Annual Relay for Life event ready to roll

— kimball hendrix

Virtually all of us are solidly locked into our lifestyles, which often means many of the things we’d like to enjoy or take part in are simply not on the menu.


This weekend is the time to try your hardest to break away from that situation and visit Roberts Park – starting tonight or any time Saturday. You definitely won’t regret it and the experience will be enriching.


The annual ‘Relay for Life’ fundraiser to combat cancer is set to go, giving family members and friends of the many victims of cancer-caused deaths a chance to slap back at the dreaded disease.


The popular event gets rolling at 6 p.m. this evening with a survivors’ dinner, with a walk by cancer survivors and caregivers scheduled to begin about 7:30. ‘Relay for Life’ will conclude about 6 p.m. Saturday, according to event chairman Mike Wenta.


Along with walking laps in a specific area of the park, members of more than 30 teams also will raise money by selling various food items and sponsoring numerous activities that will take place near the John Miller Community Center.


Some of the activities and events planned include a dunk tank, a bounce house, face painting, and an opportunity to be photographed with ‘Abe Lincoln.’ There will be silent auctions at some of the booths.


The St. Gabriel Church and school team will offer a variety of food items at its stand, including hamburger and hot dog meals, tacos, cookies, cotton candy and snow cones.


The popular luminary ceremony will begin at 9 p.m. tonight. Luminaries – white paper bags illuminated by candles as a symbol to honor cancer survivors – can be purchased at the park.


Numerous events will take place Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in the Miller Center. The breakfast is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is being held in honor of Bob Southard.


At 9 a.m. Saturday, local and area fire departments will square off in a waterball contest in the parking lot north of the Miller Center.


Other activities scheduled include:

An aqua zumba class presented by Nichole Kelsey, from 9 to 9:45 p.m. tonight in the park pool. The Relay for Life committee will host a luau party at the pool from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The cost is $5 per person.


A flatbed stage near the Miller Center will feature two singing events Saturday: Trish Nicholson Crowe will perform from 2 to 3 p.m., with The Gospel Revelers performing from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.


From 4:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, The Beauty Bar will offer complementary styling services for all Relay for Life participants.


Golf outings at Willowbrook Country Club are scheduled for Sunday. Tee times are 1 p.m. (an 18-hole event) and 9 p.m. – a nine-hole event that will feature fairways lighted by luminaries that lined the roadways in the park on Friday night.


Seldom Surreal, an Indianapolis-based, 1960’s-style rock band, will play at Willowbrook at 6 p.m. Sunday. There will be a $10 cover charge for individuals who did not participate in the golf outing. The American Cancer Society will receive all of the money raised by the event.


1 Dead in Late Night Turtle Creek Apartment Fire

Officials are reporting that Daryl Spurlock, 39, was killed in a late-night fire at Turtle Creek Apartments, 3600 Western Ave. Two firefighters were treated and released from a local hospital with minor injuries.

According to Connersville Fire Chief Troy Tipton, the victim was found in a hallway, where he had apparently tried to get out of the building.

The chief says the fire started on the second floor and “three or four units” have fire damage with about 12 others suffering smoke damage. The fire was contained to the victim’s apartment and the units directly above it.  Tipton said the fire did not break through the roof of the building.

Some Indianapolis news sources are saying that residents were forced to jump from balconies in order to get to safety.

The fire, which broke out at 11:18 p.m., appears to be accidental. An investigation is continuing.


Made in Connersville …

— kimball hendrix

The cars are considered some of the best-looking vehicles ever to hit the streets and highways — and many of them were assembled right here in Connersville.


The car show in Roberts Park Friday drew a large and steady crowd of spectators, with many people making their way to an area north of the John Miller Community Center to check out the Auburns and Cords on hand.


The beautiful blue convertible is a Supercharged, 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster. Revered for its stylish looks and “advanced engineering,” Boattail Speedsters were often seen traveling throughout Hollywood. This vehicle is owned by Jim Trail of Wabash, Ind.


