Community News

New feature helps producers find farm loans that fit their operation

A new online tool can help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm loans that may best fit their operations. USDA has launched the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest feature on, the Department’s self-service website for farmers.


“Access to credit is critical in the agriculture industry, especially for new farmers,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “This new interactive tool can help farmers find information on USDA farm loans within minutes. We are working to improve our customer service, and part of our solution is through improving how farmers can work with us online.”


USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a variety of loan options to help farmers finance their operations. From buying land to financing the purchase of equipment, FSA loans can help. Compared to this time last year, FSA has seen an 18 percent increase in the amount it has obligated for direct farm ownership loans, and through the 2018 Farm Bill, has increased the limits for several loan products.


USDA conducted field research in eight states, gathering input from farmers and FSA farm loan staff to better understand their needs and challenges.


“We received suggestions from both farmers and our staff on how to improve the farm loan process, and we wanted to harness this opportunity to be more efficient and effective,” Northey said. “This feature is one step in our efforts.”


How the Tool Works


Farmers who are looking for financing options to operate a farm or buy land can answer a few simple questions about what they are looking to fund and how much money they need to borrow. After submitting their answers, farmers will be provided information on farm loans that best fit their specific needs. The loan application and additional resources also will be provided.


Farmers can download application quick guides that outline what to expect from preparing an application to receiving a loan decision. There are four guides that cover loans to individuals, entities, and youth, as well as information on microloans. The guides include general eligibility requirements and a list of required forms and documentation for each type of loan. These guides can help farmers prepare before their first USDA service center visit with a loan officer.


Farmers can access the Farm Loan Discovery Tool by visiting and clicking the “Start” button. Follow the prompts and answer five simple questions to receive loan information that is applicable to your agricultural operation. The tool is built to run on any modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or the Safari browser, and is fully functional on mobile devices. It does not work in Internet Explorer.




In 2018, USDA unveiled, a dynamic, mobile-friendly public website combined with an authenticated portal where farmers will be able to apply for programs, process transactions, and manage accounts.


The Farm Loan Discovery Tool is one of many resources on to help connect farmers to information that can help their operations. Earlier this year, USDA launched the My Financial Information feature, which enables farmers to view their loan information, history, payments, and alerts by logging into the website.


USDA is building for farmers, by farmers. In addition to the interactive farm loan features, the site also offers a Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool. Farmers can visit to find disaster assistance programs that can help their operation recover from natural disasters.


With feedback from customers and field employees who serve those customers, delivers farmer-focused features through an agile, iterative process to deliver the greatest immediate value to America’s agricultural producers – helping farmers and ranchers do right, and feed everyone.


For more information or to locate your USDA Service Center, visit

Duke Energy offers customers tips for managing electricity costs as summer heat rises

Trying to stay cool during this heat wave? That probably means you’re using more energy at home – which can lead to a higher energy bill. Air conditioners use a lot of electricity, but there are a few things you can do to help avoid surprises on your monthly bill.


Three tips for understanding your bill

The first step to keeping your bill in check is understanding what’s on it. Here’s what to look for:

Billing cycle length
Check the number of days in your billing cycle. Most bills cover 30 days, but sometimes it varies. Bills that cover more days can be higher.

Average kWh
Look at average kilowatt-hour (kWh) use per day. At first glance your bill may look higher, but if your average use is similar to the same time last year, or similar to another month with extreme temps, it’s a normal bill.

Online usage tools
If you have a smart meter, check for a daily usage analysis tool online. Smart meters collect info by the hour, so you can check for spikes in energy use to see what appliances and behaviors are increasing your bill.


10 ways to avoid billing surprises

Now for the good stuff. Here are some things you can do to keep tabs on your energy use and lower your bill.

1.    Get usage alerts.
The best way to avoid billing surprises is to track your use. Duke Energy customers with a smart meter can sign up for Usage Alerts. Similar to data alerts you get from your cellphone company, you can set a budget amount for your monthly energy bill and receive notices when you are approaching your limit.

2.    Upgrade your bulbs.
Replace standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs are more efficient than regular bulbs and emit less heat, while giving off the same amount of light.

3.    Check your HVAC.
Have your heating and cooling system checked to maintain performance. Duke Energy offers qualified customers rebates to help offset the cost of replacing older units with energy-efficient ones. Use to find a certified contractor.

4.    Change your filters.
Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes an HVAC system work harder and use more energy.

5.    Adjust your thermostat.
Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy bill will be.

6.    Shut the blinds.
Close blinds and curtains on sunny days.

7.    Put the whole-house fan to work.
If you have a whole-house fan, use it to pull cool air into your home at night or in the early morning through open windows. Turn the fan off and shut the windows during the day.

8.    Use exhaust fans.
Bathroom and kitchen fans remove heat and humidity from showering and cooking. (And take short showers instead of baths to save even more year-round.)

9.    Cool off with ceiling fans.
A ceiling fan can cool you off enough that you’ll feel comfortable raising the thermostat a few degrees.

10. Save washing for the evening.
Run your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at night when it’s cooler. Also, run full loads and consider air drying dishes and clothes to save even more.

Assistance programs

To help manage your energy use, Duke Energy offers assistance programs and services, including:

  • Budget Billing gives customers better control over their energy spending by establishing predictable monthly payments.
  • Online savings calculators help customers understand how their homes use energy – and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their summer bills.
  • Eligible homeowners can get a free home energy assessment, which includes an Energy Efficiency Starter Kit containing LEDs, an energy-efficient showerhead and switch and outlet energy seals.


Duke Energy Indiana 


Duke Energy Indiana, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides about 6,600 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 840,000 customers in a 23,000-square-mile service area, making it Indiana’s largest electric supplier.

USDA extends deadline to report spring-seeded crops in Indiana

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to file crop acreage reports for agricultural producers in Indiana impacted by flooding and heavy moisture. The new July 22 deadline applies to reporting spring-seeded crops to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and federal crop insurance agents.


“Agriculture operations throughout the state have been hit hard by heavy rains and flooding that have affected their operations,” said Steven Brown, FSA State Executive Director in Indiana. “The deadline extension provides more flexibility for producers who experienced planting and field work delays.”


