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Health Department begins drive-up testing

The Clinton County Health Department announced Monday a couple changes to COVID testing at the Edward Jones Community Building on the Clinton County and 4-H Fairgrounds at 1701 S. Jackson St. in Frankfort.

Individuals interested in being tested for COVID may now utilize the health department’s drive-up testing site outside of the Edward Jones Building. Testing will no longer be done inside the building. Pre-registration is preferred, but you may register upon arrival at the drive-up testing site. Appointments are available between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Optum, which has offered COVID testing at the site since May, is no longer operating there. According to the CCHD, those who currently have an appointment for testing at the site through Optum may re-register with Indiana State Health Department at scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov.

“We made the decision that we only need one testing site now and not two,” said Rodney Wann, administrator at the CCHD. “We also needed more room for the vaccination clinic (also located at the Edward Jones Community Building) to expand.

“This drive-up testing will keep it out of the building so that those coming into the building (for vaccinations) are more comfortable coming in,” he added. “Optum had been there since May. They served us well, but we have to cut back at some point and start moving forward. We are still No. 2 in the state for testing capacity per 100,000 people, so we have done robust testing, and now it is time to get more shots into people.”

The changes come as testing in on the decline and vaccinations are on the rise.

“We are only seeing 20 to 30 people being tested a day and not the hundreds that we were,” Wann said. “Hopefully, it will stay that way, and we will not see any resurgence that will require more testing than that.

“The hours are a little shorter but quite a bit of people can still get it. It is drive-up now,” he added. “They can drive up to the facility. There will be a number available. They let us know they are there, and our staff will communicate with them, get them swabbed, and off they go.”

The change to drive-up testing will allow the vaccination clinic to increase capacity.

“We are currently at 1,400 vaccinations a week now,” Wann said. “We went from 800 to 1,400, so we are on what we like to call Phase Two. We are calling April our ‘Big Push’ month, and it is also Volunteer Appreciation Month, so we are making a big push for more volunteers and a big push to get more vaccinations done.”

Those interested in volunteering at the health department’s COVID vaccination clinic may register to do so at serve.in.gov.

Hoosiers age 16 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To schedule a vaccine, visit https://ourshot.in.gov or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or require assistance.

Major intersection closes for the week

(Update: intersection may now be closed through Monday.)

The intersection of Ind. 28 (Walnut St.) and Ind. 39 (Jackson St.) in Frankfort was closed Monday for water main installation, and it is scheduled to reopen at 9 p.m. Friday. The closure for both directions of Ind. 28 spans Main St. to Harrison St. while the closure for both directions of Ind. 39 spans from Clinton St. to South St.

The road work is part of the Indiana Department of Transportation’s $17.9 million Ind. 28 rehabilitation project, which is schedule for completion in the fall of 2022.

The eastbound lanes of Ind. 28 between McKinney St. and Jackson St. closed last week with the westbound lane remaining open. According to INDOT, this phase of the west end of the project is scheduled to be completed August 6. At that time, traffic will be shifted onto the newly constructed eastbound lanes and the westbound lanes will close for reconstruction. The west end of the project is scheduled to be completed Oct. 31 of this year.

According to a press release sent by INDOT, the Ind. 28 rehabilitation project was awarded to E & B Paving, LLL for $17.9 million and will resurface or reconstruct portions of Ind. 28 from Co. Road 200 W. east to Jackson St., the addition of a right turn lane from westbound Ind. 28 to northbound Jackson St., and then continue with the reconstruction of Ind. 28 from Jackson St. eastward to Hoke Ave. The project also includes the addition of dedicated left turn lanes on Ind. 28 at Clay Street, the reconstruction of the storm water system, reconstruction of sidewalks to be American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant on the south side of Ind. 28 from West St. to Hoke Ave. and a shared use path on the north side of Ind. 28 for the total length of the project.

“It is going to be a tremendous improvement for traffic that drives through Frankfort on a daily basis,” said Debbie Calder, INDOT’s communications director for the Lafayette area. “We truly appreciate everyone’s patience and understand their frustrations when we have sections of the roadway closed. Ultimately, this I something that I know has been a long-awaited project. In the end, I think everybody will be very happy with the results.”

According to Project Manager Melissa Patton, each tree removed during the project will be replaced.

The official detour for regional and long-distance traffic follows I-65 to Ind. 47 to Ind. 39 and back.

In advance of the project’s April 1 start, the City of Frankfort shared plans to detour local truck traffic away from downtown Frankfort for the project’s duration to help local truck traffic avoid the road closures on Ind. 28 while protecting secondary streets.

Local trucks heading east on State Road 28 into Frankfort should use the following routes:

Northbound – Turn north off of Ind. 28 onto N. Co. Road 200 W. then turn north onto US 421.

Southbound – Turn south on Prairie Ave., east on W. Co. Road 200 S. (Greenlawn) and then south on Ind. 39.

Eastbound – Follow the southbound detour (see above) to Ind. 39. Turn north on Ind. 39 and then east on Kelley Road. Take Kelley Road to US 421.

“While we want outside traffic to follow the INDOT detours, we would like to provide a more reasonable route for our local companies to easily avoid the road closures with minimal impact to secondary streets,” Frankfort Street Department Superintendent Jason Forsythe said. “We ask drivers to be patient throughout this road improvement process. I believe the end result will be worth the temporary inconveniences these detours may cause.”

