INDIANAPOLIS – Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will headline a fundraiser for the Indianapolis children’s hospital that bears his name.\nThe Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent was named for the former Super Bowl MVP last September.\nAlso attending the April 25 gala will be Manning’s wife, Ashley, and his father and former NFL quarterback Archie Manning. Other guests include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, John Mellencamp, CBS NFL host James Brown and Colts president Bill Polian.\nAbout 530 people are expected to be invited to the event at the N.K. Hurst Bean Factory near the site of the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
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COLUMBUS, IND. – Bartholomew County authorities are searching for two men who escaped from the county jail in Columbus.\nSheriff Mark Gorbett said jailers noticed Justin James and Matthew Mullins were missing during a head count early Tuesday morning.\nHe said the men apparently escaped through a hatch in a third-floor shower area. Jail guards found chips of paint on the floor below a hatch that allows access to pipes.\nGorbett says the men were likely able to escape the building through a boarded-up hole in the exterior wall. The bricks in that area were removed for construction of a link to the county’s new jail.\nGorbett says it’s not known if the men are still in the Columbus area, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis.
PLAINFIELD, IND. – A judge has upheld a town ordinance that bars convicted sex offenders from using Plainfield’s parks and recreation areas.\nIn a five-page opinion, Hendricks Superior Court Judge Robert W. Freese ruled that the ordinance was constitutional.\nThe American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in 2005 challenging the ordinance on behalf of a man known in court documents as John Doe. The ACLU argued Doe has completed his punishment including probation and that banning him from the park effectively adds more punishment.\nACLU Legal Director Kenneth Falk said Monday the group plans to appeal.\nIn his ruling Friday, Freese found that there is a legitimate government interest to protect children by keeping sex offenders away from recreation areas where children are present. He wrote that “at least some sexual predators prey upon those to whom they have access. And some offenders have a high incidence of re-offending.”\nDoe was convicted in 2001 of child exploitation and possession of child pornography. The lawsuit stated that he served time in jail, was placed on probation until August 2004 and is on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.\nDoe was visiting the Splash Island water park with his young son in June 2005 when police warned him not to return because he was on the sex offender registry.
INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of Indianapolis’ Humane Society blame a budget deficit for a decision to stop accepting stray animals and to no longer allow people to drop off unwanted pets immediately.\nThose steps are aimed at reducing the number of animals for which the society must find new homes, but officials say it could force 4,000 to 5,000 more animals a year on the city-operated animal pound.\nThe policy changes should cut $800,000 from the operating budget of the Humane Society of Indianapolis, allowing it to close its deficit next year, said Martha Boden, the group’s chief executive officer.\nThe Humane Society has been in talks with the city for weeks on how the transition will work once the changes start March 15, but final decisions have not been made, Boden said.\nVeterinarian Ben Ealing said he worried that without a good plan to handle the strays no longer accepted by the Humane Society, the pet population could get out of hand.\n“If there are strays wandering around,” Ealing said, “there will be breeding, and the problem is going to be compounded.”\nScott Newman, the city’s public safety director, said he expected the changes will send more animals to the county pound and mean many of them will be destroyed. To handle the expected influx, money will likely be diverted to the animal shelter from a fund aimed at rooting out dogfighting.\nThe city’s pound now typically takes in about 18,000 animals a year and euthanizes more than 11,000 of them. The Humane Society, meanwhile, took in nearly 9,000 animals last year, with 3,200 being euthanized.\nUnder the new procedures for giving up pets, a Humane Society staffer will ask about the decision and possibly suggest tips or training classes to improve behavior. The owner will have to make an appointment for the drop-off and provide life history information that could help make the pet ready for a new adoption.\nThe Humane Society could still reject the animal under the policy, which Boden said was also aimed at prompting people to consider needs of homeless animals by doing more than driving them to the shelter.\n“We want to help them understand more about what’s involved with making a lifetime commitment to a pet,” she said.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Associated Press reported on several bills passed by the Indiana General Assembly Thursday.
INDIANAPOLIS – More voters could cast ballots at centralized polling sites instead of traditional neighborhood precincts or submit absentee ballots by mail without giving an excuse under a bill that cleared the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday.\nThe House voted 73-25 for Senate Bill 235, which would allow any county to opt for vote centers – scattered polling sites where people can cast ballots regardless of their precinct – if the local election board unanimously approves the change.\nAlthough the vote-center concept won support in the Republican-controlled Senate this year, GOP leaders in the chamber have opposed no-excuse absentee balloting by mail in the past. The bill could head next to a conference committee, where senators and representatives could try to hammer out a compromise on the legislation.\nUnder current Indiana law, anyone voting absentee-by-mail must meet certain provisions, such as being out of the county on Election Day or working through voting hours. Voters do not have to give an excuse if they cast an absentee ballot in person before Election Day.