Filing a timely crop acreage report is important to maintaining eligibility for USDA conservation, disaster assistance, safety net, crop insurance and farm loan programs. A crop acreage report documents all crops and their intended uses and is an important part of record-keeping for your farm or ranch.


Producers filing reports with FSA county offices are encouraged to set up an appointment before visiting the office. Acreage reports from producers in Indiana who set up appointments before the July 22 deadline are considered timely filed, even if the appointment occurs after the deadline.  


The following exceptions apply to acreage reporting:


If the crop has not been planted by the reporting date, the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.


If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above acreage reporting date, the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendars days after purchasing or acquiring the lease. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county office.

“Even though the deadline has been extended, I encourage producers to contact their local FSA office today to schedule an appointment to report acreage,” Brown said.

- more -


Other USDA Efforts to Help Producers


USDA is taking additional steps to help producers across the country, including:


Updating the haying and grazing date for producers who have planted cover crops on prevented plant acres;


Offering special sign-ups through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for assistance to plant cover crops; and


Extending the deadline to report prevented plant acres in certain places.


For more information, visit our Prevented or Delayed Planting webpage.


More Information


To learn more, contact your FSA county office or visit or

FUSE announces new Executive Director

FUSE is pleased to announce that Joanne Tedescohas been appointed as Executive Director and will officially take the helm in mid-August when she relocates with her family to central Indiana. 


As a mother of child with a disability, a Human Rights Commissioner who has focused on educating her community about the disability population, a newly elected School Board member, and a public relations and branding professional, Tedesco brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the table.  


In addition, Joanne was one of 34 Indiana residents chosen to be part of the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities - Partners in Policymaking Academy and graduated in 2017.


“Joanne certainly has a heart for the disability community.  It was obvious when we first met her that her drive and passion for this population sparks a certain energy within her that fuels her to create events, educate families and do all that she can to make an impact,” said Denise Arland, previous Executive Director and Co-founder of FUSE.


As a Human Rights Commissioner in Michigan City, Tedesco worked tirelessly to educate her community and raise the awareness about issues that impact the disability population.  In this role she partnered with Michigan City Area Schools, prior to securing a seat on the School Board, to recognize Special Education staff including support staff and therapists who enrich the lives of students with disabilities and push them toward independence.This year alone, and as a soldier of one, she developed, promoted and hosted six events – The Special Education Forum, The Autism Forum, Multiple Sclerosis – the Invisible Disability, The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Forum and two appreciation events for Special Education staff and bus drivers and monitors.


“The selection of a new Executive Director is one of the most important duties a Board of Directors has to perform to ensure the future success of the organization,” said Cheryl Blocher, FUSE Board President. “Joanne has just the right combination of skills and passion to lead our organization into the future. We look forward to her getting started.”


As the founder of the Michigan City Parents Support Group, she hosted events to try and raise the bar on disability awareness.  The events focused on special education offerings and services in Michigan City Area Schools, parents’ rights and Article 7, sub-minimum wage with the showing of the movie, Bottom Dollar, Autism and ABA therapy, Down Syndrome and Vocational Rehabilitation services available locally to adults and children.


“It’s just simply my calling to increase awareness of people with disabilities to ensure equality for ALL people,” said Tedesco.  “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with families and individuals in Hancock and Shelby counties as well as others across central Indiana.”





In 2017, during Disability Awareness month (March) Tedesco announced the formation of Dance with Me, a creative movement class for children with disabilities, developed through a local partnership with a dance studio.  The class offers the disability community the opportunity to participate in a freeing activity that has no boundaries.

Tedesco is also a Board Member of the Mental Illness Advisory Council (Indiana Disability Rights) and Special Olympics of LaPorte where she worked to develop a bowling league for youth with disabilities.

Families United for Support and Encouragement (FUSE) is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization (Federal I.D. # 35-2106430) that empowers families and individuals with disabilities and mental health needs by providing information, training, support, and encouragement. FUSE serves individuals and families across central Indiana, with educational events hosted monthly in Hancock and Shelby counties. To request information or support, contact FUSE at 317-462-9064 or visit

Our Hospice of South Central Indiana offers Camp Eva, a bereavement camp for children ages 5-12

Our Hospice of South Central Indiana is offering a half-day bereavement camp for children on Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 11:30AM-5:30 PM.  Any child ages 5-12, who has experienced the death of a significant person or persons in their lives, is welcome and encouraged to attend. Camp Eva provides a structured and supportive environment for children to openly share their feelings and memories of their loved one.


“Children experience grief differently than adults,” said Jessica Curd, Social Worker at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana. “Children often grieve in spurts as it is difficult to handle these challenging feelings all at once. Children may also incorporate themes of death and dying into their play. They also cope with grief differently at various developmental stages. Their grief may express itself in various emotions including anger, sadness, shock, fear and sometimes relief. “


Camp Eva was started by Melissa Clark in 2016 and since 2017, Our Hospice has partnered to grow the camp and provide this important outlet to children in our communities.Melissa has been a volunteer for Our Hospice since 2015 and is also a trained social worker.


Our Hospice President, Laura Leonard, said, “We are so pleased to be able to provide bereavement services to children and grateful to our donors who provide the funds for us to offer this important camp and support these children and families through their grief.”


Curd continued, “Any child who has experienced a loss is welcome to attend! The camp is free of charge. This camp is important because it allows children to explore and express their grief through various creative medium including arts, music, pet therapy, play theatre, interactive and team building exercises and a balloon release.  This gives a safe and confidential space to process grief with other children and also be able to balance a heavy topic with some play and fun. It is truly important to give children the free space to talk and express their feelings. Adults may believe that it will cause more harm for a child to talk about death but typically talking is a way to work through concerns or questions they may have and to come to terms with the loss. Children are usually often very aware and know more than we may realize. Problems can arise if we ignore or avoid difficult topics. When addressing grief in children, it is important to use clear and concrete language and to meet them at their developmental stage. This camp strives to implement such an approach and many of its volunteers are trained hospice and bereavement specialists.”


