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News
Marion man arrested following jail drug smuggling plot

The third member of an alleged plot to smuggle drugs into the Grant County Jail was booked into the Grant County Jail on Monday, according to jail records.

Corey Oneal Harvey, 30, is facing several drug-related felony charges for his part in the smuggling plan.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the Grant County Joint Effort Against Narcotics (JEAN) Team began investigating the plan to smuggle drugs into the jail on Feb. 13 after a detective had intercepted communications between Harvey, Jazzlyn Randi Davis, 23, and inmate Casee Oliver Stone, 30, who was booked into the jail in December on two Level 6 felony invasion of privacy charges.

Stone reportedly gave Harvey instructions in the messages on how to glue a bag of methamphetamine into the bottom of a manila envelope and then instructed Davis to obtain Stone’s old legal documents to place them inside the doctored envelope, the affidavit states. Davis was then instructed to give the envelope to Stone’s lawyer, who would pass the contraband to his client at a Feb. 13 Marion City Court hearing, police said.

Investigators found this was the third attempt the three individuals attempted to traffic drugs into the county jail, with the first attempt ending in someone else taking the drugs and the second attempt ending with police intercepting the contraband, the affidavit states.

Officers conducting surveillance allegedly witnessed Harvey drive to Davis’s house with a manila envelope in hand that he gave to Davis, according to the affidavit. Investigators continued to monitor the individuals as Davis reportedly handed the envelope to Stone’s attorney, who then gave the envelope to Stone following his hearing, police said.

As Stone was re-entering the Grant County Security Complex, investigators intercepted the envelope. The affidavit states detectives also made all other inmates coming back into the jail at that time show any paperwork they were holding, and none were holding manila envelopes like Stone’s.

Detectives observed something rough and crunching at the bottom of the envelope and obtained a search warrant and “carefully cut the seal at the bottom of the envelope,” the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, detectives found what appeared to be the bottom of a second envelope glued to the outside envelope which contained a plastic bag containing a white crystal-like substance glued to the strip. Using a TruNarc device, a field test on the substance showed a presumptive positive for 3 grams of methamphetamine, the affidavit states.

Detectives also searched Stone’s cell block and found a black smartphone and USB charging cord near Stone’s cell, which were placed into evidence, according to the affidavit.

Harvey is facing one Level 3 felony charge of conspiracy to commit dealing in methamphetamine and one Level 5 felony trafficking with an inmate charge for his role in the plan, according to court documents.

Additionally, Harvey is facing a Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine charge and Level 5 trafficking with an inmate charge for a prior attempt to smuggle drugs into the jail, court records show. According to information filed, Harvey intentionally brought at least 10 grams of methamphetamine into the jail “with the intent to deliver said article to an inmate” on Feb. 10, 2020.

In another separate case, Harvey is facing a Level 3 felony dealing in cocaine charge and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge, according to court documents.

A jury trial for the two previous cases is scheduled for July 28 at 8:30 a.m. in Grant County Superior Court 2, court records show. An initial hearing for the most recent charges is scheduled for Tuesday, June 30 in Grant County Superior Court 2 at 8:15 a.m.

Harvey is being held at the Grant County Jail on $30,005, $2,505 and $100,005 bonds, respectively, records state.

An early trial for Stone’s role in the smuggling plot, two counts of dealing in methamphetamine amount at least 10 grams, Level 2 felonies, two counts of trafficking with an inmate, Level 5 felonies, and possession of a cell phone while incarcerated, is scheduled for July 6 at 1 p.m. in Grant County Superior Court 1, records show.

Davis’s jury trial for charges of Level 3 felony dealing in methamphetamine and Level 5 felony trafficking with an inmate is scheduled for Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. in Superior Court 1, according to court records.


News
From inside out: Color comes to Gas City
Photo by Andrew Maciejewski / amaciejewski@chronicle-tribune.com 

Pat Pearson, left, reviews the work of the Taylor University students during the second day of painting at their building, 125 W. Main Street, Gas City.

The outside of Mama Pearson’s Soaporium now mimics the inside: bright, fresh and bursting with color.

The new mural that highlights the side of the building at 125 W. Main Street in Gas City isn’t just a reflection of Amie and Pat Pearson’s business, it’s a representation of the entire community – something Amie particularly takes pride in.

