Columnist: After a string of veteran suicides, let us never forget our solemn pledge

We must believe in our ability to work together to solve our toughest problems


On Memorial Day, 1945, the war in Europe had ended but the fighting in the Pacific continued.  Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott voiced remarks at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno, Italy. Turning his back on the assembled VIPs, he faced the rows upon rows of headstones and apologized to the 20,000 fallen Americans who had been laid to rest far from home. He was quoted as saying, “All over the world our soldiers sleep beneath the crosses. It is a challenge to us – all allied nations – to ensure that they do not and have not died in vain.”

Fast forward to Memorial Day 2022, and the familiar voices of brothers in arms begin to call one another on the phone. People usually think of reconnecting with former military buddies as a joyous happening.

Arrest made after fatal crash near Centerville

SUV driver faces reckless homicide charge

A Richmond man was arrested on a charge of reckless homicide eight days after a Union County man died in a crash near Centerville. Shortly after 8:30 p.m. May 18, Indiana State Police and Richmond Police Department officers went to the 300 block of North 17th Street in Richmond to execute an arrest warrant on Rafael Lopez, 27, accusing him of reckless homicide. Lopez was taken into custody without incident, according to RPD Capt. Curt Leverton. Lopez was arrested and preliminarily charged with reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony, and operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license (prior), a Class A misdemeanor. He was taken to the Wayne County Jail.

More than 1,000 Richmond properties cited for code violations

Common Council hears report; also grants industrial zoning request

Richmond residents who see an eyesore or unsafe conditions can get the city’s help in getting it cleaned up. The city has ticketed 1,058 properties since the first of the year for tall weeds and brush, outdoor trash and unsafe conditions, according to Derek Hill, head of the city’s code enforcement department. He spoke to the Common Council on May 16. Each ticket is a citation requiring a property owner to alleviate the conditions before the city steps in. Hill outlined what his department does and its progress so far in helping clean up the city.

Club honors service to Centerville community

Four Centerville residents received the Community Service Award and the Centerville United Methodist Church Food Distribution Program and its leaders received the Outstanding Citizens award from the Centerville Lions Club on May 9. Individual Community Service Award recipients include Kim Young, Mark Culbertson, Ty Farmer and Mark Howell. In honoring Kevin Smith, Sam Dixon and Jim Potter, the leaders in the Centerville United Methodist Church Food Distribution Program, Lion Dennis Stephen said that small community food pantries had operated for several years before the program started. “About five years ago their pastor, Ted Chalk, said to church leadership, ‘We can do better.’ Kevin Smith said he would lead such an effort. He soon had help from Sam Dixon and Jim Potter.

Trash pickup rate increase planned in Cambridge City

Cambridge City Town Council will conduct a public hearing in June to discuss an incremental increase in customers’ trash pickup costs. It will cover the last four years of the town’s five-year contract with Rumpke. The hearing takes place along with council’s June meeting at 6 p.m. June 13 in town hall. Customers now pay a trash fee of $14.95 per month for a 96-gallon container, along with an 18-gallon recycling bin at no extra charge if desired. The rates would increase every year:

*April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023: $15.37 per unit per month

*April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024: $15.80 per unit per month

*April 1, 2024 – March 31, 2025: $16.25 per unit per month

*April 1, 2025 – March 31, 2026: $16.71 per unit per month

See blight in Cambridge City? New report form available

Cambridge City residents concerned about blight now have a new form they can use to alert town officials to properties they believe need help. Town attorney Bob Bever created the “Citizen Complaint Form for Potential ‘Blighted’ Property” that is available at town hall. It asks for the address of the property and owner/occupant if known, a brief description of the property that they believe is blighted or violates other town codes. The town currently has tools (code sections) regarding tall grass/weeds, unsafe buildings and excess litter/neglected properties. It also has rules regarding abandoned vehicles.

Cemetery restoration moving slowly

Cub Scout pack organizing a fun run to help raise money for repair

Chapter Three in the second life of Capitol Hill Cemetery is taking a slow but steady pace, as donations continue to trickle in, increased security is suggested and a youth group decides to dedicate part of its fund-raiser to cemetery repair and restoration. A Cambridge City town employee discovered extensive damage to memorials and tombstones in the town’s oldest cemetery on April 1. Grave markers were not just knocked down: Whole stones and heavy decorations were picked up and cracked or smashed. Some had been carried to other parts of the cemetery and used to damage other stones. Although a professional cemetery conservator estimated that it took several hours to create so much havoc in the cemetery, police have arrested no suspects, largely because the cemetery is isolated and no one is sure when the destruction occurred.

LHS senior tackles lead role in ‘Newsies’

Before convenience stores were scattered around communities, there were “newsies” – young boys who sold single copies of newspapers. Local students and adults have learned more about their experience while preparing for Richmond Civic Theatre’s presentation of Disney’s “Newsies.”

The musical opens Friday and ends May 15. Lincoln High School senior Jarrin Ervin plays Jack Kelly, described as a charismatic newsboy who leads a band of teenage newsies in turn-of-the-century New York City. Read more of this story and see a full cast and crew list in the May 4 print edition of Western Wayne News


Metal building co. plans 25-30 local jobs

A Tennessee company has expanded its plan for a manufacturing plant and the Richmond Advisory Plan Commission will recommend its proposal to the Common Council. Metal Max LLC plans to put up a 45,000 square foot building on the city’s west side, according to a proposal which received the APC’s approval. That’s nine times larger the company’s original plan. More information in Western Wayne News print edition for May 4, 2022.  

1 newborn twin dies after auto accident

After a driver made more room for someone mowing grass, his vehicle collided with one driven by a pregnant woman, police said. The crash led to an emergency Caesarian section surgery, and one of her newborn twins did not survive. Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Hagerstown Police Department were called to the scene just after 12:30 p.m. April 30 in the 17300 block of Lamar Road in Hagerstown. At that time, a 2008 Ford Escort driven by Shibu Thannikkunnath, 44, of Indianapolis was traveling east on Lamar Road. Thannikkunnath’s vehicle was left of center prior to a hillcrest after moving over for a homeowner cutting the grass alongside the roadway, according to Sheriff Randy Retter.