January 2020: Year In Review

(UNDATED) – During the month of January 2020, the North Lawrence Community School board voted to consolidate, the former owner of Eagle Pointe Golf Course was sentenced to federal prison, the Red Brick was damaged by fire, Loogootee opened a new library, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department hired new deputies, and an Indiana State Police Trooper was recognized.

North Lawrence Community School Board Votes to Consolidate

On January 6, 2020, the Bedford North Lawrence Community School Board voted to consolidate. The vote was 4 to 3 in favor of consolidation.

The board voted to move forward with a revised plan that addressed two major concerns: overcrowding at Bedford Middle School and an elementary school to serve the students on the west side of the county. 

Bedford Middle School and Oolitic Middle School will serve students in grades 7 and 8.

The majority of Shawswick Middle School students will attend Bedford Middle School. 

The second concern involves offering an elementary school on the west side of the county. The revised plan recommends maintaining Needmore Elementary and redistricting other elementary schools.

The Stalker Elementary building will serve as an Early Learning Center and home to Gateway Academy. 

Former Eagle Pointe Golf Course Owner Sentenced to Federal Prison

Former Eagle Pointe Golf Course owner Doug Thomas was sentenced to four years in federal prison and fined nearly $700,000 in restitution after bilking a Minnesota trucking company.

Douglas Ray Thomas

49-year-old Douglas Ray Thomas pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced January 17, 2020 by a Minneapolis U.S. District Court judge to 51 months in prison for wire fraud and failure to pay employment taxes. Once released from prison he will spend two years on supervised probation.

According to a press release, Thomas entered into a stock purchase agreement with the former owners of Northwoods Trucking Inc., a transportation business located in Duluth, Minnesota in October 2013.

Thomas was to buy the outstanding shares of the company for $730,000 and make an initial payment within five days of the finalization of the agreement.

Thomas never made the payments and took over the company in December 2013.

According to court documents, shortly after gaining control of the company, Thomas started transferring the company’s revenue into his personal account.

He also failed to pay expenses for the company such as payroll to employees, truck insurance, fuel, and other expenses.

Agents say Thomas transferred the funds to his personal bank account to pay for personal expenses like housing, furniture, and a family vacation.

According to the Minnesota District Attorney, the scheme amounted to a total loss of $730,000 and more than $57,000 in taxes that he failed to pay to the IRS.

Thomas bought Eagle Pointe Golf Course for $1.4 million in 2016. He lost the business after filing for bankruptcy.

The state shut down the golf course in the fall of 2017 for failure to pay retail and payroll taxes. Thomas filed for bankruptcy six days later.

In the spring of 2018, the homeowners group at Eagle Pointe purchased the golf course at a sale ordered by the bankruptcy court and reopened.

Red Brick Damaged By Fire

The Red Brick was closed after a fire ripped through the building on January 10, 2020 causing extensive damage.

The kitchen area was destroyed and the east side of the building was damaged. Smoke and soot spread throughout the building.

The Red Brick, owned by the City of Bedford and managed by the Bedford Parks Department, was undergoing a construction project at the time of the fire. The project including installing new flooring in the lower level.

On January 10, 2020 shortly after 9 p.m., Bedford Fire Department received a 911 call from the people who were living at the Red Brick.

Phil Burke (who is the green superintendent), his wife, and child were living in an upstairs apartment.

Loogootee Community Opens New Library

The Loogootee community opened a new library at 504 Park Street in January 2020.

The new library is much bigger than the last one and includes more rooms for meetings and tutoring, computers, iPads and of course books.

The project cost nearly $1.3 million to complete.

Sheriff’s Department Hires New Deputies

In January 2020, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department hired three new deputies.

Courtesy photo – from left to right: Maj. Gregg Taylor, Joshua Rhoades, Whitney Daugherty, and Tyler Ogden and Sheriff Mike Branham.

Those deputies include Joshua Rhoades, Whitney Daugherty, and Tyler Ogden.

None of the new officers are new faces at the department. Rhoades served as a 911 dispatcher, court security, and as a transport officer. Ogden worked as a jail officer and Daugherty was a reserve officer.

ISP Sgt. Curt Durnil Recognized For 25 Years Of Service

Indiana State Police Sergeant Curt Durnil was recognized in a ceremony in Indianapolis for achieving 25 years of service with the Indiana State Police.

ISP Sgt. Curt Durnil

Durnil, a native of Monroe County, graduated from the 51st ISP Recruit School on December 4th, 1994.

Sgt. Durnil is the son of ISP Captain Jimmie Durnil (Ret) and the brother of Master Trooper Todd Durnil, who also serves the Bloomington District. Durnil, his wife Lori and their seven children reside in rural Monroe County.