Local leaders made statements about the openness of their communities after Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness and Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said their communities were open to any and all residents amid debates that called on Pence to clarify the law.
Local police departments began offering their parking lots as meeting places for people who were buying and selling goods online. Officers at local departments have seen violence when trades don’t go as planned.
According to a set of health rankings, the county had a ratio of primary care doctors to patients that put it near the top in the state and nation. It had a lower-than-average number of people without insurance and has had a drastic drop in the number of preventable hospital visits.
The building at 191 Commerce Drive, which had been home to three businesses, had been fenced off since the building burned. What was left behind, including a scorched awning, burned support beams and a collapsed roof sloping, was to be razed.
An anonymous tip led police to more than 1,700 counterfeit DVDs that a Greenwood flea market vendor was selling. The vendor had a booth at Emporium 31, a flea market located off Declaration Drive in Greenwood, and a second location in Beech Grove. At both spots, the vendor was selling counterfeit DVDs, which had been copied from the original releases, Greenwood deputy police chief James Prior said.
A boy who ran from a Center Grove area school for autistic children was pulled from a retention pond. The boy, believed to be between ages 4 and 6, darted out of the Applied Behavior Center for Autism, near Fairview Road and State Road 135. Staff members went after him, found him in the nearby retention pond and pulled him out of the water.
A state senator representing Johnson County voted against a bill seeking to clarify the state’s controversial religious freedoms act because he felt opponents were not negotiating in good faith on the issue. Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, was one of 16 senators to vote against the effort to clarify the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by the governor.
The NCAA tournament being in Indianapolis was expected to bring money to the county. Hotels were full, jets made reservations to land at the Greenwood Municipal Airport, and businesses were gearing up for a surge in customers.
A $3.5 million gift allowed a community college to expand its campus in Franklin. Ivy Tech Community College received an estate gift from the Bill and Sandy DeMichieli Trust, which gives the college ownership of the Franklin campus it had been leasing since 2008. That also allows the college to expand into another 9,000 square feet of space they hadn’t been using before.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources received calls daily about coyotes in urban areas and set up informational seminars. Greenwood was one of the four stops across the state, due to the number of calls about urban coyotes that come from the area, state officials said.
Multiple construction projects were planned that were expected to snarl traffic for commuters. More than $27 million in projects were planned over four years. Those projects included adding turn lanes to busy intersections, repaving some roads and building new roads. Interstate 65 on the southside and in the county was going under construction, too.
Trent Petro purchased a strip mall off the Interstate 65 exit at Franklin. He envisioned using the $385,000 space for professional offices or a restaurant. Workers began renovating the space.
Most taxpayers in the county saw their property tax bills go up. Across the county, 62 percent of tax bills were increasing, compared with 2014, while 28 percent are decreasing, and 10 percent were staying the same, according to a Daily Journal analysis.
Volunteers for the urban forest near downtown Franklin had to wait for four homes to be razed before continuing with their project. Sixty six homes that sustained flood damage in 2008 had to be razed. Those properties are used for the urban forest.
Greenwood annexed the intersection of Stones Crossing Road and State Road 135 into the city in 2011, and a developer began conversations about what should be built on 50 undeveloped acres near the southeast corner. One proposal was to build a self-storage facility, but that was turned down.
The state Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee agreed with the sentiment of State Rep. John Price: Let state engineers, not legislators, decide where roads get built. Price was seeking to repeal a law that bars the state from building a road through Perry Township without legislative approval.
Low-income families and senior citizens had trouble finding housing in the county that they could afford. The county only has a few senior housing complexes, and the waiting lists are lengthy. Johnson County Senior Services fielded 20 calls a week from seniors looking for housing they could afford.
Greenwood launched a bicycle rental program, BIKEiT, allowing people to grab one of eight bikes, ride anywhere they want and bring it back when they’re done. The cost can be as little as $1.
Police were investigating four criminal mischief reports in the northeastern part of the county. All of the incidents were reported in Clark Township, from homes within about 2 to 3 miles of each other.