Camp Eva was created to provide a nurturing environment for grieving children to remember their loved ones and connect to other children their age. The Clark family created the camp in memory of their daughter and sister, Eva Julianna Clark, who was stillborn in August 2013. The camp was started under the Eva's Hands Project and in 2017 became an annual service offered through Our Hospice of South Central Indiana.


Camp Eva takes place from 11:30 AM-5:30 PM on Saturday, September 14 and this year will be held at Columbus Youth Camp at 12454 West Youth Camp Road in Columbus. Registration is open now and pre-registration is required by September 9th to attend this year’s camp. Registration materials are available on the Our Hospice website at


A 1 hour parent/caregiver meeting is included as part of the Camp. Questions can be directed to Jessica Curd at 812-314-8044 or


If you want to know more about Our Hospice and how we support patients and families, please contact us at 812-314-8083 or 800-841-4983ext. 8083.

State Fire Marshal, IDHS urging all Hoosiers to practice firework safety

As Independence Day approaches, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) encourages all Hoosiers to visit and become familiar with proper firework safety and state laws. 


“While fireworks are fun to set off and watch, they can be life threatening and disastrous if proper safety precautions aren’t taken,” said State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. “When using personal fireworks, always follow the written instructions on the packaging, and make sure a water source is nearby in case of a fire.”


The State Fire Marshal oversees the IDHS Division of Fire and Building Safety. Each year, the division permits retailers and wholesalers of fireworks within Indiana.


To keep this Independence Day fun filled for everyone involved, safety is encouraged by following these tips found on


  • Never smoke or consume alcohol when lighting fireworks.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
  • Do not attempt to make or alter any fireworks or firework devices.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or water supply, such as a hose or bucket of water, nearby.
  • Only light one firework at a time and never attempt to re-light or fix a “dud” firework.
  • Be considerate of individuals with post-traumatic stress and other types of medical conditions. The noise can cause severe stress and reaction in neighbors.
  • Think about pets. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by firework sounds.

When can fireworks be used?

  • July 4: from 10 a.m. to midnight;
  • July 5-July 9: from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset

For more information on firework and Independence Day safety, visit

More drugged drivers in fatal crashes than alcohol impaired

A report published this week finds high rates of fatal crashes involving drugged drivers and that alcohol-impaired drivers are more likely to cause traffic deaths and injuries.


The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) partners with the Indiana University Public Policy Institute to analyze crash statistics for the annual Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fact Sheet, which is available at


After a crash involving death or serious bodily injury, the responding law-enforcement agency is required to offer a portable breath test or blood test to the drivers involved. In 2018, more drivers tested positive for drugs after a fatal crash than were alcohol impaired.


Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 1.6 percent of Indiana property damage crashes and 3.2 percent of injury crashes, but fully 8 percent of fatal crashes. Rates of alcohol-impaired crashes in Indiana were highest on weekends between midnight and 4 a.m., the same time when the rate of traffic deaths and serious injuries were highest.


Vehicle drivers made up two thirds of road users killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, and about three fourths of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes were males.

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving


Independence Day

AAA and mobility analytics company INRIX predict that 41.4 million Americans will travel by car this week for the Independence Day holiday, a 4.3 percent increase from last year. Drivers making their way home from summer festivities must remember that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.



In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under age 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year.


Impaired driving can also include prescription and illegal drugs. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Anyone taking a new or higher dose of a drug should speak with their doctor about driving or avoid it until they know the effect the drug could have.


Impaired boating

This weekend, July 5-7, Indiana Conservation Officers will increase enforcement of boating-under-the-influence laws, which are the same on bodies of water as they are on the road. More information is on the national Operation Dry Water website,


Ride sober

Motorcycles are about 3 percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically over-represented in impaired driving crashes. And the more that bikers are impaired, the less likely they are to wear helmets.


Sober driving tips

With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to impaired driving:


    Designate, or be, a sober driver.

    Use public transportation.

    Call a cab or a ridesharing service.

    Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Apple App Store or Android Play Store. This simple app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend, and identify your location for pickup.

    Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.

    Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.

    Never provide alcohol to minors.

    Ask young drivers about their plans.

    Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.


Report impaired drivers

If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include:


    Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line

    Driving at a very slow speed

    Braking erratically

    Making wide turns

    Stopping without cause

    Responding slowly to traffic signals

    Driving after dark with headlights off

    Closely missing an object or vehicle

    Turning abruptly or illegally

    Driving on the wrong side of the road


Drivers should also watch for impaired pedestrians who may not be paying attention to their surroundings.

Health officials urge precautions against mosquitoes due to West Nile virus activity

State health officials have confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in two counties and are urging Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from the insects and the diseases they can carry.


As of July 1, mosquitoes in Elkhart and Clark counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. No human cases of West Nile virus disease have been detected so far in 2019; however, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) expects to see increased West Nile activity throughout the state as the season progresses.


“Each year, we see people become ill as a result of mosquito bites,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “When we find evidence of the virus in multiple counties, that means the risk is starting to increase statewide. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so Hoosiers in every county should be taking precautions.”


Health officials recommend the following preventive measures:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning);
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas;
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.


Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding grounds:

  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
  • Repair failed septic systems;
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically;
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.


West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or even death. People who think they may have West Nile virus should see their healthcare provider.


To see the latest results of ISDH’s mosquito surveillance, go to To learn more about West Nile virus, visit


For important health updates, visit or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at

Indiana Farm Service Agency extends prevented plant crop reporting deadline for non-insured, non-NAP producers to July 15

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is extending the prevented plant crop reporting deadline for Indiana producers affected by spring flooding and excessive moisture.


Producers without crop insurance or NAP coverage in Indiana now have until July 15, 2019, to report acres they intended to plant this spring but could not due to weather conditions. The new deadline coincides with the July 15, 2019, FSA crop acreage reporting deadline that is already in place.


“Producers need to report prevented plant acres to retain eligibility for FSA program benefits,” Steven Brown, State Executive Director said. “In many areas of the state, excessive moisture has made it challenging for producers to get into their fields to plant and this deadline extension provides reporting flexibility.”


