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Gas City man receives 25 years for child molesting

A Gas City man was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 10 years of probation last week on charges of child molesting following a plea agreement filed in February 2020.

Bradley Allen Scott, 41, of Gas City was sentenced in Grant County Circuit Court to 35 years of incarceration for a Level 1 felony charge of child molesting, with a maximum of 25 years executed and the remaining 10 years suspended to formal supervised probation, according to court documents.

He was also sentenced to six years of prison time for a Level 4 felony charge of child molesting which will run concurrently, or at the same time, to the 25 years served for the first charge, according to the plea agreement.

Additional charges of criminal confinement with bodily injury, a Level 5 felony; operating a vehicle with alcohol equivalent between 0.08 and 0.15 and leaving the scene of an accident, misdemeanors; resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon, Level 6 felonies, were all dismissed as part of the plea agreement, court records state.

According to information filed with the court, Scott, who was 39 at the time, intentionally engaged in sexual conduct with a juvenile victim on or about June 28, 2018.

An amended plea agreement was filed Feb. 7, 2020, with the sentencing hearing originally scheduled for April 17. After being rescheduled several times, the sentencing hearing was held Sept. 1.

As a condition of probation, Scott must successfully complete sex offender’s counseling and may not have any contact with the victim or unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 18, the plea agreement states.

Upon release from prison, Scott must also go through an alcohol and drug assessment and pay a $400 fee for the program and must also pay all other costs within one year of release, according to court documents.

By statute, Scott is determined to be a sexually violent predator and will be required to register as a sex offender for life, the plea agreement states.

Davis showcases '38' at IWU's 1920 Gallery

Local artist and Marion High School art teacher Tashema Davis is currently showcasing her collection titled “38” at Indiana Wesleyan University’s (IWU) 1920 Gallery.

“The 38th year of my life is when I decided I am an artist,” Davis said at the gallery’s first artist talk of the fall semester Sept. 4. “I’m a professional artist.”

Davis’ canvas and tapestry paintings of nature and her multiple self-portraits capture the beauty of bright colors, bold contrasts and intricate designs, and many of them depict Black females.

“I think that it’s important, especially in this day, to have Black faces depicted in a beautiful way,” she said. Davis said she hopes viewers will look at her art and see acceptance, beauty and freedom.

“I love the color and how bold it is,” Lily Roche, student assistant of the IWU Galleries, said. “Everything has a purpose in her art.”

In her artist talk, Davis explained how her experience growing up in the projects of Gary, Indiana speaks through her favorite piece of her solo show, “Aesthete.”

On this self-portrait tapestry, Davis used spray paint and tattoo art designs to reflect scenes of her hometown, where bright colored lines of graffiti were some of her only exposures to art as a child.

“She has so much work, we didn’t even have space for it,” Daniel Hall, the IWU Galleries Curator, said.

Hall said this show was the current IWU Galleries team’s first time working together, and their goal was to develop a relationship with Davis while preparing to showcase her work.

“With this show, I’ve learned to accept myself,” Davis said. “And it feels very liberating.”

The 1920 Gallery is located in the Barnes Student Center at IWU. Davis will be back in the 1920 Gallery to meet visitors on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 3-6 p.m.

Marion alumni game a hit for past and future Giants

Nearly 50 years of Marion High School baseball was represented on Saturday for the inaugural Giants’ alumni game held inside of Dick Lootens (football) Stadium.

The brainchild of current Giants’ coach, Mark Fagan, the alumni game was put together fairly quickly to help raise money for Marion’s baseball program. And by that end, it was successful in raising $3,500.

But the smiles and laughter shared among the nearly 50 players and coaches said the game was more than just a fundraising event.

“When all this started with COVID, I wasn’t sure how this was going to transpire. I wasn’t sure interest would be there. I just didn’t know,” said Darrell Wisser, a former assistant coach under legendary Mel Wysong and teacher in Marion Community Schools for 40 years. “When you started thinking about all the guys that have come through, you’ve been a big part of their life and they’ve been a big part of mine, I’m really glad I did come down and made the effort. … It’s been a good time.”

