Make your home page

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A van carrying young athletes collided with a backhoe Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 52, injuring three people, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office says.

The backhoe driver, Edward Shelley, 80, of Thorntown, was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

From the van, a juvenile, who was not identified, and its driver, Sara Edwards, 19, of Lafayette, were taken to hospitals with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. The other van passengers, who ranged in age from 14-19, were not injured.

U.S. 52 remained closed at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The road was expected to reopen by 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

About 4 p.m. Tuesday, investigators believe the backhoe was going east and crossing U.S. 52 at County Road 650 North when it collided with the southbound van. The intersection is about 2 miles east of Thorntown.

Six volleyball players from Lafayette were traveling in the van on the way to the sports complex in Plainfield to play a league game. The players are home-schooled.

A 911 call alerted authorities about the crash. A Thorntown-Sugar Creek Township firefighter, who was not named, was just south of the crash, got to all patients
quickly, and began first aid.

No drugs or alcohol are believed to be involved.

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — A Thorntown couple was found dead Wednesday in their home, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

Boone County Communications Center received a 911 call at an undisclosed time Wednesday from the 200 block of West Main Street in Thorntown, said a news release from the sheriff’s office. The caller said she’d found her father and stepmother dead inside their home.

They were identified as John Gillan, 77, and Sharon Gillian, 78.

No foul play was suspected, but first responders found an unknown odor in the home and contacted utility companies for assistance.

Thorntown Police Department will lead the investigation, the release said.

THORNTOWN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An FFA chapter in Boone County is trying to help people who are struggling to keep food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, the teenagers are helping farmers who have fallen on hard times themselves.

It is called the Milk & Meat for Boone County campaign.

The Western Boone FFA has collected monetary donations. That money is being used to purchase milk and meat, which are then donated to food pantries in the county.

“We’re trying to help our farmers and our community,” said Breanna Wiley, vice president for the Western Boone Co. FFA. “It (the pandemic) has impacted their lives, their jobs, their income. So, food might be an issue. We do not want anyone to go hungry.”

WEBO FFA used $1,000 of its own money to seed the fund. The students are now challenging the community to give $7,500 toward the milk and meat campaign. So far, they have raised $6,000.

The FFA members said it has been a team effort, between seeking donations and contacting and negotiating with meat and milk processors, such as Prairie Farms Dairy, to secure products at a discounted price.

“I had to contact Prairie Farms and Indiana Dairy Association on my own,” explained Audrey Knoper, chapter treasurer for the Western Boone County FFA.

Knoper, a sophomore, is learning important business skills while attending Western Boone High School in Thorntown.

“I had to talk to them, coordinate and calculate how much milk the pantries needed,” said Knoper.

Knoper said the American Dairy Association Indiana is helping WEBO FFA coordinate Prairie Farms’ delivery of 500 gallons milk monthly to the food pantries in Boone County.

The program has even caught the attention of Governor Eric Holcomb who mentioned the effort during one of his press briefings this week.

“They’re raising money to buy milk and meat, and then to supply the local food pantries. Talk about folks stepping up,” said Holcomb. “Of all ages, of all stripes, of all background, (they’re) addressing a central need in that community.”

The milk market has been disrupted by the pandemic with restaurants and schools closed. That weakened demand and created a glut of milk on the market.

While this campaign will not make up for those losses, it does provide these FFA members a chance to say thank you to farmers who have helped them.

“During this difficult time, as they’re struggling, this is our time to stand up and do what we can to help them in return,” said Wiley. “They’ve shown us how to serve our community.”

The dairy industry is generational for Wiley. Her father, grandfather, and great grandfather raised dairy herd. She shows compassion for dairy producers who have hit hard by the pandemic.

“Our effort is to try and help farmers as they’ve helped us for years,” said Wiley. “Their selfless acts have taught us so much.”

Because of financial support from an anonymous donor, the Boone County Farm Bureau and the Boone County 4-H Dairy promoters, monetary gifts will be quadrupled.

For now, WEBO FFA is preparing the program to run for three months.

“If donations keep coming, we’re going to do this as long as we can…because we’ll never know how long the effects of this are going to last,” said Wiley. “And even after that, people getting back on their feet will be difficult.”

Editor’s Note: Donations can be made through the chapter’s Facebook page:

They will also accept checks: mail to Western Boone FFA, attention Lori Keppel, 1205 IN-75, Thorntown, IN 46071. Please make checks out to Western Boone FFA.

83-year-old Korean War veteran from Thorntown to be honored at ‘Shining a Light’ premiere

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) –   The massive downtown display called ‘Shining A Light’ will premiere on Monument Circle Saturday night.

In partnership with Downtown Indy, Visit Indy offered one veteran a chance to win a front-row seat to all the action.

