Man faces charges after injuring officers

A Crawfordsville man once acquitted by reason of insanity for attacking and injuring a police officer now faces new felony battery charges against two more law enforcement officers.

Mauricio A. Serrano, 29, was initially charged with battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, two counts resisting law enforcement and two counts of disarming a law enforcement officer.

The charges stem from an incident Thursday afternoon involving a deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and a conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

According to a press release issued by the sheriff’s office, a sheriff’s deputy and a conservation officer responded at 4:26 p.m. Thursday to a report of trespass in the area of State Road 234 near County Road 100W. When the officers arrived they spoke with the complainants who said they saw a man walking the creek bed and he appeared to be disoriented.

Officers began checking the area and found the man a short time later, walking and swimming in the creek. They initially tried to talk the man out of the water. However, he refused to acknowledge their presence and continued past both officers.

Fearing for the man’s safety and well being, both officers went upstream, located an access point and entered the water. The man began violently fighting with the officers and a struggle continued for several minutes while everyone was still in the creek. At one point, the man gained control of a taser, shocking both officers for a short time. The officers were able to gain control of the man and restrained him until other officers arrived to assist them.

The man, identified as Serrano, was transported to Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health - Crawfordsville by Crawfordsville medics for a health and mental evaluation. He remained at the hospital for several hours and was later transported to a secure facility.

Both officers received minor injuries, but are expected to be fine.

The investigation is ongoing by the sheriff’s office. Officers are continuing to work with the Montgomery County Prosecutor.

In March 2015, a Montgomery Circuit Court jury found Serrano, who was facing one felony count of battery resulting in bodily injury and three misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement, not guilty by reason of insanity. Those charges resulted from a Nov. 23, 2013 incident in which Serrano attacked then-Patrolman Jason Spires from the Crawfordsville Police Department.

The altercation between Serrano and Spires occurred in the parking lot of RR Donnelley Publishing Company at the corner of Wabash Avenue and Barr Street. Spires stopped his squad car after noticing Serrano was following him. Serrano charged as Spires exited his vehicle.

The struggle proceeded into the driver’s side of Spires’ vehicle. After forcing Serrano out of the vehicle, Spires fired his tazer, causing Serrano to fall to the ground. Serrano then removed the tazer wires and gained control of the tazer.

The struggle once again proceeded into the squad car. When Serrano reached inside his sweatshirt pocket, Spires feared for his life, drew his service firearm and shot Serrano in the shoulder.

The struggle continued until two more CPD officers arrived for assistance. Spires sustained injuries to his legs during the struggle.

Serrano’s attorney at that time, Mary K. Zahn, cited her client’s mental health history as his defense. Two court-appointed doctors analyzed Serrano’s mental health records and also testified during the jury trial.

“He has a well-documented history of mental illness,” Zahn said of Serrano in a story published in the Journal Review in March 2015. “He was not able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the incident.”

In the wake of the verdict, CPD officials expressed disappointment.

“His defense said he saw a doctor three days before the incident and knew he could control his condition by taking medication. He chose not to take his medication and the incident occurred,” CPD Detective Lieutenant Bob Rivers stated in the previously published story. “I understand that mental illnesses affect people, but if you know you can control it through medication, at some point you have to take responsibility for your illness.”

County to prohibit Nucor truck traffic road

County Road 625 E. between State Road 47 and State Road 32 E. will soon have less semi-tractor traffic. On Monday County Commissioners took steps to stop truck from using the road as a shortcut from Nucor Steel.

Before voting unanimously on the matter, Commissioners cleared the way to declare the situation as an emergency after resident Marvin Poteet complained of the heavy trucks tearing up the road.

“The county road is a pretty good road, but I am concerned about the large 32-wheelers that are coming from Michigan,” Poteet said. “I am asking you post a sign to stop the trucks from using the road.”

Commissioners agreed with Poteet and voted to place a sign disallowing trucks from Nucor Steel to use the road. They ordered Montgomery County Highway Director Rod Jenkins to place the signs on the road and for county attorney Dan Taylor to start the procedure to change the county road ordinance.

County officials received word the state is ready to help the county replace Bridge 126 located on County Road 275 W. near Lake Holiday. The county first approached the state for assistance in 2014. With the state’s aid, the county will now pay 20 percent of the total bridge cost, or $135,000. Commissioners asked Jenkins to contact South Montgomery Schools about the eventual bridge closure. Jenkins said he believed the construction will be completed before the start of the 2017 school year.

Sue Lucas represented the Montgomery County Bicentennial Committee and asked commissioners to allow the group to install a bike rack on the courthouse grounds. Commissioners agreed to do so. The bike rack is being paid for by the committee and will not cost the county anything. Lucas said other locations that will have bike racks are the City Building, Pocket Park, Lew Wallace Study Museum, Montgomery County Carnegie Museum and the Clock Plaza.

Commissioners agreed to let bids for the completion of the courthouse parking lot fence including landscaping. Commissioner Phil Bane said there is $66,000 available from donations for the project. He mentioned Nucor and R.R. Donnelly were major contributors to the fund.

In more good news, Commissioners have learned they are receiving $123,000 as their part of an Department of Corrections Grant that was presented to Fountain County. The funds will be placed into a non-reverting fund and can only be used for community corrections and probation department expenses.

County officials have received a request from the City of Crawfordsville concerning drainage water permits within the two-mile radius. Presently the city permits storm water drainage but city officials want the county to take over that responsibility. The matter will be discussed at future commissioner meetings but Commissioner Terry Hockersmith voiced his opinion concerning the request.

“I think the county should take back control of everything in the two-mile radius,” Hockersmith said. “This change is going to add another step for getting permits in the two-mile radius. Citizens will now have to come to us after going to the City when they want to do something.”

