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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Slab bridges are small.

The bridges consist of slabs of concrete that sit low.

The reinforced structures sit so low that it makes it easier for water to pass over them when floodwaters are high. 

The bridges are being called in question after the death of Carol Jackson on a slab bridge near Peppertown, Indiana, about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Floodwaters swept away Jackson’s car Monday. Police found Jackson’s car Tuesday; hours later crews found Jackson’s body 2 miles downstream. 

There is a warning sign near the Franklin County bridge; however, vandals spray-painted over the sign.

It’s unclear if Jackson was familiar with the bridge.

Slab bridges are found across Indiana. They are typically over creeks and low bodies of water. 

Indiana state Sen. Jean Leising lives in Franklin County. During a Wednesday interview, Leising said major improvements have been made to the roads and bridges in the county. But, she admitted, more work needs to be done. 

“It is a statewide problem for county roads and county bridges,” the Republican senator from Oldenburg said.

Leising pointed to the state’s Community Crossing grant program. The grant is a partnership between the Indiana Department of Transportation and cities, towns and counties. The grant allows communities to make suggestions to improve their roads and bridges. Community Crossings is a partnership between INDOT and Hoosier communities, both urban and rural, to invest in infrastructure projects that catalyze economic development, create jobs and strengthen local transportation networks.

Currently. there is no word if any changes are in the works for the Pipe Creek Road bridge. Franklin County commissioners did not immediately respond Wednesday night to find out about possible improvements to that stretch.

PEPPERTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – After a search over two days, the body of 63-year-old woman whose car was swept away Monday by floodwaters on a bridge was found, the Franklin County sheriff said late Tuesday afternoon. 

The vehicle, a gray Chrysler car, was found Tuesday morning, an Indiana Department Natural Resources officer said Tuesday afternoon. He said the body of Carol Jackson was found about 2 miles downstream about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

Jackson is from Clarksburg, a community in Decatur County, the sheriff said. She is the wife of a local pastor.

Firefighters from Oldenburg and Brookville fire department were joined by an Indiana State Police helicopter and state conservation officers in the search for Jackson and the car she was driving. Rescuers had coordinated efforts from the Eagle Fire Company in Oldenburg. 

Pete Cates, who is on his first day on the job as Franklin County sheriff, said Jackson was first reported missing about 6:30 p.m. Monday. The conservation officer said a 911 call came from Jackson’s husband, who had received a call from his wife as the car was moving in the floodwaters. 

It is believed Jackson’s car was swept away as it went over a concrete slab bridge over Pipe Creek on Pipe Creek Road near Walnut Creek Road. That’s about a mile from Peppertown and 5 miles northeast of Oldenburg. A sign at the bridge is covered by graffiti.  

Tuesday evening, members of Clarksburg Christian Church held a vigil for the Jackson family. They said Jackson loved to teach the word of God to children. The pastor’s wife had served the community with her husband for more than a decade. Jackson and her husband have six children. 

“They have a deep abiding faith in Christ, they know where she is, they grieve, but they grieve with hope, and we grieve with them,” said family friend Chris Beaumont. 

Flood warnings for creeks remained in effect Saturday for parts of southeastern Indiana after moderate rain on Friday, said Storm Track 8 Chief Meteorologist Ashley Brown. 

Peppertown is about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Have you ever heard of a pharmacy desert? You might be living in the middle of one and not even realize it.

In a couple weeks, state law will change to try to combat the issue.

Brenda Stutz depends on prescriptions daily. At the John H. Boner Community Center in Indianapolis, she said her prescriptions are “very important. I have a lot of physical issues.”

It isn’t easy for her to get to her closest pharmacy. “Being that I’m physically handicapped and can’t stand the heat, especially in the summertime, it is very difficult for me to get back and forth to the pharmacy.”

Lonavee Phelps relies on her meds, too. The 82-year-old gets her medicine via home delivery, but her friends count on her to drive them to the pharmacy because it’s too far to walk.

Without her car, Phelps said, “It would be very hard. I’d have to walk. I’d have to walk that mile there and back.” 