“It’s got the history of Gas City in it. It’s got an old car, there’s an oil derrick... It is a beautiful, colorful painting that is going to be for our community,” Amie said, adding that the community got to vote for the final design. “It’s nice, and I think it brightens the neighborhood. It’s important to me that the community likes what we put up there.”

Photo provided by Momma Pearson’s Soaporium 

The Taylor University artists work during the second week of painting as the mural begins to come to life with color.

The Taylor University students who helped design and paint the mural – Abby Braswell, Ruth Brown, Mary Newenhisen, Rinnah Shaw, Kelley Hershberger and Sarah Brennan – submitted six designs that were later whittled down to the three final designs for the community to cast votes on. Amie said they received hundreds of votes within a short span.

She said there wasn’t any suggested theme when they started working on the design. Instead, they just sat the artists down and had a conversation.

“We really just talked to them about how important our community is to us,” she said. “My husband and I, we try to bring the community in and involve them with our business. Our customers are very important to us, and they (the artists) picked up on that aspect.”

Photo by Andrew Maciejewski / amaciejewski@chronicle-tribune.com 

Artist Abby Braswell, who created the design that was chosen by the community, paints a large flower. Elements of nature, like flowers and a carrot, were woven into the design to symbolize the natural products Amie Pearson incorporates in her soap.

When she saw the final design and colors coming together, Amie said it was emotional.

“I got teared up,” Amie recalled. “When I go out there and look at it, it makes me feel happy because this is Mama Pearson’s Soaporium. I’m Mama Pearson. I started this business in 2013, so to be at that point where we can do something like that, that’s meaningful to me. That gets me a little emotional to see how awesome this is.”

The feedback has been positive so far, Amie says, and she said she hopes it encourages other businesses to leave an artistic mark on the community, too.

“It brings character, culture. I love art,” she said. “It shows up in all of my work. I’m in the soap making, fragrance blending world, and so we both love art. He’s a musician, so for us, this has been a dream of ours since we bought the building, which was in 2007.”

Amie said her dream came to reality with help from a $1,000 Charm Grant offered by the Grant County Economic Growth Council along with a grant that Taylor University secured to pay the artists for their time.

She said the planning began about 1.5 years ago. They didn’t imagine it taking that long, but a series of challenges presented themselves as they worked their plan.

The first step was renovating the old brick wall, which involved replacing the mortar between all of the bricks before refinishing it and prepping it for paint, but a historically-wet spring and summer pushed back their timeline. Then, the pandemic hit during the design portion, putting the project in jeopardy.

“They started to work on it and then all of the sudden COVID-19 hit, and they were all sent home,” Amie said. “We didn’t know if we were going to go forward or not, but luckily it did.”

While the mural seems finished, the Pearsons plan to put protective coatings on the mural to preserve it for years to come.

They hope the new artwork inspires others to join the growing business scene in the community.

“We like to clean up the town – literally with soap and bath bombs – we like to do that, so we hope that this makes it a happier place to live,” Amie said with a laugh. “We love what’s happening in Gas City right now … There are new businesses opening up all over Gas City, so I think in a couple years it’s going to be different. There’s a lot going on.”


Sports
The Flying Fireman wins Gas City sprint feature

Racing at Gas City I-69 continued to heat up during the track’s first full, regular Friday-night card of the summer.

Shane Cockrum, a.k.a the Flying Fireman, started from the front row, took the lead on the first lap and led all 25 laps in the night’s main event, the non-wing sprint car feature. Cockrum, a Benton, Illinois native, collected the $2,020 purse during the Jerry Gappens Sr. Memorial, an event created by Gas City promoter Jerry Gappens Jr. to honor his late father.

A total of 93 cars showed up to the quarter-mile dirt track to compete across five classes of cars. Other winners on Friday included Zeke McKenzie of Claypool, Indiana (20-lap modified feature), Andy Bishop, Gas City, (15-lap street stock), James Headley, Marion, (hornets) and Darin Naida, Adrian, Michigan (outlaw micro winged sprints).

Austin Nigh (Greenfield, Indiana) started on the pole of the sprint car feature and made a spectacular save in turn two on the first lap. Cockrum, 38, who started second took advantage of Nigh’s predicament to get the lead and hold off the field to take the checkers.

