1. Gun shop owner murdered
Three Indianapolis men are accused of killing and robbing a Jennings County gun shop owner Sept. 21.
Police believe Darryl A. Worthen, 24; his brother, Dejaun A. Worthen, 23; and their cousin, Darion Harris, 20, killed 60-year-old Scott Maxie at Muscatatuck Outdoors, located on the outskirts of Hayden.
The three are accused of shooting Maxie, a Crothersville native, in the head with a .22-caliber handgun and stealing 46 guns and a laptop computer. Police discovered Darryl Worthen had been a contracted employee with FedEx who had delivered to Maxie’s store on other occasions. His most recent delivery to the shop was
Sept. 19, two days before Maxie was shot to death.
2. Two CAFOs approved; ordinance updated
The county approved two requests from local families to build confined animal feeding operations.
James Lucas and his son, Matthew, received approval in December from the Jackson County Board of Zoning Appeals to build two 4,000-head hog barns on 159 acres at 1502 W. County Road 300N in Brownstown Township.
Leah and Kyle Broshears of Seymour received approval in October to build one northwest of county roads 1050E and 200S between Dudleytown and Uniontown.
A group of homeowners living near the proposed Broshears operation later filed a lawsuit asking a judge to reverse the decision. Both CAFOs are awaiting approval from Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the last step in the approval process.
In 2014, county commissioners voted 2-1 to enact a new ordinance regulating CAFOs. It took effect Nov. 18 but will not impact the Lucas and Broshears projects because their applications were in the works before that date.
3. Same-sex marriage legalized
Gay marriage was deemed legal in Indiana in 2014, allowing same-sex couples in Jackson County to wed.
On Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to act on an appeal from Indiana opposing the action.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that Indiana’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, allowing same-sex marriage to be recognized.
This also allowed the recognition of those couples who married in June after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriages.
The first couple to be married in Jackson County were Robyn Allen and Vickie Toppe, both Seymour residents, who wed at Seymour City Hall.
4. Officer survives being shot
Jackson County Officer Rick Meyer says he’s lucky to have survived being shot two times by an 18-year-old Brownstown man during an incident May 8 at Tampico.
Meyer said that incident, which left him with bullet wounds in both shoulders, could have had a worse
“I was just thinking it was a couple of juveniles, maybe out fishing … and just being kids,” Meyer said.
Instead, the two men, Isiah Tyler Roger of Brownstown and Alexander Mullikin of North Vernon, ducked under a bridge when Meyer arrived in the area. Mullikin later came out from beneath the bridge, but Roger opened fire on Meyer when he came out.
Meyer returned fire, and Roger was hit above his left elbow.
Roger, charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and carrying a handgun as a convicted felon, is scheduled to stand trial at 8:30 a.m. March 17 in Jackson Circuit Court.
5. Standoff ends with arrest
A night of drinking apparently sparked an incident June 1 in which a man fired 25 to 30 shots at police responding to a report of a family fight.
Jeremy C. French, 41, of Seymour, who faces 11 criminal counts, including four Class A felony counts of attempted murder in connection with the incident, is set to stand trial at 8:30 a.m. May 12 in Jackson Circuit Court.
Police reported they came under fire from someone in an upstairs bedroom of French’s residence as they attempted to help his wife and other family members reach safety. At least 25 shots hit two vehicles and a house.
If convicted, French could face 20 to 50 years on each of the attempted murder counts and six to 20 years on four counts of aggravated battery.
It was another strong economic year in Jackson County.
Promised investment totaled $175 million, close to the record-setting
$177 million in 2013. The 2014 promised investment was the result of 15 projects, creating 294 jobs and retaining more than 4,600 workers.
In mid-June, Cummins Inc. broke ground on a new technical and office center in Seymour that will serve as the company’s global headquarters for its high-horsepower division.
The two-story, 89,350-square-foot office building will bring together engineers from several Cummins locations and bridge the gap between the design, testing and production of current and future high-horsepower products.
The number of employees housed in the tech center could reach more than 600 when the project is completed in 2015.
In late December, Valeo Lighting Systems in Seymour announced a $10.9 million investment and the addition of 18 jobs, giving the county more good news heading into the new year.
The county’s unemployment rate hovered at or above 5 percent for the first three months of the year. It then dipped to 4.5 percent in April before going back up to 5 percent in June. From July to November, though, the rate stayed below 5 percent, dropping to a low of 4.1 percent in September.
The 4.8 percent rate for November was the fifth-lowest in the state.
7. Preschool funding
In July, Jackson County was one of five Hoosier counties, and the only rural county, to be chosen to participate in a state-funded prekindergarten pilot program.
The On My Way Pre-K program will provide vouchers to low-income families to be used to send their 4-year-olds to local high-quality preschools.
An estimated 255 students could be enrolled starting with the 2015-16 school year.
Currently, the county has only three local preschool providers rated as a Level 3 or 4 by the state’s voluntary Paths to QUALITY program.
The rating designation is required for a preschool provider to be eligible to accept vouchers.
Dan Hodge, executive director of the Jackson County Education Coalition, said in November at least 10 providers are expected to participate by summer. Efforts continue to increase that number, however, he added.
8. Weather closes schools
Winter 2014 was not one that local educators or students would like to repeat in the new year.
By March, school corporations in Jackson County had missed 16 days and delayed 10 or more times because of snow, ice and the polar vortex — a weather pattern that caused temperatures and wind chills to fall below zero on multiple days.
To make up missed instruction time, school officials in Seymour, Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora decided to extend the school day by an hour.
Now, some Hoosier schools are looking into virtual learning as an option to make up
The option would require all students to have access to a school-issued tablet or laptop computer and the Internet at home. Currently, no school district provides the 1:1 technology model to all grade levels. Crothersville Community Schools, however, is the closest to implementing take-home devices to all students.
David Schill, principal of Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, said he hopes it’s an option his students can utilize in the near future.
9. Man beaten to death
Two men are in jail on charges of murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury after a Dupont man was beaten to death Oct. 16.
JoVonnie Antonio Mayes, 21, of Seymour, and Jody Michael Brooks, 22, of North Vernon, were charged following the death of Richard A. Smith, 52, who was beaten, stripped naked and left in a trash bin.
That all happened after Smith passed out drunk in the hallway of an apartment building on North Fifth Street in North Vernon, police reported.
10. North Vernon downtown burns
A massive fire police say was intentionally set the morning of Nov. 21 left several families homeless and destroyed a historic block in downtown North Vernon.
Two buildings collapsed and five surrounding buildings suffered some damage.
The main building affected by the fire was Hatton’s Carpet and Flooring Store, at 24 Fifth St. Owned by Larry Hatton, the three-story building housed the carpet business and apartments.
Multiple fire departments, including units from Seymour, responded to put out the flames, and six firefighters suffered minor injuries.
It was the second fire reported there in a month’s time. North Vernon Fire Chief Rick McGill said the first fire was determined to be accidental.
In early December, McGill said the North Vernon Police Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office had been speaking with “multiple persons” in the case to determine the cause.