Wisser traveled back to Marion on Saturday from his Mishawaka-area home to reminisce, reunite and help in the fundraising effort while being the manager for the Gold Team, who ultimately topped the Purple Team, 18-17.

“Talking old stories with a lot of these guys I had in that 10, 15, 20-year range (as coach), they remember stories about me that I have a hard time remembering,” Wisser said. “Some of it funny, some of it from when I seriously had to get on them because I thought they were relaxing a little bit and not giving it what I thought they should have been or what they were capable of giving. It was great hearing those stories and just seeing those guys. Some of them are still in pretty good shape.”

The Purple Team was led by another Giant legend, once great pitcher and coach Charlie Arrendale, from Marion’s Class of 1967. Arrendale shared the dugout, like Wisser, under Wysong and with Jack Colescott.

Arrendale also spent a few years as head coach for Marion. He echoed some of the same sentiments about the alumni game as did Wisser.

“A childhood friend on mine I got to coach with in Mel,” Arrendale said as he recalled some of his favorite memories of coaching. “Having Darrell Wisser and Jack Colescott, to be able to coach with those guys was really great. Some of the outstanding players that came through, especially someone like Tommy Pearce who hit 50 home runs for his career, and 21 for a season.

“There are teams that don’t hit 20 home runs for a season. I don’t know that Marion has hit 50 since (Pearce) graduated in (19)98. We hit 68 (in a season),” Arrendale continued. “Those kinds of things, that’s what stick with me. Then some of the great kids and the fun it was to coach them. Even to be around them when we weren’t in season, they were great kids and a lot of fun. It’s stuff that I remember clearly to this day.”

Arrendale’s 1998 Giants’ are still the record holder for most home runs in a season with the 68. And Pearce, who provided a nostalgic home run on Saturday, still holds the single-season record for dingers with 21 during his senior year.

Pearce was far from being the only former Giants’ star from attending.

Eric Persinger, star pitcher from Marion’s 1986 state runner-up team who went on to pitch at the University of Michigan, made an appearance, albeit in sandals as an injury prevention tool.

“I appreciate Mark Fauser and Mark Fagan and the team for putting it together. Pretty good turnout, really for the first year,” said Persinger, who made the trip from his home in Fort Wayne. “I’m a little bit surprised that as many people made it back on short notice, Labor Day weekend on a Saturday. Hopefully it’s something we can build on, keep doing year-after-year. Raising money for the baseball program is always a good thing.”

Kasey Clevenger, a three-sport standout from the Class of 1991, played on state runner-up teams in both baseball and basketball for the Giants, took some at-bats and shared some laughs and memories.

“I’m happy for Coach Fagan to put this together and to get all these guys out. It’s good for everybody to get back and see people they haven’t seen in ages,” said Clevenger, who now resides in Carmel. “Hopefully we’ll raise some good money for the baseball program.

“It’s great just to see the coaching staff, of course Coach Wysong is not with us anymore, but see Charlie Arrendale, who was part of the program, and Darrell Wisser was a big part of our program. It’s been fun to see those guys and catch up,” he added.

Tino Mitchener, a Class of 1996 member, took over Marion’s youth baseball program in 2019. He echoed the thoughts of everyone about having the opportunity to re-live some of the past glory days of Marion baseball, but hopes to use some of the connections to build for the future.

Mitchener said plans were in place to hold weekend-log baseball and softball clinics in the spring at Lincoln Field, before COVID-19 shut down those plans. Lincoln Field, home of Marion Babe Ruth Baseball leagues, is where many of the players on hand for the alumni game grew up playing.

Mitchener hopes a few of the former greats might be open to helping with future clinics for Marion’s up-and-coming Giants.

“It’s fun just getting the excitement of baseball going again. It’s something that’s been lacking in this town for a long time,” Mitchener said. “These guys, a lot of them don’t live in town anymore, but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback already. Some said they’ve heard about what’s going on at Lincoln field and it’s good.