Pharmacy deserts caught Indiana lawmakers’ attention, too. In two weeks, a law goes into effect that urges lawmakers to create a summer study to address pharmacy deserts. The study, some lawmakers hope, will lead to more pharmacies across the state. 

State Rep. Karen Engleman is a Republican from Georgetown, a town of 3,200 people about 7 miles northwest of Louisville, Ky. Engleman said, “There are a lot of pharmacy deserts. People on medication a lot of times aren’t able to go a long distance. Some of them can’t drive and they have no way to get their medicine. So, this is a very good bill.” 

State Sen. Jean Leising is a Republican from Oldenburg, a town of 650 people about 25 miles northwest of Cincinnati. She said, “I represent a large rural district, so anything we can do to make life simpler for individuals, is always beneficial.” 

The law specifically mentions neighborhoods with at least 25 percent of people below the poverty level in urban and rural areas

State Sen. Michael Crider, a Republican from the city of Greenfield, about 7 miles east of Indianapolis, said, “It’s a challenge in some areas as you see businesses move out. In other areas, you see pharmacies right across the street from each other. The goal is to balance that out well.”

The law is good news for Carol Bonner-Mundy, who has lived with blindness for 15 years. She said she believes the summer study will help.

Mundy said, “I think everyone needs their medicine. It’s very important.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Thursday listed more than 25 children as missing in Indiana. 

In two weeks, a new state law takes effect to allow children with special needs to be included in the state’s Silver Alert system for missing people.

A report said 48 Silver Alerts were issued in 2017. When you hear the term “Silver Alert,” you might think, for example, of an older adult with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder and the most common form of dementia. 

A bill from State Rep. Sharon Negele that became a law expanded the Indiana Silver Alert definition by adding “missing and endangered child.” 

The Republican from Attica said, “When we say ‘missing endangered child’ in the state of Indiana, we’re talking about a child that is incapable of returning to their residence without assistance because of mental illness, intellectual disabilities or another physical or mental disability.” 

Negele created the bill after a parent came to her saying a 15-year old son with autism wandered away from a facility. “There was no alert mechanism in place for his unique situation. They went through four days of trying to get an alert out, a quite traumatic event and they eventually found him.” 

So, what about children 2 or 3 years old who disappear from home but don’t fit the new Silver Alert definition or live with special needs?  

Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said, “Get in that area and saturate that area for a search. Maybe they don’t necessarily actually qualify for a Silver Alert as a different platform. We will still utilize every resource we have.” 

Perrine said police said they are covered, “whether that be helicopters, drones, search teams, all public safety. Get as many people as we can to start that search for that missing child.”

As to why the new law does not loop in those children, Negele said local police usually find them very quickly. “We know that there are children who wander away from home at a very young age and it does happen probably much more frequently. We also know these situations are resolved more quickly. It hasn’t been found to be appropriate to put into one of these alert systems because local police are able to resolve these issues very quickly.” 

An emotional support peacock or rattlesnake? How about an emotional support tarantula?

There’s a new state law on the books meant to cut down on emotional support animal fraud.

Emotional support animals are used by people dealing with all kinds of issues.

Sally Irvin, founder of the Indiana Canine Assistance Network said Thursday that emotional support animals are “where the presence and comfort of that animal can provide relief of anxiety, relief of depression, relief even of a physical mobility impairment.”

But, there are fakers out there.

State Sen. Jean Leising, a Republican from Oldenburg, said, “There was an apartment owner in the Lafayette area that had someone come in that had two cats and 10 rats. They said they were their emotional support animals. That’s how far and extreme it has gotten.”

Which is why Leising created the bill that Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into state law. Leising said, under the new law, if someone’s disability isn’t obvious, their potential landlord can ask them for written proof from a doctor or licensed health care provider that they need the animal.

“I’m hopeful that it will eliminate people from trying to say that two cats and 10 rats are needed for them, because it doesn’t make sense,” Leising said.

Irvin founded the Indiana Canine Assistance Network, which trains accredited service animals. She called the law “a huge step in a good direction.”