Ranchers and horse-barn owners are hoping a $2,600 reward will help catch the thieves who have swiped saddles worth thousands of dollars from two southern Indiana ranches.\nFive businesses chipped in for the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the robberies at Up-N-Over Stables and Stone Creek Ranch.\nLast week, thieves hit Up-N-Over Stables, making off with mostly English riding gear, ranging from a custom Pullman Roping saddle to bridles.\nThen, late Sunday or early Monday about $25,000 worth of saddles, including pricey custom-made ones, were taken from Stone Creek Ranch, said owner Wayne Allbright.\nHe believes the thieves are knowledgeable about different saddle types because they took only the more expensive varieties and left behind some lesser-valued ones.\nAllbright said the thefts occurred even though three of his employees live very close to the barn that was targeted.\n“They were very brazen. With all this lighting around, and with people here onsite, they were very brazen,” he said.\nAllbright has warned other farms in the area about the thefts. He said sheriff’s deputies suspect that whoever robbed his ranch had visited it or driven past it to scope things out.\nHe has notified local pawn shops to be on the lookout for someone trying to cash the saddles in for a quick turnaround, and he has someone checking eBay.
HAVANA — Nearly 50 years of rule by Fidel Castro ended in Cuba on Sunday as parliament chose his brother Raul to replace him — a transition that leaves the island's communist system unshaken.\nThe new president proposed consulting with the ailing 81-year-old Fidel on all major decisions of state, and parliament approved the proposal.\nThe vote came five days after Fidel said he was retiring, capping a career in which he frustrated efforts by 10 U.S. presidents to oust him.\nThe transition was not likely to bring a major shift in policies of the communist government that have put it at odds with the United States. But many Cubans were hoping it would open the door to modest economic reforms and improvement in their daily lives.
INDIANAPOLIS - The six-county United Way of Central Indiana raised a record $39 million in corporate and individual contributions in its 2007 campaign, organizers said.\nThe amount might climb even higher because several national companies have yet to report contributions from their local employees, campaign co-chairman Denny Sponsel said Wednesday.\nMore than 100,000 people donated, Sponsel said. The average donation rose 10 percent, or $27 per donor, over last year. Contributions typically are made by paycheck deductions, which will be collected during 2008.\nIndividual donations make up about 80 percent of donations, with corporate giving accounting for the remainder.\nAt drug maker Eli Lilly and Co., the area’s largest private employer, employee contributions rose by more than $500,000 over last year, the United Way said.\nThe money goes to 104 human service agencies in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The president of a Texas energy company has donated $1 million to his Indiana high school alma mater, a gift the school said it will use to hire another teacher, create programs and fund scholarships.\nT. Paul Bulmahn, founder and CEO of ATP Oil & Gas Corp., donated the money to Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne.\n“This gift just provides for incredible opportunities that we’ve never had before,” said David Widenhofer, Concordia’s executive director.\nSchool principal John Marks said the school will use the money to hire another math teacher and develop new programs in science, technology and entrepreneurship. He also said the gift will fund scholarships to help needy students afford the annual tuition of $7,600.\nBulmahn graduated from Concordia in 1961, and went on to earn degrees from Valparaiso University, the University of Texas and Texas State University. He founded ATP Oil & Gas Corp. in 1991.\nBulmahn’s cousin, Steve Bulmahn of Fort Wayne, presented the check to the school at a Wednesday news conference.\nThe gift was the largest single donation in the school’s history and amounted to a fifth of its $5.4 million yearly operating budget. Concordia was founded in 1935 and has 679 students.\nBulmahn said he decided to donate the money while attending the school’s graduation ceremony last year.\n“I was very impressed with what is taking place there and wanted to make a difference for Concordia to encourage young people to believe they can pursue their own dreams and potential,” said Bulmahn in a statement. “That possibility for Concordia gives me great joy, and I am eager to see the school flourish.
HAVANA – Ailing leader Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president from nearly a half-century early Tuesday, saying in a letter published in online official media that he would not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday.\n"I will not aspire nor accept — I repeat I will not aspire or accept, the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief," read a letter signed by Castro published quietly overnight without advance warning in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.\nThe new National Assembly is meeting for first time Sunday since January elections to pick the governing Council of State, including the presidency Castro holds. There had been wide speculation about whether he would accept a nomination for reelection to that post or retire.\nThe 81-year-old Castro's overnight announcement effectively ends his rule of almost 50 years over Cuba, positioning his 76-year-old brother Raul for permanent succession to the presidency.