The awesome-looking gray convertible is a 1937 Cord owned by Wesley Trail of Wabash.


The absolutely gorgeous red and black coupe is a 1933 Auburn 8-105 Salon Brougham owned by George Smith of Elkhart, Ind.


Click HERE to visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum website.


The Bicentennial celebration is winding down, but is not over yet. Saturday’s schedule of events is topped by a “Spectacular Bicentennial Parade” that will wind its way through some of the city’s streets. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and is expected to end by 1 p.m.


Other events Saturday include:

Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast (from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Centennial Room at Expo Hall, on the 14 Acres Fairgrounds just south of the park.


Airplane Rides at the Connersville Airport, 5000 North Western Ave., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cash, checks and credit cards are the accepted forms of payment. Food will be available and the “rain date” is Sunday, also from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Valley Flyer Train Excursion, with the train departing at 12:01 p.m. and returning at 5 p.m.

Antique Car Display, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Longwood Bridge area in Roberts Park.

Living History Museum, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Expo Hall, located just south of the park.

Connersville Notables Meet and Greet, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the park Pavilion.

Sneak Peek Movie Premier of Seven Deadly Words, 4 p.m.
at Showtime Cinemas. (It is not a free event.)

$1 bowling from 4 to 8 p.m. at Plaza Lanes, 3150 Ohio Ave. A prize will be given away every 15 minutes.

A tour of the historic Canal House, 111 East 4th St., from 4 to 7 p.m.

A tour of Historic Elmhurst, located on South Indiana 121, from 4 to 7 p.m.

A Courthouse Mural Tour from 4 to 7 p.m. (401 Central Ave.).

Dulcimers, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Canal House parking lot.

Bicentennial Bluegrass Bash from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Amphitheater. The Bash features:

Bluegrass Briarhoppers

All American Bluegrass Band
Wildwood Valley Boys
Hard Tyme Bluegrass Band
Admission is $5 cash at the gate. Kids under 12 will be admitted free.

Youth Concerts (in the City parking lot downtown).
Krammes, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Critical Shoes Shiny Penny 9 to 10:30 p.m.


Independence Day during the Bicentennial

Remembering …

One of the popular sights in Roberts Park during the celebration of the birthday of Connersville is a small sea of American flags honoring the men from here who lost their lives during the various wars that have taken place.

The park is crowded with people enjoying the the Bicentennial events, with many also gathering to view the annual Independence Day fireworks display. A slight but steady rain is threatening to put a damper on the night time events. — kh



Happy Birthday Connersville!

After months of planning and countless hours of hard work by the organizers, it’s time to celebrate … Happy Birthday No. 200 Connersville!

A wide variety of events will take place throughout the community by the time the Bicentennial celebration concludes on July 8. So get ready to get out and enjoy the festivities – there’s something for everyone. More information about the long-awaited birthday bash can be found HERE.


Connersville Mystery Mural … What’s your guess?

What do you get when you take a vintage photograph from the early days of Connersville, enhance it, colorize it and then give an assignment to the talented members of the Whitewater Valley Arts Association?
The answer: The “Connersville Mystery Mural” — a huge painting of downtown Connersville as it appeared in … well, that’s part of the mystery.

The mural, which consists of 45 panels, each two square-feet in size, was painted by different members of the Arts Association. None of the artists knew what the original photo actually looked like, and, obviously, didn’t know when or where it was taken.

Which leads to the question: ‘What’s your guess?’ When was the photo taken? What was the occasion?

The mural was painted in conjunction with Connersville’s bi-centennial celebration, as part of the decorate-your-business project. It will be in place throughout the celebration.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth the short trip to the Arts Association facility, located in the 200 block of West 28th Street.

If you really like it, there’s a chance you could own it. Anyone interested in obtaining the mural can contact Terry Hreno at 825-1608, or any member of the Arts Association.

