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May 31, 2020

Vernon Fire Department breaks ground
Vernon Fire Department breaks ground
The Vernon Fire Department broke ground last week to begin construction of its new fire station. The project was designed by FPBH Inc.; Bradshaw Building Specialties is the general contractor, with Schneider Trucking and Excavating, a subcontractor, prepared the site. Pictured from left are: Nick Trulock, a Vernon firefighter; Britt Burgmeier, VTVFD president; Vernon Mayor Dan Wright; VTVFD Capt. Rob Loretz; Brad Bender, FPBH; Vernon Township Trustee Roger Taylor; VTVFD Chief Eric Kirkham; Justin Bradshaw. Bradshaw Building Specialties; Josh Shaw, FPBH; and Kyle Schneider and Jake Suhre, both of Schneider. - Photo courtesy of FPBH Inc.

Travel Advisory - Level Orange
Travel status by county, as of Friday, April 3. Jennings County's status will be upgraded to Level Orange effective Saturday, April 4, at 8 a.m.
Travel status by county, as of Friday, April 3. Jennings County's status will be upgraded to Level Orange effective Saturday, April 4, at 8 a.m.
The Jennings County Commissioners and officials from North Vernon and Vernon announced today that the travel status will be upgraded from yellow to orange, effective at 8 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, April 4.
Additionally, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said today that he will extend his statewide Stay at Home order through Sunday, May 3. The official order will be signed Monday.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Poll locations for June 2 Primary
The Jennings County Election Board voted to combine poll locations and use the school buildings, instead of the county's traditional locations.

The following is a list of the precincts and where voters will have to go to vote.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Marantos charged in Kirby death
Days after a Country Squire Lakes man was reported missing by his family, a search-and-recovery mission to find Brian Kirby, 52, evolved into a full-fledged murder investigation.

The result: Alan Joseph Marantos, 34, of North Vernon, was charged Thursday with Kirby's murder and numerous other
charges, some resulting from an investigation into an unrelated robbery case in Jackson County, which occurred around the time Kirby disappeared.

Marantos remains in Jackson County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest April 2 on robbery charges. He is being held without bail; he is to appear in Jennings County Circuit Court at 8:30 a.m. Friday, June 5.

Jennings County Prosecutor Brian Belding told the PD&S Friday that investigators believe Marantos killed Kirby and dismembered his body.

In an interview Tuesday, Jennings County Sheriff Kenny Freeman and Detective Sgt. Jeff Jones, who led the investigation, said Marantos allegedly attempted to use fire to destroy Kirby's remains, which were found scattered in different locations.

As a result of his actions, and the alleged robbery in Jackson County, Marantos also faces several other felony charges: robbery, a Level 2 felony; aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; abuse of a corpse, obstruction of justice and possession of methamphetamine, all Level 6 felonies; and misdemeanor charges of intimidation, resisting law enforcement and leaving the scene of a crash, according to a news release Thursday from the Indiana State Police Versailles District.

"This is not a typical case," Belding said. He said many of the details had been withheld from the public until he could sit down with Kirby's family to discuss the charges he had filed against Marantos.

"The allegation is awful, and my heart goes out to the Kirby family and their friends," Belding said.

In Tuesday's interview, Freeman and Jones both expressed sympathy for the family, as well, when they realized it was no longer a missing-persons case.

"I wish, for the family, that this never happened," Freeman said. "You want [Kirby] to show up, but that's not the way it happened."

He said Kirby's family has been kept informed throughout the investigation. "They deserve that."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pandemic: Life lessons from the coronavirus
It will be a bittersweet weekend for the Jennings County High School Class of 2020, as they take turns walking the stage individually, in shifts, to receive their diplomas with only family members watching.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NV parks director hopes to open new pool June 14
Last fall, the North Vernon Parks and Recreation Board was looking forward to making a huge splash on this past Memorial Day weekend, with the opening of the city's brand-new pool and splash pad.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

North Vernon Man Arrested for Murder
Jennings County Prosecutor Brian Belding has released charging information for Alan Joseph Marantos, 34, accused of killing and dismembering the body of Brian K. Kirby, 52.

Marantos, who is being held at the Jackson County Jail on other unrelated charges, will face the following in Jennings: murder; robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 2 Felony (L2F); aggravated battery, an L3F; obstruction of justice, possession of meth and abuse of a corpse, L6Fs; intimidation and resisting law enforcement, Class A misdemeanors; and leaving the scene of an accident, a B misdemeanor.

He will be held without bail.

Charges were filed Thursday, but Belding said he withheld information about the charges until after he met with Kirby's family members to discuss his decision.

The investigation began on March 28, 2020 when Kirby's family reported him missing. He was last seen alive on Primshire Court the day before.
Belding credited the "fantastic job of cooperation between various agencies" with developing the case to date. What started out as a missing persons case soon devolved into a case that will go down as one of the most depraved crimes in local history.

"This is not a typical case," he said of the burning and mutilation of the victim's body. "The allegation is awful and my heart goes out to the Kirby family and their friends."

