Make your home page

PERU, Ind. (AP) — A north central Indiana mayor has resumed his duties after a judge found him able to again perform his job after suffering an April heart attack that sidelined him.

Miami Circuit Judge David Cox ruled this week that Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt is able to perform the duties of the city’s executive office after hearing testimony from Hewitt and considering a letter from the mayor’s cardiologist.

The 70-year-old, first-term mayor resumed his duties Tuesday, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

Hewitt said he believed he was able to return to his duties and City Attorney Dustin Kern filed a letter from the cardiologist stating the doctor believed Hewitt was able to return to work.

“I feel fantastic,” Hewitt said. “I think it’s great that I get to go back to do what the people have elected me to do.”

Hewitt suffered a heart attack April 29. Peru City Council President Patricia Russell was appointed as acting mayor May 18 after a judge deemed Hewitt unfit for office. At that time, Russell testified that Hewitt had recently been taken off a ventilator but had trouble speaking and writing, so he couldn’t conduct official business.

Hewitt said he was in intensive care for 26 days, followed by another month in a hospital and rehabilitation.

“I’m feeling better every day,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt’s term runs through 2023.

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Grissom Air Reserve Base in Bunker Hill is in the running to serve as a Main Operating Base for the nation’s newest refueling planes for the U.S. Air Force, which would bring 175 jobs to the region. The Miami County Economic Development Authority says Indiana’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force urging him to consider Grissom.

Miami County EDA Executive Director Jim Tidd tells Inside INdiana Business that Grissom is one of six reserve banks being considered for the KC-46A Pegasus mid-air refueling and transport aircraft.

If selected, it would be the first active-duty Air Force unit at Grissom since it was changed to a reserve base in 1994.

Tidd says the decision would bring 12 aircraft and 175 active-duty airmen and supporting staff to the community. The new planes would replace the older KC-135 Stratotankers, which currently reside at the airbase in Miami County.

The letter, which was signed by seven U.S. representatives and both senators, said Grissom is “an optimal facility” to host the planes.

“Grissom allows for superior mission effectiveness with proximity to refueling tracks and airspace availability. The base boasts ample capacity to support additional aircraft, including hangar, runway and ramp capacity, and is located in an exceptionally low-cost area with minimal environmental concerns,” stated the letter.

The letter also points to a recently installed fuel hydrant system that is compatible with the new plane.

Tidd says a coalition of communities, chambers of commerce and economic development officials are collaborating with the 434rd Wing commander to present their case to the Air Force.

Tidd says the base must file its report to the Air Force by July 25. A selection is expected by October 1.

The USAF says site surveys of each candidate base will be conducted this summer and will be assessed on operational requirements, potential impacts to missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.

The other bases under consideration are Beale Air Force Base, California, Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Field Washington, Maryland, March ARB, California, Niagara Falls ARB, New York, and Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A sign now adorns the side of a nondescript building at the Grissom Aeroplex business park in Bunker Hill that gives passersby a slight indication of the life-changing medical work that will be conducted inside. Life sciences company AZIsotopes Corp. has begun running tests on its massive cyclotron in the facility along U.S. 31 in Miami County where the company will produce medical isotopes.

The isotopes are used in a variety of applications, including diagnostic imaging and therapeutic treatment of cancer.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Greg Brooksby said, the company plans to start delivery of the radiopharmaceuticals this summer.

“It is up and functional. It is not producing product yet, but there are a lot of steps you have to go through to certify one of these machines,” said Brooksby. “We will be… probably making product in June, July and shipping product out in July, August. We are right on pace.”

The company acquired a 55,000-square-foot shell building in 2019 and is spending $45 million to outfit a portion of the building with two 70-ton magnets that rearrange atomic particles to create isotopes.

“We can diagnose problems inside your body, like with cardiovascular system, arteries, so on and so forth. But we can also create isotopes to treat cancer,” said Brooksby. “We’re creating isotopes that are the leading isotopes for prostate cancer, working on some for brain cancer, or working on multiple different types of cancer.”