Normally, the prevented plant reporting deadline is 15 calendar days after the final planting date for a crop as established by FSA and the Risk Management Agency (RMA). The prevented plant reporting deadline extension to July 15 only applies to FSA and does not change any RMA crop insurance reporting deadline requirements.


However, the extension does not apply to crops covered by FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Producers should check with their local FSA office regarding prevented plant provisions for NAP-covered crops.


Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office as soon as possible to make an appointment to report prevented plant acres and submit their spring crop acreage report. To locate your local FSA office, visit


For information regarding RMA crop insurance, contact your Approved Insurance Provider. To find your provider, visit

DNR: Brown County SP overnight facilities remain closed; limited day use continues

At Brown County State Park, the campgrounds, cabins and Abe Martin Lodge closures have been extended another day through at least Wednesday, June 26. Campers and lodge guests with reservations have been contacted directly. 

The park will continue with day use activities and services only on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 25 -26. This includes such activities as sight-seeing, fishing and picnicking. Gates are staffed, but no admission is charged. The Saddle Barn is also open for guided horseback rides.

Abe Martin Lodge remains closed, and the pools, and drinking fountains remain closed. Modern restrooms are closed, but vault toilets are available. Guests who visit for permitted activities must bring their own drinking water, although bottled water and packaged snacks are now available at the park’s Country Store near the campground.

The nature center and park office remain open, but restrooms in those buildings are closed. Hiking trails 1 and 3 are fully open; trails 2, 8, 9, and 10 are open but with some washouts so please use caution. Hiking trails 4, 5, 6, and 7 are closed. Mountain bike trails and horse trails remain closed.
The park vistas, for which Brown County is so well known, are beautiful and green as they always are in summer.

Park staff, working together with DNR’s Division of Engineering, consultants and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) are making daily progress in removing the excess sediment from water from Ogle Lake to produce a potable water supply. Park staff are also continuing the process of evaluating the more than 116 miles of trails of all types and conducting initial repairs.

Closure of overnight facilities beyond Wednesday night will be evaluated as we watch lake conditions and rainfall, and as we receive water test results.

Brown Co. State Park to stay closed thru Thursday; day-to-day decision after

Brown County State Park and Abe Martin Lodge will be closed through Thursday June 20. There is still too much sediment from last weekend’s heavy rainfall coming into the system to allow the production of potable water.


State Parks staff members are contacting guests with reservations through Thursday evening in the campground and at the Abe Martin Lodge with cancellation notices. With additional heavy rainfall predicted, closure beyond Thursday is still a day by day decision.

Staff members are working in partnership with DNR’s Division of Engineering, consultants and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to ensure that when the park reopens there is safe drinking water and water for all needed uses across the park.

Big band music featuring Shelbyville HS singer at The Strand in July

The Strand welcomes back The Sound of Dreams Big Band.  


Under the leadership of Ron Duncan, this 17 piece big band will bring the sounds of the era back to the Strand.    The repertoire includes all your favorites plus music from today.   The band will feature Shelbyville High School student McKenna Hall.


"I am very grateful for the opportunity to perform with the Sounds of Dreams Big Band and I'm so excited to be back on the Strand's stage!   It is going to be a great show!", said Hall.

Sounds of Dreams has a spirit of being laid back but full of energy. The members of the band are incredible musicians, all team players, full of encouragement and humor. When you hear and see the band – there is a real sense of joy coming from the bandstand.

Ron Duncan says, "Seventeen musicians bring back the sounds of Glen Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton. Add our outstanding vocalists and we add a special touch to The Great American Songbook. We stay current with musical selections from newer performers like Nora Jones, Diana Krall and Michael Buble’. Dreams do come true. I have heard them when I was young and am leading them today."


Tickets are available online at or locally at Mickey's T-Mart.

Ball State tuition set for 2019-20 and 2020-21, lowest in the MAC

The Ball State University Board of Trustees voted to raise undergraduate tuition rates 1.25% for 2019-20 and 1.25% in 2020-21. Even with this small increase, Ball State will still have the lowest tuition in the Mid-American Conference.


Board Chair Rick Hall noted that the increase falls below tuition rates recommended by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (1.65%), the inflation rate the Federal Open Market Committee projects over the next 2 years (2% to 2.7%), and well below the national average for four-year public universities (3.1%). This is the lowest combined eight years of tuition rate increases since the 1950s.


“Our ability to keep tuition rate increases at 2% or less since 2013 is no accident,” he said. “We have been entrusted with the stewardship of public funds and Indiana families’ investments, and we take that responsibility to heart. Our prudent fiscal management has enabled us to keep tuition increases low and provide our students with high quality, affordable education.”


At the same time Ball State is keeping tuition rates low, it has more than doubled its institutional financial aid offered to students — from $21.5 million in 2013 to $46 million by the end of this academic year.

“We remain committed to providing students with access to a transformative college education that leads to fulfilling careers and meaningful lives,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns.


In addition, the Board reviewed the design of a new Multicultural Center, which will be built east of Bracken Library and adjacent to the planned East Mall and Grand Lawn.


With a monumental stairway, the two-story structure will have entrances on the East Mall on the east side and to the University Green on the west side. The public-focused first floor will contain a multipurpose meeting room, program kitchen space, and connected food-service venue. The second floor will house a library, student organization collaborative space, administrative offices, and a conference room.


Construction bids for the $4 million project, designed by RGC Collaborative of Indianapolis, are expected in September, and the new 10,000-square-foot center will open in 2020 (view a rendering [link to rendering, when available]).


“The new facility will be at the heart of campus, where it belongs, and it will provide services closer to where students live and study,” President Mearns said. “Its amenities will be designed to assist and support all students, and to promote inclusiveness — one of our University’s enduring values.”