“What I’d like to do and the way it most correlates is if we can start running some camps and invite some of these guys, some of the guys that don’t live here anymore involved and get some of that intelligence, that baseball knowledge and that excitement back up,” he added.

The game itself featured some sparkling defensive plays, some home runs, a little good-natured ribbing and a couple of pulled hamstrings.

For almost everyone involved, it made another memory and served as a reminder of what it was like to wear a Giants’ uniform.

“It’s guys donating money to get them more involved in the baseball program financially,” Arrendale said. “The kids are going to see that once you’re a Giant, you’re always a Giant.

“Maybe some of these guys who are living close around here will come out and watch some games now that Giant Pride has caught hold a little bit again.”

Community service, new equipment proposed to improve city court operations

As Marion City Council looks further into possibly eliminating Marion City Court, officials discussed ways to make the court run more efficiently and bring more value to the city.

At last week’s department budget hearing, Council President Deborah Cain asked Judge Jason McVicker if the court could put a stronger focus on making community service a part of sentencings.

McVicker said most plea agreements he was part of as the court’s prosecutor before becoming judge involved community service elements to give offenders “skin in the game” and investment in their community both to provide accountability and to literally repair things that were broken in certain cases. Pleas coming before him as judge don’t usually include community service now, and McVicker said he can only accept or reject the agreements.

“That hasn’t happened since I’ve been Marion City Court judge,” he said of community service elements. “Reasons why, I don’t know the answer to. That would be a question for the prosecutor’s office, but I think that getting that back is important.”

Probation Officer Brent Harshman said community service was an aspect of most probation cases when McVicker was the court’s prosecutor, but eventually they ran into the problem that there were not enough organizations willing to put in the time and effort to supervise large numbers of individuals serving.

“We would send people to churches, we would send people to the humane society, to nonprofit organizations and then eventually we would get to the point where people wouldn’t show up, wouldn’t do what they were supposed to or they were just too much of a liability,” Harshman said.

Harshman said community service could be brought back and work well if he could work with other city departments to monitor and sign off on community service work being done in-house in areas like code enforcement, ordinance violation prosecutions and blight elimination.

“I think it would be a great value to the city. Like the judge said, community service is a great deterrent for people,” Harshman said. “If you sentence people to do community service, to do some work that sometimes they don’t want to have to do, it’s going to give the city or whoever in the working force free labor essentially and it’s going to keep people from wanting to keep doing it again.”

Harshman said he imagines it would take a large undertaking on his part to get community service up and running again, but after it’s operational and if other departments are willing to supervise and manage offenders it would not require any additional staff to be hired to manage the program.

Cain also asked what technology needs the court currently has. McVicker said he has never requested additional funds in keeping with his promise to always present a budget with a cut from the year before, but there are different areas that could improve the court’s efficiency, safety and openness to the public.

McVicker said the court would benefit from installing a video system with the Grant County Jail that would make it possible to handle most hearings regarding inmates without bringing the inmates from the jail to city hall. Gas City Court and the county court system already utilizes a similar system, he said.

“I think that that creates a security concern that the county courts address by having a full security system. We don’t enjoy that in Marion City Court,” McVicker said. “We have a bailiff. He does a tremendous job, but we don’t have metal detectors, we don’t have any of the security measures that are going on in the courthouse.”

Harshman noted there have been times when an inmate facing Level 1 felony charges and being held on a $1 million bond is also involved in a misdemeanor or traffic case before city court, so that inmate is transferred back and forth from the jail to city hall. A video feed would eliminate that risk for most situations, although inmate bench trials would still be conducted in person, McVicker said.

The video system with the jail will cost approximately $4,000 initially with a $400 annual maintenance charge, Harshman said.

The court has already transferred to the Odyssey case management software which allows the public to view the court’s docket and other case information online, and McVicker said the next step would be moving to electronically filing all city court cases.

