FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Students in the Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. woke up Wednesday to a special surprise, and it wasn’t just the snow.
Not only did they get a day off school, but also an assignment to play.
Superintendent Jack Parker said students in the district east of Indianapolis have missed out on so much this year during the coronavirus pandemic that he wanted to make sure they didn’t have to add the first snow of the season to their list.
Parker sent families an email instructing them to use the “scientific process in planning appropriate clothing to remain warm and dry while spending time outside. Once this hypothesis has been identified, and appropriate attire has been secured, students will be expected to test their theory by going outdoors and playing in the snow.”
Parent Toni Dekeyser said, after a tough several months, the “scientific process” was just the break she and her son needed.
“It was so much relief and then to wake my son up this morning and say, ‘Hey, not only do you not have to get up right now, but you have a snow day and we get to go outside and play in the snow,’ and he was ecstatic,” Dekeyser said.
Her son Lucas said, “I didn’t have to really do school. I didn’t have to do all my work and get stressed about it.”
Stressed is a feeling Dekeyser never imagined her 10-year-old would know, and, for Parker, finding ways to ease that burden is what’s most important.
The superintendent said, “I really felt a need for them to get out there and exercise outside and recharge their batteries both physically and emotionally.”
He said students took his message seriously. He drove around the community and saw more kids playing outside than he has in months.
The school shared a post on its Facebook page asking families to show how they spent their day off. Nearly 150 people by Wednesday evening had shared photos and videos, and thanked the school district for a fun snow day.
- Indiana State Department of Health coronavirus information (includes phone number to state hotline)
- Sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations in Indiana
- WISH-TV coronavirus coverage
- WISH-TV’s “Gr8 Comeback”
- Original Indiana Back on Track plan
- Revised Stage 3 of Indiana Back on Track plan (May 12-June 13)
- Revised Stage 4 of Indiana Back on Track plan (June 12-July 3)
- Governor’s order, July 1: Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Aug. 26: Extension of Stage 4.5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Sept. 24: Revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan
- Governor’s order, Jan. 28, 2021: 11th renewal of statewide emergency
- Governor’s order, Feb. 25, 2021: 12th renewal of statewide emergency
- Indianapolis government’s COVID-19 Community Resources page
- Gleaners Food Bank distribution sites in Indianapolis area, south central Indiana
- Second Harvest of East Central Indiana “tailgate” food distribution sites
- Food Finders distribution sites in west and north central Indiana
- Coronavirus COVID-19 global cases map from John Hopkins University
- CDC’s coronavirus page
- Marion County Public Health Department coronavirus information
- U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
- Indiana PPE Directory (for businesses, nonprofits and schools only)
Indiana coronavirus timeline
With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.
- March 6, 2020: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
- March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. A Hendricks County adult who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools says a parent and that parent’s children will self-quarantine after attending an out-of-state event where someone tested positive.
- March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
- March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
- March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will happen with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
- March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled.
- March 13: The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
- March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
- March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
- March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
- March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
- March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
- March 19: Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools; standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Indiana’s high school boys basketball tournament was canceled.
- March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
- March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the state Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
- March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 18. ISDH announces seven deaths.
- March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 23. Holcomb orders nonessential Hoosiers to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
- March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 28. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
- March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 33. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23.
- March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 42.
- March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 45.
- March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
- March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 77.
- March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91.
- March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6.
- April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees.
- April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
- April 3: Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
- April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
- April 7: Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
- April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
- April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
- April 16: Indiana records more than 10,000 positive coronavirus tests. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
- April 20: Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
- April 22: The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
- April 24: The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department.
- April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
- April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
- April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
- April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
- April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
- May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the “stay at home” order to May 4.
- May 3: Indiana records more than 20,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
- May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June.
- May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
- May 13: The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
- May 15: Simon Property Group reopens Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall, and Fashion Mall at Keystone
- May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people had tested positive there.
- May 21: Indiana records more than 30,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
- May 26: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,000.
- May 27: Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
- May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
- June 1: Marion County restaurants begins serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools reopen with 50% capacity and no contact sports. However, a Marion County curfew that began the night of May 31 and continued into the morning of June 3 after rioting impacted the reopening of some businesses.
- June 3: Phase 2 of statewide testing of random Hoosiers by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Indiana State Department of Health begins.
- June 5: Indiana reports May tax revenues were 20% short of projections made before the coronavirus closings started.
- June 8: Indianapolis leaders agree to spend $79 million in coronavirus relief funding on contact tracing, rent relief, personal protective equipment and support for small businesses.