In other business, the Board approved naming sports facilities after benefactors who committed a combined $11 million toward the new sports indoor practice facility. The $15 million, 84,000-square-foot structure will be named the Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility in honor of June and John Scheumann, ’71, who made the lead gift. The field inside the practice facility will be named Briner Field to honor Peggy and Kenneth Briner, ’69. The field within Scheumann Stadium will be called Gainbridge Field to recognize the donation from company executive Daniel Towriss, ’94, and his wife, Heather. About 90% of the anticipated total cost of the privately financed building, to be constructed southeast of the Fisher Football Training Complex, has been committed.


“This facility is only possible with the private gifts from our alumni and friends,” President Mearns said, “and I am grateful to the people who have made very generous commitments towards our goal.”

Second wave of free concerts as part of the 2019 Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair announces five additional shows that will be part of the 17 total concerts that make up the 2019 Indiana State Fair Free Stage headline entertainment, which returns August 2-18. Each day of the State Fair features a concert that is free with paid fair admission. All shows start at 7:30pm unless otherwise noted.


The first six shows were announced last week and the five additional shows, announced today, include:

  • Air Supply - (Legendary multi-million selling Australian duo) – Monday, August 5
  • SWITCHFOOT (GRAMMY® winning Alternative Rock band) – Wednesday, August 7
  • David Nail  (Chart topping Country music superstar) – Saturday, August 10
  • Sixteen Candles (1980s Party Cover band) – Tuesday, August 13
  • Boyz II Men (one of the most recognizable & iconic R&B groups in music history) – Wednesday, August 14


Additional Free Stage Shows will be announced June 19. A video featuring today’s newly added shows is available here:


Advance discount tickets (a savings of 38% off gate prices) are $8, plus a $1 convenience fee. Children 5 and under are free. To purchase tickets, visit Tickets can be purchased at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Box Office during business hours at the discounted rate. Tickets purchased at the gate are $13. Check for additional promotions available throughout the summer. Purchase of an Indiana State Fair tickets allows for general admission to the Free Stage concert seating area. No seats can be reserved unless otherwise specified.





Air Supply, the Australian duo made up of Graham Russel and Russel Hitchcock, came together in 1975 through the common thread that has kept them together for all these years: love of music. They enjoyed the peak of their success in the 1980s with multi-million selling hits including,  “Lost in Love”, “All Out Of Love”, “The One That You Love”, “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All”, and “Sweet Dreams”. Today, they are still going strong, touring their live act extensively to adoring and dedicated fans across the globe. Their most recent and highly anticipated album, “Mumbo Jumbo”, released in 2010, was received positively and with charting success.




SWITCHFOOT is an American alternative rock group consisting of members Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas, and Drew Shirley. The group originated in San Diego, California and found success early on in the Christian rock genre. In 2002, four of the group’s hits, including “Dare You To Move” and “Only Hope”, were featured in the movie, “A Walk to Remember”. This propelled them even further into stardom. Since then, SWITCHFOOT have continually toured their spirited live act around the globe. They have been nominated for and have won numerous awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Rock or Rap Album for their album “Hello Hurricane”. After their 2017-2018 hiatus, the group is back, better than ever, and ready to get back on the road with material from their newest album “Native Tongue”.




With his unique talent for synthesizing elements of many musical styles and genres, David Nail continues to find success within the modern country music scene and beyond. Nail has released several recognizable hits, including “Let It Rain” (Featuring Sarah Buxton) and “Whatever She’s Got”, with both reaching number one on the US Country charts and “Red Light” which spent time in the top 10. Most recently, Nail has ventured into a more collaborative project and group. David Nail and The Well Ravens’ 2018 album, “Only This and Nothing More”, serves to showcase the versatility and musical innovation of Nail and his collaborators, Andrew Petroff and Jason Hall. Solo or in a group, Nail follows his musical passion and inspiration wherever it may lead.




One of the defining factors of the turbulent ten years that made up the 1980s was the music that was created throughout the decade. Through their stage presence and commitment to delivering the best and most loved hits of the 1980s with astounding detail and enthusiasm, Sixteen Candles is the premier 1980s hit band, made up of members Adam LeBlanc, Billy Furlong, Chris Hagen, Dave Ensslin, and Scott Barbeau. Beginning in 2003, the five-man group has continued to build up a repertoire packed full of mega-hits guaranteed to provide the ultimate 80s throwback for audiences reliving their favorite years or for new fans discovering the iconic and totally rad music of the decade.




Undeniably one of the most recognizable and iconic R&B groups in music history, Boyz II Men continue to add to an already legendary musical career which speaks for itself in terms of success. Hits such as, “I’ll Make Love to You”, “End of the Road”, “One Sweet Day”, and others have earned the group a plethora of awards including several Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, Soul Train Awards, Billboard Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and more. In addition to the music they make and share with the world, the group’s own charity called Boyz II Men House is also an instrumental part of the group’s livelihood and mission. It focuses mainly on supporting organizations and individuals alike that provide help to the less fortunate, while working on finding ways to let the untapped potential of these human beings flourish.  The current group lineup consisting of members Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Wanya Morris continues to create music and tour extensively to loyal fans worldwide. The most recent release from the group is a Doo-Wop album titled, ‘Under the Streetlight”. 

38th Infantry Division Band to perform in Shelbyville

Headquartered in Indianapolis, the 38th Infantry Division Band, the only military band in the state of Indiana, will be performing at the Strand Theatre in Shelbyville from 7:30 – 9:30 pm on June 28.


The Band performs ceremonies, concerts, and parades in both military and civic capacities throughout the state and is one of the most requested units in the Indiana National Guard.

CW4 Patrick Palumbo, Commander of the 38th Infantry Division Band, says, “we are honored to be performing in the historic Strand Theatre and look forward to putting on an outstanding performance for the community festivities.”


The Band is a versatile organization which performs a wide variety of music including marches, traditional, and patriotic selections, as well as jazz and popular musical styles. Notable performances for the Band include appearances with country artists Wynonna Judd and Josh Turner, halftime for the Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis 500 Festivities and performances for political dignitaries at the state and national level.

The 38th Infantry Division Band is comprised of several performing components including: Concert Band, Ceremonial Band, Brass Quintet, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Combo and Show Band. These music performance teams are in high demand.


