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Federal agency to survey tornado-damaged area

(Henryville)  —  The Federal Emergency Management Agency will get a firsthand look at the devastation left behind in last Friday’s storms and tornadoes in Clark County, to determine the area’s eligibility for federal assistance. Last Sunday, Governor Mitch Daniels had declared 11 counties as disaster areas, prompting FEMA officials to begin their assessment of damages. Thirteen people were killed as a result of the tornadoes.

Family killed in tornadoes laid to rest

(Henryville)  —  The southern Indiana family of five killed in last Friday’s tornadoes have been buried.  Private funeral services were held at Life Tabernacle Church in Salem Indiana for Joseph Babcock, 21, Moriah Brough, 20, and their children, Jaydon, 2, Angel, 1 and Kendall, 2 months. Angel Babcock had been found wandering in a field after last Friday’s tornadoes touched down and was taken to a Kentucky hospital, but died a few days later after being taken off of life support.  

Body identified as missing woman

(Marion)  —  Although the exact cause of death has not been determined, the Grant County coroner’s office has confirmed the remains found last month are those of  74-year-old Noblesville resident Dorothy Heard. Heard had been missing since last summer; her body was found February 9 in a field at the Mississinewa Battlefield on County Road 600 North near Marion. Her nephew, Donald Burns, has been questioned in the case and remains a person of interest, but has not yet been charged. Investigators learned after Heard was missing, Burns used her credit card and tried to sell her ring the day she vanished.

Mother formally charged in son’s death

(Indianapolis)  —  A mother who reportedly has confessed to killing her son has been charged with murder and attempted murder. Amanda Smith, 33, is accused of drowning Jacob Smith, 3, in a bathtub last month. After her alleged crime, she summoned police to her home in Johnson County and when officers  arrived, she attempted to attack them with an ax.   Court documents claim Smith killed the boy quote, “to save him from any of the horrible things that might happen to him in the future.” Investigators said Smith had called police agencies in Johnson County more than 200 times in the last year, including 11 times over the weekend before her son’s death.

Plans advance to build Indiana-Kentucky bridges

(Louisville, KY)  —  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear have reached an agreement to pay for two new bridges over the Ohio River with construction scheduled to begin later this year.  The price tag for the project is $1.5 billion dollars less than original estimates with a completion date expected by 2018.  Kentucky will oversee the new I-65 bridge and Indiana will oversee construction of the East End bridge between Utica and Prospect, Kentucky.

Attorney General’s office monitoring gas prices

(Indianapolis)  —  Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office is paying close attention to fuel prices at area stations for any signs of gas gouging.  In a statement, Zoeller said Hoosiers are saddled with the tenth-highest gas prices in the nation this week. In February, the attorney general’s office received 18 gas price-related complaints and nine in just the past week when prices started going up.

Budget problems surfacing in IMPD

(Indianapolis)  —  Mayor Greg Ballard is warning of more cutbacks within the city’s police department. Ballard is pointing to the ongoing economic downturn, as the reason, saying the challenged economy has lasted longer than expected  and money is running short.  The Fraternal Order of Police says Ballard is making mistakes, claiming  IMPD is 20 officers shy of the number needed to maintain an agreement with the federal government that has the Justice Department paying half of the salaries of 50 officers.

Taxpayers could soon get alternative payment option

(Indianapolis)  —  Property taxpayers may have another way to avoid two huge tax bills under a new proposal. The City-County Council gave its unanimous nod yesterday to a plan by the treasurer’s office to offer monthly installment payments or automatic bank account deductions to all taxpayers, including businesses. Historically, the county has  allowed two types of monthly installment plans to some taxpayers. But one plan, for homeowners with homestead deductions, is for only part of the year and the full-year version applies only to taxpayers who meet certain conditions, including being on active military duty, older than 65, blind or disabled. Under the new proposal, all taxpayers could have the option of monthly installments for the May or November bill — or both. The proposed ordinance now goes to Mayor Greg Ballard’s desk for his signature.

Deputy arrested on charges of harassment

(Greenfield)  —  A Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy has been arrested after being accused of sending thousands of  text messages to an ex-girlfriend. Jake Smith allegedly sent more than 3200 text messages; some of them threatening to kill her if she didn’t take him back. Smith is also accused of calling the victim 164 times and sending the texts messages between January 1st and February 22nd.  He has been charged with two counts of harassment and intimidation and one felony charge of official misconduct.  Smith has been on paid suspension for a little over a month.

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