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Hancock County News Archives for 2019-11

New Palestine Town Council prepares for expansion

It's been an interesting couple of months for the New Palestine Town Council, and it promises to be just as interesting as the calendar moves to 2020.


Earlier this year, councilman Clint Bledsoe brought forth the concept of the council increasing from its current three person board to five members.


At the time, Bledsoe said he was bringing it forward to increase diversity and ideas on council and also to limit the number of meetings cancelled due to not having a quorum. 


In November, residents voted not only for representation on the council, but also in favor of expanding the board to five members. Those who are assured seats on council in January are incumbents Jan Jarson and Brandee Bastin and newcomer Bill Niemier. 


Who and how the other two people will round out council is starting to take shape as council recently laid out the steps. 


In January, council will select two residents to join them, but not before a process takes place. 

Anyone who lives in the town limits and interested in the spots is asked to submit a letter of interest by Dec. 18. The letters can be mailed to the New Palestine Town Hall, 42 East Main St., New Palestine, IN 46163. 

From there, the town council will view and discuss letters during the Jan. 2 special town council meeting. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Finally, potential candidates will be interviewed and selected at the Jan. 4 council meeting, which begins at 8 a.m. 


Bastin said she felt this was the fairest way to pick new members. 


"I felt that this was the fairest way so that anyone interesting in serving could submit a letter of interest and go through this process. Personally, I’m interested in learning about candidates and their professional, educational, and political backgrounds, as well as how they have been involved in our New Palestine community and why they are interested in serving on council. What experiences and tools will they bring to the table if they were to serve on council," she told Giant FM. 

Greenfield PD officer punished for altercation with female suspect

A Greenfield Police officer at the center of an internal investigation and on paid administrative leave since August has learned his fate.


Cpl. Justin Jackson has been demoted to senior patrolman and is suspended without pay until Christmas day as a result of his actions with an intoxicated suspect in August.


According to court documents, Sierra Gigure, of Indianapolis, was at Hancock Regional Hospital for a toxicology test after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Jackson showed to the hospital to assist, and, despite being told by authorities already on the scene not to engage with Gigure, got into a physical altercation with the woman. Court documents state Jackson punched Gigure in the face/head area after Gigure struck him in the chest. 


Earlier this year, the Hancock County Prosecutor's office declined to charge Jackson with a crime, citing a lack of evidence. 

Greenfield's Stanley Black & Decker cutting jobs

Layoffs coming early next year in Greenfield.


Stanley Black & Decker wants to consolidate its workers into fewer facilities. As a result, it's laying off nearly 140 people who work in areas like maintenance, shipping and receiving, and IT.


The layoffs are expected to take place between Jan. 23 and Feb. 7, according to Inside Indiana Business.

Hancock Health building its Gateway South into New Palestine

Dirt has been moving around for quite some time, and with the recent groundbreaking of the new Hancock Gateway South, business will be ramping up very soon for Hancock Health’s newest endeavor.


The project will be built at the intersection of County Road 600 West and U.S. 52 in New Palestine, comes with a price tag of about $31 million and will feature two ponds, as well as a wellness center, imagining capabilities and physician offices, as well as other interests. Officials with Hancock Health have stated the Gateway South will combine current physician offices in New Palestine that operate under the Hancock Health umbrella, along with the services offered at Family Fun and Fitness gym. According to Rob Matt, senior vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer of Hancock Regional Hospital, it will offer a little bit of everything.

The project will be built on about 60 acres of land, according to officials and is slated to be completed by the end of 2020.

Harold Gibson, of H. Gibson Land Surveying, helped Hancock Health with its Land Use Plan and believes the new project will be a catalyst for growth in New Palestine.

The Hancock Gateway South is the second Gateway project Hancock Health has embarked on.

The first, Hancock Gateway Park, is located near the I-70 and Mt. Comfort interchange and provides immediate care, along with imaging and lab services. 


Fortville PD says alarm ordinance has been positive

Four months ago, Fortville enacted a new ordinance pertaining to alarms, designed to curb false alarms.


And, the measure has been a success thus far, according to Fortville Police Chief Bill Knauer.

“We have had a lot of positive responses, and it is going good. I have not had anyone who has gotten fined, and residents are being a little more cautious,” Knauer told Giant FM.
The ordinance was the result of Knauer approaching the Fortville Council earlier this year about ways to be proactive and recoup resources lost to false calls.

