Make your home page

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fourth of July cookout costs in Indiana are less pricey than the American average.

Hoosiers can anticipate spending an average of $56.70 on a cookout to feed 10 people this summer, or $5.67 per person, that’s 4.7% less than the U.S. average of $5.95 a person.

Indiana Farm Bureau shared their market basket summer cookout survey for Indiana specifically. Most items on the shopping list came in less than the national average, like cheese and ice cream. They say that’s due to the 12.6% increase in dairy production in Indiana just last month.

The price of chicken breasts, chips, strawberries, buns and potato salad were also less than surrounding states.

But three items on the shopping list are more expensive in Indiana than they are nationally, including ground beef, pork chops and cookies. Two pounds of ground beef will cost around $10.50. Three pounds of pork chops could run just below $13 and a 13-ounce bag of cookies is $3.72.

The best news from the survey, the Midwest is the most affordable region in the country.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A national fireworks shortage has some customers rushing to the store ahead of the Fourth of July.

The shortage is due to a strong economic boost last year and a strain on shipping delays.

Customers are stocking up.

“It has been fairly consistent with people coming in and buying fireworks,” Jake’s Fireworks store manager Ken Lofton said.

Cashiers are filling bags and swiping credit cards. Store sales at Jake’s Fireworks are all over the board.

“They’ve been all the way down to maybe $1,000 up to $20,000,” Lofton said.

The store typically gets five to six truckloads of new product a season. This year they’re only getting four deliveries as the shortage hits stores across the country.

“It has to do with them getting here more than anything, that’s what we know here,” Lofton said. “You’re waiting on it, waiting on it, waiting on it.”

Industry experts say there’s not an exact percentage on price increase because there are too many variables for one number. But the total cost could be higher than years past.

“The other prices are probably a little bit higher this year,” Lofton said.

The now year-round store says it’s important to remember there are rules.

“Just be safe with it,” Lofton said. “Be conscious of your neighbor and find a safe place to do it and do it in the hours that they want you to do it.”

Starting Monday, the Marion County fireworks ordinance begins. From June 28 through July 3, residents can use fireworks from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset. That’s also the case from July 5-9. But on the Fourth of July, there’s an exception. Fireworks can be used from 10 a.m. until midnight.

For now, the best advice is to get in line , as stores could soon look bare.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A family marks a decade of despair. It has been 10 years since IU student Lauren Spierer went missing. Bloomington police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Over the last three to four years, investigators have received more than 800 tips and executed 10 search warrants. The police department released a new flyer and they’re asking people to speak up.

Police are making it clear this is not a cold case. There has always been something to follow up on.

Spierer vanished on June 3, 2011 after a night of partying with friends at a bar in Bloomington. Police said she was last seen leaving a friend’s place near 11th and College. They said she left alone and was walking back to her apartment when something happened. Investigators say a male friend reported her missing.

Spierer’s parents tried to sue the two men who were with their daughter on the night she disappeared. The lower court and appeals court decided the Spierers could not provide sufficient evidence to support their claims that they did not see her to her apartment safely. Large-scale searches were conducted by law enforcement, national search organizations and volunteers from the community. Investigators have done thousands of interviews and pulled surveillance video.

“Over the course of the last 10 years, the Bloomington Police Department has received thousands of tips, interviewed hundreds of people, obtained a multitude of court orders and executed multiple search warrants in Bloomington and elsewhere,” Bloomington Police Chief Michael Diekhoff said.

IU released a short statement saying, “We remember Lauren and her family on this difficult day. The Indiana University family continues to hope for answers in this case.”

Bloomington police have worked with several law enforcement agencies over the past 10 years in the investigation. They continue to work most closely with the FBI.

If you know anything about Lauren’s disappearance, call 812-339-4477 or email Detective Jeff Rodgers at

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Legal experts say businesses have the right to ask customers if they are vaccinated against COVID-19 without fearing legal repercussions. A local college explains why it’s perfectly legal.