Kosovo declared itself a nation on Sunday, mounting a historic bid to become an “independent and democratic state” backed by the U.S. and key European allies, but bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia. “Kosovo is a republic – an independent, democratic and sovereign state,” parliament speaker Jakup Krasniqi said as the chamber burst into applause. Serbian President Boris Tadic reacted by saying his country will never accept Kosovo’s “unilateral and illegal” declaration.
BEIJING – China said Sunday it was concerned about U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite that is hurtling toward Earth with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel.\nThe U.S. military has said it hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week – just before it enters Earth’s atmosphere – with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.\nThe official Xinhua News Agency quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao as saying the Chinese government was monitoring the situation and has urged the U.S. to avoid causing damages to security in outer space and in other countries.\n“Relevant departments of China are closely watching the situation and working out preventive measures,” Liu said. Xinhua did not elaborate.\nRussia also has voiced concerns about the U.S. plan to shoot down the damaged satellite, saying it may be a veiled test of America’s missile defense system.\nThe U.S. has insisted the plan to shoot down the satellite is not a test of a program to kill other nations’ orbiting communications and intelligence \ncapabilities.\nThe Bush administration and U.S. military officials have said the bus-sized satellite is carrying a fuel called hydrazine that could injure or even kill people who are near it when it hits \nthe ground.\nU.S. diplomats around the world have been instructed to inform governments that the operation is meant to protect people from the satellite’s blazing descent and the toxic fuel it is carrying. The diplomats were told to distinguish the upcoming attempt to destroy the satellite from China’s much criticized test last year, when it used a missile to destroy a defunct weather satellite.\nLeft alone, the satellite would likely hit Earth during the first week of March. About half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft would be expected to survive the fall and would scatter debris over several hundred miles.\nKnown by its military designation US 193, the satellite carrying a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward.
INDIANAPOLIS – A Republican state representative running for Congress has apologized for working on campaign materials while on the House floor.\nState Democrats took video of Rep. Jon Elrod, R-Indianapolis, signing campaign thank-you letters and sealing them in envelopes. There are few ethical rules for legislators, and no law or regulation appears to prevent lawmakers from engaging in such an activity.\nElrod, the Republican nominee in the 7th Congressional District race, said he was multitasking but used poor judgment. He said it would not happen again.\n“I feel horrible about it,” he said. “I really do. To put our caucus and everyone else in this position, it’s just inexcusable.” \nElrod is running against Democrat Andre Carson in a March 11 special election for the congressional seat previously held by Carson’s grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson, who died in December. Libertarian candidate Sean Shepard is also running.\nAfter Democrats heard that Elrod was working on campaign materials in the House, the party sent a staff member to video Elrod from the House balcony, and the aide recorded him working on campaign letters twice this month, said Dan Parker, a spokesman for the Democratic party.\n“It raises questions about Jon Elrod’s ethics,” Parker said. “Here he is on the floor of the House doing campaign work. That says that politics is more important than the people’s work.”\nElrod gave the letters to a legislative employee – Graig Lubsen, deputy media director for House Republicans – to mail.\nThe handbook for House personnel says employees “shall not perform campaign or political activity during hours they are performing work for the House.” The rules also state that “campaign activity may not occur on House property.”\nHouse Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Lubsen violated House rules and there would be consequences, although he did not specify what actions could be taken. He said he had a stern talk with Elrod and Lubsen, who said he did not know the letters were campaign-related.\n“I’m confident it has not ever happened before, and I’m very confident it will never, ever happen again,” Bosma said.\nJulia Vaughn, policy director of the government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said the incident “isn’t the biggest scandal since Watergate.” But she said lawmakers should refrain from doing campaign work in the Statehouse.\nIndiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark, a former state senator, said he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. He said the flap shows that Democrats are desperate to hold onto the 7th District.\n“Democrats are going to pull out every trick in the book,” Clark said. “I’m going to call Jon and make sure he pulls his shades at night.”
