June 09, 2013 1:00 AM

Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of June 2-8.


Friends and acquaintances of Howard Abrams shared fond memories Friday afternoon at ICW Vocational Services Inc. to dedicate the nonprofit organization’s boardroom in his name. Abrams, who was one of the founding ICW board members, was remembered and praised for his dedication and commitment of more than 40 years to ICW. Abrams, 79, retired from the board in January and passed away March 9.


Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt has appointed a Greensburg priest to serve as pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Indiana upon the retirement of the Rev. Father William Kiel. The Rev. Father Thomas A. Federline, the pastor of the Church of St. Paul, will begin service in Indiana on June 25, in one of several pastoral appointments announced during the weekend in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg. Kiel, the pastor at St. Bernard since 2005, is one of three priests whose retirements take effect that day.


Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast website included Homer-Center High School on the 2013 list of “America’s Best High Schools.” The list of 2,000 ranks Homer-Center at No. 1,789 in the nation. With an estimated 37,000 high schools in the U.S., that puts Homer-Center in the top 5 percent, said district Superintendent Charles Koren. Relying on public sources of information, the researchers factored in six areas of academic performance.


Indiana Mayor George Hood Tuesday broke a 5-5 tie among council members and helped elect Second Ward resident Larry DeChurch to a vacant seat on council. DeChurch will fill the vacancy created in May by the resignation of William Simmons. DeChurch will complete Simmons’ term through the end of 2015.


Daniel Pikel, 57, of Home, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy in the multimillion dollar embezzlement scheme against Falcon Drilling, a Rayne Township gas drilling company. U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Wednesday that Pikel pleaded guilty to one count before U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was informed that between 2009 and 2012 Pikel conspired with another person to conceal about $2.9 million embezzled by former company controller Cheryl Brooks, 43, of Clymer, and another former company officer.


A former special-education teacher at State Correctional Institution Pine Grove has been charged with having sex with an inmate in her prison classroom and smuggling pornography to him.

A criminal investigator for the state Department of Corrections charged Alicia Welborn, 34, of Johnstown formerly of Clymer, with institutional sexual assault, official oppression, conspiracy, delivering obscene and other sexual materials and performances, forgery and identity theft. According to court documents, Welborn had an ongoing sexual relationship with inmate Justin Price, 29, of Montgomery County, inside the prison from August 2012 until she resigned on Sept. 25.


A Homer City man has been jailed on charges that he sexually assaulted four girls age 11 and younger in Burrell Township. State police at Indiana charged Robert Lawson, 19, with multiple counts of rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, corruption of minors and indecent assault. According to court documents, in March the female victims, ages 11, 9, 8 and 6, had been removed from the custody of their biological mother and her boyfriend, and placed into protective custody.

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