Leising said, “I don’t think anyone that has a true emotional support dog, for instance, is going to have a problem getting documentation from their health care provider.”

Irvin said she believes the new law stops people from using legit-looking emotional support animal registry websites, where you pay a few bucks and get a letter that looks real.

“The bill does something pretty magnificent,” Irvin said. “They said when you get a letter from your doctor or nurse practitioner or psychologist, it needs to be someone that has an ongoing relationship with you.”

Irvin said she hopes the new law brings some peace of mind.

“Hopefully, this bill will allow legitimate users of an emotional support animal some security in knowing the ones that are not playing by the rules are not going to be there to disrupt their dog.”

The new law takes effect July 1.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The fight over a controversial bill involving industrial hemp resumed Thursday in the Indiana Senate.

Senators on the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee signaled their support for the bill, but it wasn’t a clean sweep.

Several people testified before the committee. Some said they don’t want Indiana to miss out on what could be a multimillion-dollar hemp industry.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, said, “HB (House Bill) 1137 opens up an entire new industry here in Indiana,” by allowing Hoosier farmers to grow hemp and make hemp products.

Kentucky farmer John Furnish testified to the committee. He said he watches plant tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels at his hemp farm. He’s chairman of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission and president of the nonprofit U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

Furnish told the committee, “On my family farm, we’ve grown 1,000 acres. We’ve harvested 996 acres. We’ve destroyed 4 acres because of high THC. We’re welcome to do that because it naturally happens in the plant.”

Steve Bevan, President of GenCanna in Winchester, Kentucky, also testified. His company grows and harvests hemp products. He said, “Hemp is everything except THC. You take the scary part away, the thing that everyone’s afraid of, the psychoactive stuff.”

Gregg Baumbaugh, CEO of Flexform Technologies, testified how his Elkhart manufacturing company imports industrial hemp and other natural fibers to make nonwoven composite mats and panel products for vehicles. “With us having to pay a small fortune to ship the material here, we’d much rather have it grown locally, processed locally.”

In the end, the committee voted 8-3 on the bill. It now goes to the full Senate. It passed the House 90-0 on Jan. 31.

Some lawmakers Thursday voiced concerns about the legality of some of the bill’s specifics; namely, how it would be enforced and seen in the eyes of the federal government.

The measure got a “no” vote from State Sen. Jean Leising, a Republican from Oldenburg. She said cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, is one of the main reasons she opposed the bill.

“Federal law still says CBD oil, like marijuana, is still a Schedule 1 substance, which means it’s treated like an illegal drug,” Leising said. “There’s no science backing CBD oil as a medicine. That concerns me because I was a nurse by profession.”

OLDENBURG, Ind. — Three people and a dog have died after a small plane crashed near Oldenburg, which is about 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati.

The crash happened in the 5000 block of North Hamburg Road.

Indiana State Police confirmed the deaths in a tweet Saturday night. ISP and the FAA will jointly handle the investigation.

Details have not been released on what caused the crash.

Authorities said the plane was traveling from Missouri to Maryland.

A second dog that survived the crash was taken to a local veterinarian to treat its injuries.

An autopsy will be performed on the victims on Monday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A state senator said Monday she plans to again author a bill to require the teaching of cursive writing in elementary schools.

State Sen. Jean Leising, a Republican from Oldenburg, filed a cursive writing bill each year for the last six years, and all six have passed the Senate. The bill consistently dies in the House of Representatives, where the education chairman believes the decision is best left to local officials.

Leising, in a news release Monday, pointed out a voluntary survey this year by the Indiana Department of Education showing 70 percent of teachers, principals and superintendents surveyed supported mandatory teaching of cursive writing. The survey, which had more than 3,800 participants, was released Friday.

“Cursive writing is a skill everyone should have, as we use our signature to make purchases, validate our driver’s license and sign agreements,” Leising said in the release. “I hope the results of this survey will help my bill finally get a hearing in the House of Representatives.”

State school officials decided to make cursive lessons optional in 2011. Leising has proposed her legislation each year since.

Opponents of the bill say a mandate would be micromanagement, while supporters say cursive writing is important.