75 years after D-Day, the relationship between U.S. and Europe is strained

Ball State University’s Kevin Smith believes that 75 years after D-Day, the relationship between America and western Europe is currently strained.


June 6, 2019 marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a milestone that is expected to represent the last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe.


“We have taken for granted on both sides of the Atlantic that the postwar stability of Europe would continue indefinitely, and that the United States would be a willing guarantor of that,” said Smith, a Ball State history professor. “Both are now in question, not for the first time, but in a new way. It is easy to forget how critical Europeans were of President Reagan in the 1980s and how angry Americans were at Europeans (especially the French—remember “freedom fries”?) during the Iraq War in the early 2000s.


“A new generation has arisen with different priorities and viewpoints, again on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “Incorporating and addressing their concerns while retaining good relations will be a challenge that we can meet, but it will require effort and thoughtful attention. “

Smith’s research is anchored in examining the Anglo-American relationship during the Second World War and the history of American foreign relations.


“I had the privilege of being present in 1994 at the Eisenhower Library (and burial place for the former president) in Kansas for a scholarly conference for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, and to be present in June 2009 at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia for the 65th anniversary during another conference,” he said. “This anniversary means a great deal to me, and the current tensions sadden me. But, there is that the possibility that we can recover from current strains in the relationship.”

State health officials recognize cancer survivors

June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day, which celebrates those who have survived the disease; inspires individuals who have recently been diagnosed with cancer; and acknowledges the contributions of families, friends and healthcare providers.


“When people hear the term ‘survivor,’ they often think of someone who has completed treatment and is considered cancer-free, but a person is a cancer survivor from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of their life,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG.


According to the Indiana State Cancer Registry, as of Dec. 31, 2016, Indiana had an estimated 275,439 cancer survivors for all cancers combined. The four highest-burden cancers for the state—breast, colorectal, lung and prostate—accounted for more than half of those survivors.


Over the past 50 years, major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment have resulted in longer survival and an increase in cancer survivorship. In the U.S. alone, more than 15.5 million people are living with a history of cancer.


Survivorship, like cancer itself, is complex and can be difficult to navigate. Cancer survivors are at risk of cancer recurrence and developing secondary cancers due to the effects of aging, prior cancer treatment, unhealthy lifestyles, underlying genetics or family history and other factors.


Having a survivorship care plan after a cancer survivor completes their primary cancer care is recommended. Survivorship care plans should reflect the survivor’s treatment and address their post-treatment needs to improve their health and quality of life.


“National Cancer Survivors Day is a great opportunity for survivors, caregivers, family and friends to come together and affirm that life after a cancer diagnosis can be active, productive and even inspiring,” said Box.


To locate a National Cancer Survivors Day event near you, or for more information on National Cancer Survivors Day, visit


To learn more about cancer survivorship in Indiana or to find survivorship resources, visit the Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC) at In 2018, the ICC released the Indiana Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020, which includes a focus area for survivorship with the goal of improving quality of life for all those affected by cancer.

Boxwood blight discovered at Home Depot stores

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been made aware of a shipment of boxwood plants at Home Depot stores that contain the boxwood blight fungus. They have originated from a nursery named Cottage Gardens in Ohio.


Boxwood blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is a fungal disease that infests members of the popular Buxaceae family, and is often transported through the nursery trade. Hosts include Buxus (boxwood), Pachysandra (Japanese spurge) and Sarcococca (sweetbox). Annual inspections of nursery stock by the DNR verify that this pathogen is not indigenous to Indiana, nor can it be found in nursery stock that is sourced locally.


When the fungus, which can lay dormant in drier conditions, is present, it can be found on all above-ground portions of the plant and presents itself as dark leaf spots. It causes rapid defoliation, which typically starts on the bottom of the plant and moves toward the top. This fungal pathogen can move through sporulation in water and from dropped leaves. As a result, infection can spread to surrounding plants from a single infected plant.


The infected nursery stock is currently being pulled from shelves in 13 Home Depot stores by nursery inspectors and Cottage Garden representatives and will be disposed of in a manner that will prevent the pathogen from spreading to other stock.


There are several varieties of boxwood sold in Home Depot stores. The only species that is currently testing positive for the fungus is Korean boxwood (Buxus Koreana), however the DNR is testing other species to ensure the pathogen has not spread. If you have purchased a Korean boxwood from a Home Depot store in the last month please contact the DNR for further guidance at 866-NO EXOTIC.

Oak threat in Indiana expands statewide

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed more than 70 Walmart stores and 18 Rural King stores in the state have received rhododendron plants infected with sudden oak death (SOD), a fungal pathogen that kills oak trees. Shipments containing infested material were sent to nine other states as well.


Workers from the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology have been visiting stores across Indiana to destroy any stock that has been found infested and quarantine any stock that is symptomatic. The division has made this its top priority.


The DNR has destroyed approximately 1,500 infested rhododendron so far and pulled another 1,500 from stores. The DNR has also ordered these stores to stop selling rhododendron until further notice. Any quarantined material not infected will be released following testing at Purdue University.

The DNR is also following up with homeowners that have called in to say they’ve purchased material that they believe is infested or are seeing signs/ symptoms of sick trees in the environment.

SOD has killed large tracts of oaks on the West Coast. SOD has not been established in the Midwest, to date. SOD can kill standing oak trees, which could happen if SOD-positive rhododendron were planted within about 6 feet of a standing oak.

SOD travels in more than a hundred species of host plant material. It causes some browning of the leaves in the host but does not kill it. For a list of those plants see the following

If you have purchased rhododendrons in the last four weeks from Walmart or Rural King, destroy them, or call 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684) or the local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO (1-888-398-4636) for instructions.

This is an ongoing investigation, and guidance could change as more information is gathered.
To learn more about SOD, see:





The Indiana DNR confirmed today that it has intercepted plants containing a fungal pathogen that kills oak trees, sudden oak death (SOD), for the first time in about 10 years. 

Inspectors from the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology detected SOD (Phytophthora ramorum) in several varieties of rhododendrons being sold in Columbus, Noblesville, South Bend, Sullivan and Tippecanoe. 

