Hancock County News

Walmart new E-Commerce Fulfillment Center with 1,000 jobs at new Hancock Co. facility to be company's largest in US

Walmart finalized plans today to establish a new fulfillment center in Hancock County and create up to 1,000 new jobs by the end of 2025. The facility will provide additional online fulfillment capabilities for the company as it continues to meet increasing online demand from customers. At 2.2 million square feet, this facility will be Walmart’s largest e-commerce fulfillment center in the U.S.

"It gives me a great deal of pride to see Walmart growing and expanding rapidly in the Hoosier state," said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. "As the Crossroads of America, we are perfectly positioned to support Walmart as they secure increasing customer demand and continue contributing to our state's economy, while providing new jobs to 1,000 Hoosiers in the process." 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company will invest approximately $600 million to construct and equip its new facility on approximately 204 acres at 5300 W. 500 N. in an unincorporated part of Hancock County north of Mount Comfort and south of McCordsville. The new, state-of-the-art facility will allow Walmart to expand its e-commerce operations for both its own online inventory and recently-announced third-party fulfillment, Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), for vendors who hire the company to store, pack and ship items for customers. Construction is slated to begin this month, and the company expects to start fulfillment and distribution in the fall of 2022, reaching full operational capacity by spring of 2024.  

“We’re pleased to work with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation on this project and appreciate their support to help bring new development and jobs to central Indiana, which is a key market for Walmart,” said Steve Miller, Walmart senior vice president, fulfillment operations. “We look forward to utilizing this fulfillment center to help meet increasing online shopping demands and ultimately serve our customers.”

As Walmart continues to expand online, the creation of WFS, powered by Walmart's state-of-the-art supply chain capabilities, allows Walmart.com Marketplace sellers to grow their businesses through WFS, managing shipping, returns and customer service. Business owners are able to send inventory to Walmart fulfillment centers, where the company stores the products securely and prepares them for shipping when an order is placed.

Walmart, which employs approximately 1.5 million associates nationwide including more than 41,000 in Indiana, will begin hiring in the spring of 2022 for positions in receiving, picking, packing, shipping and management. Interested applicants may apply online.

“We are very, very pleased that Walmart has found Hancock County, and the Mt. Comfort Road Corridor in particular, to be ideal for their operations,” said Hancock County Council President Bill Bolander. "Both Hancock County and the Hancock Economic Development Council will continue to work with Walmart to ensure a smooth and successful launch and continuing operation of their facility with regard to workforce, infrastructure and overall economic development improvements within the county.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Walmart Fulfillment Services LLC up to $1.25 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans and up to $4.75 million in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and investments are made. The Hancock County Council and the Hancock County Redevelopment Commission approved additional incentives at the request of the Hancock Economic Development Council. Duke Energy offered additional incentives.

Greenfield plans to proceed with Halloween

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to skip trick-or-treating, but police in Greenfield have decided to move forward with the Halloween tradition anyway.

 

The police chief in Greenfield, Jeff Rasche, says he thinks that the people in his area could take part in holiday festivities without causing an outbreak.  Rasche says he decided to move forward with trick-or-treating before the CDC released its decision on the matter but is sticking with his decision for now.

 

 

On Tuesday the CDC posted guidelines on its website labeling traditional trick-or-treating and other common Halloween celebrations “high risk” this year. Instead, they suggested that people leave pre-made goodie bags on their front porch for kids to get rather than handing out candy themselves or leaving out a bowl for kids to dig through.

 

These are the activities the CDC said to avoid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus:

 

-Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.

 

-Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

 

-Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.

 

-Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.

 

-Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.

 

-Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.

 

-Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Hancock County has reported more than 900 COVID-19 cases with nearly 16,000 people tested.

 

Rasche also said that he spoke with the mayor and the Hancock County Health Department about his decision. He said that he has been in contact with other officers in the surrounding area and he is under the impression that most, if not all of them, will also be moving forward with similar trick-or-treating plans. He says he is still encouraging people to wear an actual face mask even if they’re in a costume.

 

“We are not going to encourage large groups to be out trick-or-treating together or large groups going to people’s houses. You know, maintain social distancing,” Rasche said.

