Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, IN begins Friday >
Thousands of visitors will make their way to Parke County, Indiana over the next two weeks for the popular Covered Bridge Festival. Officials say, in fact, in excess of one-million people will make their way to see the fall colors and 31 covered bridges.
The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival begins Friday and runs through Sunday October 18th.
If you are planning to visit Parke County, Administrative Assistant Kinsey Norman suggests you stop by the Visitor's Center east of the square in Rockville to pick-up maps and other information.
For more information on the Parke County, Indiana Covered Bridge Festival visit http://www.coveredbridges.com.
The 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Dixie Highway is being recognized Saturday (October 10th). Several special events are planned between 10:30 am and 3 pm.
The Vermilion County Museum Society is hosting the events its location at on North Gilbert Street in Danville.
The Dixie Highway was America's first north-south "interstate" highway linking Chicago with Miami, Florida. Saturday's events include an antique Automobile show featuring cars from the A's R Us car club of Chicago, as well as cars from the Illiana Antique Automobile Club, Junkyard Dogs, and other groups. There is no charge to attend the show.
Additional information can be obtained at the Museum's website: www.vermilioncountymuseum.org or by calling the Museum at 217-442-2922.
McLean County jury acquits former Watsekan, VanHoveln, of all charges
BLOOMINGTON — A jury deliberated just 90 minutes (Thursday) before acquitting former Bloomington police officer Brent VanHoveln of all counts in his forgery and official misconduct trial.
VanHoveln was accused of falsifying more than a dozen traffic citations that he turned into the Bloomington PD, but did not give to drivers. The tickets, written as compliance citations, were part of the former officer's effort to meet a department quota.
(A new state law bans the use of quotas by police departments).
VanHoveln was fired in May 2014 after 19 years on the force.
After the verdicts were returned, he said his next goal is to return to work.
"I want to finish my career with dignity. I want to go back to serving the people of this community. I think justice prevailed and the truth finally came out," said VanHoveln, who was surrounded by family and friends in the courtroom.
VanHoveln's lawyer (Stephanie Wong) said "it's been a long two years. I'm so thankful for the careful consideration and hard work of this jury."
Assistant State's Attorney Samantha Walley argued in her closing arguments Thursday afternoon that VanHoveln's low traffic numbers were behind his decision to turn in phony tickets written after five accidents he handled in January and February 2014. The only person who saw a benefit from the alleged false tickets was VanHoveln, she said. The prosecutor asked the jury to reject defense arguments that the tickets were turned in to meet a quota imposed by the department.
Wong closed her case with a theme she held throughout the four day trial.
"This was a work related issue and that's where this case should have stayed. It's not a crime," she said. Much of the defense challenge to the charges centered on the city's inability to produce the alleged tickets. Computer records of the traffic incidents that were created by a records clerk contained multiple errors, according to testimony.
Earlier today, Judge Casey Costigan denied a defense motion for a mistrial after defense counsel Wong complained the state did not disclose information about a BPD probe of one of the clerk's records that showed a woman at an accident scene who had no connection to the incident.
Costigan agreed the information should have been given to the state by the police. The jury was told to ignore the testimony about that portion of the internal investigation into the tickets.
Immediately after the mistrial ruling, Walley asked that Wong be held in contempt of court for a reference she made Wednesday in a question to Assistant Chief Gary Sutherland.
She asked if Chief Brendan Heffner was "the same chief who dismissed a ticket."
References to any tickets other than those written by VanHoveln were barred in a pre-trial ruling. Costigan found no contempt, noting that he had handled the matter in a sidebar conversation with lawyers.
Several emergency agencies surrounded a Paxton house late Thursday afternoon, as a man in the house was reportedly armed with a gun and suicidal.
Paxton Police, Ford County Sheriff's Police and Gibson Area Ambulance personal were called to the home in the 1100 block of Eastview Drive about 4:45 pm. A woman reported that her husband had made suicidal threats and that she later heard the sound of a gunshot.
Police reported the man refused to exit the home.
All surrounding homes were evacuated upon the request of police, and bystanders on the street were asked to leave the area.
SWAT team members arrived at the scene just before 6:30 pm. Volunteers for the Paxton Emergency Response Service were blocking traffic around the scene.