In 2018, the Fortville Police Department responded to 133 false alarm calls, and those calls were costly in terms of manpower, time, fuel and other resources. Knauer told Giant FM the false alarm calls were not calls for robberies, a home break in, a hold up or someone needing assistance. He also said the false alarms cost taxpayers $1,600 and would have increased to $8,000 in a five year period with projected growth.

The permits are required of everyone who has an alarm system and costs business owners $20, while being free to residents. The permits are good for two years.

“People get three false alarms. An alarm due to inclement weather does not count against them,” Knauer told Giant FM.

The fourth alarm results in a $75 fine and the fifth alarm nets a $150 fine, and it would be $200 for each alarm after that.

Residents can download the alarm permit application from www.fortvilleindiana.org or stop by town hall to complete the application. 

Richmond woman to be sentenced for role in head-on Hancock Co. accident, death

A plea agreement has been reached in a case involving a fatal Hancock County crash.


Leanna Murphy, 24, of Richmond, has entered a guilty plea to three of the over a dozen charges she faced following a July 4th crash that resulted in the death of Rachel Thomas, 44, of Wilkinson.


Murphy’s vehicle struck Thomas’ head-on.  After being treated for injuries, Murphy was arrested for OWI causing death.


Murphy is scheduled to be sentenced December 18.





An arrest has been made in an early morning fatal crash in Hancock County.


Rachel Thomas, 44, of Wilkinson, was killed just before 1:00 am on State Road 234 near Troy Road when a Ford Focus was hit head-on by a Mini Cooper.  Thomas was a passenger in the Focus.


The driver of the Mini Cooper was Leanna Murphy, 24, of Richmond.  After being treated at Hancock Regional Hospital she was taken to the Hancock County Jail on a charge of OWI causing death.


Three other people in the Ford Focus were taken to IU Health – Methodist Hospital with what were believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

UPDATE: Investigators requesting public's help

Investigators wish to thank the public for their help in identifying the couple in the photographs sent out Thursday morning.  Investigators have received a number of tips and have identified the man and woman in the photographs.


If anyone has any further information regarding the home invasion that occurred on 11/4/19 around 2:30 a.m. in the 8000 block of US 40 in Henry County, please contact Henry County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Mark Reece at mreece@henrycounty.in.gov or 765-529-5669, or Indiana State Police Sergeant Scott Jarvis at sjarvis@isp.in.gov, or 765-778-2121.


Tips can be made and kept anonymous.




Investigators are requesting the public’s help in identifying a man and woman who are believed to have information regarding a home invasion that occurred in eastern Henry County on 11/4/19 around 2:30 a.m.


The male is believed to be in his mid-forties, has a tattoo on the left side of his neck and tattoos on his left shoulder and chest. He is approximately 5’6” to 5’9” tall, has a medium build with a very short (buzz type) haircut, wears glasses and has both ears pierced.



The female is believed to be in her forties with longer blonde hair, is of medium build and with a tattoo across her chest. The two are believed to be traveling in a black or dark blue Pontiac car.




Greenfield-Central readies for impact from teachers attending Red for Ed Action Day

When it comes to the Red for Ed rally next week, Greenfield-Central officials maintain they are staying neutral on the issue of the rally.


However, teachers will still be able to take part in the rally, should they opt to, according to officials.
Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin told Giant FM that while he understands the issues, the rally falls on a school day.

“I recognize that our teachers want to promote some issues that need to be addressed by the legislators. Their concerns are much larger than compensation. The overuse of standardized testing and accountability systems that align with socio-economic status are two of the other pressing issues they want lawmakers to think about differently,” Olin told Giant FM.

With that said, the rally does fall on a normal school day, according to Olin.

“Regretfully, the rally is scheduled for a regular school day. That day was recognized as a school day by our school board more than a year-and-a-half ago. It is one of the 183 contract days in which teachers have been asked to report to school,” he said.

However, there is a compromise for the district.

“That being said, I recognize that teachers have a right to take personal days if that is something they want to do,” Olin said.

And as a result, the district will turn Nov. 19 into an E-Learning Day, making the most of what Olin calls an “awkward situation.”

“For the teachers who choose to come to work on that day, we will have a variety of professional development opportunities for them during half of the day. The other half of the day will be used for office hours,” Olin said.

