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LOCAL NEWS POWERED BY FIRST BANK RICHMOND

(Richmond, IN)--The swearing in of Wayne County’s first female judge will take place Friday afternoon.  The outgoing judge in Wayne Circuit Court, David Kolger, will swear in his replacement, April Drake.  Drake has been part of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for ten years.  She has also worked as a public defender in Wayne County.  Kolger steps down after having served 16 years as Circuit Court Judge.  He was the Wayne County prosecutor before that.

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(Wayne County, IN)--The number of Wayne County residents to become fully vaccinated from Covid-19 this week is up substantially from the week before.  476 people have become fully vaccinated since last Friday.  That’s a 22% increase from the 389 who became fully vaccinated the week before.  As of Friday morning, just over 35% of Wayne County residents of all ages are now considered fully vaccinated.

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(Richmond, IN)--A public meeting has been set to discuss the results of a collective measures assessment of RP&L’s coal ash issue.  Over a 15-year period, 400,000 tons of coal ash were spread over about eight acres on the RP&L property.  Now, it’s got to be cleaned up.  Initial estimates of the cost two years ago came in between $38 and $55 million.  RP&L is required to have a public meeting 30 days before picking a solution.  That meeting will take place a week from Monday.

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(Richmond, IN)--Sentencing information has become available in the case of Elijah Gamber.  Gamber is the Black Lives Matters marcher who was found guilty in Wayne Superior Court III earlier this week for obstructing traffic.  It stems from an incident in Richmond last September.  Gamber was ordered to pay court costs of $185.  He will not serve any jail time.  Gamber also has the right to appeal and to seek expungement after five years or before that if the prosecuting attorney agrees.

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(Whitewater Valley)--Indiana’s Covid-19 map is as blue as it’s ever been, and that includes the Whitewater Valley.  The state releases an updated color-coded Covid-19 map every Wednesday.  Not only are all area counties now in the blue, there’s not a yellow county within close to a hundred miles of Richmond.  Wayne County’s positivity rate is down to 1.6%.  There were no new cases reported Wednesday, and there have been only four reported since Monday.

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(Richmond, IN)--The Richmond Community School Board met Wednesday afternoon and swore in its newest member.  Kristen Brunton took the seat held by Suzanne Derengowski, who moved out of the area.  The Board Wednesday also approved advertising bids for the renovation of McGuire Hall.  McGuire Hall is 80 years old and needs significant upgrades, including roofing and air conditioning.  Bids will be open until July 16.

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(Richmond, IN)--One of the Black Lives Matter protesters involved in an incident in Richmond last September was found guilty of a misdemeanor Tuesday.  Elijah Gamber was charged with obstructing traffic.   In a one-day trial in Wayne Superior Court III, a jury found Gamber guilty.  Gamber blocked the intersection of North 7th and A as a group of marchers wound their way through the city.  Several other marchers were charged, but their cases were settled before going to trial.  The criminal case of the driver accused of running into members of the group and fleeing, Joshua Carey, is still pending.  Carey faces charges that include leaving the scene of an accident and criminal recklessness.

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(Wayne County, IN)--Two legal groups are now suing to force Indiana to continue giving an extra $300 per week in unemployment.  That federal benefit is scheduled to end in Indiana on Saturday.  Since Governor Holcomb announced that deadline, Wayne County’s jobless claims have dropped drastically.  Local jobless claims dropped 54% after the announcement, another 21% the week after that, and another 22% the week after that.  When the last stimulus check was received a couple of months ago, Wayne County jobless claims ballooned to 723.  Last week, there were 50.

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(Liberty, IN)--A Richmond man who was wanted for failing to appear in court after leading police on a high-speed chase last month was found hiding out at Whitewater Memorial State Park Tuesday.  Brian McCubbins and his girlfriend fled when deputies tried to arrest him Tuesday.  Scanner traffic indicated McCubbins was caught just north of Liberty.  He was being held in the Union County Jail Wednesday morning.

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(Richmond, IN)--In Wayne Superior Court III today, a Black Lives Matter protestor goes on trial.  It was September of last year when a vehicle allegedly drove into a group of protestors who were crossing the street at North 7th and A.  Both the driver and several protesters were ultimately charged.  All of the protestors have had their criminal cases settled except for one who decided to take the case to trial.  He’s Elijah Gamber.  Gamber faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing traffic.  Several people who protested last year are expected to testify.  The criminal case against the driver, Joshua Carey, is still pending.