- June 12: Indiana, excluding Marion County, advances to Stage 4 of reopening plan.
- June 15: Casinos and parimutuel racing reopen in the state. Marion County’s public libraries begin a phased reopening. Indiana records more than 40,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- June 19: Marion County advances to Stage 4 of state’s reopening plan.
- June 24: Holcomb says the state’s moratorium on the eviction on renters will be extended through July. Indiana announces it will create a rental assistance program July 13. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
- June 27: Indiana hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to increase, with about 33 new patients a day through July 1.
- July 1: The governor pauses Stage 5 final reopening plan, announces Stage 4.5 from July 4-17.
- July 4: Indiana’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan begins.
- July 9: Indiana records more than 50,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County mandates mask-wearing.
- July 10: Indianapolis Public Schools announces its reopening plans.
- July 11: Indy Eleven resumes 2020 season with victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis reopens.
- July 13: Indiana begins rental assistance program for all counties but Marion County. Marion County begins its own rental assistance program.
- July 15: Indiana announces the Stage 4.5 reopening plan will continue another two weeks. The WNBA season begins.
- July 16: Indianapolis suspends applications for its rental assistance program due to overwhelming demand.
- July 24: Bars, taverns and nightclubs in Indianapolis are shut down again. City officials also return to other previous restrictions.
- July 25: Indiana Fever begins WNBA season after delays.
- July 27: Indiana governor’s order to wear face coverings begins. Great Lakes Valley Conference, which including University of Indianapolis, postpones most fall sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball, until spring.
- July 30: NBA season resumes.
- Aug. 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500 will be run without fans.
- Aug. 9: Indiana records more than 75,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Aug. 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,000.
- Aug. 17: Indianapolis Public Schools restarts with online-only classes. News 8 learns the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will not happen on Presidents Day weekend in 2021.
- Aug. 20: Purdue University suspends 36 students after a party at a cooperative house.
- Aug. 21: Indiana high school football season begins with some teams not playing due to COVID-19 concerns.
- Aug. 23: Butler University tells undergraduates that instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, starting Aug. 24, instead of in classrooms.
- Aug. 24: Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI and Ball State universities resume in-person classes.
- Aug. 25: Reports say a fraternity, a sorority and a cooperative house at Purdue University are under quarantines.
- Aug. 26: Gov. Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Sept. 25. Indiana’s rental assistance program will take applications for one last day.
- Aug. 27: Indiana University says eight Greek houses are under 14-day quarantines.
- Sept. 2: Indiana University tells 30 Greek houses in Bloomington to quarantine.
- Sept. 6: Indiana records more than 100,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Sept. 8: Marion County allows bars and nightclubs to reopen with 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
- Sept. 12: The Indianapolis Colts open their season with a loss in a Jacksonville stadium with a limited number of fans.
- Sept. 21: The Indianapolis Colts home opener is limited to 2,500 fans.
- Sept. 23: Gov. Eric Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Oct. 17.
- Sept. 24: The state’s mask mandate is extended through Oct. 17.
- Sept. 25: The Mid-American Conference announces it will start a six-game football season Nov. 4, with the championship game Dec. 18 or 19.
- Sept. 26: Indiana advances to a revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan with relaxed limits on gatherings, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more. Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties decided to have more restrictive limits, however.
- Sept. 27: The Indianapolis Colts second home game is limited to 7,500 fans.
- Sept. 28: Purdue University says it’s suspended 14 students, including 13 student-athletes, for violations of a pledge designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic on campus.
- Sept. 30: The Indiana State Department of Health’s online coronavirus dashboard began showing data on positive coronavirus cases in Indiana schools.
- Oct. 1: IU’s website shows two additional fraternities and a sorority at the Bloomington campus have been issued “cease and desist” orders.
- Oct. 2: Franklin College suspends classes and moves to virtual education and activities through Oct. 9 after a “concerning and unusual” increase in the positivity rate for COVID-19.
- Oct. 12: Franklin College returns to in-person classes.
- Oct. 13: Indianapolis-based drugmaker Lilly pauses its trial of a combination antibody treatment for coronavirus for safety reasons.
- Oct. 14: Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announces she has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Oct. 15: Gov. Holcomb issues executive order to extend mask mandate and Stage 5 reopening plan.
- Oct. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,000.
- Oct. 18: The Indianapolis Colts third home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
- Oct. 23: The Big Ten begins its football season.