Center of Hope expands services to IU Health Frankfort

The Center of Hope at Indiana University Health Arnett offers victims of sexual and physical abuse a safe space to receive treatment and care after an assault. Now the program has extended to both IU Health Frankfort and IU Health White Memorial hospitals, ensuring patients have close-to-home access to high quality forensic nurses, specialized equipment and compassionate, private care.

“We want victims to know that they are not alone. Even if they do not wish to report the assault to law enforcement, we can help,” stated Megan Shupe, BSN, RN, CEN, FNE at IU Health Arnett Center of Hope. “Victims deserve care and attention from a special group of professionals who are ready to help in their time of need.”

Patient care begins with a medical legal examination that includes an interview where the patient recalls as much detail as possible from the incident and the perpetrator. The interview is followed by a thorough exam that includes body mapping and swabbing, identifying lacerations, bruises and areas that may provide forensic evidence – such as particles of skin from beneath the fingernails, a possible sign of the victim scratching the perpetrator during defense. A special camera is used to photograph the victim’s injuries.

Sexual assault and domestic violence can happen to anyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four women and one in nine men have been a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. One in three women and one in six men have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. One in four children have been the victim of abuse or neglect. Domestic violence occurs across the world and affects people at all levels of economic status.

The Centers of Hope across the West Central Region will provide highly skilled and trained forensic nurses on-call 24/7 to assist patients of abuse. The new locations will also eliminate the need to transfer patients, allowing them to receive this specialized care without the additional trauma of being transferred to other facilities. With one in three Hoosier women experiencing a sexual assault at some point in their lives, and men and children at risk as well, there has never been a better time to address this critical need.

The Centers of Hope are located within the Emergency Department at IU Health Arnett Hospital, IU Health Frankfort Hospital and IU Health White Memorial Hospital. For urgent needs, please call 911 or 838-5100.

Cat spent days in Indiana tree, is rescued after big plunge

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A cat that spent days stuck in a tree in southwestern Indiana is back on solid ground after surviving a dramatic plunge when a tree service company cut the limb it had been clinging to because the feline was beyond its rescuer's reach.

The cat, nicknamed “Batcat” on social media, was extremely weak and dehydrated Monday after its ordeal lasting about a week ended in Evansville.

When someone mentioned the cat’s dayslong plight at the High Score Saloon, the bar’s owners, Jared Neible and Clint Hoskins, pledged $200 for a tree service to rescue the animal from the tree, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

A worker for DJ’s Tree Service was raised in a bucket truck into the tree Monday, but the cat was too tired and scared to move, so he used a saw to cut the limb the cat was on. The cat plunged about 70 feet (21 meters), but appeared fine afterwards.

“It was very scary watching the tree limb go down and the cat come down. But it’s the only way that they could get the cat to come down," Joshua Diehl, who owns the tree the cat was marooned in, told WFIE-TV. "I can truly say that without a doubt that cats do land on their feet.”

The cat is being cared for at a local veterinary hospital, while the High Score Saloon is raising donations to pay the feline's veterinary care for dehydration and weakness.

Buchanan to meet with CSF board

The Community Schools of Frankfort Board of School Trustees will meet with State Senator Brian Buchanan (R-D7) during a 6 p.m. public work session Thursday inside the CSF Education and Administration Center at 2400 E. Wabash St.

“Brain requested to meet with our school board,” school board member Karen Sutton said. “You are probably aware that this year the legislature has several bills that we have been opposed to, particularly school vouchers and ESAs (Education Savings Accounts) bills.”

During its March meeting, the CSF school board and the Frankfort Education Association passed a joint resolution opposing House Bill 1005 and Senate Bill 413.

“Our school corporation and teachers’ association agree that HB 1005 and SB 413 do not represent responsible spending of public tax dollars and only further delay opportunities to improve teacher pay in Indiana, which continues to lag behind most other states,” CSF Superintendent Joel McKinney wrote in an email to local media in March.

By late March, more than 170 Indiana public school boards had passed similar resolutions opposing HB 1005, SB 412 and SB 413, all of which can be found and read in their entirety at http://iga.in.gov.

“Schools Boards across the state have been doing that,” Sutton said. “Numerous school boards have passed these resolutions, yet the legislature doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to what we are thinking. (Buchanan) asked if he could sit down with the school board so that he can ask us some questions and we can ask him some questions.”

Sutton says that her main concern with HB 1005 and SB 413 has to do with the expansion of school vouchers and educational scholarships (or ESAs).

“There are a lot of reasons why we oppose these bills,” Sutton said. “We believe that it is removing funding from public schools and sending it to private schools. The legislature believes parents should have the ability to choose which school (their children) go to. Personally, I am not against ‘school choice.’ However, the accountability that public schools have in spending those tax dollars – there are a lot of rules and regulations that we are required by law and the state legislature to be accountable for in the spending of those tax dollars, whereas private school do not have those same standards.

“School vouchers originally were promoted and passed for basically low-income families to be able to utilize the funds that follow the child to private schools, and making that the choice of the parents,” Sutton added. “However, in these bills, it has raised the eligibility level of a family of four to $175,000 (annual income), which is not a low-income family. We find that is really not the best use of tax dollars. There are a lot of other reasons that we are against it, but those are the main things.

“It is a huge issue,” she continued. “It is removing public funds that public schools need. It is very perplexing to me.”