A1 A1
Obstructed stop sign fixed near crash

A stop sign at the intersection where an accident left an Oak Hill student brain dead was partially obstructed, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

A photo circulating on social media shows tree branches covering a majority of the stop sign that police say Katie Maynus, 18, disregarded when her car collided with a semi tractor trailer June 20. Maynus was reportedly driving southbound on Butler Avenue and did not stop at the intersection with Indiana 18.

The photo includes a makeshift stop sign that residents in the area confirm was placed following the accident. At least four residents in the area, who asked to remain anonymous in fear of retribution, said the intersection sees frequent accidents.

To confirm the photo’s legitimacy, the Chronicle-Tribune asked open-ended questions about the intersection and the photo circulating on social media, and every resident provided information that matched.

Marion Mayor Jess Alumbaugh said the city is not sure who placed the makeshift sign there, but he said his office immediately called INDOT following the crash to alert them of the obstruction since INDOT is responsible for signage that intersects state-owned highways.

Alumbaugh said the city believes that it does not have jurisdiction over the tree that partially blocked the stop sign.

INDOT public relations representative Scott Manning confirmed that INDOT is in charge of placing and maintaining signage at state highway intersections, but he said that the tree in question is not on INDOT-owned property.

“Our maintenance team did confirm that the tree partially blocking the stop sign is outside of INDOT right-of-way,” Manning said in an email Friday.

Alumbaugh said the city street and maintenance department placed a yellow diamond sign, which alerts drivers that a stop sign is ahead, earlier this week.

Crews removed the tree branches, but homeowners in the area say they want to see the trees removed completely because of frequent accidents.

Every resident the Chronicle-Tribune interviewed said they see people run the stop sign daily, and the Chronicle-Tribune witnessed at least three people roll through the intersection within a one-hour span.

At least three trees lining the street show scars from previous accidents, and one home has chunks of cement missing from its steps, which multiple residents say occured from a crash.

Remnants of the crash, like medical gloves, car parts and wrappers, were still visible at the scene Thursday.

The Chronicle-Tribune is currently investigating the numerous complaints homeowners said have been made at the intersection. This story will be updated as more information is made available.

Hopping into business in Gas City

Ever wondered what a “Seinfeld”-themed candle would smell like? How about the Show Friends?

Well over at one of Gas City’s newest businesses, Hopping Candle Creations Co., 219 E. N. D St., co-owner Arin Wensley is using her creativity to provide customers with unique blends of fragrances you can’t find anywhere else.

While her shop stocks the classics – cinnamon, lavender, vanilla, pumpkin – she lets her imagination take charge, she says, making one-of-a-kind smells based on her experiences, like apple orchard, fall flannel, nag champa and tobacco road.

“I love to blend fragrances. That’s a lot of fun, creating a new candle, a new idea. You start with an idea,” Arin said. “I have some that I will be launching soon that are based on pop culture, like ‘90s and ‘80s shows. ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ are two of my favorites, so those are what I’m kind of basing it on.”

Arin and her husband, Marc, opened the shop in the back of their home recently after spending the last two years selling candles and honing their craft at farmers markets and craft shows. They built the business to a point where they sold candles on consignment at other shops, but now the couple have a place of their own.

“It’s kind of a new adventure,” Arin said. “It’s something I never thought we would do.”

What started as a hobby is now a full-time business. Arin said she bought a few books to start out, but now she’s joined a growing movement of businesses opening up in Gas City.

“It’s been exciting. I’m from Gas City originally. I grew up when it was such a tiny town, and it’s grown,” she said. “I used to live in Bloomington, and I loved how there were so many diverse businesses, a lot of interesting quirky things you can find there. I’m starting to see a lot of people starting to do that here, and that’s really neat. I like that.”

Arin studied art at Indiana University before transferring to Ball State to study science and psychology. Now she experiments with different waxes and fragrances while trying to be environmentally friendly.

She said they really push their customers to recycle. They allow customers to bring in their jars for refills at a reduced cost to try and cut down on materials.

Their candles are vegan friendly, Arin says, and they also try to use organic sources of wax, staying away from paraffins, which is petroleum based.

“We are eventually going to launch coconut wax candles,” she said.