Special Services, Johnson County and Surrounding Schools was considering layoffs and cutting transportation services. Less money was coming in from private schools which made considering the cuts necessary.
The county was looking at ways to make it easier to track the people soliciting in neighborhoods in the unincorporated area, including the Center Grove area. Residents also asked for stronger regulations so that solicitors aren’t allowed to go door to door, Commissioner Ron West said.
Freedom Springs aquatic center in Greenwood has earmarked about $141,000 for staffing, including lifeguards and front desk and concession stand workers, but that’s wasn’t going be enough to staff the pool at safe levels for the entire season, aquatic center manager Isaac Hart told city park board members. In order to stay within the budget, the city was considering whether it would have to open one hour later on weekdays and eliminate three-hour evening swims on Thursdays.
The Federal Surface Transportation Board approved a plan to upgrade the Louisville & Indiana Railroad line, which runs through Johnson County east of U.S. 31, through Greenwood, Whiteland, Franklin and Edinburgh. Local mayors were concerned about faster trains moving through the county.
Nineteen people were arrested and 10 teens who police said had been drinking were sent home with their parents after a party at a Center Grove area home. Someone reported that an underage party was going on at a home in the Forest Hills neighborhood, located near Stones Crossing and Morgantown roads.
Four educators from Center Grove and Franklin Community high schools showed hundreds of their peers how they use technology in their classrooms, including using apps to make their jobs easier. The teachers spent months preparing for their sessions after applying to be presenters at the Indiana Summit featuring Google for Education.
Nineteen people were hurt in a Megabus crash near Edinburgh. None of the injuries were life-threatening. It was the fourth Megabus crash in Indiana in six months.
A fifth person was charged in planning the southside explosion that killed a Greenwood teacher and her husband in 2012. Glenn Hults, 48, of Indianapolis, was charged with conspiracy to commit arson. Police said the group planned to blow up Shirley’s Richmond Hill home and collect the insurance money.
A former Franklin gas station employee will spend a year on probation after he helped prosecutors build a case against the owners for selling synthetic marijuana. Rupinder Singh pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of possession of a synthetic drug and was sentenced to nearly a year on probation.
A Center Grove area day care was allowed to keep its license after the state started the process to revoke it due to two disciplinary issues. Woodside Children’s Center completed more staff training.
More than a dozen residents in Johnson County reported instances where they filed their taxes and learned that someone had filed their taxes already fraudulently. Fraud and scam reports are common, but this kind of fraud and this amount had never happened before, Sheriff Doug Cox said.
It was announced that a new stoplight would be installed at Graham Road and Main Street by fall 2016, changing the intersection from a busy, and sometimes confusing, four-way stop.
Greenwood’s new aquatic center, Freedom Springs, may be difficult for walking or bike-riding kids, teens and seniors to access due to its location, city council member Linda Gibson said.
Greenwood workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on Freedom Springs before the Memorial Day weekend opening. The $7.2 million project was far behind schedule at the beginning of the year because of rain and cold weather.
A 200-foot communications tower was moved after public outcry. At least six people told Crown Castle South that they didn’t want another tower near their homes in Clark Township.
Local officials weighed adding lights and crossing arms to some railroad crossings in the county. Twenty or more additional trains were estimated to begin moving through the county at twice the speed they did earlier in the year. Adding safety measures would cost $150,000 and railroad companies are not required to pay for it.
Red Alert Robotics team prepared to compete at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis. The Center Grove High School club was one of more than 600 teams that built a robot to complete a specified task.
The county was working to finalize and approve plans for a new community corrections building and figuring out how to pay for it. The new facility is estimated to cost $4 million to $5 million, and officials expect to borrow money to pay for it, which could mean a tax increase. Construction might not start for two years or longer.
Although one restaurant off North Main Street in Franklin decided to close during the ongoing road construction, a neighboring sub shop says the slowdown in business hasn’t been nearly as bad as anticipated. Workers closed the street at the beginning of April to finish the last phase of the reconstruction project between U.S. 31 and the post office.