The offer also comes with dinner at St. Elmo Steak House and tickets to Sunday’s Colts game against the Miami Dolphins.

After News 8 aired a story calling for nominations, Visit Indy said more than 250 veterans were nominated.

The winner of the “Shining A Light” veteran giveaway is Normand Marchand of Thorntown, Indiana.

Normand is an 83-year-old father of five. He’s a family man who loves his country, which is evident from the Statue of Liberty that sits on his front lawn surrounded by American flags.

But, it’s not Normand’s decorations which his family is most proud of.

“When my father sees the flag he tears up. He does,” said Normand’s daughter, Nancy Marchand-Martella.

When Marchand-Martella first read about the “Shining A Light” giveaway, she said she immediately thought of her dad.

Marchand-Martella is the Dean of Education at Purdue University.

“I’m a pretty good writer, so I decided to write the essay and nominate him,” Marchand-Martella said.

As for Normand, as his friends and family call him, he said his journey started 65 years ago.

“That’s going back to 1954. I had just turned 18-years-old,” said Normand.

It was the Korean War and Normand had joined the Air Force, specializing in training new fighter jet pilots.

He then spent two years stationed in France.

“We’d go on missions and go to French Morocco places like that,” said Normand.

After being discharged in 1957, Normand met the love of his life at a dance during ladies’ choice.

“My buddies said, they said ‘Norm don’t turn now she’s right behind you,'” Normand recalled.

Shortly after, this veteran worked various jobs in the Navy.

But when bases started to close, the family found themselves in Indianapolis.

Memories of war started to fade.

“We were more involved in other things, we had five kids,” said Annette Marchand.

Twenty years went by before Norm met a member of the Thorntown American Legion while at church who invited Norm to his first veteran event.

Normand was hooked.

This veteran has now spent the last two decades remembering veterans and honoring their families.

“My father has worked hard to learn how to fold the flag and present it to the family with tears in his eyes. He also shoots a rifle during the ceremony in the traditional gun salute,” read Nancy’s nomination.

“The respect you have for these families when you fold the flag and you present the flag, there is nothing better than that,” said Normand, fighting tears.

As part of American Legion Post 218, Normand also speaks around Boone County making sure people there never forget.

“The society has lost the ability to know what they’ve got. And who are the people that stood up for that,” said Norm.

As Veterans Day approaches, Normand and his family are looking forward to celebrating ‘Shining A Light’ and toasting to those who served at St. Elmo Steakhouse – with a cocktail says Norm.

“Maybe a shrimp cocktail,” joked Annette.

To read Nancy’s letter nominating her father, click here.

MECHANICBURG, Ind. (WISH) — A 72-year-old Thorntown farmer was in a hospital Monday after his legs became trapped in a combine harvester in northern Boone County. 

Lloyd C. Hayden was in stable condition at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, said a news release from Boone County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ken Conley. 

Authorities received word about 11:55 a.m. about a person trapped in a combine near 2520 Blubaugh Ave. That’s halfway between I-65 and State Road 39 about five miles north of Lebanon.

Hayden was cutting cane from around rows of corn in front of an approaching combine driven by Thomas J. Ward, 38, of Thorntown. Ward told authorities he was focused on the combine’s corn head — a device that strips the stalks and leaves away from the ears of corn — and did not see Lloyd in his immediate area.

Medics and first responders freed Hayden from the machine, the release said. 

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — If you have not already bought your Christmas tree this holiday season, it could be harder to find and cost you more.

That is because Christmas trees are a matter of supply and demand and this year there supply is less than the demand. Prices across the nation could be up as much as 5 to 10 percent in big box stores.

The reason for this dates all the way back to the Great Recession almost 10 years ago.

“There were less trees bought which means less harvested so those trees weren’t replanted. So those trees continue to grow and grow and eventually they become a size where they’re just not marketable,” said Vice-President of Indiana Farm Bureau Kendell Culp.

Fortunately for Hoosiers, Indiana Farm Bureau stated most tree farmers in the state have not had supply and demand issues and have not had to make drastic changes to their prices.

Dull’s Tree Farm in Thorntown is in their 25th year of selling trees.

“In those 25 years, every year we have sold more trees than the year before so we’re in a steady incline,” said Owner Tom Dull.

He said for every tree that is cut down, they plant another one or two the following spring.

“Last year we reached about 5,000 trees sold and we’re on a schedule to beat that this year. It’s grown way beyond what we ever thought it,” Dull added.

Dull said the business has been going so well that in the last few years they have expanded to pumpkins and corn mazes. During the summer, the farm grows corn and soybeans.

“The real Christmas tree, is the environmentally friendly choice, that’s the one you want to choose. They are renewable, they are recycable,” he said.

