June year end

June 1

In the Bargersville and southern Center Grove area, water rates went down. But in Greenwood, Franklin, New Whiteland and a few other areas water rates went up. Residents were more likely to see water rate changes in the summer since they typically use more water in the summer.

Courtney P. “Corey” Carr took over as the leader of the Indiana National Guard. Carr became adjutant general during a change of command ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis.

County resident Rhea Roller Watson became a nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health a few years after she was treated at the hospital as a teen and young adult. Her time at the hospital made her realize that she wanted to be a nurse.

June 2

A new hotel, a grocery store, new homes and an athletics complex would all be a good fit for the area around Franklin’s Interstate 65 exit, according to a study. The city had been looking at revitalizing that area, since it is a gateway to the city.

School districts planned to hire 50 educators to fill empty positions in their schools. But they were getting hundreds of applications for the spots. School officials said those numbers were normal and applicants have to meet strict criteria.

June 3

An old Marsh building had a buyer after being vacant for years.  Black Diamond 880 owned the vacant building off U.S. 31 and agreed to sell the property to Kite Harris Property Group, said Doug Thompson, one of the building’s owners.

The Greenwood City Council gave final approval to including vaping and electronic cigarettes into the citywide smoking ban. The ban prohibits smoking in public places including restaurants, building entrances and city property, such as parks, but not bars. The ban also was extended to include outdoor seating areas at restaurants

A woman died after being in a bicycle accident with her brother in Franklin. Cody Shelton, 28, was riding on the pegs of a bicycle driven by her brother, Jake Shelton, on a dark county road in May. The bicycle was struck by a truck. She died the next day.

June 4

Visitors to Greenwood’s new aquatic center, Freedom Springs, raised complaints a week after the center opened. Pool-goers wanted to see discounts and be able to leave the park and come back the same day. Pool employees made the changes and said that the park was new and they were learning what needed to be done.

The judge hearing the trial of a man charged in a deadly southside house explosion said he’d rule later on whether prosecutors can admit audio recordings of a man who initially survived the blast before dying. Prosecutors argued during a pretrial hearing that audio recordings of John “Dion” Longworth show the manner and cause of his death. However, defendant Mark Leonard’s defense attorney, Diane Black, said the recordings could be prejudicial against him.

Local police officials explained how they go about looking for missing children after Michael Stepien went missing for hours. Officials said they have protocols in place to respond to a missing child report and that often the children are found within 30 minutes.

June 5

By the end of 2018, state-of-the-art technology will be installed at 37 intersections in Greenwood to shorten response times and making the routes to the emergencies safer for emergency workers and motorists. With the new signals, when firefighters, emergency medics and police officers are headed to an emergency, the GPS system will notify stoplights on the route, changing the traffic signal and clearing the intersection.

Greenwood planned to close a section of Sheek Road, near Worthsville Road, where workers will be building part of the road and finishing a new roundabout at the intersection. And Worthsville Road, between U.S. 31 and Sheek Road, remained closed.

Jury selection for the Richmond Hill explosion was off to a rocky start after a judge in St. Joseph County dismissed all 14 potential jurors in the case after most said they couldn’t remain impartial knowing that the defendant attempted to hire a hit man to kill a witness in the case. The explosion killed a Greenwood teacher and her husband.

June 6

Family members and survivors remembered the Edinburgh dam tragedy a year after two teens drowned and one teen was severely injured after they were swept over a dam while swimming in a river. The victims were honored at Franklin Community High School’s graduation.

June 8

In the first two weeks that Greenwood’s new aquatic park was open, lit cigarette butts started four mulch fires in the parking lot. The problem was one city officials wanted to immediately address. The city was looking for a better way to enforce the smoking ban, including considering allowing aquatic center employees to write tickets for smokers.

A Center Grove area resident was startled awake by a man in his home, wearing only underwear, eating his chips. A resident called police after he got the man out of his home in Wakefield West. A man was arrested on charges of residential entry, disorderly conduct, possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor and intimidation.

Neighbors on a Franklin street posted their own signs saying “slow down” in an attempt to get motorists driving on East King Street to go the speed limit. Residents reported motorists going double the speed limit in some cases.

June 9

Area teachers planned to stay busy during their summer breaks with hobbies and jobs. Jeff Peterson was selected to fly in a special airplane, Nora Hoover planned on studying trees and John Morse wrote music that other marching bands across the country would use in their shows. 

Local police departments dealt with underage drinking parties as recent high school graduates decided to throw the celebratory parties.

Prosecutors told jurors that Mark Leonard should have known that his plan to blow up a home on the southside had the possibility to kill people and cause extensive damage. Prosecutors called Leonard the mastermind behind the 2012 plot at the start of his trial for murder, conspiracy and insurance fraud.