- Oct. 30: Gov. Holcomb extends the public health emergency through Dec. 1.
- Nov. 1: Indiana National Guard to begin deploying to long-term care facilities to provide coronavirus assistance. The Mid-American Conference football teams begins its six-game regular season.
- Nov. 5: Indiana records more than 200,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 8: The Indianapolis Colts fourth home game was limited to 12,500 fans. .
- Nov. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises to 5,000.
- Nov. 12: Indianapolis calls for schools to go to virtual learning by Nov. 30.
- Nov. 15: Indiana adds coronavirus-control restrictions for all businesses and gatherings in counties with the highest number of new cases as part of an update to the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Nov. 16: Indianapolis limits capacity inside bars, private clubs, fraternal organizations and gyms to 25%; inside restaurants, libraries, funeral homes, swimming pools and shopping malls’ food courts to 50%; and inside religious services to 75%. Marion County Health Department requires preregistration for COVID-19 testing after increased demand at three drive-thru locations.
- Nov. 22: Indiana records more than 300,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Nov. 23: Indianapolis Public Schools returns to virtual learning through Jan. 18.
- Nov. 24: The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball seasons begin; some games had no fans in the stands.
- Nov. 25: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,000.
- Nov. 26: Butler University men’s basketball cancels Nov. 29 game against Eastern Illinois after a positive COVID-19 test.
- Nov. 28: Butler University men’s basketball team postponed two more games because of a positive COVID-19 test.
- Dec. 1: Bankers Life Fieldhouse hosts its first NCAA men’s basketball game, Kansas vs. Kentucky, since the start of the pandemic.
- Dec. 2: Indianapolis ends its rental assistance program.
- Dec. 5: The men’s basketball game of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2, Baylor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is postponed 90 minutes before tipoff after two Bulldogs test positive.
- Dec. 6: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,000.
- Dec. 9: Indiana records more than 404,000 positive coronavirus tests. Holcomb says virus restrictions will now by county based on ratings that show the local virus spread. Indiana and Purdue universities cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game set for Dec. 12.
- Dec. 10: Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston says he tested positive for COVID-19.
- Dec. 11: The Pacers lose to the Cavaliers as the NBA preseason begins. The Carmel Walmart in Westfield closes for nearly two days to sanitize the store.
- Dec. 12: Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns tests positive for the coronavirus.
- Dec. 14: Health care workers receive the first coronavirus vaccinations in Indiana.
- Dec. 15: Vice President Mike Pence holds a roundtable in Bloomington at pharmaceutical maker Catalent on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Indiana and Purdue again cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game that’d been reset for Dec. 18.
- Dec. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,000.
- Dec. 20: The Indianapolis Colts allows up to 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Houston Texans.
- Dec. 22: NBA starts league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened to a 72-game schedule because of the pandemic.
- Dec. 23: In response to the high volume of unemployment claims, Holcomb extends the suspension of certain requirements to expedite the hiring and training of temporary workers to more quickly resolve unemployment issues. Indiana Pacers to host first home game against New York Knicks with no fans present.
- Dec. 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,000.
- Dec. 29: Indiana records more than 500,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Dec. 31: Indiana’s death toll for 2020 is 9,459 (as recorded through March 4, 2021).
- Jan. 1, 2021: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,500.
- Jan. 3: The Indianapolis Colts allow 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Jan. 4: Grades 1-12 schools in Marion County are allowed reopen to in-person learning. Perry Township Schools is the only district to reopen to in-person learning.
- Jan. 5: Purdue and Nebraska postpone a men’s basketball game over health and safety concerns.
- Jan. 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 10,000.
- Jan. 8: Hoosiers 80 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
- Jan. 13: Hoosiers 70 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine.
- Jan. 18: NFL announces the scouting combine will not happen in Indianapolis in February.
- Jan. 20: Indiana records more than 601,000 positive coronavirus tests. Indiana Pacers host up to 1,000 at a game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the first fans since the pandemic began.
- Jan. 21: Indiana’s death toll rises above 11,000.
- Feb. 1: Hoosiers 65 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine. The Indianapolis St. Patrick’s Day parade is canceled for the second year in a row.
- Feb. 4: More than 1,500 coronavirus deaths were added to the Indiana State Department of Health’s dashboard after an audit found they were not recorded. News 8 learns all games for the Big Ten men’s basketball tourney will move from Chicago to Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Feb. 7: Indiana to change school protocols for classroom quarantine and contact tracing.
