Good morning Columbus. What you need to know — blue courthouse honors fallen deputy; you are news reporters; Cummins Powers Women; spring your clocks forward

Greetings Columbus —

One little email from you can have a big impact. I am going to tell you how one note  from a reader put into motion a series of steps that gave readers information about a tribute right in their own community.

It was just after 3 p.m. Thursday when an email with the subject line Courthouse Lights Blue popped into our inbox. The note said:

The county commissioners are having the lights at the courthouse turned to blue starting this evening in honor of fallen police officer Jacob Pickett from Boone County whose funeral will be tomorrow. I was given your name with the hope that somehow this could be mentioned on your online site and in the paper if possible.

In a matter of minutes, we confirmed the information.

Then here’s what happened next: We found a photo of Jacob Pickett and immediately posted the story to our website so everyone would know how the county was honoring him. Link here.

Posting stories to our website triggers posts to our Facebook page and Twitter feed so even more people know about the stories we are telling.

Once the story reached our Facebook page, you started interacting with us. People liked the post, and here was a comment from Nick Martoccia of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department:

Thanks for paying tribute to our fallen brother.

With our digital presence taken care of, we worked to get the information in print. This is what appeared in today’s paper —

Jacob Pickett

But it did not end there.

This morning, on the way to work, I wanted to see the display for myself and swung through downtown Columbus well before sunrise. Walking around the courthouse, awash in a hint of blue well before the noise and chaos of a new day, was both sad and beautiful. Here’s what I saw —

So the short little email that came in at 3:03 p.m. caused actions that had an impact. There are some lessons here:

  • We rely on you to let us know what is going on and for story ideas. Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere. Frankly, you have the best story ideas anyway. Click here to let us know what is going on.
  • We get on it. Now, some stories are more complicated than this one, and it can take days and weeks to report, understand and verify information. But in a matter of moments on Thursday, we acted on this news tip and got the news to you.
  • It’s all about digital. The days of readers getting the news when a paper hits the doorstep are long over. We’re web first. We’re tweeting. We’re posting stories to our website all day long. Remember that video we did earlier this week when the semi smashed a car on the Robert Stewart Bridge? Photographer Mike Wolanin got to the scene, shot the accident (still photos and video),  interviewed Lt. Matt Harris (while videotaping him) and then edited and produced the entire video on his phone on the bridge.  Police were still early on in the cleanup and investigation when we posted that video and got it to you.

And finally I am circling back to the initial Facebook post we did on the blue courthouse lights. When sheriff’s Deputy Nick Martoccia posted his comment, I clicked on his Facebook page. He urged everyone to wear blue today in honor of Deputy Pickett and all law enforcement officers.

Today, I am wearing blue. And the impact of that one small note continues.

Rest in peace Jacob Pickett. Thank you for your service.

Here’s what else you need to know —

Official wants teen tried as adult.
Prosecutors are requesting the case of one of three juveniles accused of making school threats last month be waived into adult court. Saturday’s Republic.

How’s the city doing?
Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop gave his take on the state of the city during a speech last night. Saturday’s Republic.

A big announcement on International Women’s Day.
The company is calling Cummins Powers Women, its most ambitions community initiative ever. “Cummins leaders around the world will unite in finding solutions to gender inequality in our communities,” according to the company.

“One way we seek to better communities is by investing in programs that improve the lives of women and girls. We’ve seen firsthand the positive transformation that happens when we ensure diversity and inclusion within our organization, bringing more women into our business at every level.”

 Tom Linebarger, Cummins Inc. chairman and CEO

Click here to read the story.

He’s a Lutheran pastor and ordained rabbi.
Reporter Brian Blair writes: Judaism and Christianity overflow with imagery of a shared meal equaling sharing fellowship and one’s heart. The Rev. Chad Foster understands that perhaps as well as anyone since he fully functions in the world of both of those faiths. At St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus, he serves as the pastor of life and community. But he also serves as an ordained Messianic Jewish rabbi. “There’s a unity to it all,” Foster often says. “And the reality is that both Christianity and Judaism need one another.” Saturday’s Republic.

Busy sports weekend.
We’re on the road again. On Saturday we are heading to Ball State for the gymnastics state finals and to Fort Wayne for the Columbus Icemen in the Class 2A state hockey finals. Read these stories for all the details:

Don’t forget to spring forward on Saturday night.
Set your clocks one hour ahead. Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Have a great weekend! Send your story ideas to

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