Neighbors reported that they thought a plane crashed, and firefighters tried to reach the Longworths while Dion was still alive. Jurors in the trial of Mark Leonard heard more than a dozen people testify about the scene of the Richmond Hill explosion. Leonard was accused of blowing up a home to collect the insurance money. Two people died and about 80 homes were damaged in the explosion. 

All 25,000 Johnson County REMC customers were expected to be able to use digital meters the utility was installing. Other utilities were considering the switch, including Duke Energy.

Franklin schools and Johnson Memorial Hospital struck a deal. The hospital vowed to give $200,000 to the district in salaries and benefits for school nurses.


Richmond Hill residents told jurors about the aftermath of the home explosion. One woman thought a vehicle had hit her house, and an Army veteran said he had a flashback to Afghanistan.

The third and final phase of a project to upgrade drainage and rebuild the road on North Main Street in Franklin was on track to finish by July 4. The work completed an $8 million project that began in 2012.

A vote that would have killed a plan to annex land into the town of Trafalgar failed. Several residents had been outspoken in opposing a proposal to annex 1,300 acres into Trafalgar, saying they don’t want to become a part of the town and they don’t want or can’t afford to pay the higher taxes. They attended multiple meetings and raised their concerns and questions.


The splash pad in Greenwood was plagued with water pressure issues that made some of the features shut down. The main feature — a large spout that sprays the most water of any feature on the pad — had been turned off, and the city was looking for a permanent fix to an ongoing problem with water pressure.

Clark-Pleasant Schools asked for $740,000 in tax dollars from the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission to install cables, wireless access points and switches throughout four school buildings. But the commission denied the full amount and instead will give the district nearly $440,000 once Clark-Pleasant comes up with the rest.


Center Grove High School’s softball team was gearing up for the state finals, where they would meet Lake Central High School. The coach and students described a hard working atmosphere at practice, where the athletes would all walk to practice together and would put down any distractions they had during practice.

The state was planning to close the ramp from Southport Road to southbound Interstate 65. Workers were working to realign the ramp to connect with a wider I-65.


Center Grove High School’s softball team won the state title against Lake Central. The championship was the sixth one for the softball team. They won 6-2 and capped off a 29-2 season.

When the Greenwood Community Center opened 24 years ago, it was one of the only fitness gyms in the area. Many new fitness centers have sprung up in the surrounding area in the county, and competition has become a reality. Attracting and retaining members is now a bigger challenge. About 30 health clubs were open in the county.


Two men testified about their unsuccessful efforts to rescue a man trapped in his Indianapolis basement after his house was rocked by an explosion at a neighbor’s home in what defense attorneys have said was an insurance fraud plan gone awry. Bryan Hollingsworth testified during the trial. Testimony detailed how Dion Longworth asked about his wife when he was trapped and asked if Hollingsworth would be able to help him.


For months, motorists braced for bumps and wondered when work near State Road 135 and Smokey Row Road would finally be done, with the state saying it would take a month. However, the project changed. Instead of filling the two patches of asphalt that were ground down, the state planned on sealing and repaving the intersection, as well as restriping the lanes.

All full-time Greenwood Parks Department employees were given the power to write warnings and $50 citations to anyone smoking on city property. The need for heavier enforcement of the city’s no-smoking rules came when visitors to Freedom Springs Greenwood Aquatics Park were smoking outside the park and dropping cigarette butts in mulch, causing the mulch to smolder.


Greenwood police were searching for a man who exposed himself to children while pointing a gun. An officer was called to the Trotters Pointe Apartment complex.  A resident told police that her 7-year-old son was playing outside unsupervised with two other children when a man pacing back and forth along the sidewalk pulled out a handgun and pointed it to the ground before pulling down his pants and exposing himself in front of the children.

More than $2.4 million in construction projects were started at Center Grove schools. The work included adding and renovating classroom space at Pleasant Grove Elementary School, building a new restroom and concession facility for the high school baseball fields and adding two playgrounds for the school district’s day care and preschool programs.


More than $300,000 in upgrades were being considered for the Franklin library, and an expansion was also discussed. Library board members planned to discuss what projects should be done, including possibly replacing the branch’s 28-year-old carpeting, upgrading and repairing the heating and air conditioning system and renovating restrooms.

A two-lane street in Greenwood became a highly trafficked route during the past 15 years, with people driving to their homes, businesses or a city park. Averitt Road became a main route to the new Freedom Springs Greenwood Aquatics Center. And a new Greenwood middle school also has been proposed nearby.


The trial of Mark Leonard, who was charged with murder, arson and multiple other felonies, was been broken into three phases: victim testimony, the fire investigation and the police investigation. Leonard was accused of conspiring with his then-girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, and his half-brother, Bob Leonard, to use natural gas to blow up the house to collect $300,000 in insurance.