 

Greenfield plans to release more guidelines for families as Halloween nears.

AG Curtis Hill sues Greenfield company accused of taking consumers' money without providing gravestones

Attorney General Curtis Hill on Friday sued a Greenfield monument company accused by consumers of taking their money without providing gravestones they ordered. This civil action against the company, Greenfield Granite, seeks consumer restitution and costs under the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

 

Attorney General Hill also filed a request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order aimed at preventing the company from removing, selling or transferring assets until the legal process plays out.

 

As of Sept. 15, 2020, the Greenfield Police Department had taken approximately 70 reports in which consumers reported that Greenfield Granite failed to properly fulfill orders. Recently, officers have observed individuals at the business turning away customers while workers appear to be removing items from the business.

 

“We have laws in place to protect Hoosiers when businesses abandon their obligations to customers,” Attorney General Hill said. “In this case, we want to ensure that any consumers harmed by this company’s business practices receive refunds or, if they prefer, have their orders fulfilled if products remain available.”

 

Greenfield Granite’s area of specialty makes this case especially troubling, Attorney General Hill added.

 

“No one with an ounce of compassion wants to hear about a business taking advantage of grieving customers trying to achieve closure after losing loved ones,” he said.

 

Attorney General Hill expressed appreciation to the Greenfield Police Department and Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton for their investigatory assistance.

 

Consumers who have complaints regarding Greenfield Granite should file a consumer complaint online at https://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/ or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-382-5516.

 

In a related story, a death investigation into a Greenfield business owner was concluded approximately three weeks ago, according to officials with the Greenfield Police Department.  Greenfield Police have ruled the shooting death of Amie Strohl, 50, as a suicide.

 

Officers were dispatched earlier this week to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield. Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

 

 

Jan Jarson resigns from New Palestine Town Council

For the second time this month, a New Palestine elected official has tendered their resignation.


Council woman Jan Jarson has resigned her position after first being elected in 2012 and being re-elected twice. She made it official in a letter to town council and county clerk of courts Lisa Lofgreen.

 

The letter states, “I am writing to inform you that it has become increasingly apparent that I cannot devote the necessary time and energy I feel is necessary to the office of Town Council Member. I have spent a great deal of time and thought before arriving at this decision and find that my priorities should be with my family and serving my community in other less stressful occupations. I have enjoyed the honor and privilege of serving our community and look forward to the future.”

 

Fellow council member Angie Fahrnow told Giant FM that she wishes Jarson the best.

 

“I think it was for the best, and I wish her well,” Fahrnow said of Jarson’s resignation.

 

The resignation brings an end to a dark cloud that has been over the town council and town since January, when the town council transformed from three members to five. Jarson lost her bid to serve as town council president.  

 

Also in January, Jarson voted against censuring former town clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle, who also offered her resignation earlier this month. In August, town officials discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave. The changes included alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.

“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.

 

Despite the last few months, Fahrnow tells Giant FM she believes the town and council are now headed in a “positive direction.” As for winning back the trust of residents who may still have questions about their government, Fahrnow said she understands.

 

“Our focus is to do what’s in the best interest for the town. I think trust is earned. A lot of changes have happened, and I know there is uncertainty with some people. As long as the council does the right thing and keeps the town’s best interest at heart, the trust will be there,” she said.

 

It is now up to the Hancock County Republican Party to find a replacement for Jarson. The party has 30 days to fill the vacancy through a party caucus. Once the date of the caucus is set, candidates will have 72 hours to submit paperwork declaring their intention. 

Greenfield Main Street hosts Chalk Fest on Saturday

Are you an artist?  Doesn't really matter.  You can be one Saturday at an annual event in Greenfield.

 

Greenfield Main Street Executive Director Debra Smith talks about Chalk Fest.

 

 

Smith says they will make the necessary fixes to deal with Covid-19.

 

 

A theme and prizes are in play.

 

 

Chalk Fest is Saturday from 3 – 6 pm.