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(Richmond, IN)--A murder trial is wrapping up in Wayne Superior Court I.  Jacob Rasner’s murder trial began last week and continued Monday.  Rasner is accused of felony murder, confinement, robbery, and battery in the death of James Herbolt II in the fall of 2017.  Prosecutors say Herbolt was hog-tied and beaten before being shot in the head.  His body was later located down an embankment on Nolands Fork Road near I-70.  Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against Rasner on Monday.  Then, the defense will present its side.

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(Richmond, IN)--Richmond Parks and Recreation has taken another step to curb the threat of fights and violence caused by a group of teens who forced the closure of the pool over the weekend.  Now, no one under the age of 17 will be admitted to the pool unless they’re accompanied by an adult.  The only exception will be for kids who have a youth or family season pass.  The pool reopened Monday after being closed due to unruly juvenile behavior over the weekend.

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(Richmond, IN)--Shots were fired into a house late Sunday night in Richmond.  It happened in the 600 block of Sheridan Street, which continues the trend of shots fired a few blocks either side of Richmond Avenue.  In Sunday night’s incident, a family member said that one bullet narrowly missed an elderly lady who was sleeping inside.  There were no injuries.  Officers found shell casings outside.  Two suspects with varying descriptions were seen fleeing the area.  No arrests were made.

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(Richmond, IN)--The possibility of violence forced the closure of the Cordell Municipal Pool for much of the weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, a group of teens or young adults began causing a disturbance that escalated into a potential fight with some flashing gang signs.  Numerous RPD officers arrived and began clearing the pool.  Pool officials decided to close the pool for the rest of Saturday and then opted to keep it closed all day Sunday due to the potential of retaliation.  The pool is reopening Monday.

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(Richmond, IN)--There’s another addition coming to the Veteran’s Memorial Park in the Whitewater Gorge in Richmond.  There are plans for the A10 “Warthog” airplane that has been on display for several years at the Richmond Municipal Airport to be moved to Veteran’s Park.  The plane’s wings will be folded up and it will be towed to its new location in the gorge, where it will join other military implements.

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(Richmond, IN)--Wayne Circuit Court Judge David Kolger has retired.  Kolger had presided over Circuit Court since 2005.  Before that, he had served as Wayne County’s prosecutor or deputy prosecutor since 1984.  Kolger was presented with Indiana’s Sagamore of the Wabash Award on Wednesday.  Governor Holcomb has replaced Kolger by appointing Wayne County’s first female judge.  April Drake will now preside over Circuit Court.  Drake has been a part of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for the last ten years.

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(Wayne County, IN)--Less than 400 Wayne County residents have become fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the last week.  The number stood Friday morning at 22,708 residents fully vaccinated.  The exact number to become fully vaccinated since last Friday is 389.  It means that just over 34% of Wayne County’s population is now fully vaccinated.  That’s well below both state and federal averages.  Franklin County now has the third worst vaccination rate in Indiana.

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(Richmond, IN)--A couple of alleged methamphetamine dealers were behind bars Friday morning after being taken into custody at their home in the 1500 block of North E Street in Richmond Thursday night.  33-year-old Justen Hoots and 29-year-old Brittany Nixon are both charged with dealing meth and maintaining a common nuisance.  Details of what led investigators to their house have not been released.

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(Whitewater Valley)--Indiana’s updated color-coded Covid-19 map is full of good news for the Whitewater Valley.  That map is updated each Wednesday.  Not only is every county in our area now in the blue, but two counties – Union and Franklin – have a metric score of zero.  It’s the first time that’s happened since the mapping system began.  Wayne County’s positivity rate is 2.1%.  There have been only eight new cases reported in Wayne County since Monday.

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(Bentonville, IN)--One of the two people killed in a crash near Bentonville on Tuesday was a Connersville football coach.  Details of the crash were released Wednesday.  Investigators say 36-year-old Phillip Keller crossed the center line and hit an oncoming vehicle driven by 59-year-old Bonita Plont head-on.  Both were pronounced dead at the scene.  Keller was Connersville’s middle school head coach and becomes the second coach to be killed in an accident this year.  Wrestling coach Mac Taylor was killed on New Year’s Day.

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