Indy congregation mourning deaths from bus accident
INDIANAPOLIS | An Indianapolis congregation on Sunday mourned the deaths of their youth pastor, his pregnant wife and another member who were killed when a church bus overturned with just a mile to go in a return trip from a Michigan summer camp.
Saturday's accident devastated members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church, who had been anticipating a joyful homecoming with the 37 people who were aboard the bus. Youth pastor Chad Phelps, his pregnant piano-teacher wife, Courtney Phelps, and chaperone Tonya Weindorf were killed, said deacon Jeff Leffew.
Dozens of people were injured in the crash, which happened near Interstate 465. On Sunday, six teenagers remained hospitalized, including one who was in critical condition.
Dennis Maurer, a 68-year-old congregation member who was driving the church-owned bus, told authorities that its brakes failed before it struck a raised concrete median and flipped on its side, Indianapolis police said.
The Phelpses, who were in their mid-20s, were expecting their second child, Leffew said. Chad Phelps was the son of the church's senior pastor and became its youth pastor late last year, he said.
"We're going to have a long road, but God is good," Leffew said at a Sunday news conference.
Program that provided grants to startup firms goes dormant
INDIANAPOLIS | A widely praised Indiana program that issued grants to help promising startup companies develop their products has quietly gone dormant, raising concerns among business innovators that it could stifle technology development in the state.
Indiana began offering the matching grants to companies that had won research awards from the federal Small Business Innovation Research program in 2003. It gave out more than $36 million through some 300 grants over about eight years, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The state touted the program as a way to support the ideas coming out of Indiana's universities and labs. Recipients said the matching grants were crucial to their survival because their use wasn't restricted like the small business grants are.
But the program appears to have gone dormant in the fall of 2011, shortly after the Indiana Economic Development Corp. handed over management of the 21 Fund from which the grants originated to Elevate Ventures, a private nonprofit.
Since Elevate took over the fund, the state has significantly cut the amount of public money going to Hoosier startups. In 2010, the last full year of the state match, Indiana-based companies won 88 federal grants, according to sbirsource.com. That dropped to 56 in 2011 and 44 in 2012.
The drop concerns business owners like Cary Supalo, whose Independence Science won a $200,000 SBIR award three years ago and received an additional $100,000 in state matching grants. The company makes software that helps blind students use computers and lab devices.
Supalo said the grant was a reason to locate in Indiana.
"Now it's the reason why we should roll up the anchor, put it on the ship and move, potentially," he said.
Paul Arlton, CEO of Lite Machines Corp., said the matching grants his company received over the years ensured he could keep employees and stay afloat.
"That's the difference," he said, "between being above zero and below zero."
Economic development officials aren't providing a clear explanation for why the grants have ended.
Overdose deaths reaching crisis level in Ind. county
LAFAYETTE, Ind. | An increase in the number of deaths from accidental drug overdoses has sparked concerns that substance abuse has reached a crisis level in Tippecanoe County.
The Journal & Courier reports the number of accidental, drug-related deaths has risen each year since 2010. Currently, one or two people in the county are dying each week from accidental overdoses.
"It's not just younger people we're seeing. It's crossing all ages, all socioeconomic groups. Prescription medication and street drugs," coroner Donna Avolt said. "We're seeing this so much more than we should. . We are no longer a smaller community immune to big-city woes."
Avolt said many of the cases involve people who've combined street drugs with prescription medication to intensify their high or those who suffer chronic medical conditions and take more of their prescribed medication than they should because their pain hasn't lessened or they've forgotten about their previous dose.
Lafayette police Lt. Brad Bishop, who oversees the Tippecanoe County Drug Task Force, said heroin is causing a lot of issues. He said the drug coming into the county is a more pure form than in years past and that people are combining it with "just about everything."
The drug first raised alarms in Tippecanoe County in February 2011, when it was found at the scene of three unrelated drug overdoses that occurred within 24 hours. Two men died, and one woman was hospitalized.
But Avolt said the problem appears to be statewide. The issue came up during a continuing education conference for Indiana coroners in June.