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News
Saturday car chase ends in crash, arrest

A high-speed chase through city streets in Marion ended with a vehicle crashing into Star Financial Bank Saturday, according to Marion Police Department (MPD) reports.

MPD Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey said Kyle James Olson, 29, was arrested for operating without a license, reckless driving, failure to stop and resisting law enforcement following the pursuit.

Dorsey said officers estimate Olson reached an estimated speed of 75 mph after police sirens and lights were engaged.

The chase began on Aug. 8 around 2:30 a.m. MPD officer Scott Fletcher was conducting a normal patrol on 30th Street when he saw a gold 2004 Ford Crown Victoria turn onto 30th Street from Washington Street. Fletcher alleges that the driver covered his face and looked down to avoid being identified by the officer. Dorsey said Fletcher deemed these actions as suspicious.

Upon pulling behind the vehicle, Fletcher said the vehicle disregarded a stop sign at the intersection of Meridian and 30th streets.

“The vehicle traveled southbound and it was evident that the vehicle was fleeing,” Dorsey wrote in his release.

At this time, the officer initiated a traffic stop, activating emergency lights and sirens.

Fletcher said the vehicle disregarded another stop sign at 33rd and Meridian streets, turning westbound on 33rd at a high rate of speed. The vehicle also disregarded a red flashing light at 10th and Adams streets before continuing northbound at a high rate of speed.

When the driver attempted to make a right turn near Fourth and Adams streets, the driver lost control and crashed into Star Financial Bank, MPD reports.

The driver fled on foot, police say, before being apprehended by other responding units as he rounded the building.


News
featured
Popcorn Festival honors first responders

The streets of downtown Van Buren were full of fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles Thursday night, and not because of an emergency.

The Van Buren Popcorn Festival dedicated this year’s celebration to the first responders working across the county.

The 2020 Festival Theme, “First Responders, Poppin’ into Action,” honored the hard work of local police, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS).

“Most of the population knows about them. They know they are out there, but I don’t think people realize the hours of training that these people have to go through in order to be able to provide these services,” said festival committee member Al Holloway. “We thought they needed to be recognized.”

Holloway said he experienced firsthand the excellent work of local EMS workers a few years ago when he was transported to the hospital.

“I think countywide they do a really good job,” he said. “I think that too often the community as a whole doesn’t recognize what they do. They shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

County EMS Director Duaine Ashcraft said the theme was a nice gesture on the part of the festival organizers.

“First responders have had a lot of difficulties as far as dealing with COVID and risking their livelihoods to help other people,” Ashcraft said.

The theme was chosen last summer, before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and the recent civil unrest, Ashcraft said.

Van Buren Fire Chief Don Plummer said first responders are often forgotten when people mention front line workers amid the COVID pandemic.

“We’ve got the front line workers in the hospitals, but you don’t hear a lot about the police and fire side of it,” Plummer said. “In some situations, we’re the ones that respond to it first before it even gets to the hospital. They are our front line workers, but we are too.”

The Van Buren Fire Department served 240 people at their fireman’s breakfast, a fundraiser for new equipment.

“All in all, with the COVID-19 thing going on, they had a real good turnout,” Plummer said.

On Saturday morning, some of the fire department employees participated in a timed fireman’s challenge, which demonstrated the skill and strength required for their jobs.

“A lot of people just don’t realize what they’ve got until they need you,” Plummer said.

“It requires a lot of dedication,” Holloway said. “It’s something I wouldn’t want to do.”

Holloway said he thought the crowds at the festival were noticeably smaller this year because many people, especially senior citizens, were cautious about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a different year to be sure,” Holloway said.


Sports
Weekend recap: Gas City Speedway, girls golf scores

One of Gas City I-69 Speedway’s all-time best sprint car drivers added another win to his collection in the headline race of Friday night’s Jack and Jiggs Classic, an homage-event for track owner Jack Himelick and former promoter, Jiggs Thomason, who both attended the event.

Shane Cottle (Kansas, Illinois) became the sixth different winner in as many non-wing sprint car races held so far this year at Gas City by holding off Max Adams (Loomis, California), for the 25-lap feature victory in Friday’s main event of the five-division show.

Following a caution on lap 15, Cottle passed Adams for the lead on lap 16 and led the rest of the way. He reached the checkered flag 0.446 seconds before Adams. C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Indiana), reigning USAC AMSOIL national sprint car champion finished third and was followed by Travis Hery (Piqua, Ohio) then Brayden Clark (Tipton, Indiana).

Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) won the USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 midget feature. The 15-year old Denney passed Chet Gehrke (Bardtown, Kentucky) with two laps to go and beat him to the finish by just 0.123 seconds. Adam Taylor (DeMotte, Indiana) finished third followed by Stratton Briggs (Anna, Ohio) and Alex Watson (Columbus, Ohio).

The D2 midgets return to Gas City on Sept. 11 and Oct. 2.

Derek Losh (Rensselaer, Indiana), recorded his fourth modified feature victory of the season at Gas City’s quarter-mile dirt by beating Zeke McKenzie (Claypool, Indiana), the only other driver to win in that division so far this year. McKenzie took the lead on lap two and held it until Losh got past him in turn 4 on lap nine of the 20-lap race. The duo swapped the lead two more times, McKenzie moving in front on lap 11 then Losh taking control four laps later and holding on for a 0.974 win. Polesitter Ryan Sutter (Coldwater, Ohio) finished third followed by defending track champ, Scott Orr and Aaron Orr, both from Columbia City, in fourth and fifth.

Andy Bishop (Gas City) led all 15 laps of the caution-plagued street stock feature to earn his third consecutive victory in that division. Bill Bradley (Marion), the only other street stock feature winner at Gas City this year finished second.

Gage Allen (Warren, Indiana) ended, at least for now, the stranglehold the Headley family has had in the hornet division by getting his first victory in the 15-lap feature to close the evening’s activities.

James Headley Jr. (Wabash) led the first 12 laps of the hornet feature with his father, James Headley (Marion) glued to his car’s back bumper. Headley Jr.’s car appeared to lose power on the backstretch working lap 13 and it looked like he was headed to the pits. In the confusion, Allen passed both Headleys, led the next two laps, and came home the surprise winner. Headley finished second, 0.784 seconds behind. Kolton Sollars (LaFontaine, Indiana) finished third ahead of Bill Lewis (Fountain City, Indiana) and Headley Jr., who rebounded to finish fifth.

The track’s “Night of Destruction” slated for Saturday has been postponed until next year. A program called the Mid-Summer Showdown has been added for Friday and will feature non-wing sprint cars, modifieds, street stocks, hornets and a special school bus race.

Girls golf

Mygrant leads Oak Hill to CIC win

Oak Hill seniors Hope Mygrant fired a 37 and Holly Gillespie added a 45 to lead the Golden Eagles past defending Central Indiana Conference champion, Frankton, 187-217, Friday evening at Meadowbrook Golf Club in Anderson.

Oak Hill’s lowest 9-hole total of the young season also included a 52 from Abby Malott, Bailey Dewitt shot 53 while Savanna Saylor carded 58.

The Golden Eagles open their home schedule at Arbor Trace against Northfield on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Oak Hill meets Marion at Meshingomesia on Wednesday.

Madison-Grant 211, Mississinewa 229, Marion 242

Abbie Hostetler and Allie Vetor each shot 51 while Allie Hostetler added 54 and Nancy Chapel had 55 for M-G as the Argylls opened their season with wins over the Giants and Indians on Friday at Walnut Creek Golf Course.

Ole Miss senior Maggie LaBarr earned medalist honors with 48. The Indians also had Ashtynn Brubaker shoot 50, Anabella Pannell had 60 and Shaylee Nottingham finished with 71.

Sophomore Savannah Grieve led the Giants with a 52. Bayley Grieve finished with 58, Hayleigh Kirkwood added 60 and Jessica Wilson had 72 to round out Marion’s scoring.

North Miami visits Marion at Meshingomesia on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Madison-Grant hosts Kokomo on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Walnut Creek.

Mississinewa entertains Daleville at the Elks on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.


Local
MCS reports positive case at high school

MCS reports positive case at high school

Marion Community Schools (MCS) reported Monday that a person who was on campus Friday at Marion High School has tested positive for COVID-19. School officials say anyone “determined to be a close contact of that person” has been informed and instructed to quarantine.

If you were not contacted, MCS says, you were not identified as being a close contact. Close contact is defined by health officials as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, according to MCS.

“We will continue to work closely with the Grant County Health Department to monitor, verify and communicate as needed,” MCS said in its statement.

ISDH adds second Grant County testing location this week

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) will host a free drive-thru testing site Tuesday through Saturday this week at the Grant County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1403 Ind. 18. This site is in addition to the free ISDH/Optum site currently operating at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center, 1221 W. 12th St. in Marion.

Grant County Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Jackson Monday reported a total of 798 COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths in Grant County.

