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RUSHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Missouri-based pet food manufacturer is planning to expand operations to central Indiana. Diamond Pet Foods says it will invest more than $200 million to construct a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Rushville and create more than 170 jobs by 2023. The Rush County Economic Development Corp. says the project is one of the largest private investments in the city’s history.

Diamond Pet Foods manufactures a variety of proprietary and private label pet food products.

The EDC says Rushville was chosen after a competitive site selection process. The company cited the city’s business climate and availability of site-ready development land as reasons for its decision.

“With its proximity to suppliers and customers and access to a high-quality workforce, this facility will allow us to continue offering quality pet foods at competitive prices,” Mark Schell, executive vice president at Diamond Pet Foods, said in a news release. “Diamond is family owned and we look forward to adding to our family in a state that’s considered to be ‘the crossroads of America.’”

Schell says the facility will be Diamond Pet Foods’ sixth manufacturing plant in the U.S. The other facilities are located in Missouri, California, South Carolina and Arkansas.

The major investment includes new machinery and equipment. The EDC says the project remains contingent upon approval of state and local incentives.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 sent $3 billion to Indiana.

The coronavirus relief act’s money was distributed across the state based on population and need. In the beginning, the money was used to buy items not in the budgets of local governments, but then the rules changed and cities, towns and counties found ways to spend the money.

The city of new Castle was allotted $560,000 of coronavirus relief money. They used it to buy essential persona protective equipment, testing supplies, and medical equipment. The money from the federal act had to be used by the end of 2020, and the city later was given permission by Indiana Finance Authority to renovate a building with $90,000 of the cash.

New Castle Mayor Greg York gave I-Team 8 a tour of the facility several months ago. He the city already owned the building and renovated the space to quarantine public safety employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 35 employees who tested positive for the virus, only one actually used the facility. The building is now used for emergency medical training and office space.

The city also spent close to $2,000 dollars of the 2020 federal money to reupholster chairs in a break room with an easy-to-clean vinyl fabric.

Earlier this spring, I-Team 8 showed the drone bought by the city of Rushville with the 2020 federal relief money. The mayor, the parks director and the city special project manager allowed I-Team to attach its camera to Rushville’s drone for a flight around downtown.

Paul Joyce, the state examiner with Indiana State Board of Accounts, said, “I would not have thought originally, ‘Hey, how can you use a drone for this purpose.’ After I first saw it, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) actually created guidelines on using drones for COVID.”

The drone cost $4,657.55 At that time, the city of Rushville had not spent all of the $196,000 allotment of 2020 coronavirus relief. 

Part of Joyce’s job to make sure every dime of the 2020 coronavirus relief act spent in Indiana is accounted for. His office has started the auditing process and has not found any serious issues so far.

Joyce told I-Team 8, though, he does expect to find some issues. If money from the 2020 coronavirus relief act is misused for personal gain, it could be a violation of federal law. 

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A teenage boy died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash near a rural crossroads northeast of Rushville, Indiana State Police said.

The boy was one of two teens in the crash about 10:40 a.m. Tuesday on Rush County Road 350 East just north of County Road 300 N. That’s about 2 miles northeast of Rushville.

Kameron Cox, 16, of Rushville, died in the crash. He was a passenger, state police said.

The name of the 16-year-old driver from Rushville, who had injuries not believed to be life-threatening, is being withheld during the police investigation.

The pair were northbound in a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu on County Road 350 East at a high rate of speed when the car disregarded a stop sign at County Road 300 North and went airborne over the intersection, police said. The car then hit a tree broadside.

Police reconstructed the crash scene.

This story has been corrected to indicate who died in the crash.

News release

Rush County – A single vehicle crash in Rush County this morning claimed the life of a Rushville teen and injured another. Rush County Deputies were called to CR 350E, just north of CR 300N.,  around 10:40 a.m. this morning for a report of a vehicle off the left side of the road into a tree. Two teenage victims were transported from the scene by Rushville EMS to Rush Memorial Hospital.  Deputies then summoned Indiana State Police Crash Reconstruction Investigators to the scene to investigate the crash.