Each year about 25 to 30 million real trees are sold in the U.S., according to the National Christmas Tree Association

For a list of Indiana Christmas Tree Farms, click here.

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Three people are in custody after a man was stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver.

The incident happened on Thursday in the 500 block of West Main Street in Thorntown.

20-year-old Ethan Hawkins told authorities he was stabbed in the torso and head by three individuals when he tried to meet up with a woman.

Authorities were able to search the area and detain the suspects shortly after.

Police arrested 18-year-old Jerome Williams, 22-year-old Matt Combs and 23-year-old Alex Ferguson. It was later determined that one of the suspects was dating the woman in question, and wanted to lure the victim to the area to rob him.

All three suspects have been been charged with robbery causing serious bodily injury.

The victim was transported to St. Vincent Health to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – After a foot chase, a known felon is in police custody.

According to police, Dominic Battiato was stopped at Serum Plant Rd. and Hazelrigg Rd in Thorntown on Thursday evening.

Battiato is a felon convicted in multiple cases of theft, stolen identity, intimidation and stolen auto parts.

Police say they had information that the suspect might be armed. When police pulled him over, he left his vehicle and fled on foot.

Two officers pursued and when Battiato turned back toward the officers, one fired and missed.

They continued to chase him until the 5000 block of North Hazelrigg Rd. The suspect was then apprehended with no injuries to anyone.

“This was a collective effort to a hazardous incident, that thankfully ended without anyone being injured,” Marshal Voils, an officer involved in the chase said.

Battiato had multiple felony warrants in Boone, Hendricks and Marion counties.

THORNTOWN, Ind (WISH) – On Monday, 24-Hour News 8 learned a temporary stoplight in Boone County will be made permanent.

Seeing red at the U.S. 52, S.R. 47 intersection in Boone County is something drivers are going to have to get used to.

“It’s so much safer now for the buses, and for the traffic flow, and everything it’s really the best thing that they could ever do,” Thorntown resident Vicki Ranzolph said.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Mulberry resident Dale Newhart said. “It makes it a lot safer through there for sure. People slow down and it’ll be good.”

“I’m extremely happy that (it) showed that it needed to be a permanent structure there,” Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said.

Nielsen has pushed for the light. He said since it went in, there’s only been two minor accidents.

“That traffic signal made a heck of a difference after going up and the numbers that we see proves that that light needs to be there and remain there,” Nielsen said.

The light went up in August, after there was an increase in traffic due to the Interstate 65 detour. INDOT started studying it in October, once drivers got used to it.

Officials said a big factor in keeping the light there was right hand turns. Their studies have shown that when drivers come off S.R. 47 and hit the light, there’s less likely of a chance of an accident when they turn right, unlike the stop sign that was there before.

They also looked at past crash history. From September 2009 until September 2012, there were 30 accidents at the intersection. And now that the light is there, there’s hope the numbers will go down.

“We’ve done what we were supposed to do to try to make sure that those accidents happen at a minimum,” Nielsen said.

INDOT said it could be several weeks before work is complete to make the structure permanent.

THORNTOWN, Ind. (WISH ) – Now that the Interstate 65 detour is over in Boone County, there’s a growing push to keep a temporary traffic light at a problem intersection.

Life has returned to normal for people traveling on U.S. 52 in Boone County. It served as a detour for Interstate 65 northbound.

The four week detour is over, and while the extra vehicles are gone, one thing is left behind creating debate among locals.

“I mean I get we have accidents there sometimes, but with most of that traffic being diverted from 65, now that it’s gone, we have a lot less of an issue with it,” Thortown resident Nathan Bewley said. “And it’s more of an inconvenience.”

“There’s a history with a lot of wrecks out there,” Thorntown resident Charlie Edwards said. “I think it would help, and I think the numbers show that.”

Neighbors are talking about a temporary traffic light. It was added during the detour.

INDOT is currently doing a study to determine if it should stay, which will look at traffic volumes and crash history. Before the light went up during the detour, there were nine accidents at the intersection.

After it went up for more than two weeks, state troopers say there was only one. That’s a big reason why some say the signal needs to stay.

To voice their opinion, an online petition was created. As of Wednesday, there were more than 1,100 signatures, including one from Teresa Burtner.

“I grew up in that area since I was in kindergarten and I lived there through high school and I’ve seen way too many wrecks and the stop light has helped tremendously,” Burtner said.

Burtner says her friend was killed in an accident at the intersection years ago. She’s wanted a light ever since.

And now that it’s there, she hopes it stays. “I don’t want another life to go,” Burtner said.

The Boone County sheriff was vocal about getting the intersection a light during the detour. He tells 24-Hour News 8, he’ll wait to see what the INDOT study will show.

But he is in support of a permanent signal at the intersection. INDOT said the study should take a few weeks.