Olin told Giant FM, 109 teachers out of 290 in the district had already asked for the day off. 

No classes, no E-Learning at New Palestine schools on Red for Ed Tuesday

Teachers and staff within the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County will not be reporting to work on Nov. 19.


Instead, many of them will head to Indianapolis for the Red for Ed rally at the Indiana Statehouse, prompting district officials to close the district for the day.

In an email to families, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip said that about 70 teachers had notified administrators that they would not be at school. As a result, officials canceled school and will make the day up on Feb. 17, 2020.

“We have decided not to use an E-Learning Day for this missed day in order to preserve the integrity of what we believe E-Learning should be used for. We believe teacher involvement is critical to the success of E-Learning Days for our families. Since our teachers cannot be available on this day due to the Red for Ed rally, we have elected not to call for an E-Learning Day. I support our teachers in advocating for adequate school funding that keeps pace with annual inflation rates and responsible school reform measures,” Lantrip wrote in the email.

Wes Anderson, director of community relations and communications for the district, told Giant FM that a major focal point of the district’s E-Learning is teacher involvement.

“We talk about three main characteristics in a good E-Learning lesson. A good lesson has interactions from teacher to student, student to teacher and student to student. If you take the teacher away, you’re losing some of what makes our E-Learning what it is,” Anderson told Giant FM.


Investigators requesting public's help

Investigators are requesting the public’s help in identifying a man and woman who are believed to have information regarding a home invasion that occurred in eastern Henry County on 11/4/19 around 2:30 a.m.


The male is believed to be in his mid-forties, has a tattoo on the left side of his neck and tattoos on his left shoulder and chest. He is approximately 5’6” to 5’9” tall, has a medium build with a very short (buzz type) haircut, wears glasses and has both ears pierced.



The female is believed to be in her forties with longer blonde hair, is of medium build and with a tattoo across her chest. The two are believed to be traveling in a black or dark blue Pontiac car.



If anyone has information regarding the male or female in the attached photographs they are being asked to contact Henry County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Mark Reece at mreece@henrycounty.in.gov or 765-529-5669, or Indiana State Police Sergeant Scott Jarvis at sjarvis@isp.in.gov, or 765-778-2121.


Tips can be made and kept anonymous.

Safety discussion increases following car - bike accident that injures New Pal student

Concern for the safety of students walking to school in New Palestine is apparent yet again for parents and students alike in the southern Hancock County town.


Monday morning, a student riding his bike to New Palestine High School was hit by a pick-up truck while crossing U.S. 52 crosswalk directly in front of the school. It's a crosswalk that has no stop signs, yield signs, or flashing lights.


Matthew Crawford is a 17-year-old student at New Pal who also works at the pizza joint just across the street from the high school.



A spokesperson for the Southern Hancock County Community School Corporation cited previous conversations about increasing student safety on U.S. 52.


“The school district has had and is continuing to have, conversations with the Indiana Department of Transportation and local law enforcement agencies to find the best solution on U.S. 52 that works to keep our students, parents, and community safe,” Wes Anderson, the director of school and community relations, said Monday in an emailed statement. “We hope these conversations can lead to action by INDOT which will reduce speed and increase driver awareness on U.S. 52 near New Palestine High School’s main entrance. Our goal is to work with INDOT and our local law enforcement agencies to solve this problem in the best interest of student safety.”


INDOT did not disclose any immediate plans to add lights or signals to the crosswalk but said an “improvement plan” is scheduled for construction in 2020 at an intersection “just down the street from the high school.”


Update: New Palestine student, 14, seriously injured in car - pedestrian accident

Officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County confirmed one of their students was struck by a motorist this morning on U.S. 52. 

Wes Anderson, director of community relations and communications, confirmed to Giant FM the victim is a New Palestine High School student. Anderson said counselors will be available for students.

The student was transported by ambulance from the scene with serious injuries, according to a press release from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. The juvenile was transported to Riley Children’s Hospital with internal injuries and head trauma and is in critical condition, but is expected to survive.

The release states a 14-year-old was struck while crossing U.S. 52 on a bicycle by a Ford F-250 truck driven by John Bundy, 52, of New Palestine. Officials with the Sheriff’s Department said the student’s family was notified and Bundy cooperated with police, who do not believe speed, drugs or alcohol are a factor.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. 

New Pal student struck by car

Officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County confirmed one of their students was struck by a motorist Mondaymorning on U.S. 52. 