“The preliminary investigation by Master Trooper Tom Schwendenman indicates that the 2006 Chevy Malibu, driven by a 16 year old male from Rushville, was north bound on CR 350 E. at a high rate of speed when the vehicle disregarded the stop sign at CR 300 N. and went air born over the intersection.

“The driver lost control of the car with it leaving the left side of CR 350 E. and hitting a tree broadside.  The passenger, Kameron Cox, age 16 of Rushville, was ejected from the vehicle.  Cox later succumbed to his injuries at Rush Memorial Hospital. The male driver was transported with non-life-threatening injuries. 

“The name of the driver is currently being withheld as the crash remains under investigation. The family of the decedent have been notified. Master Trooper Schwendenman was assisted by Crash Reconstruction Investigators Master Trooper Coley McCutcheon, and Trooper Mark Hanna, the Rush County Sheriff’s Department, Rushville EMS and the Glenwood Fire Department.”

Indiana State Police news release

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Florida-based Cormo USA says it has secured a 108,000-square-foot facility in Rushville that will serve as its first U.S. production site. The company says it has begun initial site improvements and hiring, which will continue through the early summer.

The company is leasing the facility, which will be used to convert corn stover, a crop residue, into value-added products including a sustainable peat moss substitute and a foam-like construction material.

Cormo says the continued improvements to the facility and additional local hires will ensure the plant is ready for equipment installation before the 2020 corn harvest.

“This facility is strategically located in one of the most innovative agricultural areas in the U.S. and Indiana is a major hub for transportation and business, setting Cormo USA up with all the tools it needs to thrive in the long-run,” said Stefan Muehlbauer, chief executive officer of Cormo parent Sustainable Projects Group. “We’re extremely grateful to the City of Rushville and all those involved who helped make this a realization, and we look forward to launching production this fall.”

Cormo says the facility will serve as an interim location for its Rushville operations. The company is continuing plans to build its own plant in the Rushville Commerce Park, with groundbreaking expecting to take place in the spring of 2021.

When plans for the facility were first announced in May 2019, Cormo said it was investing $30 million in the project, which would create up to 250 jobs by the end of 2023.

Pastor acquitted in molestation case

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A former pastor was found not guilty in a molestation case that made national headlines.

Jurors acquitted Garry Evans, 74, on all 14 counts of child molestation, sexual battery and child solicitation after hearing two weeks of testimony.

The jury deliberated Friday for less than an hour before returning their “not guilty” verdict in Rush County Circuit Court.

Evans had refused to accept a plea deal and insisted on taking the case to trial, he and his defense attorneys said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with News 8.

“I’ve been trapped for two years, not able to get out of my house,” Evans said, describing the turmoil that followed his October 2017 arrest. “I was gone at prison for seven months… innocent, knowing that I did not do it. It hurt real bad and it’s still hurting.”

Jud McMillin, the lead defense attorney, said he was “petrified” of taking the case to trial despite “full confidence” in his client’s innocence.

“We can preach all day about the presumption of innocence [but] we’re starting a 100-yard race 50 yards behind when the jurors are brought in and they’re told these types of allegations,” he told News 8. “So it was the scariest trial I’ve ever done.”

Authorities began investigating Evans in 2017 after police claimed a 3-year-old girl told her mother she was sexually assaulted by the pastor.

Four additional girls — two pairs of sisters — accused Evans of inappropriate contact after authorities urged church parents to speak with their children about “good touch [versus] bad touch,” according to the defense.

A final girl came forward in November 2017 with claims similar to the initial accuser. 

The six alleged victims were all between 3 and 7 years old. 

The case against Evans was built on misinterpreted hearsay and “confirmation bias,” according to McMillin.

The first girl described a different perpetrator; made the initial outcry when her mother was in the shower and couldn’t clearly hear her; and failed to accurately describe Evans during a police interview, the defense claimed.

In recorded interviews obtained by News 8, a woman questioning the 3-year-old can be heard asking, “Do you know what color his hair is?”

“Brown,” she replies; the pastor has gray and white hair.

Video footage of the same interview shows the child looking through a photo line-up and repeatedly failing to identify Evans.