Taylor said any change in who governs the two-mile radius must be done by ordinance. He also stated the city has the legal right by state statute to govern the two-mile radius outside the city limits since there is no planning and zoning in the county.

Commissioners did not take action on the matter and it will be discussed at future commissioner meetings.

The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for June 13.

Long Time Coming

After six years of strategic planning — and even more years of waiting — construction on a brand new emergency room at Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health-Crawfordsville is set to begin soon.

“Today is a celebration for the community,” the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer Terry Klein said at the official groundbreaking ceremony on Monday.

As officials from Franciscan Alliance, St. Elizabeth Health-Crawfordsville and the community gathered under a tent in the hospital’s front parking lot, Klein pointed out that they were seated in the exact place where the new emergency room will be built. Instead of being tucked to the side of the hospital, the renovations will make the emergency room the first thing visitors see.

“If the community perception is that we have a beautiful new entrance and a beautiful new emergency department, that’s great,” said Dr. James Pearce, the hospital’s director of radiology and regional board member. “We can ride that wave of new and help it invigorate the community. But what you need to understand is, that’s far from the whole story. What this truly is, is simply the most visible manifestation of very deep, well thought-out plans by Franciscan Alliance in concert with the Mayor and community leadership to do everything we can to elevate the level of health in this community. And that’s what we’re really here to celebrate today.”

The project, which alone will cost $10.4 million, is part of a $15 million investment from Franciscan Alliance.

Many hospital officials and workers say the current department, with its 11 rooms in 3,500 square-feet of space, is simply too small.

“The current space was designed to treat 45 patients daily,” Klein said in an earlier interview. “We’ve been taking care of up to 75 a day. We simply need this new, bigger department.”

President and CEO of Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health Terry Wilson said he will give tours of the Crawfordsville hospital, and no one believes the emergency room is able to handle the 18,000-20,000 patients that it does each year.

“It’s one of the most productive emergency room facilities I’ve seen,” Wilson said. “And now it’s being replaced.”

The new emergency room will have 15 rooms in 15,000 square feet of space — almost triple the size of the current facility. The renovations will also bring new features to the facility including two state-of-the-art trauma rooms in close proximity to the ambulance entrance, isolation and seclusion rooms and an ambulance garage so patients are not being transferred in and out in extreme weather conditions.

“Thank you,” Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said, “for investing not only in the future of this community but for investing in our very well-being and health. The care and compassion you provide are making a difference in people’s lives.”

Klein announced that the current emergency room facility will focus on outpatient service once the renovations are complete. Officials are hoping the new facility will be ready to serve patients by January 2017.

Study garners more awards

General Lew Wallace Study & Museum Director Larry Paarlberg attended a state-wide historic preservation conference in Vincennes on April 28 to accept an award for the 2015 Study interior 


The Indiana Department of Natural Resources presented four awards. The Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society was recognized as the Outstanding Grant Assisted Rehabilitation project in the State of Indiana.

In addition to this recognition, the WTIU-PBS documentary Lew Wallace: Shiloh Soldier | Ben-Hur Bard continues to gain attention. This 90-minute documentary on Lew Wallace received three Telly awards. It was awarded a “Silver Telly” (the highest award) in the Historical/Biographical Documentary category and a “Bronze Telly” (the second highest award) for best use of music and a second bronze for “sound/sound design for a long form documentary,” for a total of three awards. The Telly awards are a national contest for television production.

The documentary has also won first place in the documentary category from the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists, and it has received a regional Emmy nomination. This recognition for the WTIU folks is well deserved and should help secure broad distribution for the documentary.

For more information about these recognitions, contact Larry Paarlberg, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. DVD copies of the documentary are for sale in the gift shop at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.

Recording history in the making

Montgomery County residents and organizations are being asked to help fill a time capsule sponsored by the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The local time capsule committee is ready to start intensifying its efforts to ensure that county residents in the year 2116 will have a good idea of what the county was like in 2016.

“We have no real idea what Montgomery County looked like in 1916 because there is just not that much information or photos available from that specific year,” committee member Tim McCormick said. “We are making a comprehensive effort to provide the residents in 2116 with the best information so they can get a true idea of what life was like for us today.”

One of the big elements of the project is to solicit information from all types of organizations throughout the county. The committee will be mailing more than 700 envelopes this week to organizations in hopes of garnering information. McCormick said the better response from the community is, the better the contents of the capsule will be.

“We want to have a comprehensive picture of Crawfordsville, county towns, government entities, schools, churches, museums and businesses,” McCormick said. “The plan is to create and collect photographs and documents recounting Crawfordsville and Montgomery County during this year.”

Once information is

collected it will be digitalized and placed into the time capsule. McCormick said the site where the capsule is to be buried is still under discussion, but he expects it to be placed in its resting spot in the spring of 2017.

Gathering information work has already begun. A committee is preparing a written narrative of 2016 events. Helen Hudson and Dave Peach are heading up the narrative efforts.

On June 1, the committee plans to meet with amateur and professional photographers to assign duties to capture the image of Montgomery County as it appears now. McCormick has been active taking photos of different events starting in the swearing in ceremonies of city and county elected officials. With the warm weather approaching, McCormick said the committee wants to give opportunity to local photographers to add their talents to the project.

McCormick said 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year to collect information on events. He mentioned the renovation of the Old Union Hospital and the Ben-Hur Building as two examples of activity that is changing the county’s landscape. He also said the new wing on the local hospital and Stellar projects such as the planned pocket park will need to be included.

“Our goal is to accurately portray who we are and what we do,” McCormick said. “We everyone to take hold of this community effort and make it a true representation of who we are.”

For more information on the time capsule project, contact the Chamber office at 765-362-6800