The company employs more than 100 workers and focuses on precision fabrications and supplies both military and commercial aerospace firms.

The work, which is not to exceed $9,270,251, will be done in Indiana and is expected to be completed in June 2023. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation in Philadelphia is the contracting activity.