January Year End


At the start of the school year, Franklin schools started posting report cards online for students in all grades. The move to online grade reports saved school districts a small amount of money.


Greenwood police officer Joseph A. Rodriguez was arrested on two charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, a charge of strangulation, a charge of battery, a charge of resisting law enforcement and a charge of public intoxication.


A teen told police he was responsible for burning a cross in the yard of a Fairview Heights subdivision home but that he didn’t know a black resident lived at the home, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said. The homeowner woke early Thursday to find the 3-foot-tall cross burning in his yard and called police who tracked footprints in the snow to a house nearby, where two teens were.


In the biggest snowstorm so far last winter, Johnson County was predicted to get hit with up to 10 inches of snow with high winds and temperatures dropping. Local agencies began forming emergency plans days in advance.


Johnson County residents emptied the store shelves of more than just basic food supplies in the hours before a huge winter storm hit. Store managers said they’d never seen anything like the rush.


With up to 9 inches of snow and subzero temperatures expected, motorists were told to stay off the roads. Local officials declared a snow emergency with a travel warning.


Fire quickly spread and destroyed a Franklin business building at 191 Commerce Drive. The fire was expected to burn and smolder for days. The cold weather made putting the blaze out difficult for firefighters, who battled the fire for more than four hours.


A Johnson County man convicted of attempted murder was sent back to prison for eight years after he failed to return to a county detention center and was on the run for a month. Michael Yarnell was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison, with three years for a charge of escape or failure to return to detention, and another five years after having his probation revoked from his previous attempted murder conviction.


Eight local students who took end-of-course exams at area high schools had to retake the tests after the state invalidated their test results. Three students from Whiteland Community High School and three students from Edinburgh Community High School had their Algebra I end-of-course assessment results invalidated. At Indian Creek High School, one student’s Biology I exam and another student’s English 10 exam were disqualified. Proctor error prompted some of the retakes, but reasons for others were unclear.


Marsh Supermarkets announced plans to close eight stores — seven in central Indiana and one in Ohio. The Franklin store, named Main Street Market, was one of the stores to close.


Greenwood officials said residents will need to start paying higher sewer bills in the spring to help fund more than $50 million in sanitation projects the city planned for the next 10 years.


A judge approved giving nearly $2 million to Greenwood from the sale of a failed pharmaceutical company’s building and other assets, but the city may not get all of that money. About $500,000 was slated to go back to the redevelopment commission and any other money the city gets must be used to pay off loans for the Elona Biotechnologies land and building and possibly pay former Elona employees. Greenwood had loaned or given the company about $8.5 million to build a new facility and get federal approval to manufacture and sell a generic version of insulin.


A smaller percentage of Johnson County residents owned homes following the recession, though economists and a local real estate agent said the county’s housing market was already improving. Between 2010 and 2012, about 73 percent of area residents owned homes, which was down from the rate of about

74 percent between 2007 and 2009.


Because of winter weather, county students lost between 20 and 36 hours in the classroom originally meant to help them master math, language arts and other essential lessons; and school officials planned to make up only part of that time. Most of Johnson County’s public schools were closed Jan. 6 through Jan. 8 because of dangerous road conditions and frigid temperatures. Schools that were open during the latter part of the week started two hours late.


All six of Johnson County’s public school districts received at least a B rating from the state. Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Greenwood and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson all received an A, while Edinburgh and Franklin each received a B. The Indiana Department of Education released school districts’ A-F grades, which were calculated based on the grades given to individual schools.


A major Greenwood road that leads to homes, businesses and schools was expected to close for nine months while workers replaced a bridge and added lanes. Worthsville Road between Sheek Road and U.S. 31 was closed.


A Franklin gas station that was shut down twice after a drug raid opened again while the owners faced criminal charges and a civil lawsuit trying to permanently seize the property proceeds. Owners of the Phillips 66 gas station, 400 E. Jefferson St., reached an agreement with prosecutors to keep the store open.

A proposal to end a tax on business equipment would result in a cut of about $1.5 million each at two local school districts, officials said. The money pays for building maintenance, bus replacement and transportation at Franklin and Clark-Pleasant schools.


For at least two years, less than two-thirds of students at Northeast Elementary School had consistently passed ISTEP exams in both math and English, but that rate hasn’t risen. Under the Indiana Department of Education’s grading system, a school with ISTEP scores that aren’t improving receives a lower grade. The 400-student elementary school saw its grade drop from a C to a D. School officials disagreed with the lower grade, since more than 60 percent of the 200 students who took ISTEP last spring were kicked offline during the multiple choice portion of the exam.


An Indianapolis woman pleaded guilty to two charges after police said she struck and killed her fiancé in a southside bar parking lot. Donna Miner pleaded guilty to charges of criminal recklessness and operating while intoxicated and was sentenced to two years of house arrest and two years probation.


Three Greenwood residents were arrested and faced human trafficking charges after investigators said they held two women against their will at their home in Homecoming at University Park. A woman told police she was repeatedly beaten and forced to have sex with the men.


Taxpayers could vote on whether to pay more to fund school security officers and safety upgrades for the buildings, but local school officials weren’t sure they should be asked. A proposal at the Statehouse would allow schools to raise property taxes to pay for security officers and safety upgrades in schools, but local school officials didn’t think they would ask taxpayers for more money in a referendum.


The FBI investigated whether two teens involved in a cross burning incident in a Center Grove area neighborhood should be charged with a federal hate crime. The teens, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old, were found by sheriff’s deputies after a black resident in Fairview Heights woke up early Jan. 2 and found a small cross burning in his front yard.


Franklin planned to spend $1.2 million on the first phase of a three-year project to rebuild State Road 44. The entire project, which will reconstruct the roadway, rebuild or add sidewalks and install decorative lighting and landscaping from just west of U.S. 31 to Eastview Drive, was estimated to cost $15.4 million. The work is expected to begin by summer 2015 and last through 2017.


Complaints have come from Bargersville Water Utility customers, including residents and businesses in the town and the Center Grove area, about the fee for built-in sprinklers and the utility’s overall rate, which increased 77 percent in 2010 to pay for construction of a new water treatment plant, town manager Kevin McGinnis said.


A water company serving northern and central Johnson County asked to increase its rates for the second time in less than three years, and if approved residents would be paying an extra $2 per month. Indiana American Water requested a rate increase that would raise monthly bills by about 7 percent to help pay for upgrades and replacements to water lines, equipment and treatment plants that will lower maintenance costs and make equipment less likely to break down.


State investigators couldn’t yet determine the cause of a fire that killed a Nineveh mother and two children more than two months ago, but when they do they will consider interviews with the 5-year-old survivor and findings from insurance company investigations. On Nov. 22, fire burned the duplex where the Slusher-Abbott family lived and killed Hailey Slusher-Abbott, 22 months, and John Slusher-Abbott Jr., 5 months. Sirena Slusher-Abbott, 27, died three days later after suffering severe burns and smoke inhalation.


Police had been getting reports of coyote sightings and attacks on pets for years. The Greenwood Police Department created a new website tracking coyote sightings and attacks and posted fliers at veterinary offices and pet grooming businesses in the city, Greenwood Police Chief John Laut said.


About twice as much salt had been dropped along local roads and highways to clear about 3 feet of snow and ice that had fallen during winter. Salt supplies were running low as central Indiana had been hit with more than twice as much snow as is typical. Local street departments order enough salt to last a typical winter each year and get a discounted price.