The public is welcome to check out all of the various artistic displays at the Association’s facility. The hours are: Monday — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday — 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday — 10 a.m. to noon; and Thursday — 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

There will be a ‘member’s show’ at the facility on Friday, June 28. The two-hour event is from 6 to 8 p.m. and the public is invited. — kh


Pal-Item: Carbon Motors files for bankruptcy

A story

Connersville and Fayette County residents waited more than three years for Carbon Motors to get off the ground with its plan to produce the first purpose-built police car.

Its prototype of the car, the Carbon E7, which traveled all over the country on the Pure Justice Tour, might be its largest asset now, with assets listed in its Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing valued at only $18,976.

The county which often has the highest unemployment rate in Indiana hung its hopes on the start-up company, with thousands attending the announcement in July 2009 that it would manufacture the E7 in Connersville. Hundreds showed up for a job fair Carbon Motors hosted a couple of years ago.

Mayor Leonard Urban said Wednesday he wasn’t surprised at the bankruptcy filing.

“It blew up in their face. It all began to crumble when they didn’t get the loan,” Urban said. “It doesn’t really have any impact on us now. We decided to move on. It’s a chapter that’s closed. We’re still working on selling the building and we’re getting close.”

There were some positives from the Carbon Motors saga, Urban said. Having a potential tenant helped the city acquire the former Visteon building for a low price and made it possible for the city to continue the environmental cleanup of the property, he said.

Perhaps the worst result of the failed effort is the impact it may have on local support for future economic development efforts. Bill Long, former chairman of the Economic Development Group, resigned in May after the Fayette County Council refused to provide its share of the funding needed to hire a full-time economic development director for the county.

The Economic Development Group asked that funding be reinstated to $110,000 each from the city and Fayette County, the amount it received until two years ago when it was cut to $60,000, Long said.

The city council and Fayette Board of Commissioners agreed to the increase, but the Fayette County Council rejected it, Long said.

Fayette County hasn’t had a full-time economic director for two years. Long and Urban say one is needed. Lack of money is the issue for the county, Urban said. Long thinks the decision goes deeper than dollars.

“The message that was sent in that vote (to reject the funding) spoke volumes to any future economic development director about the support they would get,” Long said. “I think the failure of Carbon Motors had something to do with it. A lot of time and effort went into that and it failed. It was fresh in everyone’s mind. It was no one’s fault. It was unfortunate they couldn’t get the loan.”


Mayor’s actions questioned … see for yourself video

You hope for your political leaders to be honest and forthcoming, and that’s what it looked like Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban was doing when he explained that he would not take part in discussions on a Board of Public Works topic that could benefit him personally. Urban said: “It wouldn’t be fair” for him to talk about the issue and said it would be a conflict of interest if he did.

Only problem … he did – and he even voted on the issue.                     

Public Works April 1, 2013

Urban quote … “it would be a conflict of interest for me to indulge in a conversation about that building.”

During the meeting, Police Chief David Counceller read a letter from a concerned Connersville resident. The letter asked for the city to tear down a deteriorated, two-and-a-half story apartment building which could cost city taxpayers nearly $40,000, according to officials. It turns out that the letter was written by Wade Winkler, the mayor’s business partner and co-owner of Urban Winkler Funeral Home. The building in question adjoins their funeral home property.

Mayor Urban started the discussion by saying …

“I tell you how I feel about this – that building adjoins my business and it would be a conflict of interest for me to indulge in a conversation about that building so what I would like to do at this point – I’d like to turn the meeting over to Mr. (Fran) Chomel and I would like to relieve myself while you discus that building. I don’t think it’s fair for me to be in the discussion.

 Watch this 77 second video clip HERE.


Public Works May 6 , 2013

Urban quote … “Is it the city’s responsibility to avert danger for the common people? I guess it is.”

