2/19/2020 News Brief

The county’s bridge fund might be getting more money for maintenance and replacement work now that the Delaware County Commissioners have introduced a piece of legislation to increase the dollars available for bridge projects. Bridges have been a serious concern for county officials over the past few years. Delaware County has nearly 190 bridges in the area, including about 30 timber bridges that were built in the 1980’s. Those bridges, because of their design, don’t hold up as well as others. Work from local officials has been an ongoing effort after 2015 numbers showed that thirteen percent of the bridges in Delaware County were deficient. That doesn’t mean they were unsafe, but that deteriorated conditions would require more expensive maintenance as the years progressed. The county has already tackled a lot of bridge projects, with three major ones happening last year, including two that created traffic headaches: Bridges on East Jackson Street in Muncie and Tiger Drive in Yorktown. According to Angela Moyer, the county’s engineering project administrator, county officials had previously reduced the tax levy to assist the county’s general fund. This allowed money to flow into the general fund that would have otherwise gotten caught in the county’s circuit breaker because of the tax cap.

A Muncie man pulled over for a traffic violation on Saturday told a city police officer he had “meth and pills in my underwear. “Authorities then found a “large bag” in 34-year-old Stephen Scott Drinkard Jr.’s undergarments that contained five plastic bags holding a total of 26.9 grams of meth. Also recovered within Drinkard’s underwear were two Suboxone pills and 20 Oxycodone tablets. Found in the Grand Prix he was driving- which had rolled through a stop sign at 21st and Vine streets, authorities said – was a bag containing 18 syringes, and a loaded handgun. A passenger in the car – who told police she didn’t know Drinkard had “any of the drugs or the gun with him,” according to a police report – was released.

The League of Women Voters of Muncie-Delaware County will host a public meeting about “Transparency in Government” 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at Maring-Hunt Library. Luke Britt, public access counselor, will discuss Sunshine Laws and Indiana’s Open Door Law, which are designed to make sure citizens have access to meetings, records, votes and other official actions of Indiana state and local government. The meeting is free and open to the public.

A Muncie man charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian was ordered released from the Delaware County jail on Tuesday by Judge Kimberly Dowling. Aaron G. Harmon, 41, was formally charged with murder  – and aggravated battery and leaving the scene of an accident – on Jan. 31.He is accused of driving a Cadillac that struck and killed 44-year-old Matthew Paul Smith, also of Muncie, and injured another pedestrian in the parking lot of Cheers Tavern, 3822 N. Broadway, on the early morning of Oct. 19.At a hearing last week, defense attorney Mark McKinney contended evidence in the case was not compelling enough to justify holding his client without bond. “This was a terrible accident,” McKinney said. “This was far, far short of a murder. “Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Ramirez maintained Harmon “made several decisions” that led to the fatality and “more likely than not the defendant knowingly murdered Mr. Smith. “Dowling on Tuesday ruled Harmon – whose trial is set for July 27 in Delaware Circuit Court 2 – would be released to pre-trial electronic home detention, and must surrender his passport to McKinney.

A Muncie woman who sold the heroin that led to a local man’s fatal overdose was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.  Rachelle L. Tucker, 32, in December pleaded guilty to dealing in a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony carrying a maximum six-year sentence. Authorities said Tucker sold the heroin laced with fentanyl that Dustin Richard Rhodes, 29, ingested before his death on July 22, 2017. His body was found that day along a Southside street.  Tucker  – who was a licensed practical nurse – was at first charged with crimes including murder, although that count was dismissed last October. Delaware Circuit Court 5 Judge Thomas Cannon Jr. on Tuesday imposed a six-year sentence with one year suspended. The judge said Tucker sold a “lethal mixture” of drugs that led to Rhoades’ death.

The Delaware County Senior Center, 2517 W. Eighth St., will have its Happy Days Flashback Friday Dinner 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.Cost is $8 person for adults, and includes a large hot or a hamburger or cheeseburger with all the fixings, french fries or onion rings, vegetarian baked beans, a drink and dessert. A milkshake – chocolate, vanilla or strawberry – will be available for $2.Tickets are available at the door for $4.50 for children ages 5-12; children younger than 5 eat free. All proceeds will support the senior center.