Dozens of Johnson County residents cheered and clapped following a vote to end a plan to increase the size of Trafalgar. Citing concerns from property owners, the town council approved stopping the annexation, which would have added more than 1,300 acres, mostly along State Road 135, into the town for future development.

Five years ago, Center Grove was just short of being one of the top 10 school districts in the state in terms of the percentage of students who pass ISTEP. It dropped to No. 40, which was down 20 places from the year before. Center Grove students’ scores are dropping, and the district was not keeping up with academic gains of students in other school districts.


A downtown café run by Franklin College announced its closure, and in its place a degree program is expanding. The college opened 66 Water Street Arts Cafe in 2012 in a storefront space connected to Franklin City Hall. The goal of the business was to provide a social venue that would bring the college and Franklin community together. Three years later, the cafe didn’t make enough money or draw enough business to stay open, said Dan Schluge, vice president for business and finance at Franklin.

Law enforcement officers are almost always the first to arrive to emergencies, and in most cases, they’re working with limited resources to keep someone who has overdosed on narcotics coherent or alive. That’s why 214 law enforcement vehicles across nine Johnson County police departments were stocked with the Narcan kit. Five lives have been saved since April.


Construction of a new Greenwood Middle School was set to begin before winter. School officials, architects and engineers started weekly meetings to discuss what they wanted in the building so they can finalize the details, such as materials used for floors and walls and classrooms locations.

In its first month, Freedom Springs averaged 1,400 people every day — 100 short of the park’s maximum capacity. Those numbers put the water park above revenue and attendance projections for the summer.


After revisions were made to a 32-year-old county rule, residents were given the authority to have a person arrested for proceeding with a door-to-door sales pitch when a “no soliciting” sign is posted. The sign could be as simple as a small sticker on your door or a yard sign in front of your home.

A pharmacy that was planned for downtown Franklin will measure and package daily doses of medication, deliver prescriptions to homes and meet customers at the curb with their order in hand. Franklin pharmacist Andrew Murray and his wife, Jamie, planned to open Franklin Community Pharmacy at 30 S. Water St. in September.


Johnson County became more diverse, according to demographic estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The county is still overwhelmingly white — representing more than 93 percent of the population. But the county’s Hispanic, black and Asian populations have all seen growth, albeit incrementally, during the past four years.

More than $400,000 was being spent to add landscaping, decorative fencing and a masonry sign along the road near the city’s airport, welcoming motorists to Greenwood. The County Line Road project was the first of five phases of work planned for the Greenwood Municipal Airport during the next five years.


An Indiana judge denied a defense request for a mistrial in the case of a man accused of planning a deadly Indianapolis house explosion, saying he didn’t find any wrongdoing by prosecutors. St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha ruled after postponing testimony for a day so attorneys could prepare arguments on the claim of prosecutorial misconduct. The focus was a revised report by an expert witness from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that cut by about half the estimated time it took for natural gas to fill the home to make it flammable.

Nearly 1,300 4-H’ers in Johnson County were expected take projects and animals to the Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair. Although the fair started July 19, all projects must be turned in the week before the fair opens so they can be judged.


Hundreds of homes in Johnson County were considered abandoned, meaning a house is empty, and the homeowner cannot be found or contacted to maintain it. But dozens of other homes in the county could be labeled as abandoned. City and county officials just didn’t know where they are. In Franklin and Greenwood, city workers rely on neighbors or police officers to alert them about homes that are no longer cared for. Wild animals, teenagers or squatters breaking into a home overnight typically prompt a call to get city officials involved.

Four years after the city of Greenwood began enforcing stricter consequences on residents who weren’t paying certain utility bills, it is getting more people to pay. For residents who aren’t paying sewer and trash bills, allowing them to become delinquent more than 60, and even 90 days, the city files liens, which are debt attached to a person’s property. The city estimated about 2,500 people were not paying their sewer or trash bills each month.


Nearly two years after initial construction began, a popular Mexican restaurant chain was continuing plans to build a new location in Greenwood. El Rodeo had plans for a new location next to Walmart on Emerson Avenue and construction for that project began in late 2013; but the half-constructed building sat vacant during the following winter after multiple locations across Indiana were raided by state officials and financial records were seized.


The Bargersville Flea Market, located just north of state roads 135 and 144, is a popular attraction during summer and fall weekends. Since it opened, its popularity has grown steadily, along with traffic on State Road 135. As many as 5,000 people visit on Sundays, the busiest day, flea market owner Bill Burchett said. That traffic was creating congestion for traffic, since those attending had to park blocks away from the sites and cross busy roads to reach the market.