- Feb. 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 12,000. Indiana records more than 650,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- Feb. 17: Indiana officials announced plans for a $448 million program to give housing assistance to Hoosiers.
- Feb. 19: The NCAA says up to 25% capacity will be allowed for all rounds of the men’s basketball tourney including the Final Four. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the May 30 Indianapolis 500 will have fans.
- Feb. 19: Indiana’s death toll rises above 12,100.
- Feb. 23: Hoosiers 60 and older can get the coronavirus vaccine.
- Feb. 25: Indiana records more than 660,000 positive coronavirus tests. Capacity limits at bars, restaurants, gyms, and music venues in Marion County were adjusted after a consistent trend in the community’s COVID-19 positivity rate.
- Feb. 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 12,200.
- Feb. 28: Indiana National Guardsmen to end assistance to long-term care facilities.
- March 1: The 500 Festival Mini-Marathon says it will be virtual for the second year in a row.
- March 2: Hoosiers 55 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
- March 3: Hoosiers 50 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
- March 4: News 8 learns up 8,000 fans will be allowed in Lucas Oil Stadium for Big Ten men’s basketball tournament games. Indiana records more than 665,000 positive coronavirus tests.
- March 5: A three-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic opens at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 16,800 Hoosiers.
- March 12: A two-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic was set for Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg.
- March 18: NCAA men’s March Madness games, all of them at venues in Indiana, to start with First Four games in Bloomington and West Lafayette.
- March 26: A two-day, drive-thru, mass-vaccination clinic was set for Compton Family Ice Arena at the University of Notre Dame.
- March 31: Holcomb’s emergency declaration with county-based restrictions and a mask mandate set to end at 11:59 p.m.
- May 4: Indianapolis Indians set to begin delayed season with away game against Iowa Cubs.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two central Indiana police departments are raising funds for a trained K-9 officer and the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show is helping out.
This weekend the Hoosier Kennel Club is donating $1,000 each to the New Palestine and Fortville Police Departments to help them fund the purchase of a new K-9 officer.
Both departments have been raising money for weeks. New Palestine PD’s target goal is $20,000, which includes the dog, training, equipment including a K-9 friendly vehicle cage and veterinary care.
“This is the biggest community initiative that our police department has undertaken in recent memory,” writes officers on the NPPD’s Go Fund Me page.
NPPD’s K-9 will be dual trained to track suspects and find missing people as well as detect narcotics, according to the page. The dog would also be available to help neighboring agencies.
The Fortville Police Department had a K-9 officer in 2012 and retired her after an officer was ambushed and she suffered from anxiety, according to the FPD’s Go Fund Me page.
“We have decided that now is the time to re-introduce a K-9 program back to the police department,” writes the officers, noting the current opioid epidemic and the large population growth in Fortville.
Kevin Allen, chairman of the Hoosier Kennel Club, presented the $1,000 check to the New Palestine Police officers Friday and anticipates meeting the Fortville officers Saturday.
The Indy Winter Classic Dog Show runs through Sunday in the West Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Hold back the tears if you can.
A mom is back home and had an emotional reunion with her daughter in Hancock County.
Soldier Tawnee Hinton surprised her daughter Avarie at a Hancock County Children’s Choir performance Saturday night in Fortville.
Check out the video above for the emotional reunion.
FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – A Fortville man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly inappropriately touching a teenager.
According to the Fortville Police Department, officers were called to the 300 block of Michigan Street a report of a child in need on Oct. 24.
After arriving on scene, officers say a 17-year-old male was inappropriately touched and seduced by a 42-year-old man, Robert Hartsock.
Hartsock was then taken into custody and transported to the Hancock County Jail.
He faces preliminary charges for child seduction and sexual battery.
FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Authorities broke ground Monday on a new fire station that will include a Save Haven Baby Box.
A Decatur Township fire station was set in June to become the first in the Indianapolis area with baby box. That box is at Decatur Township Fire Station No. 74, 3750 Foltz St., about a half-mile south of Kentucky Avenue, allows people to anonymously leave babies in a temperature-controlled, ventilated and sanitary space. Indiana recently changed its law to allow the boxes at fire stations staffed 24 hours a day.
Vernon Township Fire Station No. 3 will be at 600 Vitality Drive in Fortville, on the Hancock County town’s south side off U.S. 36.
Vernon Township government is now housed in leased spaces in the town about 4 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Vernon Township has about 13,000 residents.
