A1 A1
City picks Peru Police Department location

FRANKFORT — A three-and-a-half year search for the best location to construct a $7.2 million new Frankfort police department came to an end Monday.

The Frankfort City Council received word that morning from Frankfort Police Chief Scott Shoemaker that the Community Foundation of Howard County had accepted the City’s offer to purchase land for $200,000.

The 7.71 acres of land is located on State Rd 28 West between Victory Chapel to the east and Brock Grain Systems to the west. The parcel is bounded by Indiana State Road 28 West to the south and the railroad tracks to the north.

The decision to make the offer came during the September 28 meeting of the city council, after having exhausted other alternatives, such as: remodeling the current police department, repurposing the old city power location on Washington Ave, choosing the former Kyger school property on Third Street, picking a parcel located at the airport, and, most recently, using the old CVS west building.

The money to purchase the land will be spread out over two-years – a payment to be held in escrow within 15-days of Monday in the amount of $100,000 and the remaining balance in 2021.

“I’m excited,” said Frankfort Mayor Judy Sheets. “We did get the approval today from the Community Foundation to accept our offer. It was $200,000. We will give them a $100,000 this year, and then next year in February we will go ahead and give the other $100,000 and we’ll take possession of the land.”

Chief Shoemaker is hopeful the timeline to send the project out to bid can be leveraged with the work that has previously been completed by the architects – KJG out of Lafayette, Indiana and Zimmerman Architectural Studios based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The two firms have previously completed multiple designs of a Frankfort police department dating back to September 2018.

“I have asked the architects to put together a proposal of what our net costs are for them,” said Chief Shoemaker while addressing the council members. “We have spent a lot of time and a lot of money on this in the last three, three and a half years.

After the meeting, Chief Shoemaker addressed how he envisions the layout of the new police department.

“Now, we move on to designing a building that will go on this particular spot,” said Chief Shoemaker. “All the buildings we’ve designed up to this point were one-story long buildings. We’re going to look at a two-story building and then have a lot of space in the back to have a maintenance area and a parking area. So that is really exciting.”

Chief Shoemaker continued by speaking how the department would like to see evidence stored.

“We will look at the layout – we want it to be closer,” said Chief Shoemaker. “We want short term evidence to go into a locker, and that locker will only open from the other side – the lab people would take that evidence out. Right now we can’t do any of that. We’ll have to work within the budget. Last looked, we had about $7.2 to $7.5 million to build this.”

Chief Shoemaker concluded by saying, “Hopefully, they can do that in four months.” The “they” and “that” relates to the architectects being able to have a finished design that can be spent out to bid. “And, breaking ground in June or July (2021).”

Urban legends resurface during 'spooky season'

Now that it is mid-October, families and friend groups are anticipating fall festivals and Halloween festivities. Bonfires, hayrides, scary movies and haunted houses are a few must-do activities for most people during October and November.

Some people, however, want to increase the spooky level a few degrees, which brings us to explore some of Frankfort’s local folklore.

One place of interest is Stoney Heights, located at 500 E Washington street.

Stoney Heights was built in about 1900 and allegedly owned by Charles Millard Pratt, an oil industrialist. Over the years, Stoney Heights changed hands and has been a coin store, an art gallery owned by the Basquin family in the 1970’s and apartments.

The home was purchased by John Reid of Pioneer Restoration and was fully restored to a single-family home again. Reid sold the home in 2019 to a family who still resides there currently. Thus far, two legends have spun in ties to this now-restored home.

The first story revolves around C.M. Pratt himself. It is said that Pratt had two children that graduated from Frankfort. When Pratt’s daughter married, he gifted the house to her and her husband. The new family had two children, one of which was a baby daughter who died at birth. Pratt’s daughter, overtaken with grief, allegedly killed herself in an upstairs room of the house the following day.

The second version of this story takes an entirely different turn and says that Pratt stole a brick from Cloverleaf R.R. for building the mansion and was later caught and was going to be arrested. He is said to have killed himself in the stairway and allegedly still currently haunts the home today.

