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Hancock County News Archives for 2020-06

Hancock Co. schools training, prepping for return to school

As the calendar inches closer to July, schools in Hancock County are continuing to take steps towards reopening in August in a COVID-19 environment.  All four of the Hancock County school corporations are working closely with each other and the county’s health department to design guidelines and all are expecting to resume class on their scheduled start dates.

In a joint statement released by all four of the county’s superintendents, they state that all schools will receive training on COVID-19 symptoms and protocols.

“The safety of all Hancock County students, families, teachers and staff is always our first priority,” the statement reads.

The districts will adhere to county-wide guidelines when it comes to physical health and environmental health.


Under the new guidelines, families will self-screen for symptoms and should any symptom be present, they should exclude themselves from school.


In addition, staff and students should have a mask with them at all times. While masks will not be required for students at all times, there will be certain situations when wearing one will be required. Schools will also promote social distancing by maximizing instructional spaces and scheduling flexibly. Students can expect assigned seating on the bus, in classrooms and in the cafeteria.


Schools will start enhanced cleaning procedures in classrooms, common areas and on high-touch surfaces, and additional hand sanitizer stations will be installed. On the playground, students will be in separate groups to promote proper social distancing and limited interactions with other students.
Furthermore, visitors and guests will be restricted and schools will discontinue perfect attendance incentives to permit families to make the best health choice for their students. Also, immunizations must be up to date.

Implementation of the guidelines will be handled on a corporation by corporation basis, and the schools, along with the county health department, are creating a response plan for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a school building.

Part of the response includes: closing all rooms where the case was present immediately for a deep cleaning and the entire school will be closed if positive close contacts cannot be identified.

Fortville implements riverfront district

Months of questions, discussions and meetings have concluded with the Fortville Town Council approving the implementation of a riverfront district in town. 


Indiana law allows municipalities to create a riverfront development district within a redevelopment area. While there is no river in Fortville, officials are using parts of a creek and ditches throughout town for the distinction. The state does have a stipulation that districts have to be within 1,500 feet of a waterway, however, what constitutes as a waterway is open to interpretation.
Several times this year, the council discussed the possibilities a riverfront district could bring to the town and why it was necessary.

Adam Zaklikowski, planning and building director for Fortville, told council the primary reason for seeking the district was to allow for additional alcohol permits throughout the town.
“We are almost at max capacity, and this is a legal way to do it,” he said.

There are three kinds of permits available to restaurants – beer, beer and wine and beer, wine and spirits. Fortville is currently at its max on permits, which are not transferable and do not allow for carryout.


The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, may, upon recommendation of the town, issue a non-transferrable permit to the proprietor of a restaurant or event venue for the purpose of selling alcoholic beverages within the boundaries of a riverfront development district.


The Fortville Redevelopment Commission determined the creation of the district will help remove barriers to development in the downtown business district. The riverfront district will operate in Fortville’s TIF district, which spans along much of Broadway Street and Maple Street/Fortville Pike. The RDC oversees the TIF district.

McCordsville officer injured answering call

It began as a call of a person threatening harm to themselves and ended with a McCordsville police officer being sent to IU Methodist Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.

According to the McCordsville Police Department, officers responded to the 5000 block of Woodhaven Drive, McCordsville, on a call of a person threatening to harm herself.  When officers arrived, they discovered the suspect, who was under the influence of drugs, had left the scene, prompting officers from McCordsville and Lawrence to begin a search.

When officers located the subject at the Oaklandon Youth Organization, 12150 East 62nd St., they tried to get her out of a vehicle, but she instead attempted to leave the scene, striking her husband and McCordsville officer Jessica Barnes.

The suspect’s husband was treated and released at the scene, while Barnes sustained a non-life-threatening injury to her leg. The suspect was arrested by the Lawrence Police Department.

Several Knightstown police quit in dispute with town council

Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.


Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.



The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.


The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.



Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.


Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.



The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.


The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.




Longtime Greenfield business owner found in pond; death investigation

Indiana Conservation Officers are conducting a death investigation after the body of a Greenfield man was recovered from a retention pond Monday evening.  Officers were dispatched to the area of Cone Court and Longfellow Lane in Greenfield regarding a person in the water.  Officers located the body of Charles Schrieber, 87, in four feet of water, near the shoreline.


Family had noticed Schreiber was missing from his home and began searching the immediate area. After a couple of hours, they located his body in the pond, around which he frequently walked.


Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.


Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted on scene by the Hancock County Coroner’s Office, Greenfield Police Department, Greenfield Fire Territory, and Hancock County Emergency Operations Center Dispatch.


Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.

Walmart warehouse planned for Mt. Comfort corridor

A massive Walmart warehouse is planned for Hancock County.


The 2.2 million-square-foot warehouse would have space for 146 truck docks, reports the Indianapolis Business Journal.


The warehouse would be built north of the Indianapolis Regional Airport near Mount Comfort.


Walmart already has distribution centers in Gas City, Greencastle, and Plainfield.





Fortville BLM protest

For Ashleyy Mariee, enough was finally enough.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mariee knew it was time to get involved and do something.

But what?  After thinking it over, Mariee decided to hold a peaceful protest in Fortville, where she lives.


“I have a few reasons why I decided to take that leap and organize a peaceful demonstration because I’m simply tired. I’m tired of seeing the injustice on television every day in front of my eyes, actually going through the injustice myself,” she told Giant FM.


Mariee told Giant FM that part of her struggle involves her time in Fortville, where she heard racial slurs and admitted to feeling targeted by police.


“I couldn’t have a friend of color come into this town without feeling unsafe. I, myself, felt uncomfortable and unwanted. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way,” Mariee said.

After deciding on what to do, she began trying to convince friends to get involved.


“I was talking to a Caucasian friend of mine the day before the demonstration, who didn’t totally agree with what I stood for or what I was reposting on social media. After explaining and doing his own research, he had a complete change of mind. He was so moved and hurt by everything that’s going on that he put in the effort to help make the flyer for the protest. That right there gave me the inspiration and motivation to set up a peaceful protest here in Fortville. Chastity Despain played a major part, as well, on helping me get everything together. She was my voice to the community, and she really helped make it happen,” Mariee said.


While many protests have featured demonstrations against police or have seen demonstrators and police clash, such was not the case for Mariee’s, which had the support of Fortville police chief Bill Knauer.


“Chief was very quick to respond to my request of supporting this peaceful demonstration. It was amazing to be able to see eye to eye with someone I felt unsafe around. He’s actually an amazing guy, very genuine about his community and police department. He wants change as well, and I can see it,” she told Giant FM.


Knauer also was vocal about the demonstration.


In a Facebook post, Knauer wrote that there is not one member of the Fortville Police Department that condones what happened in Minneapolis to Floyd. He also wrote that he believed the incident and ensuing fallout was race related.


“For so many years, the black community has been treated unfair… Please rest assure, that as long as I’m your Chief, everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, anybody will be treated with respect and professionalism by this department,” Knauer wrote.


With the protest behind her, Mariee tells Giant FM she has only begun.


“My next step is to continue the unity in this community and spread light and knowledge on the surrounding towns/cities. This march was big for Fortville and its community. I appreciate this town so much more and am just focused on making it better and doing whatever I can to make it better,” she said.

McCordsville investigating treatment plant failure

McCordsville officials received notice recently that its wastewater treatment plant sustained a failure. 


An unknown substance has killed off most of the microbiology organisms that are needed for the treatment process. 


The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was notified on May 26 when the first incident occurred and has been aiding McCordsville with the emergency. 


Treating 450,000 gallons per day if wastewater, the facility uses various treatment methods including screening, settling tanks and biological treatment.  The biological treatment breaks down the waste and consumes the organic nutrients and makes the other treatment methods more effective. The discharge to the facility that killed the microorganisms is unknown, and samples have been sent off to determine a cause. 


McCordsville was also notified by the City of Lawrence that discharge had entered a ditch within Lawrence, causing water in the ditch to appear black.

Reward offered for missing Hancock Co. road signs

The Hancock County Highway Department is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of sign thieves.


Over 20 signs are reported to be missing. 


If you have any information on the thefts, call the Highway Department at 317-477-1130.

Holland vs Spalding for Hancock Co. Commissioner in District 3

Voters in Hancock County will have a choice in the Republican Primary for County Commissioner District 3 this season between two candidates well versed in law enforcement. 


Matt Holland, of the Greenfield Police Department, is going against Bill Spalding, a veteran with the Indiana State Police, to see who will represent District 3, which consists of Blue River, Brandywine and Sugar Creek townships. Brad Armstrong, the incumbent, opted not to run for re-election.
If campaigning in a normal world is tough, both candidates admit the COVID-19 global pandemic has only made things tougher.

Holland told Giant FM, in past campaigns, he was able to rely on going to meetings to talk with voters, go door to door and debate his opponents.