Under HIPAA rules, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, businesses can inquire about people’s vaccination status. This means they can ask to see a customer’s vaccination card for proof. But some legal experts wonder if that will actually happen.

University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of Business and attorney Dr. Stephen Maple says this is a big concern for some companies. He says they don’t want customers to be irritated, leave or the store or offend them.

Dr. Maple says that mentality already exists in some counties where there are mask mandates. He says customers will go into a place of business without a mask and employees won’t say anything.

HIPAA is a law that prevents health care professionals from sharing a patient’s private health information without permission. As long as the place of business doesn’t store any of the customers information, Dr. Maple says it’s legal to ask for proof of the vaccine.

“We’re coming out of a financial crisis particularly for a lot of these companies and so they don’t want to lose customers and I can certainly understand that,” he said. “There are just people that think the world owes them and nobody can tell them what to do. That’s sort of scary for each of us and our health needs.”

Dr. Maple says customers can cover their name on their vaccination card so there’s no identification. He says the business would have the right to ask those who refuse to put on a mask.

Starting Monday, people in Marion County who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks unless required in businesses. The city-county council will vote on the changes that evening.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is looking to move forward after analyzing how it handled the riots downtown last year after the killing of George Floyd and Dreasjon Reed. An independent review panel released a report and that is leading to changes.

IMPD says policing will continue to change as technology, communities and standards grow. Plus, how best practices can better serve the community. The department has put in place three new changes since Indianapolis saw outrage last May.

The city saw fire in the streets, heard sirens blaring and innocent people hurt on May 29-30 of 2020.

“We had over 12 officers injured, we had buildings destroyed, people’s apartment lobbies were set on fire and one lady’s leg was almost lost kicking through glass,” IMPD Special Operations Commander Brian Mahone said. “It’s traumatic and hit the heart of the city.”

A report released in February details repeated lack of guidance, communication and planning from police and the mayor that allowed downtown Indianapolis to be engulfed in flames and violent behavior last spring.

“I did not see that lack of communication,” Mahone said. “We had a law enforcement team and city team that were there to make those responses. I think maybe in the report some of the organization part, maybe some of the people didn’t quite understand how we do the communication and how something like that is fluid and changes. We’re not going to agree with everything in the report and we’re not supposed to.”

The report was from a three-person response review committee and released by Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office.

“Our political structure, who was responsible for making strategic decisions related to that, were unprepared and under trained and they lacked communication,” Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Synder said. “The report was generated, officers who even participated in good faith in that report, made very clear that not only did the report not fairly represent their statements, but often it misrepresented them to the fact that it was opposite of what the officer said.”

Commander Mahone says if something like this were to happen again, they would be better prepared. The department has added small fire extinguishers to officers equipment, created a better outline for scattering riot control agents and a communication plan to handle protesters.

“We need to do a better job communicating to people who are there to peacefully protest that it’s time for them to leave the area so they are not wrapped up in something that’s illegal,” Mahone said.

Police say they would will give future protesters warnings and time to leave while using downtown PA systems.

“When you have people yelling at you and throwing stuff at you in your town, that kind of takes a toll on you,” Mahone said.

The city also changed its police use of force policy soon after the riots. The new policy bans chokeholds were banned, although IMPD says there weren’t any incidents of that in the city.

During the riots, at the time of the riots, we watched as police used chemical spray and batons to try control of the crowds. The new policy says officers can use department-issued tasers, chemical spray and batons but the officer has to justify using any force.

“If we’re asking ourselves how to get better and we’re continuing to do that and we ask people to hold us accountable and we hold ourselves accountable, we can strive and grow our police department as we go in the future,” Mahone said.

One year later, Indianapolis is rebuilding physically and emotionally.

Mayor Hogsett’s office declined to be interviewed for this story.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is reminding teens to be cautious while driving in rural areas. Summer break is starting for many schools, so more young drivers will be out. The sheriff wants everyone to keep three things to keep in mind.