The fire station will open in the spring, said a news release from Autumn Gasior, a public relations contractor. The release did not indicate how much the building will cost or how it is being funded.
Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, has said the devices are meant as a last resort for women in distress and she would personally encourage women to call their 24/7 hotline — 866-992-2291 — and consider other options, including delivering the baby in person to authorities and providing valuable medical and family history.
FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The Indianapolis 500 might still be weeks away, but the greatest spectacle in kindergarten racing is underway at Mt. Vernon Community Schools.
On Friday, 120 kindergartners and their families gathered in the Fortville Elementary School parking lot for the annual Kindy 500, where the 5- and 6-year-olds walk the track in homemade cardboard race cars.
“The kindergartners all make a box with their families. They start it in March,” said Courtney Munsell, a Fortville Elementary kindergarten teacher and organizer for the Kindy 500. “They get to decorate it. It’s free game. They get to make whatever they want.”
This year boasted a fair amount of firetrucks and police cruisers but also included a school bus, a Batmobile, a tank engine, a train and a shark.
“This is Pippa’s car,” said Ryla Stephenson, a kindergartner in this year’s race with her pink and white Pippa Mann-lookalike race car. “I added glittery paint and I added windows to it, and some wheels to it. But, they don’t roll.”
Kindergarten Jalini Stooker showed off his racing police car. “We made ‘Fortville’ right on this side. We put ‘Police’ on there and they know that’s a police.”
The kindergartners began the day with a car parade, then set up for slow-pace “races” around the parking lot. They were led by a cardboard box pace car and at the end met an Indy 500 princess with a checkered flag. All drivers picked up a medal and of course, a carton of milk, at the end.
“It was like a real race,” Ryla Stephenson said. “It was really awesome and it was really good.”
As in most races, there was a bit of drama. Munsell said kindergartner Adrien Cote got in a cardboard “crash” and had to be taken to the pit crew to be taped up.
“I ran so fast and I actually tripped over this foot and I crashed a part, and it looks different,” said Cote, referring to a bumped corner of his red and blue race car.
The is more than just a race. Teachers prepare their students well in advance, teaching them about their community, enabling visits from real pace cars and Indy 500 princesses.
The kindergartners also made their big debut in front of the rest of the elementary school, which Principal Stacy Muffler said is important.
“We line the hallways with all our first- through fifth-graders, all of our staff. They clap and cheer for them and I think they’re a little star-struck,” said Muffler.
The principal said the annual event has a larger purpose than just a fun recess.
“I think the purpose is a lot of family engagement. Having students really apply their creativity and different skills through the year can come out when they’re creating their cars and creating even the social dynamic of encouraging others during the race and being a good team player,” Muffler said.
Mt. Vernon Community Schools has its Kindy 500s every year. Their next event for McCordsville Elementary School kindergartners will be the week before the race. They said former radio “Voice of the 500” Paul Page is expected to attend and call the race.
The Indianapolis 500 will be May 27.
FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – One man is in custody following a Friday morning Fortville traffic stop.
According to the Fortville Police Department, a speeding vehicle, driven by 22-year-old Ja Qwanta Streeter, was stopped.
Police say that during the course of the stop, it was discovered that Streeter was in possession of 175 illegal pills packaged for individual resale.
Also found in the vehicle were the following items:
- 500 rounds of ammunition
- Several loaded guns
- A large amount of marijuana
- Marijuana brownies
- Drug paraphernalia
- A number of other drugs
Street currently faces preliminary charges for dealing in a schedule four controlled substance, dealing marijuana and carrying a handgun without a license.
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FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Construction is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks for a $9 million downtown development project in Fortville.
Adam Zaklikoswki, planning administrator for the town in northwestern Hancock County, said the project has been in the works since 2014, as more and more shoppers and residents find their way to the town from booming city of Fishers and nearby Lawrence and the Geist Reservoir area.
“Certainly, all of the growth that’s happening in Hamilton County and the McCordsville area, it keeps pushing east,” said Zaklikowski, giving 24-Hour News 8 a tour of Fortville’s Main Street stretch. “We’ve got a really great historic downtown, as you can see, and we’d like to improve upon that by adding fresh infrastructure.”
Zaklikowski said the town’s plan is threefold: beautify Main Street, improve lighting and safety along Michigan Street, and create a paved walk-bike trail connecting downtown Fortville to Mt. Vernon Schools.
“On the trail component, it’s really an excellent opportunity to have that physical connection, a great way to get out and have some good exercise, get some fresh air,” Zaklikowski said.