The idea for the company’s name came from a self-published children’s book Arin sells at Walmart and Borders called Counting Frogs.

“It just sort of stuck,” she said

Although COVID-19 pushed their plans back on opening, Arin said things have gone well.

“For us it wasn’t as much as it would have been for other businesses that have leases and stuff,” she said. “That’s helped us a lot. We were actually surprised that it hasn’t really affected or hurt us much.”

Liz Adams, Grant County Area Chamber of Commerce marketing and office manager, said her office was happy to welcome the Wensleys into the community by holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

“It was a beautiful day to see everyone and get back in action as we celebrate another new business in the Gas City area,” Adams said. “We can’t wait to see what is next for Hopping Creations Candle Co.”

Habitat for Humanity gets Community Foundation crowdfunding grant

The Community Foundation of Grant County announced that Habitat for Humanity of Grant County has been approved for a Crowdfunding Grant to support the construction of a new Habitat for Humanity home in Grant County.

Habitat has 60-days, ending August 11th, to crowdfund $20,000 for their project.

Habitat is a non-profit housing ministry. They build simple, affordable homes for families in need, and sell them at no profit. Since established in 1993, Habitat has helped 54 Grant County families achieve the dream of homeownership. Habitat’s long-term goal is to build at least one Habitat home per year in Grant County.

Habitat for Humanity of Grant County believes that all hard-working individuals and families should have a safe, affordable place to call home.

“Habitat for Humanity is more than just building homes. Habitat helps build lives, self-esteem and confidence increases tremendously for homeowners once the home becomes theirs. They feel a sense of stability in their lives that had not been present before.” said Mia Erickson, Board Vice President.

Habitat is building more than roofs and walls for partner homeowners. Instead, Habitat sees these homes as a foundation for a better, more stable future for homeowners and their families.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that studies have shown, “homeowners accumulate wealth as the investment in their homes grows, enjoy better living conditions, are often more involved in their communities, and have children who tend on average to do better in school and are less likely to become involved with crime”.

Habitat homes and Habitat homeowners strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for our neighbors who live in them, officials say.

To support Habitat in meeting their Crowdfunding goal of $20,000 to construct a new home in Grant County, please visit www.Give ToGrant.org/HabitatCrowd funding.

If Habitat for Humanity raises $20,000, prior to Aug. 11 at midnight, the Community Foundation will award them a grant for an additional $20,000.

In addition to accepting donations online at the websites listed above, donors may also bring in cash donations or mail checks to the Community Foundation of Grant County, 505 West Third Street, Marion, IN 46952. Please write “Habitat Crowdfunding” in the memo line of your check.

How Crowdfunding Grants work:

The Community Foundation of Grant County website tracks all charitable contributions made by donors for each project. If the organizations meet their fundraising goals, the Community Foundation will award them a dollar-for-dollar matching grant.

If the organization does not meet its matching goal within 60-days, they will not receive their matching grant from the Community Foundation. They will, however, receive all donations that have been made by their donors for this project.

The Community Foundation is proud to connect people who care with causes that matter for the betterment of Grant County. The Foundation has been doing this kind of work since 1984, and we enjoy helping quality organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, in making a positive impact in our community.

If you have any questions about the Crowdfunding Grant or future grant cycles offered at the Community Foundation of Grant County, please contact Meagan Mathias at 765-662-0065 or email Meagan@Give ToGrant.org.

Huntington County town faces water crisis

The Town of Andrews is asking Raytheon Technologies Corporation to take immediate steps to remove dangerous chemicals from the town’s drinking water.

According to the emergency motion for preliminary injunction filed earlier this week by the Town of Andrews against Raytheon Technologies Corporation, three of the town’s wells which supply the public with drinking water were contaminated after Raytheon dumped and spilled hazardous chemicals at the factory they operated in the town.

On Friday evening, Andrews were being advised to not use the town’s water until further notice after a test revealed that the water contains contaminants above Federal Safe Drinking Water Standards, according to Huntington County Emergency Management (EMA).

Within an hour of Huntington County EMA contacting Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), several pallets of water were en route to Andrews.