The sheriff says slow down, watch your following distance and remove distractions.

In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nationwide almost 2,400 teens were killed and 258,000 were injured in car crashes.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush says to take extra time at each intersection in rural areas. It’s also important to pay attention to speed. Quakenbush says more speed means more energy which leads to more damage in a crash. Cellphones need to stay out of sight and the radio volume needs to stay low. Seatbelts must be worn as well.

The sheriff’s office is keeping an eye on intersections where they see a lot of crashes, like US 31 and 236th street, which will be getting major safety renovations. Some areas that aren’t as visible can be deadly.

“Sight distance can be a problem, even with just hills and grades, but even with crops in the field,” Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush said. “It makes it more difficult to see so allow extra time at those intersections. Maybe roll your window down and listen as well as looking for cars that may be coming in the other direction.”

At the beginning of May, two teens died in a crash at 281st Street and Lacy Road near Arcadia. Investigators believe the teen’s car was T-boned by another car. It’s not clear which direction the cars were driving. The crash is still under investigation and the sheriff’s office says the report should be released soon.

Non-rural areas in the county are also being studied for improvements. They’re focusing on all major intersections on 146th street, like Gray Road, Carey Road and Hazel Dell Parkway.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some thrift stores in the area say they are getting more trash donations. Those items are items that cannot be sold or have very little value. But Goodwill is still finding a way to get treasure from the trash.

Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana has seen a 10% increase in donations since last year and they’re finding ways to make almost all of those donations work.

Every Goodwill is different. They operate four outlet stores as well as an extensive recycling operation. This allows them to get value out of items that people might not think have value. For example, a strand of Christmas lights that do not light up, Goodwill can recycle the metal inside the wire. That money then goes to support education, employment and health-based programs.

“A plastic push toy that’s missing a wheel, we can bail and sell as bulk plastic for recycling,” Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana vice president of Retail Operations Eric Schlegel said. “It’s just a few examples how those facilities allow us to accept a really wide range of donations and still get value out of them and keep them out of our landfills.”

There are items Goodwill can’t accept, those include household trash, mattresses, bedsprings and sofa beds. Other items include used tires, scrap lumber, concrete and bricks. Plus, televisions which Goodwill says happens quite often. If you need to properly dispose of a TV, the State of Indiana has a recycling program as well as the City of Indianapolis. Plus, many communities also have ways to get rid of large electronics.

The biggest message from Goodwill is to donate, because chances are, they can get value out of it.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Some Indiana University students are pushing to get fan attendance at the Little 500. There are more than 1,300 signatures and students want to make it clear they’re willing to compromise.

Students say they understand there need to be some rules in place. They’re asking for the university to allow a limited capacity and make fans provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test. But the university isn’t budging.

The 2020 race was canceled due to the pandemic. The university says between 12,000 and 16,000 people attend over the two days of races.

Coach Chris Anderson says as it stands now, no fans, not even parents of riders, will be allowed to attend. He says not only does this contradict the university allowing in-person commencement earlier this month, but it also prevents the IU Student Foundation from raising money to provide working students with scholarships.

Plus, Anderson says popular Bloomington bars and restaurants have reopened at full capacity.

“Attending the Little 500 is a life-changing experience for IU students that is so unique to any other university experience in the entire country,” Anderson said. “Half of our students at IU have not even been to a race. They are itching for this opportunity which is why there is so much ground being made with this petition.

The university sent a statement to WISH-TV saying, “Current COVID-19 restrictions remain in place in Monroe County, like physical distancing and masking. We are continuing with these for now as we plan for mostly normal operations when the fall semester begins in August.”

The university does not plan to make any changes ahead of the race.

Students say they have reached out to the university and President Michael McRobbie directly. But have not received a response.

The race is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26. The women’s race will begin at noon, followed by the men’s race at 4 p.m.