New Palestine man faces federal charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced Thursday that Bruce Wayne Ford, 47, New Palestine, has been charged with eleven counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

 

“The financial investors in this case placed their hard earned money into the hands of someone whom they thought they could trust, oftentimes the majority of their life savings,” said Minkler. “Instead, the victim’s money fell into the hands of a thief who cares about no one but himself and his interests. Justice will prevail and hopefully restore some trust back to the victims.”

 

Ford, was arrested at his home Friday, September 11, and had his initial appearance on September 16, in the federal courthouse in Indianapolis. Through his company, Ford Financial and Insurance Services, he devised a scheme to defraud his investors by means of materially false statements and misrepresentations. As alleged in the Complaint, rather than invest his clients’ money as promised, Ford wired or transferred investor funds to Ford’s financial accounts to use for his own personal expenditures.

 

Ford’s illegal scheme to steal his clients’ investment funds was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Indiana Secretary of State’s office, and the Greenfield Police Department.

 

“Investment fraud schemes ultimately lead to the loss of innocent victims’ hard-earned money. The victims expected the defendant to protect their future, not use their money to fund his personal lifestyle,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to investigate these types of crime and ensure criminal activity is identified, investigated, and disrupted.”

 

“Ford was not registered to sell securities with the Secretary of State’s office, a basic requirement,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson. “If one investor had checked his registration, his entire scheme would have crumbled. I encourage everyone to check their investor’s registration prior to exchanging any money. It’s a simple safeguard that could protect your retirement nest egg.”

 

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who is prosecuting this case for the government, Ford faces up to 25 years’ in federal prison if convicted of the charges.

Two voting centers added in Hancock Co.

Voters in Hancock County will have two more voting locations on Election Day thanks to the Hancock County Election Board.

 

Those wishing to cast a ballot on election day will be able to do so at the McCordsville City Hall and Cross of Grace Lutheran Church in New Palestine. The changes bring the total number of voting centers up to 10, but the county has used as many as 12 in the past.

 

Other polling places include: Hancock County Courthouse Annex, main branch of the Hancock County Public Library, Sugar Creek branch of the Hancock County Public Library, NineStar Connect North, Fortville Community Center, Buck Creek Township Fire Department, Nameless Creek Camp and Event Center, and Wilkinson Church of Christ. Anyone who is registered and a resident of Hancock County can vote at any of the polling places early or on Election Day.

 

Locally, the November election was decided in the May primary as no Democratic candidates will be on the ballot for county-wide seats.

 

Voters will have a say in state representative, state senator, U.S. House Representative, governor, attorney general, and the presidential race. In addition, there are school board races that will appear on the ballot. 

Woman rescued by Greenfield PD before engine explodes

A woman is recovering in the hospital after a Greenfield Police patrolman rescued her from a burning car.

 

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, at around 1:30 a.m., GPD Patrolman Blake Crull was on patrol when he passed by a burning, upside down car in the 4200 block of East US 40. Inside the car was Heather Fischer, 36, who was trapped and badly hurt.

 

Crull was able to pull Fischer through a side window to safety. Seconds later, the car’s engine exploded.  Fischer was taken to the hospital.

 

The driver of the car who crashed into Fischer, Arturo Casimiro, 46, was arrested and taken to the Hancock County Jail. He’s been charged with two DUIs and one count of Driving While Suspended.

New Palestine Clerk - Treasurer resigns amid controversy

For the better part of nine months, New Palestine Town Council member Angie Fahrnow warned fellow council members not once, not twice, but on many instances about potential nepotism issues between clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle and former town manager David Book, who was Pyle’s father-in-law.


In the end, the council learned its lesson as Pyle has officially tendered her resignation in a move that will still cost the town and continues a fractured relationship between town leaders and Pyle.


In a statement, Pyle, who delivered her resignation to Hancock County Clerk Lisa Lofgreen, said that her office had tried to bridge a gap with the current town council.

 

“For the last nine months, the clerk-treasurer’s office has been trying to bridge a gap to create a healthy work environment with the current town council that the town employees and voters expect and deserve. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. Pursuant to Indiana Code 5-8-3.5-1, Notification is being presented to the Hancock County Clerk of Courts of my resignation of the office of the New Palestine Clerk Treasurer, effective 9/9/2020,” Pyle wrote.