While the company is still working to get the system operational and is fine-tuning its systems, Brooksby says demand is already weighing heavily on the company.

“Right now, if we had seven of these machines just like this today, we would not be able to meet demand in the U.S. as it is. That’s seven of these machines. That’s how high the demand is,” said Brooksby.

Brooksby says being located adjacent to the Grissom Air Reserve Base and its 12,000-foot-long runway will help the company serve its international clientele.

“We’ve got demand coming out of Australia and Europe. And they are willing to charter planes to fly to our facility. And they love the fact that we have that access to that airstrip. And this goes back to what Indiana has done for us,” said Brooksby.

The machine was manufactured in Belgium and was shipped to the U.S, arriving via ship at the Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor. Then it made the 100-mile overland trip to the business park in Bunker Hill.

Brooksby says the project almost came to a halt when COVID-related travel restrictions were implemented, delaying a team of experts traveling from Belgium where the apparatus was manufactured.

He credits Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN. 2nd dist.) for helping to clear the path.

“She says, “what can we do for you.’ I said we will grind to a complete halt if we can’t bring in people from Europe. Their people have to be at our facility to put this together or we’re done,” said Brooksby.

Brooksby says AZI considered establishing operations in Arizona and in the Washington DC suburb of Herndon, Virginia, but determined Indiana’s talent pool offered the support the company needed to establish its world headquarters.

“One of the drawbacks from Arizona is I found out that I would have to relocate about 90% of my resources to the Arizona area. When I looked at Indiana, I don’t think I’ve taken one person from out of state. Everyone else is from Indiana. It’s the health sciences background here in Indiana. We have Notre Dame. We have Purdue. We have IU. We have a great draw of resources and with medical focus in the area.”

AZI acquired 20 acres with its initial purchase with the option of acquiring another 80 acres, which Brooksby feels will be needed.

He says like the magnetic power generated by the cyclotron, he expects AZI could attract other life sciences companies to Miami County

“I would expect to see in five to 10 years, another three or four buildings the size of the buildings we have with a minimum of seven to ten tenants. And I’m not talking about small tenants, I’m talking worldwide manufacturers with solutions in the medical field.”

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.

MIAMI COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Governor Eric Holcomb announced Friday that offenders at the Miami Correctional Facility are producing personal protective equipment that will be used in the fight against COVID-19. Inmates at the prison are producing hundreds of face masks and personal protection gowns per day, as well as 12-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

The Indiana Department of Correction says its Indiana Correctional Industry production lines shifted to PPE production after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state. 

“Our team is very good at adapting,” said Patrick Rich, sales and marketing manager for Indiana Correctional Industry. “Whatever our directors ask us to do, ask our facilities to do, they do a very good job of responding to that need. We all understand the importance of what we’re doing today and in the day’s to come because this is an important and vital role to public safety that we are being a part of.”

The governor’s office says the equipment being made at the facility will be used by first responders and other DOC facilities to allow traditional PPE to remain available for healthcare workers.

“I’m pleased to have the Department of Correction joining the ranks of Hoosier businesses, large and small, stepping forward in the fight against COVID-19,” Holcomb said in a news release. “Production of these items will lessen the strain on the supply chain, leaving more of these products available for Hoosiers.”

The DOC says it plans to repurpose another production line at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to expand production.

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business)- For the first time in 15 years, an airshow will be presented this weekend at the Grissom Air & Space Expo. The United States Air Force aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, will headline the north central Indiana event alongside other military and civilian aviation acts during the two-day expo.

Officials says the event is expected to attract a large crowd. The last show in 2003 is reported to have had an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. 

“We’ve got an aggressive team working diligently to ensure we put on the best show possible,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th ARW commander. “We’ve been laying the foundation for this event for six months already, working behind the scenes, getting paperwork in place to ensure we are doing things right.”

The show will run September 7 and 8. The event is free and open to the public. 

For more information, click here.