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — It’s an effort to help improve mental health. The Fishers Fire Department and IU Health are teaming up to bring virtual care to patients on the spot and as soon as it’s needed.

The Fishers Fire Department says the program is critical. In 2020, they responded to more than 450 emergency incidents involving patients with behavioral issues, nearly a 16% increase compared to what the department saw in 2019.

The program will provide virtual psychiatric assessments and in-home consultations for individuals experiencing behavior-related incidents. These are incidents related to suicide, substance use or bipolar disorder.

When the fire department responds to these calls, they have the ability to connect patients instantly with IU Health’s virtual behavioral health hub. Psychiatrists and experienced psychiatric nurse practitioners are accessible 24-7 via iPads to provide patient consults and recommendations for the next steps in the patient’s care. The fire department says over half of these calls apply to those under the age of 18.

“What we’ve really watched is an 18-month trainwreck and I think it’s really wearing on people day to day,” Fishers Fire Captain Joe Harding said. “It would be one thing if this was just a one-off smash and grab kind of thing, but it’s not. This is just a continued thing over and over again and with reduced access to care, it’s really starting to drag on people and cause more problems at home.”

“Of the people we assess, only about half of them actually need an in-patient hospitalization and the rest can be stabilized and discharged,” Vice President of Statewide Virtual Behavioral Care at IU Health Dr. Anne Gilbert said. “I think we can decrease half of the visits to our emergency departments that are already being overwhelmed with behavioral health patients right now.”

The is the first program of its kind in the state. The Fishers Fire Department has multiple firefighters and paramedics trained in crisis responses. They say this new program won’t take other services away from Fishers residents.

Paramedics will also help the patient schedule follow-up appointments or set up in-patient visits.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IU’s Kelley School of Business at IUPUI says 2020 saw a big jump in people asking about its Physician MBA program. The school says it’s directly related to the pandemic and the crazy year for the healthcare industry.

Applications are up 40% so far this year. It’s a program specifically for doctors to learn the language of business so they can better lead a team and provide better care for patients. Those in the program say they’re working to make health care better for everyone.

It’s doctor Tom Schleeter’s day off and he’s working on his final project for class.

“I’m really hoping to focus on helping other doctors and nurses through coaching,” he said.

He’s a cardiologist at Ascension St. Vincent and graduates this year with his Physician MBA.

“Health care is changing rapidly,” Dr. Schleeter said. “Now, it’s bigger health care systems.”

He decided to go back to school when he saw how difficult it could be to be a patient. His oldest daughter Sarah was born with severe special needs.

“She had something known as Rett syndrome, daily seizures, difficulty breathing, the ability to not walk or talk,” he said.

This came with constant challenges.

“Trying to get prescriptions filled, dealing with insurance companies, getting therapies, pre-authorizations, things that my patients deal with every day,” the cardiologist said.

Sarah passed away in 2016 at 17. Dr. Schleeter and his wife, who is a nurse, have devoted their time to make things better for people like Sarah.

“Learning the techniques and things we need to be successful moving forward and bettering things for patients, doctors and nurses,” he said.

Program director Susannah Gillan says students take the things they learn in the classroom and apply it to their work. The pandemic is a perfect example.

“Many of them had to make a switch to telemedicine immediately,” she said. “They were learning to negotiate with vendors, think about operations.”

Physicians looked at systemic issues that immediately caused challenges.

“Why was there a PPE shortage?” Gillan said. “What caused the shortage to happen so that next time they don’t run into that issue?”

Now, Dr. Schleeter is ready to improve processes that can give someone a second chance.

“Taking somebody who is sick and failing and putting a team together, getting them a new heart and watching them thrive in a new life,” he said. “Man, there’s nothing better than that.”

The program runs 21-months. There are more than 30 doctors this year. They will graduate at the beginning of June. The average age of this graduating class is 47 and they come from as far as Texas and Florida.