Kokomo Perspective 02 27 2019 E Edition Page A1

A lot can happen in four years. For example, children born four years ago already have start- ed preschool. Students entering college in 2015 now have diplomas. In four years, presidents can come and go. But, when it comes to prosecuting an alleged crime against Howard County taxpay- ers, little has happened in that time span. More than four years ago, on Jan. 30, 2015, the Howard County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation concerning illegal over-billing by a former Howard Superi- or II court reporter. That investigation centered on Rachael Roberts, whose employment with the court ended after the in- vestigation began. She is alleged to have garnered nearly $10,000 in taxpay- er funding from illegal over-billing practices for court transcription work. The case has been delayed time and time again, languishing with- in the justice system for a period of time that's unusual given that the charges Roberts faces are all misdemeanors. In total, Roberts faces three charges of theft, a class A misdemeanor. Those charges were iled in May 2017 by a Unbeknown to some local voters during last year's election, their votes truly didn't count. Last week the How- ard County Clerk's ice announced 1,148 ballots had been discovered in a iling cabinet in the court- house months after the conclusion of last year's General Election. Those ballots - amounting to un- opened ballot envelopes from early voting at the Government Center and mail-in ballots - remained uncounted during the ten- ure of the previous How- ard County clerk, Kim Wilson, who was replaced this year by Debbie Stew- art. After a court order was iled last week, the ballots were counted and added to last year's certified vote totals. They were deter- mined to have not impact- ed any of the races' final results. According to a release from the clerk, the bal- lots were discovered in an election room used to store unopened ballots that required a key from a Democrat and a Re- publican. Inside the elec- tion room, the uncounted ballots were located in a ballot storage cabinet that also required a key from both parties, as well as the clerk. During elections, ballots are stored in such cabinets and opened by a representative from both parties for counting on Election Day. The ballots were dis- covered in the bottom three of the five cabinet drawers on Jan. 21, and according to Stewart, they were secured in totes with seals, which remained un- opened prior to the coun- ty receiving a court order to open and count the bal- lots last week. News of the discovery, however, was not released until after the ballots had been counted. The added votes did not alter any of the previous election's to- Tim Hinton came to last week's meeting of the Howard County Com- missioners with a prob- lem. At his home, he doesn't have access to high-speed internet. When his niece stays with him in the fall, she simply can't get her school work done there during eLearning days, and he is forced to take her to one of the local li- braries so she can access the internet. Soon, however, that problem may be fixed. Hinton is far from alone in dealing with a lack of internet access. In fact, about 70 percent of Howard County has been qualified as underserved in terms of internet acces- sibility. But, within four years federal funding is expected to largely ne- gate this issue, providing wireless internet access to rural Howard County residents. That funding comes by way of the Federal Communications Com- mission's Connect (FCC) America Fund 2 (CAF 2). It's the second phase of an initiative that began in the early 2000s aimed at improving internet ac- cess in underserved mar- kets. In 2018 the FCC held an auction to dole out CAF 2 funding, where internet service provid- ers would be tasked with putting infrastructure in place that would expand internet access. Watch Communications, based out of Lima, Ohio, won a bid to tackle Howard County's market, aiming to improve internet ac- cessibility for rural resi- dents. According to Frank Glaszner, vice president of sales and marketing for Watch Communica- tions, census data was used to determine which areas are underserved, with about 70 percent of Howard County resi- dents not meeting one of two thresholds set by the FCA, either 25 megabit download speeds with three megabit upload or 100 megabit download speeds with 20 upload. This problem persists in the county almost every- where outside of Koko- mo's city limits. Graszner said Howard County's problem isn't unique either. This is a Midwest cri- sis for sure. This is a na- tional crisis, but it is defi- nitely a Midwest crisis, said Glaszner. I would MORE THAN 31,000 DISTRIBUTED WEEKLY & MORE THAN 320,000 MONTHLY PAGE VIEWS AT KOKOMOPERSPECTIVE.COM Kokomoperspective.com 209 N. Main St. - Kokomo 765.452.0055 February 27, 2019 Inside: Section C PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID KOKOMO, IN PERMIT NO. 60 **************ECRWSSEDDM************** Residential & Business Customer Roberts A8 Ballots A6 Access A6 February 27 2019 Inside: Section C by Devin Zimmerman News Reporter dzimmerman@kokomoperspective.com by Devin Zimmerman News Reporter dzimmerman@kokomoperspective.com When will taxpayers get justice over allegedly stolen money? Fouryearsaftercountyicialsdiscovered potentially-illegal chargesbya court clerk, case unresolved 1,148 uncounted Howard County ballots discovered Howard County Democratic Party slams former clerk, Kim Wilson More than 70 percent of Howard County underserved in terms of internet access by Devin Zimmerman News Reporter dzimmerman@kokomoperspective.com WWW.DANYOUNGGM.COM LACKING ACCESS Wilson Perspective Photo / Devin Zimmerman CONNECTIVITY - Zach Walden uses the internet at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library main branch on Monday. Within four years, FCC funding may ensure internet access for county residents. Salute To B A C K 2 B A C K S T A T E C H A M P S !

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