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Huntington man arrested for theft of vehicle from Love INC

An investigation into an alleged vehicle theft led to the arrest of a Huntington man on Monday.

Joshua A. Gooley, 43, was arrested on an open warrant and will be charged with six felonies, according to court documents.

The warrant for Gooley’s arrest was issued on Oct. 8 following an investigation into multiple alleged thefts that occurred during September. According to a report filed by Huntington Police Department officer Travis Bickel, officers were first notified of the incidents on Sept. 13 at Love In The Name of Christ (Love INC) in Huntington.

Bickel wrote that he “met with Love INC Director Elizabeth Erin Mason-Didion, Assistant Director Kelley Miller and volunteer worker Robert Gooley,” Joshua’s father.

“Kelley advised that on Saturday September 11, 2021, Andrew Rensberger, Love INC Board President, called her around 2:00pm to advise her he saw a male looking around the Love INC truck in the lot,” Bickel wrote. “She advised Andrew told her that he spoke with the male and he identified himself as Robert Gooley’s son Joshua. She stated Andrew told her that Joshua stated he was looking for Kelley in order to barrow a pallet jack. Andrew told Kelley he told Joshua that it was Saturday, the business was closed and Kelley was not there. Andrew told Kelley that Joshua then told him he would just use his dad’s keys to check for a pallet jack and then left.”

Kelley Miller found this strange, Bickel wrote, and decided to watch the organization’s security camera footage.

Miller “saw Joshua enter the building and then enter her office where the key to the truck is kept, hanging on the wall,” Bickel wrote. “She stated she saw Joshua leave her office and then saw that the truck, a white 2017 Ford F-250 with ”Love In The Name Of Christ” printed on it was missing from the parking lot for several hours. She then saw in the video recordings that the truck was back in the lot, Joshua entered the building and her office again, and then left.”

According to the report, the Love INC leaders then met with Joshua and Robert Gooley. They told Bickel that Joshua “told them he had the opportunity to make a quick $100.00 by helping a friend remove a stump from his yard. They stated Joshua told them he was going to use a pallet jack, but decided to take the truck instead. They advised Joshua told them he knew it was wrong and that his father was not going to give him permission to take his truck or the Love INC truck because he does not have a license. They stated he told them he removed the stump and returned the truck.”

Bickel wrote that the Gooleys live directly across the street from the Love INC building on Washington Street, and that Robert stated Joshua did not use his keys to enter the building “as far as I know.” Additionally, Bickel wrote that Mason-Didion and Miller said that Joshua Gooley had infrequently volunteered with the group, which explained his knowledge of where the truck keys were kept, but that he did not have permission to enter the building after hours or to take the truck.

Later, Bickel met with Joshua Gooley and informed him that he would be arrested for criminal trespass if he returned to Love INC, per the request of Mason-Didion and Miller, and scheduled a time for a police interview at the station the following day.

The next day, Bickel received an email from Joshua Gooley informing the officer that he would like to have his attorney present at the interview, but Bickel wrote that a week later he had received no communication from an attorney regarding an interview and requested an arrest warrant which was later granted.

Additionally, Bickel wrote that he received video evidence from Miller of two other dates, Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, that Love INC’s video cameras allegedly showed Gooley taking the key and vehicle.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Gooley will be charged with six felonies. Three are level six felonies for theft, and three are level five felonies for burglary. The three pairs of felonies are each regarding one of the three times Gooley allegedly took the keys and the vehicle from Love INC.

Gooley’s bond is set at $10,000 to be paid by a bail bondsman, or 10 percent of that amount in cash. The order was signed by Senior Judge Kevin Wallace.

Love INC had not replied to a request for comment as of press time on Tuesday. This story will be updated on www.h-ponline.com with further comment and more information as it becomes available.

City, county officials participate in "Downtown Roll-Around"

Last week, city and county officials teamed up with the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Community Accessibility for the “Downtown Roll-Around.”

The event, which took place on Oct. 2, aimed to “draw attention to the obstacles and difficulties people with disabilities face in our community” and encourage local leaders, business owners and residents to “work toward solutions, according to a press release from the city of Huntington.

Jennie LaLonde, who serves on the MACCA task force, said the group works to make Huntington more accessible.

“What we do is try to address areas in our community that need more focus on them to help improve the daily lives of those with disabilities,” LaLonde said. “Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, vision-impaired, hearing-impaired – how we can make Huntington more accessible for those community members.”

