Officer David Rigney touched many lives
By Shaun Tilghman
News Editor – North Manchester News-Journal
Just over a week has passed since the accident that claimed the life of North Manchester Police Officer David Rigney, and in the wake of tragedy, communities across Wabash County have joined together not only in mourning the loss, but also in celebrating his life.
The 39-year-old LaFontaine native was off-duty when the crash occurred last Monday afternoon. Rigney was heading south on State Road 15 when his SUV fishtailed and crossed into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a school bus, before returning to the southbound lane and being struck by another vehicle – he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Brian Enyeart, a veteran of the North Manchester Police Department, said the loss was devastating on many different levels.
“People outside of law enforcement don’t understand the bond that law enforcement officers have – it’s more than just as coworkers or even friends, we truly are ‘brothers in blue’,” Enyeart said. “There is a lot of stuff that is easier to talk about with other officers than with other people, because they just don’t understand. With Dave, you always knew if you needed anything you could call him and he would be there to help you out.”
by Gary Andrews
Not only did the Wabash Lady Apache basketball team open their 2014-15 season with an impressive 60-44 win over Mississinewa Friday; they got to be part of history as senior Claire Cromer went off for 42 points to set the Wabash single game scoring record.
The Lady Apaches dominated right from the start, jumping out to an 11-0 lead and leading 14-4 after the end of the quarter. Claire Cromer had all 14 points for Wabash.
Mississinewa would cut the Wabash lead to 16-10 early in the second quarter before Shelby Stone buried two shots from behind the arch to build the lead to 22-10. The Indians again cut the lead to single digits before Cromer drained back-to-back three’s, then hit four straight free throws to increase the lead to 31-18. At 31-22 Cromer would hit a shot before the buzzer as Wabash led 33-22 at the half.
Kristin Cromer and Sarah Puckett would get in on the scoring action in the third while Claire Cromer kept rolling as the Lady Apaches built their lead to 45-25 before leading 45-26 after three.
Claire Cromer would hit a three to get the Wabash scoring going in the fourth as sister Kristin hit two free throws as Wabash rolled to a 60-44 win.
Claire Cromer led the way with 42 points. Shelby Stone and Kristin Cromer added 6 points each, Sarah Puckett 4, Katie McCauley 2.
By Bill Barrows
Periodically, I have the privilege to witness heartwarming and amazing things that happen in the course of my daily activities in youth sports at the Wabash County YMCA. This week, I watched as a young man took a huge step forward on a long road back to regaining his health.
Jace Randel’s parents, Jason and Amanda, registered him to play 4th & 5th grade tackle football in August. Jace expected to play with a number of his classmates on the Cowboys team this fall while learning some life lessons along the way. He had no idea the roller coaster ride he had in front of him.
”On Aug. 20 (ironically, the same day as the first football practice) Jace began not feeling well. I took him in to his pediatrician after a few days of stomach pain. He ordered blood work, just to be sure it wasn’t an appendicitis. The blood work came back abnormal,” explained Amanda.
After consulting with their pediatrician, the Randels prepared for a trip to Riley Hospital.
“The Pediatrician explained to us that Jace's blood work had come back abnormal, and after consulting with a few Riley Oncologists, they thought Jace had leukemia.” Amanda continued, “We were being sent to Riley to run more blood work and prepare him for a bone marrow biopsy.” Jason & Amanda told their son what this meant; Jace was crushed.
“I told him that we were NOT putting our faith and trust into one test. We would be putting our faith in God who, we KNEW, could do anything!!” She explained, “What a calming affect that can have on a person, to know WHO is in control and WHO is all powerful,”
The blood work at Riley came back inconclusive. Jace received a platelets transfusion in order to perform the biopsy to prevent excessive bleeding. He had an allergic reaction to the platelet transfusion. Instantly, he began to break out in hives and his throat started swelling. After giving him large doses of Benadryl, he was finally able to sleep. The biopsy came back negative. Several other tests were run, for conditions such as; mono, autoimmune markers, and vitamin deficiencies, and all came back normal. Normal was a relative term. Jace wasn’t getting any worse, but was also wasn’t getting any better either.
by Gary Andrews
The Southwood VolleyKnights had one last game scheduled for the year Saturday and it was the state championship. The Lady Knights had won nine straight games to win the sectional, then defeated Clinton Central 3-0 for the regional title. Last Saturday Southwood won the very tough Bremen semi state by topping Adams Central 3-1 and Hammond Bishop Noll 3-2 for the semi state title. Saturday at Ball State the VolleyKnights had the task of taking on defending state champion Providence for the state title.