DEKALB, Ill. – A gunman opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday, injuring as many as 15 people before he killed himself, authorities and the school said.\n“Police are confirming that the shooter is dead by a self-inflicted gunshot,” the school said on its Web site.\nThe university issued a statement on its Web site about an hour after the 3 p.m. shooting that “the immediate danger has passed. The gunman is no longer a threat.”\nKishwaukee Community Hospital spokeswoman Theresa Komitas told WLS-TV in Chicago it received 17 victims all with wounds from the shooting or flying debris, including three with serious injuries. She said she knew of no deaths at the hospital.\nGeorge Gaynor, a senior geography student, who was in Cole Hall when the shooting happened, told the student newspaper – the Northern Star – that the shooter was “a skinny white guy with a stocking cap on.”\nHe described the scene immediately following the incident as terrifying and chaotic.\n“Some girl got hit in the eye, a guy got hit in the leg,” Gaynor said outside just minutes after the shooting occurred. “It was like five minutes before class ended, too.”\nWitnesses said the young man carried a shotgun and a pistol. Student Edward Robinson told WLS that the gunman appeared to target students in one part of the lecture hall.\n“It was almost like he knew who he wanted to shoot,” Robinson said. “He knew who and where he wanted to be firing at.”\nAll classes were canceled Thursday night and the 25,000-student campus was closed on Friday. Students were urged to call their parents “as soon as possible” and were offered counseling at any residence hall, according to the school Web site.\nDominique Broxton, 22, a student from Oak Park, told the Chicago Tribune she could see two wounded students from her dorm room.\n“The ambulance took away two students on the ground right outside my dorm,” she said. “I don’t know them. They looked bloody.”\nShe said she saw a lot of confusion. \n“Students were running. People really didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “There is an intercom system inside the dorm. Someone came on and stated that someone had been caught. They said they caught the shooter and that we should remain calm and stay in our rooms. I am in my room now.”\nThe school was closed for one day during final exam week in December after campus police found threats, including racial slurs and references to shootings earlier in the year at Virginia Tech, scrawled on a bathroom wall in a dormitory. Police determined after an investigation that there was no imminent threat and the campus was reopened.\nThe shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school within a week.\nOn Feb. 8, a woman shot two fellow students to death before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge. In Memphis, Tenn., a 17-year-old is accused of shooting and critically wounding a fellow student Monday during a high school gym class, and the 15-year-old victim of a shooting at an Oxnard, Calif., junior high school has been declared brain dead.
BROWNSBURG – Newlyweds could probably learn a few things from the five Estes sisters and their two brothers, who between them have amassed 391 years of marriage, and counting.\nIn an age when nearly half of new marriages are expected to end in divorce, the seven surviving children of C.M. and Minnie Estes have all been wed 50 or more years.\nThe youngest, Sue Bass, completed that golden anniversary streak Saturday when she and husband Edwin marked their 50 years together in a laughter-filled banquet room, surrounded by Sue’s six surviving siblings and many of the couples’ 71 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.\n“We’re the last. We made it,” Sue, 69, said after the Basses’ celebratory spotlight dance. Added Edwin, 73: “The others made it and we weren’t about to get beat!”\nThe Estes siblings, ages 69 to 84, attribute their marital success in large part to the moral example set by their late parents, who were married 58 years.\nC.M. Estes and wife Minnie raised their nine children – one died as a toddler and another is deceased – with the clear expectation that marriage is for life. The family lived in Kentucky before moving to Indiana in the mid-1940s.\nSeventy-four-year-old Joyce Samples said her parents endured hard financial times but set a loving example that she has emulated in her 57-year marriage to John Samples, 74.\n“They always showed respect for each other, which made us know that was part of marriage,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of verbal advice. You just watched them and knew how it was done.”\nAside from Joyce and Sue and their husbands, the other Estes children and their spouses are: Agnes and Howard Byrd, wed 61 years; Douglas and Kathleen Estes, 60 years; Charles and Grace Estes, 57 years; Eula and L.B. Champion, 54 years; and Gladys and Bob Maple, who were married 52 years when Bob died in 1999.\nAn eighth Estes sibling, Joe, died in 1992, by which time he and his widow, Ruth, had 48 years between them. Their marriage boosts the Estes’ matrimonial total to 439 years.\nThe couples all live in Indiana except for Douglas and Kathleen Estes, who reside in Florida.\nStephanie Coontz, a professor of history at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., said it’s unusual for so many siblings to have such long marriages.\nCoontz, who has studied marriage trends for 25 years, said many marriages that began in the 1950s ended because of the marital divisions sparked as more women entered the work force in subsequent decades. That wasn’t an issue for the Estes siblings; all the wives were homemakers.\nDavid Popenoe, a professor emeritus of sociology at Rutgers University, said religion, commitment to the marriage itself and a willingness to overlook problems are often factors in long unions.