“The entire state has gone to Odyssey and electronic filing and some city courts have too, and I would like to be part of that movement towards full transparency and having those cases be electronically filed,” McVicker said. “I think whenever you have a court of law, the No. 1 priority or at least one of the very top priorities is to make sure that you are completely transparent with what you are doing in that court.”

The transition to electronic filing would include updated software as well as scanners and printers, and McVicker said he would investigate and provide Cain with an estimate of what it would cost to make the switch.

Councilman Brian Cowgill said he would work with McVicker and Harshman to potentially get the jail video system purchased and reimbursed 100 percent through the CARES Act money that has been allocated to the city. Council and the administration are already working to include other technology upgrades for council chambers and council members with the CARES Act money in addition to hazard pay for front line city workers.

“I appreciate the fact that you haven’t asked for it, but this is a way that we can get it where it’s no extra cost to the city, it’s no extra cost to the council, it’s no extra cost to you guys,” Cowgill said. “It’s something the federal government is allowing us to do. I mean we may never get another chance like this, so we better take advantage while we’ve got it.”

MPD investigating shooting
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MPD investigating shooting

Marion Police Department (MPD) officers are investigating a shooting that injured a man Friday afternoon, according to MPD Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey.

MPD responded to the 900 block of S. Branson Street on Sept. 5 at 12:18 p.m. for a report that a male had been shot multiple times, Dorsey said.

Officers found a 50-year-old male victim lying on the ground reporting that he had been shot several times, and officers provided medical care and noted injuries to the man’s left leg, left hip and left hand, according to reports.

Dorsey said the victim was transported to Marion General Hospital and later airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital and is reported to have sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Police searching the area located blood behind a residence in the 1000 block of S. Branson Street. Based on the finding, a search warrant was obtained and executed and officers collected evidence believed to be part of the shooting, Dorsey said.

The investigation is active, Dorsey said.

Man injured from self-inflicted gunshot wound

Marion Police Department (MPD) officers Friday responded to Marion General Hospital (MGH) at approximately 3:26 p.m. for a report of a self-inflicted gunshot injury, according to MPD Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey.

A 34-year-old male victim reported he was returning a .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun to its owner. While standing outside a vehicle holding the gun, the gun discharged and injured his left leg, according to reports.

The man drove himself to MGH for medical treatment and was later transferred to a Fort Wayne hospital for further care. Dorsey said the man is reported to have sustained non-life threatening injuries.

ISDH updates COVID-19 count

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Tuesday announced that 394 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 100,780 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 3,156 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 12 from the previous day. Another 224 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 the state and occurred over multiple days.

To date, 1,150,863 tests for unique individuals have been reported to the state, up from 1,146,572 on Monday.

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

Upland Labor Day Festival celebrates successful year

The goal this year was to return the Upland Labor Day Festival to previous glory. Despite difficulties that had never been seen before, officials said the festival took a step in the right direction.

The 74th annual Labor Day festival had to overcome the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and event organizer Cindy Wright said the only way to do so was with the support and cooperation of people within the community.

“I think they did fine,” Wright said. “People wore masks that wanted to wear masks. I don’t think there were any problems. I didn’t hear anybody get upset. The carnival people all wore masks and were very cooperative with people.”

As for the actual event itself, Wright said attendance was up, and the turnout even encouraged some of the returning food vendors to make a reservation to return next year, she said.

“Several of the vendors asked before I even had the chance to ask them if they could come back next year,” Wright said. “So, as far as I know everybody we had here this year is coming back next year.”

Wright said the event raised a decent profit but did not reveal specific figures of dollars raised. Proceeds from different events held during the weekend benefited things such as improvements to the Lions Lakes and Park.

Beyond the turnout and financial successes, Wright said having a good time was the name of the game, and being able to go out into the community safely and have family fun was the point of the event.

“The fireman’s challenge and the bucket brigade – those kids had a ball,” Wright said. “The people were just laughing and cheering and had a good time with it. The funniest part was watching the kids get the fireman’s outfits on. The kids are so short-legged that they were working to stuff the pants into the boots. It was really fun. People just laughed and cracked up.”