Southwood, the 2A public school state champion hung tough, but the power hitting of Providence ended up being too much as the VolleyKnights fell 17-25, 14-25, 18-25.
Providence got off to a 10-3 start in game one before the Knights shook off the championship jitters and started to go to work. Emilie Harnish would get a kill and Bailey Lundmark a block during a 5-0 run to close the gap to 10-8. Providence would then score 10 of the next 14 points to open a 24-15 lead before two Sami White tips kept the game alive, but one last Pioneer kill ended game one 17-25.
Southwood jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start game two with Sami White serving. Kaitlyn Murphy had a kill with White scoring on an ace and a tip. Bailey Hobbs would get a kill as the Knights extended their lead to 8-3 before the Pioneer’s got hot. Providence would score 6 of the next 7 points to tie the game at 9 before a White tip and an Emilie Harnish ace made it 11-9. With Southwood up 12-10 the sleeping giant awoke as Providence went on a 10-1 run to grab a 20-13 lead on their way to the 25-14 final.
by Emily Armentrout
On Sunday, Feb. 23, Sheriff Bob Land terminated Walter Woods, Reserve Deputy and Wabash County Sheriff candidate, from the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department. Following the termination, Sheriff Land issued a statement explaining the action. After reviewing Sheriff Land’s statement with legal council, Woods issued a response. As both are candidates in the upcoming Republican primary election for Wabash County Sheriff, Woods’ response has been included in full, just as Land’s statement was included in full last week. Woods responded as follows:
“As a Republican candidate for Sheriff of Wabash County, I welcome this opportunity to address the circumstances surrounding the decision of the current sheriff, who is also seeking our party’s nomination in the upcoming primary, to discharge me from my role as a reserve deputy with the department; a position that I have held for approximately 12 years.
“At issue is whether I acted improperly by permitting my work release employee to travel, in the course of his employment, outside the State of Indiana. I believe the evidence clearly shows that, given the facts known to me at the time, I did nothing improper.
“Indiana law authorized certain individuals who have committed a non-violent criminal offense to be placed on work release. In our county, the program is administered by Wabash County Community Corrections. This program has been supported by many of our local businesses, including my own. I operate two businesses under the name “Tri-W.” One involves heating, plumbing and electrical contracting, and the second involves farming and boarding horses.
“Last August I agreed to accept, as a work release participant, an employee who had worked at Tri-W prior to his incarceration. He had just been convicted of a traffic offense. I signed the standard community corrections agreement, which states, in part, as follows:
“’Participants may be released for work at a place of full-time employment within Wabash, Miami, Kosciusko, Fulton, Huntington, or Grant Counties in the State of Indiana. Participants may work outside of the counties listed above, only in order to maintain employment which he held prior to beginning his current sentence.’
“Both of my Tri-W businesses are located in Wabash County. In complete accordance with the agreement, I discussed with the director of Community Corrections the fact that this employee would indeed occasionally work outside the counties listed “in order to maintain the employment which he held prior to the beginning of his current sentence.” Between August of 2013 and February of this year, this employee worked in several counties other than the six counties listed above. Because of our prior understanding, and because the employee wore a GPS monitor, Community Corrections was well aware of his location at all times. On none of these occasions did Community Corrections complain to me about this employee working in a county other than one of the six listed.
“Approximately two weeks ago, Tri-W sent this employee, in the course of his employment, to rural Monee, Illinois. Although others accompanied this employee, I did not. However, nothing in the rules of Wabash County Community Corrections require that this employee perform his work only in my presence. Indeed, many work release participants regularly perform their duties under the supervision of various members of their employer’s workforce. In any event, this employee returned to Wabash County on schedule and as expected.