“Despite putting the pastor as [suspect] number five right in front of her, she never picks him out,” McMillin said. “They ask her 19 direct times.”

Defense attorneys questioned the credibility of the next four accusers. The sisters in each pair of siblings told “almost identical stories,” as if they had been coached, McMillin said.

Details in the final accuser’s story did not appear to fit the prosecution’s narrative, he said, and did not initially involve spending time in Evans’ office at Rushville Baptist Temple, where the alleged molestation occurred.

“What we were really able to show the jury is that before the investigating officer really knew what was going on, [authorities] made conclusions about what they thought was going on,” McMillin told News 8. “They had this narrative of ‘boogeyman in the closet’ that just wasn’t true.”

Rather than seeking the truth, investigators interpreted new evidence as confirmation of their belief that Evans was guilty, the defense alleged.

“I’ve been found not guilty but it still hurts,” the former pastor said. “I [feel] like at any moment somebody’s going to come and get me.”

The acquittal did not restore his reputation or help him get his job back, he added.

Evans described his incarceration as “painful.” He and his wife, Gay, were separated for the first time in their 53-year marriage during his prison stint. He received so many letters from his family — including his 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren — fellow inmates nicknamed him “The Mailbox.”

Evans and McMillin said Tuesday they had not ruled out the possibility of civil action but had not yet taken formal steps toward filing suit.

“I know a lot of folks who’d sit back and say, ‘Well, I would certainly sue!’ But a lot of people just want it over,” McMillin said. “They don’t want to continue to stir the pot.”

Lead investigators and prosecutors did not immediately respond to requests for comment from News 8.

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Police are investigating a shooting at the Country Mark gas station in Rushville.

A man was shot in the stomach and flown to St. Vincent Hospital. 

Investigators say the man went into the store Saturday night and became verbally aggressive toward store workers and another shopper. 

Witnesses told police the fight escalated and became physical.

Witnesses say the other shopper took out a gun and shot the man once.

On Sunday, Rushville police said they were interviewing witnesses, and they believe alcohol was a factor. 

The Rush County Prosecutor’s Office will make a final charging decision in this case. 

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The latest Indiana city to equip their police with body cameras: Rushville.

Officers started wearing the cameras a week ago. Chief Craig Tucker said the first person arrested with a Rushville body cam rolling accused the officer of stealing from him.

“We were able to go back and look at the video and immediately see that that was not the case,” Tucker said. “That was just a tactic to try to defer their conviction.”

The new tools cost $100,000, which includes software. Tucker said the city will be paying for half the bill and the rest will come from grants and donations.

The chief said Rushville’s 12 officers wear cameras during their shifts and each police car is equipped with an additional three cameras.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Poilce Department ran a body cam pilot in 2015 but the department has not returned to the cameras. Department leaders said they continue to research body cameras.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett — who grew up in Rushville — has expressed both support and apprehension.

“Body cams, dash cams, all of that would be great, but at what cost?” Hogsett said at a news conference in the summer. “It’s difficult to provide everyone with body cameras.”

Tucker said the Rushville cameras are waterproof, high-definition and durable.

He said officers are required to turn the cameras on when responding to a call or conducting traffic stops and other “self-initiated activity.”

Rushville is about 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A 72-year-old pastor already facing several counts of child molestation is in trouble with the law again.

Rushville Police Chief Craig Tucker said tensions are rising after a string of angry, sometimes threatening phone calls left by family members of this pastor.

Garry Evans and his wife, Gay, were arrested for trespassing on his son’s property.

The police chief said it’s fortunate no one got hurt, but those threatening voicemails left for Evans’ son by members of his own family are causes for concern.

The family is split by the accusations against Garry Evans.

“It continues to be strange and a bit out of the usual from what we’re used to dealing with here,” Tucker said.

Garry Evans is accused of several counts of child molestation from his time as pastor at Rushville Baptist Temple, where his name is now gone.

Evans went to the home of one of his sons, whose girlfriend told the pair to leave.

When they didn’t, police said the girlfriend brought out her gun.

“Mrs. Evans reached in, according to the complainant, to take the firearm from her,” Tucker said.