ISDH Monday announced that 673 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 74,992 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 2,838 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of three over the previous day. Another 206 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

As of Monday, nearly 39 percent of ICU beds and nearly 83 percent of ventilators are available across the state. To date, 852,111 tests for unique individuals have been reported to ISDH, up from 841,125 on Sunday.

To find additional testing sites around the state, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Virtual job fair set for Aug. 19

The annual U.S. Rep. Jim Banks Job Fair, normally hosted by Purdue University Fort Wayne, will be conducted virtually this year to ensure the safety of job seekers and employers.

The fair will run from noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Job seekers must register in advance at http://banks.house.gov/job-fair.

So far, more than two dozen employers and employment agencies have signed up for the fair. Among the industries represented at the fair will be healthcare, manufacturing, construction, finance and social services.

Representatives of WorkOne Northeast, which is overseen by Northeast Indiana Works, will once again be available to individuals interested in receiving assistance with resumes, interviewing techniques and other job searching help. The WorkOne representatives will also provide information about free certification-based short-term training worth up to $10,000 in tuition and fees.

“For those who are interested in skilling up to provide a better future, this limited-time offer of training is an excellent opportunity,” said Edmond O’Neal, president of Northeast Indiana Works. “The training prepares people for careers in advanced manufacturing, building and construction, health and life sciences, IT and business services and transportation and logistics.”

The job fair is open to all working-age adults.

Pettiford-Weaver Family Reunion goes virtual

Due to COVID-19, the 101st consecutive Pettiford-Weaver Family Reunion will be held virtually, Aug. 15 and 16. You may join by visiting the Pettiford-Weaver Family Reunion Facebook page or email nextgen.reunion committee19@gmail.com for info about how to join through Zoom and/or Youtube.


News
Jackson: COVID cases dropping, masks still imperative

Grant County is beginning to see a dip in COVID-19 cases after about a month’s worth of a spike, but officials said residents need to remain vigilant to continue to slow the spread of the virus.

Grant County Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Jackson said while the 14-day average of cases was as high as 15 cases per day throughout July – with some single-day totals as high as 25-27 – the most recent data Monday shows the county is now averaging approximately 9.37 cases per day over the last two weeks.

“So yeah that’s down from the 15 we were at which is good,” he said. “Not where we need to be yet, but we’re at least trending in the right direction.”

Jackson said reports from Marion General Hospital show hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain low as well. The county has reported a total of 798 cases and 30 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, Jackson said.

Grant County Health Officer William David Moore said the number of cases finally seems to be coming down after the spike began following large gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend.

“We had a spike after July 4 and we seem to be burning through that spike and coming toward something that is more acceptable in terms of numbers,” Moore said.

Jackson said the large spikes in cases have been traced back to large gatherings where masks and social distancing were not used, and although the numbers are trending down, the community needs to keep up with hand washing, social distancing 6 feet or more apart and wearing masks in public as much as possible.

“I know everybody wants to get life back to normal, but we’re not sure what normal is going to be, and until we can get to a better place those restrictions really need to continue to be adhered to,” Jackson said. “We’re not out of the woods and we certainly cannot let our guard down. So even though the numbers are improving, I feel they’re only improving because we have not had any large gatherings since the (Fourth of July) except for this past weekend with the Popcorn Festival, and we will see if there’s any repercussion from that.”

Moore said overall, proper mask wearing in public has gone up since the governor’s executive order mandating mask use, but there is still more work to be done in getting more people to wear masks to keep themselves and their community safe.

“We’re not wearing them uniformly, but we are moving in the direction of wearing masks, and we’re getting more and more people in leadership wanting and willing to set a model of being compliant with the governor’s order,” he said.

Moore said as of early Monday afternoon there had been no reports of positive COVID-19 tests or outbreaks at any of the county schools so far, but around 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, Marion Community Schools reported an individual who was at Marion High School on Friday tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’re just waiting to see what happens and what goes on and try to make an intelligent and safe response to what we see,” he said. “It’s new for all of us and we’re going to try to work together to have something that lets us educate the kids safely at school, in person, not in person, but keeping the kids safe.”

The schools are a major focus for the county’s Emergency Operations Center, Jackson said, and officials are still working together to develop best practices for the county and schools to follow when an outbreak occurs.

“What we want to do is firm up our plans ...We’re trying to partner with the schools in doing the same thing internally with the school systems that we have done with the county,” Jackson said. “Tracking cases that do happen, contact tracing for schools is vitally important but it’s also very difficult to do, so we’re trying to be mindful of the manpower restraints that everybody has. But we want to work with the schools, continue to work with the schools on all of that.”