Midwest Writers Workshop will have Agent Fest for fiction and nonfiction writers seeking literary representation March 13-14 at the Ball State Alumni Center, 2800 W. Bethel Ave.  Writers can connect with literary agents who are actively searching for the next big thing across all genres including fiction, nonfiction, children’s, young adult and more. Cost for the MWW Agent Fest is $299. The complete schedule and online registration are available at midwestwriters.org.

Madison County’s involvement in a statewide program to spotlight some of Indiana’s lesser known destinations was detailed Thursday at the Anderson Madison County Visitors Bureau’s annual luncheon. The Twenty in ’20, a collection of lists in several categories to be released throughout the year by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, so far includes two locations in the county:   Bonge’s Tavern in Perkinsville and Good’s Candy Shop in Anderson. “There are a lot of wonderful things to see and do in the state,” Misty Weistensteiner, director of the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, told local business leaders gathered at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino for the luncheon. “Many of them we’re all familiar with, but there’s a lot of lesser known jewels out there as well. “The local visitor’s bureau’s first gathering of the new year was a chance for the business community to hear about gains the county made in drawing visitors last year.

A Madison Circuit Court Division 3 jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding Michael Fleming guilty on all four counts. Fleming, 20, showed little reaction when the jury returned the guilty verdicts Tuesday on charges of two counts of murder, Level 1 attempted murder and one count of attempted robbery in connection with the death of Bryce Patterson on Aug. 18, 2018.Circuit Court Division 3 Judge Andrew Hopper set sentencing for March 11.“This gives us some closure,” Patterson’s mother, Christi, said after the verdicts were read. Christi Patterson said sitting through Fleming’s trial was the second worst thing she had to deal with aside from the telephone call relating that her son had died. “I was scared to death,” she said while sitting in the courtroom waiting for the verdict to be read. “I expected it.  “This is not something normal a mother would have to go through,” she said. Patterson is working on an impact statement for Fleming’s sentencing hearing.

Brickworld, a LEGO exposition, is coming to Indianapolis next month. Brickworld is excited to host a robust schedule of expos across the Midwest throughout 2020,” said executive director and Master Builder Mark Larson. The expo will be an interactive experience for all ages. Activities and displays include the Great Ball Contraption, a giant collection of small LEGO machines that pass thousands of LEGO soccer balls around a loop; a Play Brick area; the Death Star Trench Build; and a community graffiti wall, where participants can create whatever they like. The LEGO expo will be at the Indiana State Fairgrounds March 21-22.General admission is $12. Kids three years and younger are free.

February is the busiest month for the Black Student Association (BSA) since it’s Black History Month. BSA has many events planned throughout the month. One of the many events planned was Soul Food Fest which was hosted last Saturday at Park Hall in the MPR room. The event was meaningful to some students that had attended the event. During the event, there was food being served, music being played, and card games to participate in. Many students from different backgrounds came together to make new friendships and reconnect with old ones. More events are planned through the remainder of this month.

It’s the end of an era for one of Indiana’s oldest amusement parks. Indiana Beach in Monticello has closed with no plan to reopen, according to Randy Mitchell, President of the White County Economic Development corporation. Mitchell said the park’s parent company, California-based Apex Parks, cited financial reasons for the closure. According to Mitchell, the company had “worked diligently” to find a new buyer but wasn’t successful. In addition to dozens of seasonal workers, Indiana Beach employed 27 people in administrative and maintenance positions. Mitchell said those workers were offered six weeks compensation.

The Delaware County Senior Center, 2517 W. Eighth St., will have its Happy Days Flashback Friday Dinner 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.Cost is $8 person for adults, and includes a large hot or a hamburger or cheeseburger with all the fixings, french fries or onion rings, vegetarian baked beans, a drink and dessert. A milkshake – chocolate, vanilla or strawberry – will be available for $2.Tickets are available at the door for $4.50 for children ages 5-12; children younger than 5 eat free. All proceeds will support the senior center.