LaLonde said the “Roll-Around” had been previously held by former mayor Brooks Fetters in March, but that she thought that month didn’t work as well for those with disabilities to participate because of the potential of inclement weather.

“One of the things that I’ve learned in life that’s good for my leadership is every now and then stepping out of my own experience to learn from someone else’s,” Mayor Richard Strick said, “so that I can see things a little bit better.”

The participants began the event at the Huntington City Building, embarking on a scavenger hunt throughout the downtown area. For the “Roll-Around,” the group used wheelchairs provided by Huntington Area Transportation, and did not use their legs.

County Council at-large member Terry Miller, who participated in the event, called the experience “eye-opening” and said he noticed the “unbelievable” strength that it requires to utilize a wheelchair.

“As an elected official, I’m very aware of the need for handicap accessible buildings and structures and all kinds of things like that,” Miller said, “but to actually experience it was a great experience.”

Miller said that he hopes that local government officials and business owners “continue to make things better” for disabled residents of Huntington County.

“There’s always more that can be done. It’s just weighing against that of time and money,” Miller said. “Yes, I believe that there’s more that can be done. As we endeavor on different projects and improvements, it will be more in the forefront of my mind ... in how to do better.”

Miller pointed to the city’s Sidewalk Replacement Program, which helps homeowners reduce costs of replacing sidewalks with ADA-compliant ramps as one way residents can chip in to help people with disabilities.

“What I’m really hoping is that ... some of our small businesses downtown that need that little bit of a ramp to get into their business, that they take advantage of that program,” LaLonde said of the Sidewalk Replacement Program. “Our homeowners in Huntington also can take advantage of that 50-50 [program] because our sidewalks in Huntington, they’re not wheelchair-friendly.”

LaLonde’s nephew, Joshua, is wheelchair-bound, and has a unique wheelchair that is different from standard hospital wheelchairs, she said. Some shops in downtown Huntington have areas that are difficult to navigate for individuals that utilize mobility aids.

“We were in the wheelchairs, and we were trying to get in and out of some of our small businesses downtown. Whether or not we could get through the doors in the wheelchairs, without using our feet or anything like that,” LaLonde said. “Some of that was to see how easy it was to wheel around once inside those businesses, to give them a point of view of, this is what it looks like for your customers who may be in a wheelchair.”

Indiana's COVID-19 vaccination pace falls to lowest level

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s pace of COVID-19 vaccination shots has fallen to its lowest level since the shots became available last winter.

The state health department’s tracking shows Indiana giving about 6,000 shots a day through last week – about half the rate from early September. The state continues to lag behind the national vaccination rate, and Indiana’s pandemic death toll has topped 16,000 people.

Indiana peaked averaging more than 50,000 shots a day in April as the COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. That declined until early summer when more people began getting the jabs at the same time that health officials blamed the more contagious delta variant for a steep jump in the state’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Dr. Richard Feldman, who was state health commissioner under Democratic Gov. Frank O’Bannon, said he was concerned that the falling vaccination pace will leave too few people immunized, allowing COVID-19 to “smolder and smolder and smolder” through the population.

“I think a lot of people have just moved on, they’re tired of it,” Feldman said Tuesday. “I just don’t understand that reasoning.”

Indiana has consistently trailed the national vaccination rates, ranking 14th lowest in the country with 49 percent of all residents fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national rate stands at 56.4 percent.

Indiana hospitals were treating 1,729 COVID-19 patients as of Monday, according to the state health department. That is down about one-third from the latest surge’s peak four weeks ago but about 450 percent higher than before the surge started in July.

The state’s seven-day rolling average of deaths is about 30 a day, compared to about 40 a day in mid- and late-September and July’s low of fewer than five. Indiana passed the 16,000 mark in pandemic deaths in recent days, with the health department having recorded 16,109 deaths involving confirmed or presumed COVID-19 infections.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb hasn’t participated in a state COVID-19 news briefing since late March soon after he announced he would let the statewide mask mandate expire even as he has continued renewing the state’s public health emergency that now extends until Oct. 31.

Holcomb said he continues to talk about the pandemic every day and urging vaccinations as the best way to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

“We’ll continue to lean into making sure that those resources are readily accessible, easy to access, and we try to be as persuasive as we can,” Holcomb said Friday. “If people don’t want to take the vaccine, then that’s their right.”

