December year end


In the past two years, home sales in the county have increased by 16 percent, and around 1,100 homes have been built, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Buyers can find good prices, with the median sale price on the rise but still lower than a few years ago. But tighter lending requirements made it difficult for some first-time homebuyers.


Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, local school officials reviewed the equipment and procedures they had in place to keep students safe and wanted to do more. Franklin schools added secured vestibules that all visitors must now use, and Center Grove hired another officer for its police department. And in January, Greenwood teachers will learn from police about the kinds of firearms that have been used in school shootings around the country and how they work. The presentation was arranged after teachers told their superintendent they had never before heard a gunshot.

An Indianapolis man received a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after police said they found pictures of him performing sexual acts on a child. Justin Mahan was sentenced after pleading guilty to one charge of child molesting.


Interchurch Food Pantry in Franklin and The Refuge in Greenwood know that November and December are their busiest months of the year because of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they prepare by reminding dozens of local churches, businesses and schools known for making food and financial contributions that they can’t feed all of the families in need without their support.


Construction crews worked later than usual to finish projects or at least get roads open for winter and then complete work in 2015.  For commuters, parents taking kids to and from school and shoppers heading out to buy holiday gifts, that means work could continue as long as the weather is warm enough. But if temperatures don’t get high enough or a big snowfall comes, those projects could stretch into the next year.


Johnson County had the lowest voter turnout rate in the state in the fall election. Johnson County’s turnout of 23.9 percent was the worst among the state’s 92 counties.

Greenwood wants to make improvements in coming years in the area around Main Street and Madison Avenue, according to a draft of the downtown revitalization plan. If Greenwood can accomplish the goals of the 12-point plan, the hope is more people will visit and spend time in the Old Town area.


Companies have been buying homes throughout Johnson County and turning them into rental properties, with no sign of slowing down. American Homes 4 Rent, a California-based company, offers homes for rent across the nation. The company has bought more than 300 homes in Johnson County in the past two years and lists central Indiana as one of its top markets.


Investigators were piecing together the events that led to an accident that killed a Morgantown man and sent an 11-year-old boy and an 18-year-old to an Indianapolis hospital. C.M. Stigall, 48, died at the scene of the accident, which happened near State Road 135 and County Road 450W, near Trafalgar.


An Indianapolis man was arrested on charges of battery, criminal recklessness and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon after he shot a man in the face. Lewis Grimes is a convicted felon, who had been sentenced to house arrest in Marion County, when he went to a home near County Line Road and U.S. 31 to purchase 7 grams of marijuana, a Greenwood Police Department report said.

Pamela Millikan, Franklin Community Middle School’s principal, was making plans to retire. She spent nearly four decades as an educator.


The state decided it would not appeal a judge’s ruling that determined a man who raped and murdered a Franklin College student is too mentally ill to be executed. St. Joseph County Judge Jane Woodward Miller determined that Michael Dean Overstreet suffers from severe paranoid schizophrenia and is not able to rationally understand what will happen when he is executed. Overstreet was convicted of abducting, raping and murdering 18-year-old Kelly Eckart in 1997 and was sentenced to death in 2000.


More people rent and pay more per month since the recession, while homeowners are more likely to be saving money on mortgage and home costs. The recession and the burst in the local housing bubble has changed where Johnson County residents live and how much they pay, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics.


The baby Jesus statue that was stolen from a manger scene in Franklin was returned to its owners at the Indiana Masonic Home. A maintenance worker changing a light bulb near the entrance found the statue.

Local clinics were seeing twice as many patients with the flu as normal, and the spike is coming at least a month before the flu season typically begins. The flu shot that was being offered wasn’t as effective as past years, doctors said.


Residents at Center Grove Estates on County Line Road are frequently required to boil their water to kill any possible germs as decades-old water pipes break, get fixed and then break in a different spot. Residents have called the county health department when sewage comes up from underground or leaks from a bad connection to a home.