 

The town will now have to select someone to fill the remaining years on Pyle’s term. The position will be advertised and town council will be holding public interviews September 23 at 7:00 p.m. Pyle ran unopposed for the clerk-treasurer position in 2019 after working under former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss.

 

The resignation comes on the heels of the discovery that Pyle had abandoned her office earlier this month, cleaning it out and locking up important town files in a cabinet the town does not have a key for. In addition, the council discovered the town’s employees were not paid on time.

 

While Fahrnow voiced concerns multiple times, she took no joy in the resignation, telling Giant FM she does not feel good about the situation.

 

“I never feel good about situations like this because in the end the town is the one paying the price. Furthermore, I don’t feel good about the fact that several unanswered questions remain. There is still town property we do not have back. I am upset that she got away with as much as she did. I am ready to move forward and put a positive light back on our small community and focus on the things that are important for this town,” Fahrnow said.

 

A source speaking with Giant FM on the condition of anonymity said Pyle deleted all of the town’s payroll documents, including the backup and then scrubbed the computer.


“She deleted it all. Council is missing files, signed ordinances and checks,” the source told Giant FM.

 

The resignation could bring about an end to what has been a frosty relationship between council and the clerk-treasurer’s office.


Earlier this year, the council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.  In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.

 

At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.
Then last month, the town council learned Pyle had locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work began on the 2021 budget.


At the time, Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.


“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.

 

To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.

 

“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.

 

And, there is a current investigation by the Indiana State Police regarding ghost employment and allegations that Pyle illegally obtained signatures on her petition to run for office while working and using town property.

 

Fahrnow said she hopes positives will come out of everything the town has dealt with.

 

“I hope that all of this has brought to light the bigger picture, which is the amount of control the state of Indiana gives to the clerk treasurer and the damage they can do to a town. You can have no financial background and run for clerk-treasurer and not be responsible for any of your mistakes. There should be better laws in place or it should be moved to an appointed position,” Fahrnow said. 

Death of Greenfield woman declared a suicide

A death investigation into a Greenfield business owner has been concluded, according to officials with the Greenfield Police Department.


Greenfield Police have ruled the shooting death of Amie Strohl, 50, as a suicide.

 

Officers were dispatched earlier this week to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield. Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

Greenfield business owner found dead; gunshot wound

The Greenfield Police Department continues to investigate the death of a resident after being dispatched Tuesday to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield.

 

Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

The Greenfield Police are investigating everything concerning her death, including the possibility that she took her own life. In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

Theft charge filed against New Pal Clerk - Treasurer; town officials contact state leaders for direction

An all-time low.

 

That is how New Palestine Town Council member Angie Fahrnow sums up the council’s relationship with Clerk-Treasurer Tonii Pyle following the town’s latest drama between the two.


On Thursday, Sept. 3, the relationship, which has been strained already, hit an all-time low as Fahrnow filed a theft charge with police against Pyle. The allegation comes on the heels of the town council discovering Pyle had cleaned out her office and had locked up important town files in a cabinet that the town does not have a key for.


Fahrnow told Giant FM that the discovery led to more aggravation.


“I was more aggravated than shocked. Why did she change the locks and not provide a key? The files are still there locked in a cabinet with David Book’s obit attached, and we do not have a key. When we asked if she had a key, she stated “no,” and then we had to pay for a locksmith to open a door to an empty office,” Fahrnow said.


Fahrnow was asked if anyone had noticed Pyle missing and not coming into her office for work. Town Hall has been opened for several months after it being shut down and having limited hours during the Covid-19 pandemic.


“We are told she can conduct her office hours as she sees fit, which is fine, but on an unsecured computer is not okay,” Fahrnow said.


In addition, council discovered the town’s employees were not paid on time this week.


“I felt helpless when the employees started calling and asking about their checks. There was nothing we could do,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


The latest discovery just adds to the issues between council and its clerk-treasurer since the beginning of the year.  Earlier this year, council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.  In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.


At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.