According to the emergency motion, one of the wells which has recently become a main source for water for the town after two of the other wells lost production capacity to meet the town’s needs in May 2020, has shown signs of increasing levels of vinyl chloride, a human carcinogen (a substance that can promote the formation of cancer).

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the maximum contaminate level (MCL) which indicates how much vinyl chloride is allowable in drinking water is just 2 parts per billion (ppb). According to the emergency motion, the levels in the Andrews well have steadily increased since 2012, and during the last sampling event were reported at 26 ppb, more than 10 times the allowed MCL.

In the mid 1990s, Raytheon installed an air stripper to remove contamination from the town’s drinking water, but recently the air stripper has proven unreliable and has experienced numerous problems.

When the air stripper is not working properly, contamination from the municipal wells can get into the public drinking water supply. During a similar occurrence in 2012, the town of Andrews received multiple complaints from residents about the odor and taste of drinking water.

At the time, the town shut off wellhead one and relied on wellheads two and three to supply the town with water and meet drinking water needs. Since May 2020, however, wellhead one is again supplying water to residents of Andrews.

Beginning on June 6, 2020 the air stripper had major problems with its flow rate that caused the town’s water equipment to malfunction. The problems began on Friday night and continued for five days through Wednesday, June 10.

Raytheon defendants failed to inform the town that the air stripper was not working properly as contaminated water was potentially distributed through the public water system while the malfunction occurred.

According to the emergency motion, the air stripper has had numerous problems in the past and not is not a reliable safeguard to the public from the vinyl chloride contamination in the municipal wells.

The motion states that the threatened injuries to residents within the town of Andrews and to the public water supply greatly outweigh any potential cost to Raytheon for ensuring that their chemicals do not enter the drinking water supplied to the town.

The town of Andrews requests that the Court enter an Order that requires Raytheon to immediately supply bottled water to the residents of the Town for drinking, cooking and bathing; requires Raytheon to install new municipal wells that are vertically or horizontally separated from the groundwater contaminant plume; requires Raytheon to make improvements and upgrade their air stripping system; and provide all other appropriate relief that is just and proper.

Emergency town council meeting

An Emergency Town Council meeting held by the Town of Andrews on Monday left residents with few answers and temporary relief as developments in the town’s water emergency continue to unfold.

Emotions ran high as Andrews residents sought answers ranging from “can I wash my hands?” to “why didn’t the Town of Andrews do their own testing?” from local officials during Monday’s meeting.

Attorney Tom Barnard gave an overview of the situation leading up to the emergency meeting that started when the automotive factory Raytheon Technologies, formerly United Technologies, in Andrews released Trichlorethylene into the environment in the 1990s.

That chemical migrated 2,700 feet, seeping its way into the public well field, contaminating all three well systems in Andrews.

Two of the wells, which the town has relied upon since 2012, have tested positive for the contaminant vinyl chloride, which is a degradation product of Trichlorethylene – but one wellhead that was recently turned back in May on contained around 13 times the minimum contaminant level.

That air stripper broke down on the weekend of June 6 until June 10, potentially exposing the town’s residents to carcinogens; chemicals known to promote cancer development.

“They don’t control it, they don’t own it, the building in which it’s installed is locked,” said Barnard. “It’s a building where town utility folks don’t have access.”

Following an emergency motion by the Town of Andrews, the Huntington Superior Court judge has set motion for hearing for Thursday at 10 a.m. The goal of the motion is to get Andrews residents clean and safe drinking water.

“The goal would be to find once and for all a clean supply of water, because you should not be using your public well field to draw in and capture a chemical that is a known human carcinogen and hope to take it back out before you drink it,” Barnard said. “The whole idea of a public well field is that you find the cleanest water that you can and you don’t let anybody dump anything that’s going to be in that watershed that could impact those wells because you don’t want to have to take vinyl chloride out of your drinking water supply, and that’s the situation that the town is in right now.”

Andrews resident R.B. Jones says he and many others understand that the town is not responsible for the initial contamination, but he asked officials why the town hasn’t taken action to resolve the problem.

“If the town has known United Technologies was supposed to be taking care of this problem, why hasn’t the town in the last 20 years made sure that the problem was being taken care of?”