SOD has killed large tracts of oaks on the West Coast. SOD has not been established in the Midwest, to date. SOD can kill standing oak trees, which could happen if SOD-positive rhododendrons were planted within about 6 feet of a standing oak. 

SOD travels in more than a hundred species of host plant material. It causes some browning of the leaves in the host but does not kill it. For a list of those plants see the following 

If you have purchased rhododendrons in the last four weeks in these communities, call 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684) or call the local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO (1-888-398-4636) for instructions. 

The DNR is destroying all rhododendrons from the source nursery, Park Hill Plants (Oklahoma), and any other host plants that were co-mingled with them. In addition, the DNR is quarantining the sale of four other common SOD host plants (viburnum, azalea, cameilia, and pieris) for further testing to determine if they contain SOD. Testing will determine if other species are infested and require destruction. 

This is an ongoing investigation, and guidance could change as more information is gathered. 

To learn more about SOD, see:



DNR finds oak threat in store rhododendrons

The Indiana DNR confirmed that it has intercepted plants containing a fungal pathogen that kills oak trees, sudden oak death (SOD), for the first time in about 10 years.


Inspectors from the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology detected SOD (Phytophthora ramorum) in several varieties of rhododendrons being sold in Columbus, Noblesville, South Bend, Sullivan and Tippecanoe.


SOD has killed large tracts of oaks on the West Coast. SOD has not been established in the Midwest, to date. SOD can kill standing oak trees, which could happen if SOD-positive rhododendrons were planted within about 6 feet of a standing oak.


SOD travels in more than a hundred species of host plant material. It causes some browning of the leaves in the host but does not kill it. For a list of those plants see the following

If you have purchased rhododendrons in the last four weeks in these communities, call 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684) or call the local county extension office at 1-888-EXT-INFO (1-888-398-4636) for instructions.


The DNR is destroying all rhododendrons from the source nursery, Park Hill Plants (Oklahoma), and any other host plants that were co-mingled with them. In addition, the DNR is quarantining the sale of four other common SOD host plants (viburnum, azalea, cameilia, and pieris) for further testing to determine if they contain SOD. Testing will determine if other species are infested and require destruction.


This is an ongoing investigation, and guidance could change as more information is gathered.


To learn more about SOD, see:

Duke Energy cautions customers in Indiana to guard against utility scammers

Duke Energy is warning its customers in Indiana to be on guard against phone calls from utility scammers who are demanding that customers pay their electric bill immediately or risk having their electric service disconnected within the hour.


Local law enforcement officials say the number of scam calls reported by citizens has increased in the past few days.


“These scammers are thieves who prey on unsuspecting customers with the sole purpose of stealing their money,” said Marvin Blade, Indiana vice president of community relations for Duke Energy. “The scammers typically target elderly residents or small family-owned businesses, including restaurants, repair shops or other retail businesses.”


The best way to defend yourself against these scammers is to recognize how the scam works and understand that Duke Energy never asks customers for prepaid debit cards.


Typically, the customer receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a Duke Energy representative demanding immediate payment, usually in the form of a prepaid debit card. Scammers have even duplicated the Duke Energy upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate Duke Energy phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller-ID spoofing to replicate Duke Energy’s customer service number.


Red flags for scam activity

  • The caller becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within the hour.
  • The caller instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Duke Energy.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
  • The customer has received no other notice from Duke Energy that an account is overdue.

How to protect yourself

  • Duke Energy never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card – or iTunes card -- to avoid disconnection.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person at any number of retail outlets.
  • Customers with delinquent accounts receive advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
  • Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local law enforcement authorities and then the Duke Energy Indiana phone number listed on their bill (800.521.2232). Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.

Customers can get more scam and fraud prevention information at our “Report Fraud and Scams” web page.



USDA reopens continuous CRP signup

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications beginning June 3, 2019, for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, one of the country’s largest conservation programs.


“USDA offers a variety of conservation programs to farmers and ranchers, and the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool for private lands management,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “CRP allows agricultural producers to set aside land to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”


FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired. Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, Fordyce said FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that a limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.


Continuous CRP Signup


This year’s signup will include such practices as grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices approved for this program.


Continuous signup enrollment contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. Soil rental rates will be set at 90 percent of the existing rates. Incentive payments will not be offered for these contracts.


Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Signup


FSA will also reopen signup for existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements. Fact sheets on current CREP agreements are available on this webpage.


Other CRP Signup Options


Fordyce said FSA plans to open a CRP general signup in December 2019 and a CRP Grasslands signup later.



CRP Contract Extensions


A one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter describing their options.


Alternatively, producers with expiring contracts may have the option to enroll in the Transition Incentives Program, which provides two additional annual rental payments on the condition the land is sold or rented to a beginning farmer or rancher or a member of a socially disadvantaged group.


More Information


On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.


Producers interested in applying for continuous CRP practices, including those under existing CREP agreements, or who need an extension, should contact their USDA service center beginning June 3. To locate your local FSA office, visit More information on CRP can be found at

FUSE announces Sara Cummins to serve as Interim Executive Director

FUSE (Families United for Support and Encouragement) announces new interim executive director in the following release:


As Denise Arland, our founding Executive Director, transitions out of her full time roll with FUSE this month, we are pleased to announce that Sara Cummins will serve as our Interim Executive Director as the FUSE Board continues its search for a full time Executive Director. Sara has been with FUSE since 2015 and has been the Development Director for the past two years, leading the fundraising efforts that allow FUSE to continue our mission. Sara shared, "I love my job as Development Director of FUSE, and that part time role better fits my family life at this time. During this transition, I am honored to take on the role as Interim Executive Director to give our Board of Directors the time it needs to find the right person to lead FUSE into the future and best serve our families."