Friday, May 22, 2020

Virus testing set in Jennings
In an effort to expand COVID-19 testing to as many Hoosiers as possible, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is partnering with OptumServe Health Services to offer COVID-19 test sites across the state.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Suspect in local man's murder dies in custody
Detectives with the Indiana State Police-Versailles Post are conducting an investigation into the death of an inmate being held on a murder charge at the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

JCSO reboots annual report, website
Providing the public with information about what's happening at the Jennings County Sheriff's Office and the Jennings County Jail is the impetus behind a redesign of the department's website and of the annual jail report, both set in motion by Sheriff Kenny Freeman.

For the report, "we collected data that we thought was relevent to the public, and help residents understand what we do," Freeman said Tuesday. "We don't sit around just watching traffic."

Indeed, the department has been busy.

In 2019, officers booked 2,362 inmates, including one juvenile, and released the same number. Officers also handled one escape. About 400 inmates were transported during the year, logging around 65,000 miles.

Freeman said the recidivism rate, in which the same offenders are arrested more than once, hovers at about 60 percent of the 2,300 people brought into the jail.

That indicates that the county's troublemakers comprise only a small percentage of the county's total population. He hopes this information will help the department "get to the root of the problem" with recidivism in the county.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

JCYF handing out kids' meals for it's summer food program
In addition to local food banks, several programs are providing meals to adults and children this summer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Extension planning virtual 2020 4-H Fair
The 2020 Jennings County 4-H Fair will go on, but without the traditional sights, sounds and smells of the midway and livestock barns.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lucas defends Facebook posts
I did it. I own it. I accept 100 percent responsibility. Not my family. Not my friends. Not the Indiana Republican Party or anyone else.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Indiana NAACP calls for governor to remove Lucas
A meme created and posted on Facebook by state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, which ignited controversy and a call to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his removal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Graduation plans set for JCHS seniors
Jennings County's Class of 2020 will have graduation the weekend of May 30, but it won't look anything like a traditional ceremony.

The event, which will be held over three days, will include a video of pre-recorded speeches from Principal Dustin Roller, Superintendent Teresa Brown, student speakers, and footage of previous choir and band performances.

"Every student will be recognized for their accomplishments," Principal Roller said in a video announcement to seniors Monday. "Seniors' photos will be displayed as their names are read out loud, just as if you were crossing the stage."

The video will be available on the JCHS YouTube Channel and the JCHS Facebook page, as well as the school's website. Also, it will be aired on local cable channels several times through the week of Friday, May 29, through June 5.

"My goal was to hold out, and I apologize to anyone who is frustrated by this," Roller told seniors in a video announcement Monday.

"I know it's not what we all had hoped for, but we have worked with our county health department, looked at the state guidelines and recommendations from the CDC. We think we have come up with a plan that, while not traditional, can still honor our seniors in the best way possible."

With 239 seniors graduating, Roller said even if crowds of up to 250 people are allowed as of July 4, there are no guarantees that the governor's "Back on Track" plan will be successful enough to meet that goal. He said even the football field would pose problems, mostly for maintaining social distancing guidelines with families who might attend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Inspection report shows only two issues with Jennings County jail
The 2019 Annual Jail Report for the Jennings County Sheriff's Office was released this week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fair Board considers options
The annual county fair may - or may not - go on this year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Seymour man charged in Jennings man's death
A Jennings County man was the victim May 6 of an apparent murder at an apartment on Bent Tree Lane in Seymour.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

JCUW offers grants for COVID-19 relief
The Jennings County United Way recently was approved to receive a $175,000 grant to boost the efforts of nonprofits working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Jennings man shot to death Wednesday
A rural Jennings County resident was shot to death early Wednesday morning in Seymour.

Dead is Ryan Joseph Ross, 28, who grew up here and graduated from JCHS in 2010. According to news reports, Seymour police answered a call about a shooting on the east side of that town at 5:37 a.m. Wednesday.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Despite some restrictions being lifted statewide as of Monday, May 4, Hoosiers 65 and older, or those with high-risk health conditioned are asked to continuing self-quarantine or self-isolation. In all cases, compliance with CDC guidelines is required.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Adapting to the 'new' normal
Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention - especially in times of crisis.

In Jennings and surrounding counties, manufacturers are finding ways to adapt in the era of COVID-19, not just to keep employees working, but also to provide personal protective gear, known as PPE, for medical and healthcare workers, as well as other businesses, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which so far has claimed the lives of three Jennings County residents.

For example, Layman Fabrication on North Fourth Street, North Vernon, is designing a product to allow people to open doors with their feet, rather than their hands.

"We had a couple of requests for them," said co-owner Kyle Layman. Interested customers had even provided photographs of other models to show what it was they wanted. "Several people have ordered them."

The company also is producing face shields for eye doctors and plastic standing shields to help protect receptionists and others who must deal with patients and the public one-on-one.

"It keeps us busy," he said, adding that while the facility had closed briefly in March because of the pandemic, all 17 employees are back at work and construction of their new facility is moving forward again.

His employees are on the lookout for other products they may be able to make as the pandemic continues. "Everything changes every day. We're doing whatever we can do," he said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Third Jennings resident dies
A third Jennings County resident has died from COVID-19. County health nurse Pam Petry said the person had been a patient in an out-of-town hospital last week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Special meeting called to discuss county reopening
Jennings County Commissioners will hold a special meeting via video-conferencing at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, as a follow-up to an April 30 special meeting in which they voted to extend the local stay-at-home orders through May 7.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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