Then last month, the town council learned Pyle had locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work began on the 2021 budget.


At the time, Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.


“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.


“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.


And, there is a current investigation by the Indiana State Police regarding ghost employment and allegations that Pyle illegally obtained signatures on her petition to run for office while working and using town property.


Fahrnow is tired of the games.


“I am not at all surprised we are still having issues. What is surprising to me is the State Board of Accounts is telling us they will not do anything until the next audit and they will address the issues at that time. That is in three years. Our attorney is telling us she is an elected official and we have no say in how she runs her office. Our town will be sunk if we stand by and let this continue for the next three years,” said Fahrnow, who added she has reached out to Indiana State Senator Mike Crider, the Open Access Counselor and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill on the matter.


Pyle is up for re-election in 2023 and the only way she can be removed from office prior to that is if she is convicted of a crime or resigns.


“If there is enough evidence to file a charge, she will have to step down and then the hunt for a new clerk will commence,” Pyle said.

Jon Hooker fills Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County board seat

The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County will have a new face on its board this week as Jon Hooker has been appointed to replace Dr. Craig Wagoner, Sr.


The appointment comes on the heels of Wagoner’s resignation after seven years on the board, and for Hooker, he will be representing District 3, which is an at-large position that represents both District 1 and 2 in the western part of the district. Wagoner’s term was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022 and Hooker will serve the remainder of the term and be eligible for election to the seat in November 2022.


“I’m very excited to be selected. Having grown up here and chosen to raise my kids here, I have had a strong urge to serve our community and give back. Joining this fantastic school board for me is about working with a great group of leaders. We have a lot on our plates right now, and I look forward to this opportunity,” Hooker said.


Hooker will join board members Dan Walker, Matt Ackerman, Laura Haeberle and Brian McKinney when he is sworn in Monday, Aug. 24.

Hancock Co. adds polling places for November election

When voters return to the polls in November in Hancock County, they will be treated to more polling sites.
 

The measure is designed to not create the same issues voters faced in the June Republican Primary, as voters stood in long lines well past the 6 p.m. deadline.


The Hancock County Election Board approved a total of eight polling places and election schedule.
Voters will be able to turn out to vote at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, Hancock County Public Library Sugar Creek and Main Branch locations, Buck Creek Township Fire Department, NineStar Connect North, Nameless Creek Camp and Event Center, Fortville Community Center and Wilkinson Christian Church.


In addition, there are no contested county-wide races as the winners from the Republican primary will be running unopposed in November.


The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 5 and applications for voting by mail are due by Oct. 22. Early voting will begin Oct. 6 and continue until Nov. 2 in Hancock County.

Historic plane on display this weekend in Hancock Co.

The Island Doll, a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon Bomber, will be on display for tours at the Indianapolis Regional Airport, 3867 N. Aviation Way, Greenfield.

 

The plane will be on display 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

 

For more information about the plane, visit amhf.org.

New Pal Town Council, clerk-treasurer still dealing with issues

The divide between the New Palestine Town Council and its clerk-treasurer grew even larger recently as town officials discovered two huge issues pertaining to the clerk-treasurer.

 

First, she has locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work begins on the 2021 budget. At a council meeting earlier this month, clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle offered no explanation as to why access was cut off to officials, including the town’s police chief and town manager.


The move did not sit well with council member Angie Fahrnow, who told Giant FM, she is “tired of the games.”


“I am very disappointed, but I am not surprised. We have an employee that the clerk-treasurer has allowed continued access. I’m tired of the games. It makes our job much more difficult, and it takes away from the other town needs,” Fahrnow said.  


Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.
“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.


“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.


Earlier this year, the council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.


In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.


At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.


Despite the rift, Fahrnow said she hopes council can work with Pyle moving forward, a request she has made numerous times.


“I would love to try and work with her and will always keep that door open. She reached out and asked to meet and mend bridges and then she took access away from our department heads,” Fahrnow said.  

 

 

 

 

 

Classes scheduled to resume Monday at New Palestine HS after another reported positive COVID - 19 test

A second New Palestine High School student has tested positive for coronavirus, the district said Saturday.