PERU, Ind. (AP) — Schneider Electric says it will close a factory in northern Indiana, affecting 306 workers.

Mayor Gabe Greer says the closing of Schneider’s Square D site will have a “huge impact” on Peru. The company has cut more than 120 jobs since 2017.

The Kokomo Tribune reports that the Peru plant makes switchgear and switchboard apparatus, 85 miles north of Indianapolis. The company says production is being shifted to other states and Mexico.

Schneider says the decision is in “response to competitive market dynamics and to meet the needs” of customers.

Workers are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Spokesman Tim Reimke says union officials were “blindsided” by the announcement Friday. He says the union and the company plan to meet this week.

PERU, Ind. (WISH) – There’s a legend the woods near the Mississinewa River in Peru are haunted. People talk about how visitors will hear a small child scream as if she is being tortured; supposedly, it is a 7-year-old girl named Stephanie.

According to Jeff King, an investigator with Truth Seekers Paranormal Investigations and the Miami County Historical Society, Stephanie and the eight bodies found on the property are just a myth.

The stories of an Indian burial ground nearby are true, and so were the uneasy feelings felt while visiting.  King brought along some tools to help with the investigation, something called a K2 meter. It’s a go-to for every reputable paranormal investigator, whether they’re a starter or at the professional level. 

For the scary part, everything starts in the dirt circle at the end of County Road 510 East.  From there, the trails go in all different directions. As News 8 photographer Marcus Collins and I went into the woods, something strange happened. Marcus noticed his microphone, the same mic he had just put brand new batteries in, is giving him static and problems. 

King spoke to the spirits to try and entice them out.

“We’ve noticed some interference with the camera,” said King. “We would love to hear from you, Marcus would love for you to say his name.” 

But nothing happens.  At one point, King points out the old Indian burial ground. I decided to head that way by myself to try and entice the ghosts to show up. After a few minutes, nothing was showing up on our K2 meter. Although, I didn’t get any definitive proof that day, the feeling surrounding those woods is something I will never forget.

BUNKER HILL, Ind. (WISH) – A 14-year-old boy is in police custody after he was found with two knives and a replica handgun that fires rubber bullets Monday afternoon at Maconaquah High School, authorities said. 

The Miami County Sheriff’s Office said in a fax that investigators believe the boy was waiting behind the school to make contact with a female student who is a former acquaintance of his. 

A school maintenance worker initially confronted the boy and ordered the child to place the replica handgun, which was in a holster, on the ground. The boy complied, and school officials subsequently surrounded him prior to the arrival of police. 

The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. The boy is a resident of Miami County, the fax said. It did not give the boy’s name. 

The release did not say where the boy was being held on a pending charge of carrying a weapon on school property. The Marion County Prosecutor’s and Probation offices were part of the investigation, the fax said. 

Bunker Hill is about 55 miles north of Indianapolis and near Grissom Joint Air Reserve Base.

MIAMI COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — While conducting a narcotics operation along U.S. 31, authorities in central Indiana confiscated a range of illegal drugs, including orange ecstasy pills that bear the likeness of President Donald Trump and read “GREAT AGAIN.”

Authorities made 129 arrests on 272 drug-related charges over six days of patrols on U.S. 31, working across nine agencies in Operation Blue Anvil.

From June 19-21 and 26-28, officers with Indiana State Police, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, the Logansport Police Department, the Peru Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Wabash County Sheriff’s Office, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and the Rochester Police Department conducted patrols to catch people using the road to transport and distribute illegal narcotics there, state police said in a release.

Officers located cocaine, heroin, LSD, meth, marijuana and marijuana edibles, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy and prescription medications. Of the 272 drug-related charges, 48 were felonies. They also issued 193 traffic citations and made three arrests for driving while impaired. 

If you have any information about the possession, distribution or selling of illegal narcotics, state police ask you to call your local law enforcement or report anonymously by calling the Indiana State Police Drug and Gang Hotline at 1-800-453-4756.

In 2017, police in Germany seized around 5,000 similar pills.