Paranormal investigations have been conducted on the property on more than one occasion and resulted in various EVP readings upstairs in the third floor area. One investigator gave a third twist to the story, saying that the daughter had a baby out of wedlock and was then disowned by the family resulting in her depression and suicide in the North west turret of the home.

That same paranormal investigation group revisited the home again when Reid did his restoration work and found a rope segment in the same upper N.W. turret. Investigators removed the rope segment and said paranormal activity in the home ceased. Paranormal activity in the home has been reported at least as far back as the 1970’s. It is currently unknown if the new occupants have experience activity in the home.

Another popular tale of Frankfort is that of Hamilton Road or “Sleepy Hollow.” There are several different legends regarding this area.

The first story is published in “More Haunted Hoosier Trails” by Wanda Lou Willis. According to Willis, the story had originated sometime in the 1800’s.

The legend is summarized as follows: A farmer’s wife had just prepared the evening meal. No one knew what happened or why it happened, but the wife killed her husband. To cover up her actions, she waited until dark and loaded his body onto the wagon and proceeded to Wildcat Creek aka Sleepy Hollow bridge. She reportedly tossed the body over the bridge into the water. The farmer’s wife, later becoming fearful that someone would find the body, would return to the bridge night after night to make sure nothing could be found. Willis’s version states that her guilt drove her insane and after her death she still protects her secret appearing as a light floating toward you near the bridge in an attempt to scare you away. The author states that in some stories you might even encounter her husband rising from the creek.

This version of the Hamilton road story has brought more than one paranormal investigation group to the area. GhoulyTV investigators investigated it around 2019. They incorrectly started investigating the wrong bridge and were later rerouted by a nearby neighbor. The investigation concluded with claimed paranormal interaction with a flashlight and voices over a spirit box.

One investigator on the team claimed to hear screaming and others claimed to see shadows near the end of the bridge. By the end of the investigation, team members were spooked and then greeted by a white kitty who had been in the area.

Chris, an investigator on that team, stated, “He and the team found the urban legend story online.” Later it was confirmed to be the Willis version of the story.

“It seemed really interesting due to the spooky story behind it. Our investigation was 3-5 hours long, however we shortened it into a 33-minute video. The bridge itself we found after the locals told us we were in the wrong spot. They claim the bridge was rebuilt recently due to instability.”

Chris and his team investigated both areas that evening, he said.

“We got more readings from the first bridge and not as many from the new and improved bridge leading us to wonder if the story and energy died when the bridge was torn down,” he said.

In a second version of the Sleepy Hollow Bridge story, according to an internet forum, a woman states that a vehicle full of high school students were out celebrating and driving under the influence. They were blaring music and yelling from the vehicle while flashing their lights at the old cemetery located just past the bridge to wake any unrested spirits. A supposed hermit spirit of an old man shot his gun towards the car to scare them off. The occupants of the vehicle in fear drove the car off the side of the bridge.

Whether you are a believer in the paranormal or not, Frankfort has a lot of spooky stories for this time of year.

Indiana officials outline response to state's virus hotspots

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials confirmed 28 more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, and the state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases of the respiratory disease has doubled in three weeks.

The Health Department’s daily update showed Indiana’s seven-day rolling average of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections reached 1,653 as of Wednesday. That number, up from 825 new cases on Sept. 24, is the highest level the state has seen during the pandemic.

While Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday he would extend his statewide mask order for another month, he decided against reinstating tougher restrictions at the statewide level.

Instead, Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, outlined “very clear guidance and expectations” regarding actions that should occur within each county based on its rating in the state’s color-coded rating system for coronavirus risks, though none of the recommendations come with guaranteed restrictions or specific enforcement mechanisms.

State metrics released Wednesday indicate an increase in counties moving into the orange rating – up to 21 from eight last week. Weaver said state health officials will convene local officials in these counties to discuss necessary restrictions and ways of monitoring social distancing requirements.