Wes Anderson, director of community relations and communications, confirmed to Giant FM the victim is a New Palestine High School student.

The student was transported from the scene by ambulance.

Giant FM will continue to update this story.

Greenfield-Central HS marching band to state finals Saturday

Performing in front of large crowds could be terrifying.

But such is not the case for the Greenfield-Central High School marching band, who will be performing Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Indiana State School Music Association’s State Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Cougar Pride will perform at 11:45 a.m. and will the eighth band out of 10 to hit the turf.

A year ago, the band placed second in Class B and advancing to state is becoming old hat, as this is the third time in four years band director Chris Wing’s unit has advanced.

For Wing, advancing to the state finals is something special, not only for him but for the program.
“Going to state finals is a huge accomplishment and honor for our kids and program. We never want to take for granted how significant it is,” Wing told Giant FM.

This year’s show is entitled “The Music of the Night,” and is written to depict the sounds and actions of a night in the forest, according to Wing.

“We start with the animals waking up and end with playing “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. It has been such an enjoyable project to work on this season,” Wing said.

In hopes of doing well on the big stage, the band has been working hard, Wing said.

“The 160 kids we have in our program this year have been phenomenal. They have put in over 400 hours of work in preparation. There aren’t many times you can drive by the school and not see them out working,” Wing told Giant FM.

And, Wing said it is hard work to be in the band and prepare for the state finals.

“What we do is equal parts artistic and athletic. It’s hard enough to do what we do, but to do it while carrying a 20-pound tuba or a 30-pound drum makes it even more challenging. They love what they do, and never shy away from wanting to work harder,” Wright said.

For those wishing to attend, gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Class B will begin at 10 a.m. and awards will be done by 1:15.


Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for students and will be available at the Lucas Oil Stadium box office.

Autopsy shows suicide brought SWAT situation to end in Spiceland

An autopsy was performed Thursday in New Castle to determine the cause of death for Leslie Odier of Spiceland.  


Henry County Coroner Stephen Hacker has authorized the Indiana State Police to release the preliminary autopsy results, which determined Leslie Odier died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  


The original release from last evening is listed below.


Indiana State Police Investigating Police Action Shooting

Henry County – Wednesday evening (11/06) around 7 p.m. Henry County Deputies responded to a home in the 2200 block of CR 700 South, just east of the town of Spiceland, for a domestic situation between an elderly male and his wife. As deputies arrived an elderly male armed with handguns exited the home, fired shots then went back inside. The man’s wife was able to leave the home prior to officers arriving.


Henry County SWAT arrived at the home to assist deputies.  At some point the male exited the home again pointing and firing a handgun at deputies, who returned fire.  The man fled back into the home and a short time later officers heard a single gunshot inside the home.


Indiana State Police SWAT and Negotiators were sent to the scene.  After numerous failed attempts to contact the man, Indiana State Police SWAT made entry into the home around 11:00 p.m. and found the man, Leslie Odier, 77, deceased. At that time the Henry County Sheriff’s Department asked the Indiana State Police Pendleton District to take over the investigation.

The psychology of fear...and beer...at McCordsville's Scarlet Lane Brewing Company

The fact that Halloween has come and gone isn’t getting in the way of what promises to be a good time Saturday, November 9 at Scarlet Lane Brewing Company, 7724 Depot St., McCordsville.


The brewing company will be holding its special after-hours “Psychology of Elm Street” event in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. The event, which kicks off at 10 p.m. and lasts until midnight, will feature beer, bbq and unlimited popcorn. Tickets range from $12 to $16 and can be purchased at https://scarletlane.simpletix.com/e/41762.


Joshua Hall, assistant brewer and horror liaison for Scarlet Lane Brewing Company, said the concept for these events began earlier this year.

“In May, we partnered with Rutgers University Professor of Psychiatry Anthony Tobia to launch a “Psychology of horror” series based off of his REDRUM curriculum. For the series, Professor Tobia tackles the underlying themes inside horror films and the true psychological issues the characters suffer from. We launched with “The Psychology of The Shining” and followed that up with “The Psychology of Derry, Maine” in September. Each event features an interactive workshop with Professor Tobia and multi-course beer/dinner pairing with our neighbors, Trax BBQ. We’re switching things up for our third “Psychology of” due to the subject matter,” Hall told Giant FM.