“All of these methods are pretty non-existent during this campaign. Therefore, I have leaned heavily on social media outreach, door hangers and yard signs. However, what the pandemic has effected even more so is the priorities that we will be facing, if elected. The top priority for me is now to help get citizens back to work and to do this in a way that is safe and healthy,” Holland said.
Spalding echoed those sentiments.

“Where once “meet and greets,” in-person fundraisers and talking with the public face to face were the norm, we have been forced to take different approaches like using social media platforms to get the word out,” Spalding told Giant FM.

With a tougher primary to wade through due to the pandemic, both candidates have a clear message to voters, which is to get out and vote.

“My message to voters is to find a way to vote. Don’t take for granted the powerful right to vote and select the person that represents you in government. If you don’t want to be exposed to health concerns, then please request an absentee ballot. I just encourage the voters to research their candidate’s platform and choose who they believe is best suited to represent them and to be their voice,” Holland told Giant FM.

Spalding said his message is to vote in accordance with the state’s plans.

“If you would still like to vote in person, you can, during early voting until June 1 or by voting on June 2, Primary Day,” Spalding said.

Both candidates are quite familiar, however, with the process of running for office and admit they have learned from prior attempts to seek office.

Spalding told Giant FM this campaign has allowed him an opportunity to assess his last campaign.
“As a first responder, I get an up-close view of our mental health problems. I’m concerned about the lack of mental health resources available to people in need. As part of my approach for providing for public safety throughout the county, addressing mental health must be a part of the solution,” Spalding said.

Holland, who ran in 2016, said his prior run helps by allowing him to know what to expect and build relationships with people he met four years ago.

“I have always been heavily involved in helping the community through sitting on multiple boards and collaborating with many community organizations for the past several years. This is something that I just enjoy doing and comes natural and genuinely for me. It helps because people know that I have been involved for many years because that is just who I am. I didn’t just become involved during campaign seasons,” said Holland, who has served on the Sugar Creek Township Board for over five years.

Mental illness and the possible creation of a Veteran Court have been issues discussed in recent months and years.

Both candidates acknowledge they will advocate for those impacted by mental illness.
“I will ensure that the programs that are being proposed at the county level stay on course and are implemented,” Holland said.

Spalding told Giant FM he met with Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton to get his “expert opinion” on a veteran’s court.

“It is believed that, without creating more government, we can still help veterans through our existing special court working in conjunction with the Veteran’s Administration. Like veterans with mental health problems, many other people suffer with mental issues. Traditional incarceration is likely not the best solution, therefore, we must make available non-traditional programs and long-term therapy options. Access to this type of early intervention will cost the county less in the long run,” Spalding told Giant FM.

In addition to mental health, the two say there are also plenty of issues facing Hancock County.
Holland said it is important to help being a catalyst and not a barrier to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and help citizens and businesses get back to work.

“Completing ongoing road improvement projects, healthy and positive economic development, ensuring the new jail construction project stays on time and within budget, improving mental health accessibility and revisiting requirements for tax abatements are the priorities that I am most concerned about. All of these are priorities that need equal attention to keep Hancock County moving in a positive direction,” Holland said.

For Spalding, the addition of another court to help ease caseloads is one of the biggest issues he sees.

“Currently, there are three judges that serve. As the county continues to grow, there will, likely, be a future need to request from the General Assembly permission to create an additional court,” he said.
And, both men believe they are the right one for the job, pointing to experience as the reason why voters should vote for them.

“I am the only candidate for Hancock County Commissioner in District 3 that has experience serving in a local, governing position. Sugar Creek Township has top of the line fire service employees, equipment and facilities all while maintaining fiscal responsibility, having become completely debt free in 2020,” Holland said.

Holland told Giant FM Sugar Creek Township recently completed a new fire station by paying cash and not taking on additional debt.

“This station was completed on time and under budget. I plan to bring this type of fiscal conservatism to the Board of Commissioners. I am genuinely involved in the community and have been for at least the past 12 years and will continue to e. I haven’t just shown up during campaign times in order to try and win an election,” Holland said.

Spalding told Giant FM he has a vision for a “vibrant and growing Hancock County.”

“I have strong relationship-building skills. I have experience managing property and people. I have been the chairman of church property at Zion Lutheran Church and School for the last four years, a $1.5 million property. I understand aspects of maintaining and building facilities, dealing with budgets, contracts and insurance, and cooperating with others. I’ve also been a squad leader for 18 years with the Indiana State Police and have the ability to manage people, resources and ideas well. I believe through wisdom, understanding and discernment, I can provide sound, thoughtful government to the people of Hancock County,” Spalding told Giant FM.