Greetings Columbus —

Of late, we’ve been diving deep into the many of the serious issues facing our community, specifically the opioid epidemic and neglected children. The two are closely tied together.

We snagged one of the first interviews with the state’s new Department of Child Services director. Terry Stigdon is now leading an agency facing increasing challenges in helping children who are neglected and in need of services. Read about how she plans to tackle the issues here.

03_11_18_REP_A_001.inddOn Sunday, we published a story about how area people who help children are in need of more help as child neglect numbers climb in Bartholomew County. The numbers are sobering:

  • Child neglect cases substantiated by the Department of Child Services increased from 247 to 288 from 2015 to 2016 — the most recent year of data in the report
  • The county’s child abuse/neglect rate per 1,000 children younger than 18 continued its annual climb, increasing from 15.9 percent in 2015 to 17.1 percent in 2016
  • The number of children in need of services identified by DCS jumped from 173 to 238 in 2016 — the largest total by far over the past five years
  • Cases filed to terminate parental rights more than tripled, jumping from 22 in 2015 to 69 in 2016.

Read the story here.

But we are not alone.

The New York Times went to Madison, Indiana, and wrote a story called: Suicides, Drug Addiction and High School Football. It is a beautifully written, heartbreaking and haunting story about what is happening in so many communities.

Reporter Juliet Macur writes about what lies behind the quaint-looking Ohio River community. Much of the story is told through the head football coach at Madison Consolidated High School.

Here is an excerpt:

But beneath all that are the crises that threaten to drag this town under: suicide, depression, child neglect, abuse and addiction to drugs.

“All of these problems go hand in hand,” said Tonya Ruble-Richter, executive director for the Southeastern Indiana Voices for Children, which trains court-appointed advocates for children and is based in Madison’s historic district.

“There’s definitely an underbelly, and people don’t want to address it,” she said of Madison. “We’re on fire here.”

And dying.

In 2016, the suicide rate in Jefferson County, a county of 32,000 people in which Madison is the biggest town, was 41.8 per 100,000 residents. It was the highest suicide rate for any Indiana county, and more than twice the state average. Compared with the national rate, it’s a startling 3.2 times higher.

Read the story here.

Here’s what else you need to know —

Pollinator I: He’s busy with bees.
Our honey of a Farm Indiana story will have you buzzing. Meet Bill Moats Jr., who tends to 35 bee hives. Find out how he got interested in the science of beekeeping, how he taps down aggressive bees and why he says everyone must be good stewards of the environment. Story here.

Pollinator II: Columbus park takes wing.
Residents near the Pleasant Grove area on the east side of Columbus could find themselves with a new neighborhood park and new visitors — butterflies, bees. Click here for all the details.

Giving back and remembering Jackie.
Columbus North senior Rachel Cialdella is doing a good thing. She’s organized a fundraiser  in memory of Columbus East graduate Jacquelyn Watts, who died in an accidental drowning after attempting to save a small dog that had wandered near the Flat Rock River. Proceeds go to the Bartholomew County Humane Society. Wednesday’s Republic.

Can this Purdue team make Final Four run?
Republic sports reporter Frank Bonner is writing about March Madness and the Boilermakers: It’s been an exhilarating regular-season experience for Purdue fans, but great regular-season showings are no longer enough for a program that’s made the tournament four consecutive years. The fans are primed and ready for a postseason run. Repeating last year’s Sweet Sixteen appearance that ended in a 32-point loss to No. 1-seeded Kansas won’t cut it for this season’s East Region No. 2 seed.

Don’t forget …
Nominate outstanding high school students in Bartholomew County enter the Battle of the Brackets contest and win cash and prizes.

Today’s Instapic from guildedgreens: Come on spring.

instapic green

Have a great day. Send your story ideas to

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