1. Elkhart County Sheriff's Department grapples with staffing crisis
Dozens of employees with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department have left in the past several years to find better paying jobs at factories, fast food restaurants and law enforcement departments in the area. The wages for county corrections and police officers are among the lowest in the area, leading to a high turnover rate which may affect the services provided.
The Elkhart County Council amended an ordinance on Saturday, April 12, to increase the starting pay of corrections officers to $13.37 from $12 an hour and patrol officers to $16.50 from $14.75 an hour. However, the amendment does not address senior employees and other positions.
2. Beacon Health System and South Bend Clinic suspend merger plans
The Beacon Health System and South Bend Clinic suspended merger plans after a preliminary review from the Federal Trade Commission. The Beacon Health System released a statement on Wednesday, April 16, saying that the "dramatic changes in health care, along with a challenging regulatory environment" would extend the review for at least another 12 to 18 months, which would pose a financial burden and cause uncertainty. Beacon's proposed acquisition of South Bend Clinic would have increased its number of physicians by 90.
3. Goshen senior co-housing project to provide nursing home alternative
Bob and Carolyn Zook are creating a senior co-housing project in Goshen, the first of its kind in Elkhart County. The project will provide a housing option for the elderly who can no longer live by themselves but do not require the level of care of a nursing home. The Zooks will also be living in the home, and they will employ staff to help residents with tasks such as cooking to medicine reminders. The couple is dipping into their retirement savings to fund the $400,000 project, which includes a $17,000 fire suppression system.
4. Goshen-born opera singer Anthony Kalil wins prestigious grant in NYC
Anthony Kalil, a tenor from Goshen, is one of three opera singers who received a $10,000 career grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. The grant is awarded annually to three gifted singers around the country who are chosen at an invitation-only audition in New York City. The foundation was created in 1975 as a non-profit cultural organization that awards grants, awards and performance opportunities to singers at different stages of their career.
5. Tyrone Winkleman convicted of kidnapping, robbing army veteran
A man found guilty of robbing, beating and kidnapping an Army veteran will be sentenced on Thursday, April 17, in Elkhart Circuit Court. Tyrone Winkleman, 34, was found guilty of robbery, kidnapping, criminal confinement and carjacking. He faces up to 150 years in prison. James Armagost, 68, the victim in the case, testified during the trial.
Armagost said he approached Winkleman on the night of July 25, 2013, when he thought Winkleman was having a seizure. Winkleman then punched Armagost in the face, stole his truck keys and drove him around the city. Winkleman stopped on several occasions to lock Armagost in a shed, get money from Armagost's bank account at an ATM and buy alcohol. Winkleman took Armagost back to the hotel where Armagost managed to escape and call police.