 

Administrators were notified of the positive test result late Friday. The student who tested positive was last on campus Monday.

 

Monday was the first day of school at New Palestine High School. Another student who had tested positive for the virus attended classes on the first day of school.  The family physician who provided the notification of the positive test result for that student included the wrong “return to school” date on the note provided, according to a joint statement from Southern Hancock schools and Hancock Health hospital system.

 

“Based on sound contact tracing conducted by district officials and nurses, the district has determined Friday’s case is not connected to the NPHS student who tested positive on Monday, August 3,” the district said in a statement.

 

Families of the students considered to be close contacts of the second COVID-positive student have been notified.

 

A full sanitization and disinfection of NPHS will take place this weekend and classes will remain as scheduled next week.

Greenfield-Central reports another positive Covid-19 case

For the second time since school started, Greenfield Central school officials are notifying families of a positive case of Covid-19.

 

This case is at the high school and was a student. 

 

Families were notified Friday evening by superintendent Dr. Harold Olin, who said the district's protocols for dealing with a positive case were implemented. 

 

School officials began contact tracing and notifying those in close contact with the student, according to Olin, adding that if a family did not receive a call, their child was considered to not be a close contact.

 

Olin also asked parents to keep any students with symptoms home, as well as those awaiting test results or those who have been near someone tested within the last two weeks. 

Hancock Co. Dunlavy farm honored with Hoosier Homestead Award

Area legislators recently announced the latest recipients of the Hoosier Homestead Award, which recognizes farms owned and maintained by the same family for 100 years or more.

 

The Hoosier Homestead Award Program honors families who have made significant contributions to Indiana agriculture. Instituted in 1976, the program recognizes the impact these family farms have made on the economic, cultural and social advancements of Indiana. In the past 40 years, more than 5,800 farms have received the honor.

 

Represented by State Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) and State Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield), the Dunlavy farm in Hancock County was recently honored with a Centennial Award.

 

"Farmers are often underappreciated, but Hoosier farmers contribute billions of dollars to our state's economy each year, and we are fortunate to be a state that has families who have dedicated generations to this industry," Crider said. "I commend the Dunlavy family for reaching this historic milestone and thank them for their years of service to our state."

 

"Indiana was built on the backs of hardworking farming families like the Dunlavy's," Cherry said. "They have certainly managed many challenges along the way to remain in operation for this long, and it's true a testament to their dedication to the agriculture industry. Congratulations and we wish you continued success for years to come."

 

To be named a Hoosier Homestead, farms must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years and consist of more than 20 acres or produce more than $1,000 of agricultural products per year. The award distinctions are Centennial, Sesquicentennial and Bicentennial – for 100, 150 and 200 years, respectively. 

New Pal schools hit by cyber attack

The start of the 2020-21 school year has been a bumpy one for New Palestine schools as officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County had a positive Covid-19 case on the first day and are now dealing with a cyber attack.

 

According to district officials, many of the district's technological systems fell victim to the attack, impacting internet connectivity for teachers, students in classrooms, and students attending virtually. This has also impacted the functionality of some other district programs, including PowerSchool and Canvas.

 

District officials confirm that NineStar and the district's technological services provider, Five Star, are working quickly to restore connectivity to the district and mitigate the risk of future attacks.

Whoever is responsible will be prosecuted.

 

"Our administration has notified our law enforcement partners at the New Palestine Police Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and Indiana State Police. The district intends to pursue all available legal avenues related to this attack," superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip said. 

In addition, Lantrip said the district is taking the attack "very seriously."

 

"We sincerely apologize for any difficulties this has caused for your students and our teachers. We want to thank our teachers for keeping learning going both in-person and virtually during the outage. We know that everyone in the Southern Hancock community has worked diligently to support our students during these unfortunate circumstances," she said. 

Fortville pharmacy closing influenced by pandemic, economy

The Covid-19 pandemic and recent economic downturn has taken its toll on Hancock County, including Fortville’s only independent pharmacy.


Eric Garst, owner of Garst RX Pharmacy, 325 S. Main St., Fortville, recently announced that he has sold to CVS, and beginning Thursday, Aug. 7, customers prescriptions will be at CVS Pharmacy, 715 E. Broadway St., Fortville.