Sara is the parent of a two young child with rare disorders.  In 2013 Sara reached out to FUSE for resources and referrals to assist her son and family, and her passion for our organization was ignited as she connected with other families for support.  Sara started volunteering for FUSE as a member of the Cruisin’ for FUSE Charity Motorcycle Ride in 2014.  Sara left her career in the retail management industry to join FUSE as our Development Associate in 2015. She moved into the Development Director position in March 2017, drawing upon her skills in sales and marketing to secure funding for our operations.  Sara has served as a parent representative on the First Steps Local Planning and Coordinating Council since 2014. 


Sara is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Shelby County and a 2017 graduate of Indiana’s Partners in Policymaking Academy, an eight month training program of the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. Governor Holcomb appointed Sara to the Interagency Coordinating Council in 2018. In 2018 Sara became the first Indiana Early Childhood Leadership Parent Cohort with the Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC) and Division for Early Childhood (DEC).


She also recently joined the Major Health Partners Family and Consumer Advisory Council.

Sara will have the assistance of our support staff and members of the FUSE Board. Denise Arland will continue to support both programs and administrative needs for FUSE, working 15 hours a week until the new Executive Director transitions into the organization. Courtney Locke is the FUSE Administrative Assistant who brings additional experience and skills to her role to help families. Courtney lives in New Palestine but grew up in Shelby County, where she and Sara attended high school together. Courtney has a young son with autism who was diagnosed in 2015. She began attending FUSE events that year, and joined us as part time staff in 2018. Courtney also works part time as a Direct Support Professional for a waiver service provider. Courtney's previous career included over 10 years in financial services as a loan officer. Courtney graduated from Partners in Policymaking in 2017 and has stayed active with the council as a volunteer. In the past she has also volunteered for events with the Autism Society of Indiana and at Easterseals Crossroads in the Autism Family Resource Center. She was a HOSTS mentor at New Palestine Elementary, helping children learn to read. Currently she serves as moderator for on online ABA parent group,  and she runs a parent group with another mom for her son's ABA therapy center. Courtney will be assisting Sara with parent contacts and taking a lead role in program coordination in the coming weeks.

Sara emphasized, "While Denise may be moving on to a new phase of life, FUSE isn't going anywhere! We will be right here empowering individuals and families, connecting them with resources, and continuing the programs that help our families grow and live their best life." 


For assistance with programs or resources, families and individuals with disabilities can reach Sara at or 317-462-9064. 

As weather warms more motorcycles on the road

The warm weather of spring and summer brings increased motorcycle traffic with Hoosiers out riding for recreation and transportation.


According to ICJI, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, motorcycles are involved in less than 2 percent of crashes in Indiana, but make up nearly 13 percent of all Indiana traffic deaths. Motorcycle crashes – and resulting injuries and deaths – have all declined over the past five years. According to ICJI motorcycle deaths have fluctuated from a low of 100 in 2016, to a high of 147 in 2017 to 112 in 2018. The Indiana State Police offer these safe driving tips so that everyone can share Hoosier highways safely.


Tips for passenger vehicles:


  • Watch attentively for motorcycles. Check blinds spots before changing lanes and look twice at intersections before you turn or pull out into traffic.
  •  Use your turn signals when changing lanes.
  • Anticipate hazards that may confront and affect a motorcyclists like large pot holes, debris, or other hazardous road conditions.
  • Be cautious and observant when turning left. This is a primary cause of most crashes between vehicles and motorcycles, as cars frequently turn left into the path of oncoming motorcycles. Always take a second look for oncoming traffic.
  • Remember, motorcycles are entitled to operate in a full lane.
  • Allow a safe following distance as motorcycles stop quicker than cars.
  • Never Drive Distracted or Impaired

Tips for motorcycle riders:


  • Wear protective equipment and clothing, especially a helmet. Motorcyclists age 18 or younger and those with a motorcycle learner’s permit are required to wear a helmet. Motorcyclists of all ages and abilities are less likely to be killed or injured if they wear helmets.
  • Make yourself visible by wearing bright Hi-Viz clothing, by using reflective tape and by using your motorcycle’s headlight.  Always use turn signals when changing lanes and turning.
  • The top unsafe actions motorcycle operators can avoid are following too closely, unsafe speed, improper passing and disregarding a signal or sign.
  • Look for road hazards, especially potholes.  Be especially cautious around intersections, alleys, driveways, and other areas where an animal, pedestrian, or vehicle might enter your path.
  • Avoid riding in the blind spot of other vehicles.
  • Ride defensively; always leave enough reaction time for unexpected movements from other vehicles.
  • Be cautious in construction zones watching for different pavement heights and drop-offs.
  • Never ride impaired.

One of the best ways to avoid a motorcycle crash is to prepare for and pass the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles motorcycle skills and riding test, or to successfully complete an approved motorcycle safety course. More information is at


Motorcycles are harder to see then other vehicles; consequently, many crashes occur because other motorists don’t see the motorcycle. All motorists should take the time for a second look before pulling into an intersection or making a left turn. It only takes a second to take a second look and maybe save a life. 

Hoosier businesses encouraged to prepare for emergencies now

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) encourages Hoosier businesses to prepare for every possible emergency during Business Continuity Awareness Week, May 13-17.

In recognition of the positive impacts continuity planning has on state resiliency, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, proclaimed May 13-17 as Business Continuity Awareness Week in Indiana. The state’s observance coincides with a national recognition. The week’s theme, “Investing in Resilience,” emphasizes the importance of being able to adapt and respond to an emergency with little to no disruption in daily business functions.

“When disasters occur, many private companies may not have the means to reopen,” said Scott Huffman, state continuity of operations/government planning manager. “It is imperative that organizations create a well-developed Continuity of Operations (COOP) or Business Continuity plan so they can continue to provide their much needed services.”

A Business Continuity or COOP plan provides the framework to help private businesses continue daily operations after an emergency. A well-developed plan is tailor-made for the organization, identifies risks that could disrupt services and provides alternative methods to effectively continue operations.

Business Continuity Awareness Week serves as an opportunity for organizations to review their pre-existing plan, create a plan if one is not already implemented and discuss the importance of following the continuity plan.

Organizations can share how they are participating in the week by using the #bcaw2019 hashtag on social media.

For more information on continuity planning, visit the IDHS website.

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