INDIANAPOLIS – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican hopeful John McCain have filed the necessary petitions to be on Indiana’s May 6 primary ballot.\nObama’s Indiana coordinator, Kip Tew, turned in more than 6,200 signatures supporting Obama to the secretary of state’s office around noon Tuesday. The petition included at least 500 signatures from each of the state’s nine congressional districts – the necessary number to get on the ballot.\nAbout 50 Obama supporters turned out for the filing.\nAttorney General Steve Carter and state GOP chairman Murray Clark delivered the required signatures on behalf of McCain. Republican Mitt Romney already filed in Indiana, but he has since suspended his presidential campaign.\nThe deadline to file is Feb. 22.
EVANSVILLE – A self-employed Internet contractor who runs a Web site that calls evolution a “spiritual deception” has entered the race for southwestern Indiana’s 8th Congressional District. \nPaul Abramson, 50, of Evansville, announced plans Monday to seek the Republican nomination and challenge Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth, a former Vanderburgh County sheriff who defeated John Hostettler in 2006. He joins Greg Goode in the GOP field for the state’s “Bloody 8th,” a name that reflects the district’s history of contentious races.\nAbramson said his policies are similar to Hostettler’s religious and fiscal conservatism. He said he met with Hostettler for 90 minutes in October to discuss a possible run but did not seek or receive his endorsement.\n“We have a religious heritage,” Abramson said. “It’s not freedom from religion – it’s freedom of religion.” \nAbramson is the founder and editor of www.creationism.org, which promotes “creation science.” Goode, 34, who filed papers with the secretary of state Monday, left his post as Indiana State University’s chief public and governmental affairs officer to run.\nGoode welcomed Abramson to the race.\n“It’s a terribly difficult decision to make,” Goode said. “I respect (Abramson) for the decision, and I wish him \nsafe travels.”
INDIANAPOLIS – A former swim coach charged with child pornography possession now faces felonies tied to hidden video cameras that shot girls changing in an Indiana high school locker room.\nBrian D. Hindson, 40, has been charged with three counts of production of child pornography, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday. Hindson was arrested last week and charged with a felony count of possessing computer video files of child pornography.\nHis attorney, Gregg Stark, declined to comment on the case.\n“Right now, it’s unfortunately very premature as to what he’s facing and where we go from here,” Stark said.\nHindson was head coach and chief executive officer of Central Indiana Aquatics and a coach at Kokomo High School, where his swim club used the pool, according to a probable cause affidavit signed by Federal Bureau of Investigations agent Emily Odom.\nHindson has admitted to hiding video cameras in the locker rooms at Kokomo and Westfield high schools, according to court documents.\nThe latest charges stem from three videos that show girls changing in or out of bathing suits in the Kokomo locker room. One video appears to have been shot from a camera hidden in a locker, an affidavit states.\nThe other two appear to have been made by a person using a handheld camera and shooting through a door vent from an office next to the locker room. \nThe girls were not aware they were being filmed, said Steve DeBrota, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. He did not say whether they were swimmers Hindson coached.\nThe swimmers were identified after investigators showed the videos to the swimmers’ parents.\nDeBrota said investigators were still analyzing evidence.\n“We’re trying to determine the identity of any minors that are the victims of a federal crime in connection with these activities,” he said.\nHindson was charged with possessing child pornography after investigators found eight pornographic videos involving children on a hard drive in his Carmel, Ind., apartment, court documents state.
BAINBRIDGE, Ind. – A powerful line of thunderstorms marched across Indiana, damaging homes, knocking down trees and power lines and tearing the roof off a fire station.\nBut flooding could cause the most problems throughout the state as the National Weather Service was warning Wednesday that the Wabash, Tippecanoe and other major rivers will spill over their banks.\nIn Putnam County west of Indianapolis, the storm tore the roof off a fire station in Bainbridge and destroyed its radio tower Tuesday night. Barns and mobile homes also were damaged, along with several utility trailers.\nIn Greene County, southwest of Bloomington, the sheriff’s department said roofs were blown off several houses in Bloomfield. Officers reported a large amount of debris in trees as well as downed trees and power lines. The sheriff’s department said the damage resembled that of a tornado.\nHerman L. Walters, 82, was watching television in the living room of his Bloomfield, Ind., home when two trees crashed into his house in less than five minutes.\n“One of them blew over \nand it came right through the rooftop,” he said. “Then the rain and the wind was so strong it took the roof right off. I’m just darn lucky I’m here in one piece.”\nAn 80 mph wind gust was reported in Clinton in Vermillion County. Trees and power lines were reported down in Terre Haute.\nThe National Weather Service was investigating storm damage in Putnam, Greene, Jackson and Decatur counties to see if any tornadoes touched down. No major injuries were reported.\nThe storms followed unseasonably high daytime temperatures in the 60s, and were generated by the same system that produced tornadoes that were blamed for more than 50 deaths in the South.