Mentone police say they’re looking for Futlon County fugitive

Jackie Gorski

MENTONE – A Rochester man wanted by law enforcement has been seen in Mentone, Town Marshal Keaton Schopf  told the Town Council Wednesday.

Jeffrey Thomas Jones, 33, Rochester, is wanted on warrants for four counts of child molesting and violation of probation. He is to be held without bond. Schopf said all charges are out of Fulton County.

Schopf said Jones has been seen in Mentone and Rochester.

“We’ve been looking for him for quite a while,” he said.

Jones’ last known address was in Rochester; however, he is known to have ties to Winamac and Mentone.

A cash award through Fulton County Crime Stoppers is available for information leading to the location and apprehension of Jones. Tipsters can call the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office at 574-223-2819 or Crime Stoppers at 574-223-7867.

A Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office deputy went to Mentone Tuesday to see if he was in town because they received a call about it.

“We’re trying to catch him to get him off the street,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting, Zach Dripps, Michiana Area Council of Governments director of operations and community development, brought Community Development Block Grant document requirements for the grant money to update Mentzer Park.

The first was a letter saying the town allows MACOG to write and administer the minutes for the Nov. 9 public hearing, as well as the public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 11. The Jan. 11 public hearing will be the final public hearing about the park plans.

The next document the council approved was a four-factor analysis that looked at whether the town was required to provide documentation in a language other than English. Dripps said the short answer was Mentone did not. The key reason was the population. If Mentone had a population over 1,000 or had a population that had at least 5% that did speak a language other than English, then Mentone would have to provide that documentation in a language other than English.

Dripps also presented the council with a fair housing ordinance and a drug-free ordinance for town employees.

The council also approved a resolution for MACOG to submit the application to the Office of Community and Rural Affairs for the grant money and for the commitment for the local match. 

Also during the meeting, town attorney Andrew Grossnickle updated the council on information on possible zoning, park and cemetery committees.

He said there is an ordinance that states “a unit may establish and operate a government.” Grossnickle said there’s more to the ordinance, but basically there’s certain powers a town, county or city has by governing statute. Some powers are implied, he said.

If Grossnickle can’t find a statute that specifically states the council can’t set up the committees, the council should be able to do that.

However, he said the zoning committee actually needs to be a zoning board.
Council President Jill Gross asked if the council can still decide to go with Area Plan. Grossnickle said that is correct.

Grossnickle said he didn’t think the positions on the committees needed to be elected.
In other business, the council:

• Approved contracting with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office month-to-month for 2024.
• Approved not renewing a contract with Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation for 2024 for economic development. For 2023, the contract was for $5,000. For 2024, the contract was for $6,000.

• Heard from Grossnickle he is still working on an unsafe building ordinance. He said she should have that for the council next month.

• Approved paying town employees compensation time for attending town meetings when not on duty.

• Took their oaths of office, as well as Clerk-Treasurer Amanda Yaprak.