He said his development team was inspired by Zionsville’s downtown village in Boone County, although they want to develop their downtown in their own way.
“We want Fortville to be unique. We don’t want to be kind of a nameless suburb,” he said. “We definitely want to keep that small-town feel.”
The improvements to beautify Main Street include new sidewalks, curbs and lighting along with new street trees and a crosswalk. Zaklikowski said a portion of the project should be complete by fall 2019 and will cost $2.5 million.
The Michigan Street improvements are primarily safety-related, involving the addition of streetlights and also ramps compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all for about $500,000. That project should conclude by summer.
Finally, the trail connecting downtown Fortville to the Mt. Vernon school complex will cost $6 million. The 2-mile long, 10-feet wide, paved trail will begin at Garden Street and Fortville Pike. He hopes to begin construction in March 2020.
People at businesses along Main Street said they’re excited about the plan and are already benefiting from the uptick in costumers from out of town.
Zaklikowski said 80 percent of the $9 million development project will be funded from a federal grant the town has been awarded. Taxpayers will pick up the remaining 20 percent of the bill.
He said Fortville residents can expect to see construction begin within the next few weeks, starting with the streetlights and sidewalk ramps along Michigan Street.
Employees of FoxGardin Family Kitchen in Fishers said they are doing so well that they have opened up a second location, FoxGardin Kitchen and Ale, in Fortville, just 7 minutes away, and are considering a third in the town of just 4,000 people.
“For us, we’d just like to keep growing,” said Spencer Wood, FoxGardin’s office manager. “We get a lot of people from Geist and Fishers and the north side of Indy; also, the east side.”
Wood said she moved to Fortville two years ago for the position at FoxGardin and was surprised to see how the town has developed.
“It’s poppin now,” she said, referencing new businesses along Main Street including a winery. “You know everyone is just really thriving.”
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FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — With early morning low temperatures and ice causing school start delays, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation is teaming up with local start-up Mobil Trackr to provide GPS school bus tracking to parents and students waiting at the bus stop.
Derek Shelton, director of operations at Mt. Vernon Community Schools (MVCS) explained how parents can download the free app and use it anytime to locate their child’s school bus within their fleet of more than 60 buses.
“The app tracks the bus, whether it’s parked or driving, and the parent or child can pull the app up and see where their bus is,” Shelton said. “In after-school activities, when our buses have to travel significant distances, parents can still track the bus and know that the kids are on their way home.”
Parents can adjust the settings in the “Don’t Miss the Bus!” app to send them a push notification when the bus nears their child’s stop. The app also alerts parents when a bus number changes or if the schools have a delay or cancellation. Shelton, a father of two children attending Mt. Vernon schools, says he feels incorporating the app into their system shows parents the schools prioritize student safety.
“You just have the peace of mind as a parent that the kids are safe, and where they’re at, and if they’re there when they’re supposed to be there,” Shelton said.
Other school districts in central Indiana have similar programs, but Mt. Vernon’s system includes WiFi on all buses and several layers of security to ensure only those authorized to enter the app can see the bus locations. The system was developed by Mobil Trackr, an Internet of Things wireless provider based in Fishers.
“I think tech that is going to help you keep kids safe is completely needed,” said Bob Logan, vice president of sales for Mobil Trackr.
“When you can protect them when they go on the internet, and looking at them when they go places, as a parent, you feel very secure,” Logan said.
Logan says he’s a graduate of Indianapolis Public Schools and has been in the wireless industry for almost three decades. He hopes to share this technology with other school corporations around the state and help more parents and guardians make informed decisions about their children.
“That’s why Mt. Vernon is so cutting edge — because they’re wanting to deliver something to their parents to show they care enough to put these systems in place to do things for their young people,” said Logan. “We’re excited to be a part of it.”
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FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – A man in his 70s died in a crash Wednesday night on U.S.36/State Road 67 southwest of Fortville, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said.
The crash occurred about 9:40 p.m. on the highway that extends from Marion County as Pendleton Pike. It occurred at the intersection with West County Road 900 North.
Authorities said the man’s Buick Century car was going southwest on the highway when it drifted into oncoming traffic and struck a black minivan driven by a woman from Fishers. No other information on the woman, including her condition, were immediately available.
The man died at the crash scene.
Authorities said they spent an hour cutting each victim from his or her vehicle
No intoxicants were believed to be involved, authorities said.
Police expected to reopen the highway shortly by 1 a.m.
No additional details were immediately available.