“There was no reason for me to believe that this trip was any different than those occasions when the employee traveled to work in Starke County, or in Cass County, or in LaGrange County; all of which were well known and which occurred without complaint.
“The one-page agreement utilized by Community Corrections is entitled “Work Release Employment Restrictions.” I have endeavored to follow those restrictions explicitly. Certainly, I had no way of knowing what other restrictions may have been placed upon this employee by the court, or by the probation department, or by Community Corrections. If, as it now appears, he was ordered not to leave the state, and if I had known of that restriction, then I certainly would not have authorized his travel to Illinois. The employee never told me that he was ordered not to leave the state. The Community Corrections agreement that I signed also contains the following: “Remember that you, as the employer, are not responsible for any of your employee’s activities.” Perhaps Sheriff Land missed that sentence. No one, except Sheriff Land, has accused me of any impropriety.
“The sheriff has cited the following reasons for my termination:
-“This employee was allowed to leave the State of Indiana without permission.” This issue has been fully addressed above.
-“The employee was allowed to go into public places.” Nowhere in the “Work Release Employment Restrictions” form that I signed do the words “public places” appear. The form prohibits the employee from entering a “restaurant” or “establishment that sells food items,” but Community Corrections simply does not prohibit any work release participant from going into “public places.” Does the sheriff actually believe these employees are forbidden to walk on a public sidewalk, or travel down a public highway?
-“This employee could have escaped at any time” – of course that is true; not only for this employee, but also for every other person who is now on work release, or who has ever been on work release, or who will ever be on work release in the future. He could also have escaped while working in downtown Wabash. He did not escape, nor did he make any effort to do so. If the sheriff does not like the risk that accompanies any work release program, then he should probably take it up with the Indiana Legislature the body that implemented the work release law. Incidentally, prisoners have also escaped directly from the Wabash County Jail while supposedly incarcerated.
-“Mr. Woods did not have direct control of the inmate.” Mr. Woods relied upon family members to oversee security on the inmate. It would be well to note that our Legislature has chosen to implement a “work release” program – not a “chain gang” system. Like most other work release employers, Tri-W has several employees. Work release employees, just like any other employees, are expected to perform the reasonable duties assigned by their employers. The sheriff knows, or should know, that there is nothing in the Community Corrections agreement signed by me that requires the employee to be in my physical presence every moment that he worked.
-“Mr. Woods utilized the inmate for personal use.” This employee was on the payroll of Tri-W, and paid by Tri-W for every minute that he worked. It is no concern of the sheriff’s whether this employee was stringing wire, hauling manure or transporting an animal. Obviously, work performed by any employee would, presumably, be of personal benefit to the employer. Why else would an employee be hired?
“In his press release last week, the sheriff stated “I am releasing this information to the public in order to quash any indication that Mr. Woods’ dismissal from the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department Reserves was politically motivated.” Really. Any reasonably astute person who now knows “the rest of the story” might very well conclude that the sheriff’s only motivation was the hope of damaging his rival in the upcoming political election.”
Upon receiving Woods’ statement, Sheriff Bob Land told The Paper about information that was gathered in his absence by Land’s Chief Deputy, Major Randy Miller and Community Corrections. As part of the investigation, telephone calls between Mr. Woods and the inmate in question were reviewed, as all calls between inmates and the general public are recorded.
“If Mr. Woods is in agreement, I will make the conversation available to the media,” Sheriff Land told The Paper.
Sheriff Land went on to explain that Major Miller and the director of Community Corrections agreed that violations in the Work Release Agreement were committed by both the inmate and Mr. Woods, and that it was not for political gain.
“I could ill afford to wait until after the primary elections to do something,” added Sheriff Land. “As I’ve stated before, it is unfortunate and bad timing, but I treated Mr. Woods the same as any other employee would have been treated, whether running for Sheriff or not.”
Mr. Woods responded, stating, “Obviously there are a few things taken out of context with the paperwork he did, and I know all phone conversations are recorded at the Sheriff’s Department. That’s why I instructed [the inmate] not to lie about anything. I want to go through what [the sheriff is] planning on releasing to the public with my attorney just to make sure that anything that’s said or done is not out of character of what we’re responding to.”
As of Monday, Feb. 3, the telephone recordings were not available to the media.