For counties in red – indicating the most severe level of COVID-19 spread – Weaver said state health officials could take such actions as limiting the size of social gatherings and restricting capacity inside businesses. No guidance was provided, however, for changes to in-person classes or the need for school closures.

Western Indiana’s Fountain County, the only currently rated red, has traced many COVID-19 cases in its recent surge back to group gatherings and poor compliance with safety protocols, including wearing masks, said Dr. Sean Sharma, health officer for the Fountain and Warren County Health Department.

To help curb the spread, the local health department is now recommending schools temporarily move classes online and cancel extracurricular activities. There are no enforceable restrictions yet, but Sharma said that could be a next step if the rate of virus spread doesn’t improve.

Still, Holcomb’s Democratic challenger in the November election, Dr. Woody Myers, a former state health commissioner, said that Weaver’s outlined recommendations “are good ideas,” but lack “teeth” – such as fines for residents who refuse to wear masks in public.

“What we need to do is go back towards where we were earlier, in order to minimize the spread of the virus,” Myers said during a news briefing Thursday. “If we see positive results, great. If we don’t, we continue down that pathway until we get what we need.”

Although Holcomb took decisive action earlier in the pandemic, including a partial shutdown of the state’s economy and forced school closures, he said a “blanket response” won’t help address current spikes.

“Every one of these cases is a extremely localized occurrence. Every single one of them,” Holcomb said during a news conference Wednesday. “For us to continue to balance our lives and our livelihoods ... We don’t get to say we’ll shut everything down to zero, pull our kids out of school and figure out a way later to care for all those in need.”

Holcomb said the state is now offering to help individual counties seeing spikes access medical resources and complete contact tracing, and to educate local communities about personal responsibility in response to the virus.

Ohio said people traveling from Indiana are being asked to quarantine for 14 days. Chicago is requiring a quarantine.

Indiana governor tests negative for COVID-19

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has tested negative for COVID-19, his office said Thursday, a day after the state health commissioner announced she was infected.

Holcomb and some of his staff members underwent two types of coronavirus test and all came out negative, according to the governor’s office.

Holcomb has advocated the use of masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but has resisted calls to reimpose tougher business and crowd-size restrictions despite a recent sharp rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections.

Holcomb, 52, wore a mask during an online briefing with reporters from his Statehouse office for the first time on Wednesday. He said he would be undergoing a coronavirus test later that day and that he planned to quarantine at the governor’s residence until he had the results.

Since Holcomb’s negative test results, health officials have told the governor he can return to his normal schedule “with vigilance about masking and social distancing,” the governor’s office said.

Health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Wednesday that she, an adult daughter and her 23-month-old grandson tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Box said she didn’t have any symptoms, while her daughter and grandson had mild symptoms. She believed the infections stemmed from her grandson’s home day care site.

Holcomb said in a statement that he and his wife, Janet, hoped Box and her family make a quick recovery.

“The coronavirus does not discriminate, and this further highlights the importance of wearing masks and social distancing,” he said.

Democratic governor candidate Woody Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, said Thursday that he has asked that the candidates taking part in Tuesday’s scheduled gubernatorial debate to undergo COVID-19 tests the day before, and to make those results public.

Holcomb, Myers and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater are all expected to take part in the debate at an Indianapolis television studio.

Myers said he’s also asking for candidates’ podiums on the debate stage to be spaced as far apart from one another as possible.

“These protocols will help to prevent anyone from being exposed,” Myers said.

The nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission, which is sponsoring the debate, said it was reviewing whether it would change any safety protocols.

Holcomb campaign spokeswoman Holly Lawson said the commission has issued rules following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including physical distancing, limited access and no studio audience, and that Holcomb would be tested when necessary under those guidelines.

Rainwater said in a statement that he would follow any rules set by the debate commission but that he didn’t believe he needed a coronavirus test as he hasn’t had any COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with an infected person.