At the very next Public Works meeting following his “wouldn’t be fair to discuss the issue” statement, the Mayor took part in the entire 18 minute conversation and even voted in favor of spending $19,640 to remove the multistory building that abuts his personal business property. (That figure does not include removal of refuge)

During the meeting Urban blatantly explained how necessary it was to remove the building, saying …

“This building is in a deplorable condition, bricks are falling out and we’ve had several of the neighbors over here complaining so I asked the chief to get us some bids. It’s protecting your citizens; we have people that live on both sides – we’ve got people that live behind it – we got little kids that play there – we got little kids that walk by it every day ten times a day to get to the bus. Is it the city’s responsibility to avert danger for the common people? I guess it is.

“We probably got 30 others just like it,” he said. 

Watch for yourself in this 2 minute clip HEREor the entire discussion HERE.


City Council May 6, 2013

Urban … “the Constitution says we’re here to protect the citizens of Connersville, so what are we gonna do?”

Urban discussed the “deplorable” building in great detail, and tried his hardest to convince the council to fund the project – even going as far as quoting the U.S. constitution. City Council eventually denied the request to fund the removal of the building with only Weber, Chomel and Stevens voting in favor.

Urban Quotes during the meeting

“Animals are running out (of the building) and kids are playing in it, and it’s a danger. The neighbors are on us.”


“The Board of Works thought just like you do Mr. Creech, what do we do? It’s gonna kill somebody, it’s gonna hurt somebody, some kids are gonna get hurt, it’s on our laps. The Constitution says we’re here to protect the citizens of Connersville – so what are we gonna do?”


“The Board of Works has voted to except this bid to tear this building down. We’ve got to fund it or it’s going to sit – one or the other, that’s the only thing we can do. I guess you could appropriate money to board it up but we’ve boarded it up 10 times and it’s a nuisance. The kids un-board it and play in there. According to the Board of Works this morning, they said that the walls are bulging and it could collapse it because there is no roof on it, the roof is leaking so bad it’s rotting and it’s beginning to bulge.”

(During research for this story we could find no mention of bulging walls during the prior BPW meeting)

“So … we either gotta vote to do it or we gotta … public safety is our number one, that’s why we have a police department, a first aid unit, a fire department. We have to provide a safe environment for the town we live in whether we like it or not.”

“I want to tell you something guys … this Council, the City and the Mayor, are responsible for the health and welfare of the people of this town. I shouldn’t even be saying because I … it effects me, it doesn’t effect me because there is a house in between but it is a dangerous and unsafe place – it’s terrible.

(According to records – the “house in between” is registered to Wade & Tracy A Winkler)

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room when Councilman Weber jokingly said, “that funeral home right next to it just stinks, we need to do something with that – don’t you think?”

Best question of the evening

It came during the end of the meeting after Police Chief Counceller seemed to angrily scold Council members who voted against the funding saying, “This isn’t the end of it, because you are gonna get complaints after tonight’s TV show, you are gonna get some phone calls …”

Councilman Tom Creech said, “I’ve got a question, I mean – I’m trying to be nice. How did this get moved to the top … of all the properties? I asked you about a property in January and you said –very kindly, Tom I’ve got a whole list of properties.  How did this one get moved to the top?” … more silence.              

Watch the 17 second clip HEREor the entire discussion HERE.

Urban – Winkler property

The diagram below shows the many funeral home properties owned by either Leonard Urban or Wade Winkler. The red lot is the property in question at 425 W. 8th St. Records show the owners as … Martin, Charles Kevin & Blakely, Curtis R.

2010 News-Examiner story

In a 2010 News-Examiner story titled: City working on tearing down 47 ‘nuisance’ homes,  then Connersville Traffic and Safety Officer Richard Hicks explains that two-story building are off limits. It says ……

Hicks explained the city does not tear down two-story buildings because it is too dangerous and costly.

“I would love to tear down some two story buildings in town, but we can’t. It is too expensive and I can’t find any grants that award money to tear down houses,” Hicks said.


IndyStar: Connersville officials under scrutiny over Carbon Motors

The Indianapolis Star on Friday published an exclusive investigative report about the Carbon Motors plant in Connersville that never materialized, and other proposed businesses in Indiana that have received “casino money” from Lawrenceburg with little or nothing to show for it.

The report includes interesting information about the way money was spent at the former Visteon plant while it was the ‘Carbon Campus,’ and points out what clearly are conflicts of interest regarding former “Carbon employee” David Jobe who – as a former member of the city’s Board of Public Works and City Council – continued to vote on Carbon-related issues even though records indicate he had been paid at least $11,500 from the company as a contract employee. One of his duties, Jobe told The Star, was ‘getting coffee for visitors.’

Jobe eventually resigned from both governmental bodies, and immediately was hired as the superintendent of the City Street Department by Mayor Leonard Urban after Urban abruptly terminated Darryll Morehead.

Click below to read the entire article.

Millions in casino cash spent, but where are the jobs?

Click above to watch a video…
Below are some interesting excerpts from the story, written by Tony Cook and Mary Beth Schneider.

Mayor Urban

As for the $7 million in grants — all of it was gone. “That was gambling money,” explained Connersville Mayor Leonard Urban, “and this was a gamble.”

Urban, the city’s mayor, defended the use of the money. As for the travel and salary expenses, he said state economic development officials — not the city — determined how the money would be spent. The city just approved the invoices it received from the IEDC, he said. “Some of that I thought was strange,” he said. “They handled every bit of it.”

The IEDC did not answer specific questions about the expenditures, but emailed a general statement to The Star.“The IEDC’s role under that grant agreement was to approve eligible expenses as defined in the contract,” IEDC spokeswoman Katelyn Hancock wrote. “The city of Connersville made final approval and payment under that agreement.”

David Jobe

About $11,500 went to David Jobe, a Connersville city councilman, for work as a “contract employee.” While employed by the company, he voted on several issues related to the project.

Jobe, a Connersville city councilman from 2008 to 2012 who also held key positions on the city’s board of works and with the county’s economic development agency.Invoices show Jobe received payments ranging from $187 to $3,627 from December 2009 to May 2011. Most of those came through a staffing agency, but the two largest payments did not.

Jobe, a former Visteon employee, told The Star he provided a number of services for the company, including cleaning the plant, getting coffee for visitors and keeping an eye on the facility in the absence of executives. He also said he “bowed out” of votes involving Carbon Motors, but minutes from city council and board of works meetings show otherwise. Two months before Jobe began working for the company, he and other council members signed a letter of intent outlining the city’s incentive package to Carbon Motors. That package was to include grant money from the Lawrenceburg program, tax increment financing, environmental cleanup and other incentives.


Connersville requested and received a $5 million grant for the project through the Lawrenceburg regional grant program. The state’s economic development agency, the Indiana Economic Development Corp., contributed another $2 million to the project.

Two years later, in March 2012, the energy department rejected the company’s loan request. The company never recovered. Earlier this year, it declined to renew its lease at the former Visteon facility. It’s website has been taken down and its phone numbers disconnected.


Mr. William Santana Li … Back Selling Carbon Snake Oil?

In an interview posted today with, William Santana Li said …

In The Boardroom With… Mr. William Santana Li

“We are presently negotiating with 5 US States regarding the location of the Carbon Campus which will house the headquarters, research & development, production, showroom, call center, service training, and vehicle evaluation circuit. The Carbon E7 represents 10,000 new direct and indirect American jobs. We look forward to hearing what the leadership of Michigan, Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia have to say about the need to support or our law enforcement first responders, the creation of thousands of American jobs, and a company that is addressing the issues in an environmentally responsible manner. We are looking for a genuine public / private partnership with a state and community that understands this is the time to innovate our way out of a national crisis.”