Feldman said he was worried that another surge was possible as the weather turns colder and people are spending more time indoors at a time when face mask usage has noticeably declined.

It will be up to businesses to push greater vaccinations as political opposition among conservatives prevents state officials from mandating any safeguards “or really press individuals to try to do the right thing,” Feldman said.

“I mean they say it once in a while, but it’s not a priority,” Feldman said. “And it’s not politically feasible right now in this climate.”


Huntington County’s Greatest voting now open

The top three have been announced, and voting is underway for the best of Huntington County!

See it all in print, inside today’s paper. Be sure to vote for your favorites daily. Voting will continue until October 24, 2021.

Vote online at huntingtonherald-press.secondstreetapp.com/Huntington -Countys-Greatest-2021/

Herald-Press seeking sales representative

The Huntington Herald-Press is looking for a media sales account representative. Are you organized and outgoing? We offer full-time salary plus commission. No overnight travel; all businesses are in Huntington County and Fort Wayne. We require a valid drivers license and proper, professional attire to work with local businesses.

We sell solutions and customers, not advertising. If you are interested, please send your resume to kmiller@pmginmi.com.

Nov. 6 – Veterans Day Parade

The Huntington County Veteran Service Office is encouraging all veterans and patriotic citizens to place an entry in the 9th annual Veterans Day Parade. To register, call the office at 260-358-4863 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Staging for the parade will begin at 9 a.m. at the west parking lot of Huntington North High School. Participants will enter HNHS at the MacGahan Street entrance, check in and then proceed to their assigned entry number. It is requested that all entries display an American Flag.

The parade route will be from MacGahan to Flaxmill to Park Hill and down Bartlett through the park.

The parade will commence at 10 a.m. and culminate at Memorial Park for a brief ceremony.

Library to host two Saturday events

The Huntington City-Township Public Library has planned two events for this Saturday, both reprises of previous events.

One event, the cemetery walk, will be the HCTPL’s third such event. Sarah Kirby, the library’s genealogy librarian, said that the first walk was held in 2019 at Pilgrims Rest Cemetery, and last year’s walk was held at the Markle Cemetery.

“We walk around and visit some of the residents, looking at people with interesting stories. We look at famous people, people who died tragically,” Kirby said. “We look at different styles of tombstones and discuss the different materials from which tombstones are made, and how they wear or don’t. We look at some of the symbolism on the tombstones.”

This year, the event will take place at the Mount Calvary Cemetery, located on Indiana State Road 5 near 500 N. The walk will begin at 2 p.m. this Saturday, and Kirby recommended attendees bring “good walking shoes” and be prepared to walk on uneven terrain.

Kirby also plans to record the tour to post online, on the website TheClio.com. The website allows users to upload walking and driving tours so people can follow along on their own. She also hopes to redo the past tours and upload those as well.

“This year, we’re going to film it and post the video up on a website that allows you to do driving tours, walking tours and other things...” Kirby said. “They can sort of walk around with us virtually.”

With these tours, Kirby hopes to preserve the history of the county, and its contributions to the world which she said are “more than people realize.”

“It’s not something that every library does, but it is something that a lot of historical and genealogical societies do. Since our library is fortunate enough to have a dedicated room for local history and genealogy, we’ve done this walk for a couple years. We’ve also done some architectural and history walks in downtown Huntington.”

Earlier that day, the HCTPL will host another event at the library itself. The Huntington County Humane Society will return to the library for another cat adoption day after the success of an earlier event this summer. Teen librarian Jessi Brown said that the first event, in July, had an attendance of more than 60 and that five cats were adopted.

“It’s kind of a follow-up to the one we had this summer,” Brown said. “We had Tails and Tales as part of our summer reading program, and we had such a success with it that we wanted to kind of keep it going. We have one planned this weekend and one being planned for February as well.”

Brown said she is “Excited” that the Humane Society wanted to continue to partner with the HCTPL.

“We’re always happy to work with the community,” Brown said. “Libraries and cats seem to go hand-in-hand, usually. We were really happy to do this. We’re centrally located, so if people don’t have a car it’s easier to walk to the library.”

Applications will be available at the event, and Brown said that people should be able to complete the paperwork and bring their new furry friend home that day. Additionally, the library and humane society will be accepting donations of animal supplies.

“We had marketed it as donations for cat and dog supplies,” Brown said, “but if someone wants to show up and give them a check I’m sure they’re not going to turn them away.”