Scotty Weir (Marion) chased Cockrum throughout but ended up settling for a fourth-place finish after being passed by Jarett Andretti (Indianapolis) and Clinton Boyles (Brownsburg), who crossed the finish line second and third, respectively, late in the race. Chase Jones (Indianapolis), a student at the Kelly School of Business at IUPUI, started 13th and finished fifth, in the 20-car race.

McKenzie started on the pole in the modified feature and led from the drop of the green flag. Despite four caution flags that kept things interesting, McKenzie held off Bub Roberts (Warren, Indiana), Ryan Sutter (Coldwater, Ohio), Cole Sink (Fort Wayne) and Dylan Woodling (Warsaw) as the top-5 finishers in the 20-car field.

Bishop, Gas City’s defending street stock champion, started second and passed polesitter Mike Fischer to the outside in turn-3 working lap two, and led the rest of the way. Fischer made a bid for the lead after a restart on lap 10, but after a side-by-side dual through the turns 1 and 2, Bishop fought him off then extended his lead over the final five circuits. Fischer held on for second and was followed by Justin Long (Lima, Ohio), Jeffery Jessup (Union City, Indiana) and D.J. Holt (Marion).

The hornet feature proved to be the most entertaining main event of the evening. Young James Headley Jr. (Wabash) started second but got the jump on the polesitter, also his father, Headley Sr., at the startand led the first five laps. Headley Sr. led lap six before junior re-assumed the lead on lap seven. The elder Headley made the winning move on the backstretch working lap eight and led the rest of the way for a Headley family one-two. Bill Lewis (Fountain City, Indiana), substituting for Gabe “Scrappy” Wilkins (Gas City) in the COVID-19 car, started third and threw everything he had left at the Headleys but settled for third. Brandon Lines (Marion) was fourth and Brad Evans (LaFontaine) finished fifth.

Reece Saldana (Brownsburg) started on the pole of the outlaw micros feature and led the first two laps before Naida charged under him in turn 3. Naida led the final 13 laps. Saldana ran second ahead of Jon Treadeu (Grass Lake, Michigan), Levi Winget (Wabash) and Brandon Sweat (Van Buren).

Though Gas City’s roar will remain silent during the coming weekend, the track will be busy over the next three weekends.

Friday, July 10, is the “Mid-Season Championship,” which will award double points for the non-wing sprint cars, modifieds, USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 midgets, street stocks and hornets.

Friday, July 17 will be the popular “Beach Night Bash” featuring modifieds, Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions TQ midgets, hornets, and the Dirt Track Truck Series.

Gas City will then host the opening round of “USAC Sprint Week” on Friday, July 24 with the USAC AMSOIL national sprint cars to round out the month. Non-wing 600cc micro-sprints will support that program.


Local
Hands-free vehicle law begins Wednesday

Hands-free vehicle law begins Wednesday

Beginning Wednesday, July 1, Indiana law will prohibit drivers holding mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in their hands while driving.

Once the law takes effect, drivers on Indiana roads will be prohibited from having a mobile device in their hands while their vehicles are moving, with the exception of dialing 911 in an emergency. The law permits the use of voice-operated or hands-free technology such as speakerphone, Bluetooth or headset.

“Drivers need to keep their eyes up, hands on the wheel and stay focused on driving to keep everyone on our roads safe,” Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness said. “The Hands Free While Driving law will save lives by reducing the number of senseless crashes that happen as a result of distracted driving.”

In 2019, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reported that distracted driving from mobile devices was a factor in at least 1,263 crashes and three fatal crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that have passed hands-free driving laws have seen a nearly 20 percent decrease in traffic deaths in the two years after passing the law.

During the first few months with the Hands Free While Driving law in effect, Indiana State Police will focus on educating drivers on the new law and safety benefits of going hands free. However, following the initial education campaign, drivers found in violation of the Hands Free While Driving Law can be subject to fine. Beginning in July 2021, drivers may also have points assessed against their driver’s licenses for violating the law.

For more information, visit HandsFreeIndiana.com.

ISDH updates COVID-19 count

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Monday announced that 312 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 45,228 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

A total of 2,432 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 5 over the previous day. Another 192 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, more than 40 percent of ICU beds and nearly 84 percent of ventilators are available statewide. To date, 476,519 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 470,535 on Sunday.

For more information, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov.