Good morning Columbus. What you need to know — chilling impact of drugs; German American to buy bank branches; life on a pecan farm; don’t forget your sweetie

Greetings Columbus —

Our drug crisis is manifesting itself in ways that are chilling.

Two recent incidents — one here in Bartholomew County and another in Hancock County where our media company also has a news organization — has two people dead, three facing criminal charges and officials astounded at the amount of drugs found in the people who died.

The incident out of Greenfield, as described by police, is shocking.

A woman searched the Internet for what to do when someone is overdosing but never called 911 while her friend, a 16-year-old boy, lay, dying, beside her, police say.

Investigators say Anna Southgate, 19, showed Jacob Root, a student at Greenfield-Central, how to inject heroin, handed him a syringe full of drugs and taught him how to properly insert it in his hand. Then, she watched as he overdosed and Google-searched advice on how to intervene as his condition declined, with search terms including “what to do if your friend has overdosed” and “the dying process.”

She never called 911, police said, and she’s facing a charge of reckless homicide.

The amount of fentanyl found in Root’s system was 10 times the amount the human body can typically withstand, records state. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid-based painkiller that is more than 50 times more potent than morphine, and drug dealers are more regularly mixing it with the heroin they sell.

Fentanyl is so potent that anything more than 0.10 nanograms per milliliter will kill a person; Root had 1.7 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl in his system at death, records show.

“We haven’t seen those tox levels in anybody,” the Greenfield police chief said. Read story here.

A similar statement was made by Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting after he investigated the death of Angela Blair, 42, Elizabethtown.

She died after overdosing on meth in the Bartholomew County Jail. Nolting told The Republic’s Julie McClure that the amount of meth in her system was one of the largest he had ever seen. Nolting noted that Blair also had heart-related issues that contributed to her death.

Where did Blair get the drugs if she was in jail? From another inmate who hid the meth (and heroin) in a body cavity, according to the Indiana State Police. Two women are facing charges in the case. Click here for the story.

The message from police is clear: Share your drug stash and you’ll end up behind bars.

Here’s what else you need to know —

Who is buying the MainSource bank branches?
German American Bancorp plans to buy five branches in Columbus and Greensburg from MainSource Bank. The sale is in connection with a previously-announced agreement between First Financial Bancorp, MainSource and the U.S. Department of Justice in order to resolve the department’s competitive concerns about First Financial’s proposed acquisition of MainSource.

Jenniffer Andrews, left, helps her daughter Lydia get her cheer shoes on before a recent practice at Royalty Athletix.

Three cheers for this story.
Brittany Carpenter of Royalty Athletix has assembled a cheer squad of Angels. Members of the group have special needs, and you should see them kick, shout and jump for joy. What drives  Carpenter? Find out in Wednesday’s Republic.

Life on a pecan farm.
Nope, we’re not taking you to the Georgia or Alabama, where most pecans are grown. We’re talking about Hoosier pecans and Bill Johnson, who has about 125 pecan trees on his Jennings County farm. Here’s the story.

Columbus East concessions manager Tony Pottorff has stage 4 breast cancer. Pottorff entered treatment shortly after he was diagnosed in June 2017. His daughter Amanda bought him the pink Timberland boots he is wearing after his diagnosis. He is pictured in the concession area at Columbus East High School, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Colleagues embrace teacher with cancer.
Here’s what East social studies teacher Tony Pottorff says: “I’ve been blessed with an awesome support system — my church family, my wife and daughters for sure — and the people here at East have been phenomenal.” Read the story here.

Don’t forget: Wednesday is Valentine’s Day.
Just trying to keep everyone out of the doghouse!

Have a great day. Send your story ideas to

Author photo
Scarlett Syse is group editor of The Republic. Contact her at