“The town of Andrews, you say is not to blame – I know they’re not to blame for poisoning the water, but they are to blame for not saying ‘we’re going to step in here’ ten years ago and do their own test and make sure that their tests are done privately and have been done right. Why hasn’t the town of Andrews stepped up and said ‘we need to have our own test?’ ”

Andrews Town Councilman John Harshbarger claims the town has been working on the problem with attorneys for four years and says the town was always told not to worry about the contamination.

“IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) controls this, you know the town of Andrews doesn’t tell IDEM what to do,” Harshbarger said. “Eight years ago, Mr. [Ray] Tackett and I on numerous occasions tried to get people in here to take care of this problem, and every time they came in they said to us ‘there’s nothing wrong, don’t worry about it.’ We tried to get them to test additional houses – we asked if there was anything north of California Street – and it was always ‘no’ and ‘we’re not going to test.’”

Several residents accused the council of putting the town of jeopardy by turning the well back on.

“I understand that you guys have been fighting this for a long time, I really do. And I know the town of Andrews did not contaminate the water, but you all should have told (us), I’ve lived here six years and this is the first time I’ve heard of any kind of contamination,” Jones said. “If you’ve been talking about it for eight-and-a-half years, why haven’t you sent out letters?”

In the way of temporary relief actions, Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall notified residents that the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA has volunteered services during business hours for Andrews, Indiana residents to sign in and take showers with their families. Huntington County Commissioners also put up $5,000 on Monday to provide more bottled water for the town.

“We’ve just become aware of this just like you folks,” Wall said. “Huntington County Emergency Management director Bob Jeffers and Butch Williams are trying to get the resources to do what they can to get you water here.”

The court case has been moved to federal court.

Taylor U. adjusts admission requirements

UPLAND — Taylor University Admissions will move to a test-preferred, but flexible model for incoming students starting in January 2021.

The move is the latest in a growing trend of colleges and universities across the nation who have announced either discontinuance or modification of the role standardized tests play in their admissions decision.

According to Taylor officials, applications will be reviewed with or without the submission of scores. “Higher education institutions have relied on ACT, SAT, or CLT for years to measure proficiencies, coursework placement, and merit scholarship qualifications,” said Nathan W. Baker, Interim Chief Enrollment Officer. “We recognize these test scores are only part of a student’s story, which is why we holistically consider a student in making an admission decision.”

Students who cannot or choose not to submit test scores may be asked to share more information, including:

Recommendations from high school English and/or Mathematics teachers

Complete an academic questionnaire (high school GPA at or below 2.9)

English course placement based on completed AP courses or writing sample

Complete Taylor University proficiency exams in Reading and/or Mathematics

“This change in policy formally enables a student to submit material that best reflects their ability to succeed in college while still continuing to support test-taking as an option,” added Baker We are eager to continue shaping the next generation of servant leaders from a variety of academic experiences.”

Central Indiana crash leaves 3 people dead

PERU (AP) — Three people have died following a two-vehicle crash on a central Indiana road.

The crash occurred shortly before noon Friday near Peru, about 80 miles north of Indianapolis.

A preliminary investigation by Indiana state police revealed that an SUV driven by Douglas Clinkenbeard, 53, of Elwood traveled across the center line of State Road 19 and struck another SUV driven by Nicholas Miller, 31, of Peru.

Clinkenbeard was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his vehicle. Clinkenbeard, Miller and Miller’s 18-year-old passenger, Paige Williamson of Peru, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Excessive speed by Clinkenbeard’s vehicle appears to have contributed to the crash, police said.

Grant County farmers market opensThe Grant County Farmers Market has started its 22nd year on the Courthouse Square in Downtown Marion.

The market will be open every Saturday until mid October, weather permitting. The hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or while products last).

Vendors will be selling produce, baked goods, crafts, antiques, recycled items, and more.

Dad’s Sweet Corn will be back on July 4th, local honey will be available in August, and we will have Indiana strawberries this week.

Curbside service is available.

Organizers are seeking someone with fresh eggs and someone selling masks

The cost for vendors is nominal ($5 per week or less for the season). Contact coordinators by email at gcfarmersmkt@gmail.com or by phone at 260.438.9241 or 260.224.3318.

Visit us on online at facebook.com/GrantCounty FarmersMarket