Police said this woman had to take a bat to get Evans and his wife off the property. It was enough for Rushville police to arrest Evans and his wife for trespassing.

“Anytime there’s a firearm at play it’s quite serious. There could have been great potential for any one of these participants to be harmed as a result of the firearm being in play,” the police chief said.

Gay Evans bonded out of jail, but Garry Evans remained in jail Thursday due to his other charges.

This week’s arrest did not sit well with some of Garry Evans family.

Relatives left several voicemails for the son, who shunned his parents entering his home. They were posted on Facebook. Some were angry while others more alarming.

It’s a case that has scarred the town, one that brings out emotions. Chief Tucker said safety is priority one.

“Just stay calm and let the courts do what they need to do put this through its paces,” he said.

Evans next court appearance is scheduled for March on his child molestation charges.

Tucker said more molestation charges are possible with more girls coming forward recently.

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A Rushville pastor who has previously been charged with child molestation was arrested along with his wife for trespassing Monday.

The incident happened when 72-year-old Garry Evans and his wife 70-year-old Gay Evans came to the residence of a woman in the 400 block of North Main Street looking for a family member that they believed to be inside the home.

The woman then told the two that they were not welcome on the property. The couple reportedly refused to leave and demanded to speak to who they were looking for. The woman then went to retreive a firearm after she felt threatened by the couple. She told the couple to leave again, and had Gay attempt to take the gun away from her.

After the woman locked herself inside the residence, she observed Garry and Gay looking into a vehicle that was on the property. She then proceeded to chase the couple away from the property with a baseball bat.

The couple were soon found and placed into custody. Garry Evans faces one charge of criminal trespass while his wife faces charges of trespass and resisting arrest after officials said she became “verbally abusive and physically resistant” toward officers.

Officials said the woman who filed the police report has received threatening messages and calls stemming from the arrests of the Garry and Gay.

As last reported, Garry is still listed as the pastor at Rushville Baptist Temple Church despite facing multiple counts of child molestation and solicitation charges.

Evans was accused of molesting three girls in ages 3 to 7.

He later had to be brought to an Indianapolis hospital after attempting to take his own life in November.

According to online records, Evans has a jury trial scheduled for March 20 in connection to those charges.

RUSHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An Indiana pastor appears to still be the leader of his church despite the child molestation and solicitation charges he faces and his attempt to take his own life after additional charges came down on Friday.

Garry Evans is listed as pastor on the sign in front of Rushville Baptist Temple Church, and now people living doors away want to know why no one from the church is speaking out.

“It’s wrong. Pure evil. There’s evil in that church,” said Tim Guck, who lives next door.

The man the church says leads their worship has led the Rushville Police Department down a frightening path of child molestation allegations.

In October, 14 counts were filed against him, and another two filed on Friday when authorities say a 6-year-old came forward with child molesation claims. But neighbors of the church building said Evans continued to preach after the charges in October, when he got out on bail.

“The church is saying they back him, and they don’t believe children,” said Carrie Simmeron, who lives down the block.

After Friday’s charges, Evans tried to take his own life at his Rushville home. He had to be flown to IU Health Methodist Hospital.

24-Hour News 8 reached out to the hospital multiple times for information on Evans’ condition but did not hear back on Friday or Saturday.

“I don’t understand it. I don’t get the whole ordeal. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Guck.

Police said there are six victims between the ages of 3 and 7, and that the abuse happened within the last few years inside his churches’ walls.

These allegations stopped the Simmermon family from trying out the church a few doors down from their home.

“Especially since I have little ones,” said Carrie Simmermon. “I wouldn’t want to take that chance.”

Police couldn’t charge Evans in connection with other victims who claimed abuse from 30 years ago.

“That’s why I say it needs to be shut down as a common nuisance, because I believe they’re all in on it. I mean why would they have his name up there?” said Guck.

A lawyer representing the church did not respond to 24-Hour News 8’s request for comment. The church appeared empty on Saturday while a community remains in the dark.

If he is released from the hospital, a judge said Evans must consent to GPS monitoring.

Evans’ pretrial hearing is set for November 28.