In a letter to customers, Garst thanked customers for being loyal and selecting Garst as their pharmacy.


“Our decision to sell our pharmacy was not easy to make. Unfortunately, prescriptions have become less and less profitable, making it harder to pay the bills. We sincerely appreciate all your support over the last five years,” Garst wrote.


The pharmacy building will be on the market in the near future, and Garst told customers he and his family will be staying in the area.


“My family and I will remain living in Fortville, so we hope to see your faces around town. While I loved every minute at the pharmacy, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, Amanda, Jack and Olivia. Again, I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty over the years, and I hope we were able to make a positive impact on every life we touched through Garst Rx,” Garst wrote.  

New Pal HS student confirmed positive test for COVID-19

For the second time in as many weeks, a Hancock County school district is dealing with a positive COVID-19 case on the first day of school.  A student at New Palestine High School came to school Monday with COVID-19. 

 

In a joint statement from the school district and Hancock Regional Health, confusion over the school district's start date was to blame for the late notification. The family physician who provided the notification of the positive test result wrote the wrong return to school date on the note provided.

 

According to district officials, the student showed to school with a mask on and confirmed that there was a small number of close contacts who were identified and were isolated.

 

The Hancock County Health Department has contacted parents whose children were exposed and are asking them to quarantine for 14 days.

 

In addition, Hancock Health will conduct a full review of its notification process and begin implementing rapid turn around testing, according to the release. 

This is the second confirmed case at New Palestine High School, which had a football player test positive Friday. 

INDOT to close portion of North Gem Rd starting Wednesday

INDOT will close a portion of North Gem Rd at US 52 starting on Wednesday, July 29 in New Palestine.

 

The closure will last approximately one week. US 52 and South Gem Road will remain open to traffic.

 

The construction zone will span approximately 100 feet from US 52 traveling north. Southbound traffic on Gem Road will have access to Mill and Walnut Streets as well as the entrances to CVS and Brew 52.

Caucus to replace Brian Bosma set for McCordsville on Aug 19

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer has officially called a caucus of eligible precinct committee members to fill the upcoming vacancy in the office of House District 88. The seat is currently held by former Speaker of House Brian Bosma, whose resignation from the Indiana House will be effective July 31, 2020.

The caucus will be held at 6 p.m. ET, on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at the McCordsville Town Hall, which is located at 6280 W. 800 N.; McCordsville, IN 46055. Proper social distancing will be in effect, and facial coverings will be required. 

The individual selected at the August 19 caucus will fill the remainder of former Speaker Bosma's term. 

"Former Speaker Bosma has served Hoosiers for more than 30 years, helping grow Indiana into the fiscal envy of the nation," said Hupfer. "Hoosiers will miss his leadership, and there's no doubt that the new representative for this district has big shoes to fill."

Individuals interested in running in the caucus should contact the Indiana Republican Party Secretary at dzagone@indiana.gop to ensure they file the proper forms prior to the deadline, which is 72 hours prior to the vote. The caucus will be open to credentialed media who pre-register to Holly Lawson at hlawson@indiana.gop prior to 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 18.

A Facebook Live Stream will be available at www.facebook.com/indgop for members of the public who wish to watch the caucus live. More details regarding caucus procedures and candidates will be released after the filing deadline.

 

 

Mt. Vernon to delay start of school year

As schools across the state prepare to head back to the classroom, one Hancock County school district is pumping the brakes on a return.


The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation decided Monday to delay the start of school by more than two weeks due to concerns over COVID-19.


Rather than starting July 29, the district is now slated to begin classes Aug. 17 and the decision will impact students who attend in person and virtually.


Furthermore, the district shortened fall break by a week and extended the school year into June.
While Mt. Vernon has opted to push its start date back, the other three districts in Hancock County are slated to return to the classroom on their normal dates, as of now.


The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County will offer both traditional and virtual learning to students this year and is set to return Aug. 3.


Eastern Hancock Schools will also return Aug. 3.


Greenfield-Central is set to return July 30.