Hall said those in attendance are given a unique perspective into the world of horror and psychology.

“It offers the chance for the community to look at genre films through a different lens. We’ve had a number of attendees express an interest in pursuing not only psychiatry itself, but Professor Tobia’s course specifically,” Hall said.

And, for those waiting until the last minute to decide whether to attend or not, Hall has a simple message – don’t.

“Tickets are still available, but going fast. We have sold out every Psychology of Horror event and our journey to Elm Street looks to have the same result. Tickets include the workshop, the movie screening, beer and unlimited popcorn,” Hall said. 


And, while he loves to see new and familiar faces experience the brewery, Hall told Giant FM as a horror fan, he enjoys the series immensely.


“As horror fans, we enjoy this series immensely. As brewery owners and operators? We love seeing the community not only show up in hordes to attend, but they interact and they have a fantastic time doing so. There’s always something to learn and we’re incredibly lucky to partner with the brilliant Anthony Tobia to give attendees a unique experience. We’re excited to keep growing this series well into 2020,” Hall said.

In addition, Scarlet Lane Brewing Company is the “Official Beer of Horror,” according to Hall.  

“We pride ourselves on being able to provide a platform for not only horror movies, but horror in general at all four Scarlet Lane locations. We host a number of horrific events throughout the year that are catered to fans of all types,” Hall said.

In December, Scarlet Lane Brewing Company will have four opportunities for fans to attend events.  

On Saturday, Dec. 7, the business is partnering with the IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum with a special double feature event of Krampus and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. The first movie begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10 per film or $15 for both and can be obtained at https://www.imax.com/imax-indiana-state-museum-oo.

On Friday, December 13, writer and editor Leah Lederman will be doing a live reading and signing event for the all-female horror anthology “Café Macabre.” From 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the McCordsville location.

One day later, horror comic anthology “Tales from the Cryptic Closet” will invade the McCordsville location as writers, artists and creators will be available all day.


Finally, on Saturday, Dec. 21, Scarlet Lane Brewing Company will conduct it’s a Bizarre Christmas celebration from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.

“Attendees will experience the craziest Christmas party of the year as Bizarre Noir brings the weird to Scarlet Lane in McCordsville. Krampus of Indianapolis will also be on hand to whip, taunt and spook everyone. This event is catered to the folks on the naughty list,” Hall told Giant FM.

Fewell wins Greenfield mayor's race; New Pal town council to expand

Mayor of Greenfield

(R)  Fewell - 1895

(D)  LaFavers - 403



New Palestine Town Council – At Large  (vote for 3)

(R)  Bastin - 174

(R)  Jarson - 178

(R)  Niemier - 193

 (I)  Fahrnow – 129



To expand New Palestine Town Council from 3 to 5 members

Yes – 221

No - 69



Fortville Town Council - District 1  (vote for 2)

(R)  Wyatt - 381

(R)  Drake Davis - 346

(I)  Crawford - 313

Hancock County absentee votes

There were over 1,300 absentee voters in Hancock County.


Vote center totals:


541 - Hancock County Courthouse 

208 - Fortville Community Center 

484 - Greenfield Library 

129 - Sugar Creek Library 


128 - by mail

26 - by traveling board




Two seats up for election day in Fortville's District 1

Two Republicans and an Independent candidate will look to claim two of the available seats in Fortville’s Town Council District 1 next week on election day.

Republicans Tonya Drake Davis and Libby Wyatt are on the ballot, as is Independent Justin Crawford. In May, Davis and Wyatt overcame current councilman Mike Frischkorn in the primary to advance.

All three cited a desire to serve as their reason for running.


"I've been attending town council meetings for the past three years, not because I had any intention to ever run for town council, but to learn more about the town. Running for town council is an opportunity to support my community by being a voice for the people. I will attend the meetings and listen to my neighbor's concerns and help make the best choices for Fortville. I have no agenda other than to keep Fortville the wonderful community it already is. I am running for town council because Fortville has my heart, and I believe we can all work together for the betterment of our town," said Wyatt.

Davis said she decided to run because she cares about Fortville and its residents. 


"It gives me the opportunity to stay involved in decisions that effect them. I’ve always been interested in politics, and my involvement was limited when I worked in the town utility office," said Davis, who ran as an Independent in 2015 for town clerk-treasurer. 


Crawford said he is running to help create the best community possible for his family.