Bridge beams were coming down at Worthsville Road, new lanes were being built along I-65 between Southport Road and Greenwood, construction of sound walls on the southside is narrowing lanes, and a downtown ramp primarily used by southside commuters was set to be closed this summer. For the second year, drivers were being asked to buckle up, slow down and continue to weather construction.
A Whiteland day care is being watched more closely by the state after a child got out of a classroom unnoticed for several minutes. The state issued a probationary license to Childtime Learning Center, at 565 Tracy Road.
The driver of a bus that crashed on Interstate 65 was given a ticket for driving too fast for the conditions. Indiana State Police were continuing to investigate the April 13 crash of a Megabus double-decker bus on I-65 near Edinburgh.
Jennifer McColpin, fourth-grader at Creekside Elementary School, won the Johnson County Spelling Bee by spelling obsidian and ostrich. Emmaly Taylor, a fifth-grader at Custer Baker Intermediate School, was the runner-up.
Local schools, including Indian Creek, Franklin, Greenwood, Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant, all reported problems with practice tests students were taking before the ISTEP exam. Students were kicked out of the exam program, meaning they had to reboot the computer and log in again to finish, or they waited several seconds for their answers to show up before they could move on to the next question.
The Indiana Department of Transportation planned to spend two days grinding down troublesome spots near the intersection of Smokey Row Road and State Road 135 and then filling them with new, smooth pavement. But only the first half of the work was completed, leaving a dip of several inches in both roads. The state didn’t know when the work will be finished. The holdup was due to the quality of the pavement that was used.
Two new roundabouts were planned to be built in Johnson County in 2015, but a dozen more are planned during the next five years.
State officials told Franklin technology director Matt Sprout that Franklin schools may have to take the ISTEP as a traditional paper-and-pencil test, instead of on the computer. The state said Franklin’s technology may not be able to handle the online testing program. That came as a shock to Sprout, since more than 500 educators were on the school district’s Wi-Fi during a Google conference weeks earlier.
A proposal to let Greenwood collect its own food and beverage tax was briefly revived and was one step away from being approved before lawmakers killed the idea again. The issue of local food and beverage taxes was slated to be discussed by lawmakers in a summer study committee, leading to recommendations for how to approach the topic later.
Nearly 40 percent of all property owners reached their tax caps, meaning they are maxed out in how much they pay in property taxes. For property owners, that means their tax bill cannot increase beyond the cap. So even if local governments spend more, they won’t pay more. For local governments, it means they don’t collect as much in property taxes to pay for services, salaries and equipment.
The Greenwood school board took the first step in the process of building a new school: Scheduling a public hearing that outlines the costs of the project.
A study of parking in downtown Franklin showed the area has enough spaces for shoppers, residents and workers — even at the busiest times of the day. But as more shops, offices and restaurants come downtown, more of the spaces will fill up. And as Jefferson Street is rebuilt, workers and visitors will need a temporary place to park. The city was considering spending $500,000 to develop a new parking lot downtown.
Thousands of local students began taking ISTEP online and at most schools, lagging, frozen or blank screens were not a problem. But school officials worried about the rest of the testing, as more students statewide take the test, and whether that could lead to widespread problems, including servers becoming bogged down and slower response times.
A developer was aiming to build the first new subdivision in Greenwood since the housing market crashed during the national recession. Discussions about Rocklane Ridge, northeast of Main Street and County Road 225E, started prior to the recession, but the development wasn’t launched. The developer was back and planning 96 single-family homes and 52 two-family, senior living houses.
Franklin was willing to collect nothing in taxes for three years on a downtown building with the expectation that a major renovation will generate significantly more taxes going forward. The tax break for the building is part of a $500,000 package for B2S Labs, which plans to spend about $1 million to renovate a downtown building into a new laboratory and office.
Franklin doesn’t have enough hotel options for visitors, executives and others coming to the city.
A new state funding formula would give more money to every local school district except the one with the greatest percentage of low-income students. Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Greenwood and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools would get 1 to 5 percent more in the state budget that legislators were considering. Edinburgh schools would lose funding under the new formula, with estimates showing a drop of nearly 5 percent.