The Franklin Development Corp., which was created in 2008 and funded by the city with $5 million in tax-increment financing district funds, stopped giving out loans and grants in 2014. During that time, the board continued hearing from residents and business owners who needed help fixing up their properties and has set aside another $350,000 for loans and grants to make structural improvements to properties, including painting, replacing siding, windows or doors, and fixing brick exteriors.

A family living along the section of State Road 135 between State Road 44 and Trafalgar, where more than a dozen people have been killed since 2004, have been advocating for ways to make the stretch of road safer. Their ideas include rumble strips on the center line of the highway and wider shoulders.


Gas station after gas station on U.S. 31 in Franklin advertised prices that haven’t been seen in more than five years, with the per-gallon price falling as low as $1.91. People formed lines to get the suddenly cheap fuel, reminiscing about the most recent time prices dipped so low while filling up.


Developers wanted to build a 125,000-square-foot warehouse for Goodwill Enterprises about a half-mile south of County Line Road. The 21-acre parcel is zoned for commercial uses, such as stores or office buildings. The developer was asking for a change to build the facility, with a warehouse and 20,000-square-foot outlet shop, which would create 60 jobs. City council members denied the zoning change, and essentially the development, saying industrial buildings don’t belong near County Line Road.


Athletic upgrades at Whiteland Community High School will cost no more than $3.5 million, but exactly what the project will include is being worked out. The Clark-Pleasant school board set a cap this week for the proposed construction project and started moving forward with plans to borrow $2 million to help pay for the project.

Construction would shut down parts of Johnson Memorial Hospital for the next year, but the hospital was working to make sure people can still quickly get to the emergency room, sterile equipment isn’t tainted and patients aren’t affected.


The Franklin Development Corp. was created in 2008 and funded by the city with more than $5 million in tax-increment financing district funds. Now, the agency has about $900,000 left and plans to use that money for projects to repair rundown storefronts and homes and redevelop or tear down abandoned homes around downtown Franklin. The organization’s next focus was on the programs the leaders know work: loans to home and business owners for repairs and upgrades to their buildings, and grants for downtown businesses to fix up storefronts.


More than 100 parents and grandparents lined a hallway at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin near Christmas, waiting for the Angel Tree Store to open. While there, they received clothing, presents, books and games so they could give their children a Christmas when they didn’t think they could afford it.


Close to 60 percent of the students at Sawmill Woods Elementary live in or nearly in poverty. Counselor Melissa Morris knows that their parents may need help affording presents at Christmas on top of food and clothes. So in early fall she started making lists of students who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunch program and contacting their families to see whether they might need help with presents. That is just a part of what schools do to help families around Christmas.


A Florida man took responsibility for not checking what kind of investors were buying into his startup business during a hearing when he was sentenced to four years in prison for securities fraud. More than $1.7 million that flowed into Parry Clark’s business, Prosidian LLC, came from Johnson County and other area residents who were promised big returns on their investment. A Trafalgar man collected the money from friends and people at his church to help launch Clark’s business in Florida, but the company failed to get licensed and shut down after all the money was spent on salaries, rent and operating costs.


On the final weekend before Christmas, traffic in and out of Greenwood Park Mall was jammed, with long, circular searches for a parking spot and lines at checkout registers growing by the minute. Area malls and shopping centers were open extended hours for last-minute shoppers getting those last few gifts.


For years, nearly 1,000 local homes were facing foreclosure annually and that had barely changed, but in 2014, that number was cut nearly in half to 570 homes. Between 2005 and 2008, more than 700 families were losing their homes each year to foreclosure, and those numbers crossed the 1,000 mark and peaked after 2008 when the housing crisis was at its worst.

Police were able to purchase body cameras and new in-car laptops with money seized during drug arrests. About $80,000, a vehicle and multiple items seized in a marijuana bust in Franklin were forfeited to local police and the prosecutor. That’s on top of the drugs, drug paraphernalia and other small items seized from convicted criminals that are thrown out and destroyed.


Revised school funding and allowing Interstate 69 to follow State Road 37 through Johnson County were among legislative priorities for local lawmakers.

Premature babies will get state-of-the-art care and their parents can stay with them at the renovated neonatal intensive care unit at Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis. The unit is the only Level III NICU on the southside.