“I am running to make sure the entire community has a voice. I am running because my family is completely invested in the town. I have always enjoyed being informed and helping solve problems. I enjoy thinking outside the box to be more efficient and I enjoy planning and architecture. Being a member of the town council is an outlet for me to do all these things,” he told Giant FM.


Fortville finds itself on the cusp of growth, while trying to keep its small-town charm, something all three said is an issue facing the town.


Davis said the issues facing town are its growth, parking, traffic and infrastructure.


Wyatt said her campaign slogan of "Committed to Community, Dedicated to Progress" and the town's biggest challenge is a fear of growth. 


"No one knows what is coming or how it will look, which has caused a lot of people to not want the growth, while others are excited and embrace the change. The challenge is trying to work with both sides while continuing to improve our community," she said. 


In addition, Wyatt said growing the industrial park and making the town one that is welcoming and safe are important to her.

Crawford said the biggest issue facing Fortville is the current and future growth of both the community and surrounding communities.


All three said if they're fortunate enough to be elected, they'll be a positive voice. 


"If elected I will investigate the needs of the town and help to make decisions based on those needs," Davis said. 


Wyatt said she is a "fair and honest person, who will listen to concerns and help make the best decision" for her community. 


"I'd be a good addition because I am positive, energetic, understanding and committed," she said. 

Crawford said voters should elect him because he will represent the entire community that he has been involved with since moving in eight years ago.

“I was involved developing the comprehensive plan. I have been involved with writing the architectural standards for residential development, and I am currently a member of the BZA,” Crawford said. 

Nepotism discussions in New Palestine government

Does New Palestine have a nepotism problem? 


According to one candidate for the New Palestine Town Council, the answer is yes.

Independent candidate Angela Fahrnow believes there is some cause for concern in regards to the relationship between town manager Dave Book and Tonii Pyle, who is running unopposed for the clerk-treasurer position and is Book’s daughter-in-law.

Beginning January 1, Pyle will become the town’s clerk-treasurer and control the town’s finances. Book, on the other hand, is the town manager, and that includes submitting an annual budget and working with the clerk-treasurer.  

And, that is where the issues begin for Fahrnow.

“First, I would like to state I’ve never said the town was breaking nepotism laws. I would also like to add that I never criticized or questioned anyone’s integrity. I’ve stated facts. Dave Book is the town manager. Tonii Pyle is his daughter-in-law. Dave works closely with the clerk-treasurer. It is a conflict of interest. His job description provides several instances where he has to work closely with the clerk-treasurer,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.

She also asked why the potential conflict was never brought up at a town council meeting after Pyle declared her intent of running.

“Town officials said this was discussed before she was hired as an assistant to the clerk-treasurer, but the only documentation in regards to this is on 4/18/18 town minutes that stated that Tonii Pyle had been hired back in March for the assistant clerk position. The town was unaware of the relationship between Mr. Book and Mrs. Pyle, the conflict it brought in regards to town matters, or that there was even a Nepotism Policy in place that was adopted by the town of New Palestine,” she said.

The Indiana General Assembly has weighed in on nepotism issues, stating that town and city governments must adopt policies. New Palestine did just that in July of 2012 with a resolution that addresses nepotism and relatives, which does include a person who is an in-law.

In an email to Giant FM, Book wrote, “There is no nepotism issue. We have and will follow the state law and town ordinances, as well as all internal safe guards.”

Two current council members, who are also up for re-election, have also weighed in on the matter.
Both Brandee Bastin and Jan Jarson believe the town has done nothing wrong and said they have checked with the town’s attorney to confirm that.

“In regards to the nepotism issue, it is something that I take seriously. I have spoken with our town attorney on this issue, and he has advised that no violations of this policy currently exist with our current employment structure. I understand it has been put into question whether or not this will change effective January 1 with the election of the new clerk-treasurer. My pledge is to continue to work with our town and legal counsel to review our nepotism policy, our job descriptions and work to address and clarify any real or perceived conflicts of interest with our legal counsel. We are accountable to the taxpayers of our town,” Bastin said.

Jarson told Giant FM the town’s policy is to follow state law at all times.

“Advice from our legal counsel was sought and received. There is no nepotism. The offices in question are an administrative and an elected position. While these jobs interact, there is no control of one over the other. I am comfortable with our attorney’s answers and the election office vetting candidates,” she said.