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KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has released a series of safety guidelines and protocols it is implementing at its U.S. factories as the automaker returns to work next week.

The company has targeted May 18 to resume some production after it instituted a nationwide shutdown due to the spread of the coronavirus.

GM said the phased-in measures come from what they learned from their facilities in Kokomo, Warren, Michigan, Arlington, Texas, as well as plants in China and Korea.

“These procedures meet or exceed CDC and WHO guidelines, and are designed to keep people safe when they arrive, while they work and as they leave the facility,” said Philip Kienle, vice president, North America manufacturing for GM.

Kienle took part in the press briefing from the Kokomo plant where he has helped oversee the production of critical care ventilators.

He said the plant has shipped 1,100 units as of this week. The contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls for 30,000 ventilators by the end of August.

“Which we’re on target to meet,” said Kienle.

As the 80,000 GM workers in the U.S. return to work next week, their factories will look different from when they left their assembly lines.

Workers will be required to wear face masks, temperatures will be checked, and procedures to ensure social distancing have been put in place.

“We’re looking to keep the disease out of the workplace, we want to stop the spread of the disease within our workplace and we want to manage symptomatic or possible cases within the workplace,” said Dr. Jeffrey Hess, GM’s chief medical officer.

The company said it worked with leadership from the United Autoworkers union to develop and institute the procedures.

Hess said one of the biggest challenges workers will likely face is keeping a safe distance between each other, acknowledging that at times it will be impossible.

“When individuals can’t keep a six-foot distance within the workplace, we’re really relying on the protective measures of masks and safety glasses to be very protective in those environments,” said Hess.

The new protocols go beyond the GM facilities, Kienle said GM has shared it multi-faceted guidelines with its suppliers.

“Because safe operations of our supply chain are key to our ability to resume our production and to the health of those people in their communities,” said Kienle.

GM has plants in Fort Wayne, Marion, Kokomo and Bedford.

UAW continues strike against General Motors in Kokomo, Indiana

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Thousands of employees are nearly a month into their strike against General Motors.

The United Auto Workers increased pay for workers who are choosing to continue picketing.

The union raised pay by $25 a week and also allowed members to take part-time jobs as long as they perform their picket duty.

UAW Local 292 said its members refuse to go back to work without a better contract.

General Motors employees are picketing on rotating shifts outside of the plant. They sometimes stand in the rain or cold weather, but picketers told News 8 that drivers who pass by are their biggest motivation.

“Kokomo has been awesome, and we just love it. We appreciate every wave and every honk we get,” Ron Kanable said.

UAW Local 292 is collecting donations of food and hygiene products to help families as they have 255 members.

“They’ll come in before they go out and do their picket duty or they’ll come in after they do their picket duty and get a hot lunch or hot dinner or whatever,” said strike coordinator Cheryl Jameson. “Bring their kids if they want to and then they’ll shop the food pantry.”

United Auto Workers groups across the nation are still bargaining with General Motors on major issues, like better wages and health care.

Some in Kokomo said they want temporary employees to work full time and job security.

“We have a lot of employees. Some of them have worked two, three, four, five years with only three days a year off and they do not get the same profit sharing,” Jameson said. “They don’t get the sharing bonuses, and General Motors uses them as a way to cut their expenses and increase their profit; we feel like it’s time that stopped.”

A retiree of General Motors, Midge Collett, said, “We need to keep jobs in this country. We need jobs in our community. If it weren’t for the retiree checks in this community, Kokomo would’ve been in a lot worse condition financially than it is now.”

Food has been given to picketers during their shifts from local businesses. UAW Local 292 said the strike has brought them closer yet members hope an agreement is reached soon.

“From Day 1 and the longer it goes, people just give more, and it really has given me a sense of community and I’ll never forget it, Kanable said. “It’s a lifelong memory for me.”

UAW Local 292 members said they’re not worried about General Motors possibly closing and leaving Kokomo and have full trust in their negotiators.

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) – Three adults and one teenager have been arrested in connection to counterfeit money.

According to the Kokomo Police Department, on Sept. 24, just after 9:30 a.m.,officers were called to Terrace Meadows Apartments, located in the 600 block of Marsha Court in Kokomo.They were responding to a found property report. 

After arriving on scene, management of the apartment complex gave officers a trash bag. The trash bag’s contents led to officers to believe that counterfeiting of money was taking place. 

A search warrant was then obtained and executed for an apartment in the complex. During their search officers confiscated more than $2,000 in counterfeit money and the materials that aide in the creation of the illegal money.

As a result of the search, 19-year-old Zyona Wilson, 19-year-old Timothy Winston, 20-year-old Marcus Stone and 17-year-old teenager were all taken into custody.

They all face a number of preliminary charges, including counterfeiting, possession of marijuana, false informing, maintaining a common nuisance and neglect of a dependent and others.

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Family, friends, neighbors and Kokomo Schools are mourning the loss of fifth-grader Renay Jenkins after she died in a hit-and-run crash Thursday afternoon.

Neighbors say Jenkins, 10, was walking home from her school bus stop along East Alto Road when a driver traveling west hit her. Jenkins was walking east in the 800 block of East Alto when the accident happened, and was taken by helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis. 

Kokomo police reported the suspected driver, 20-year-old Joshua Cochran of Kokomo, fled the scene. Cochran was later arrested in the 2000 block of East Alto Road and charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a class 5 felony. He is being held on $50,000 bond. 

Lafollette Bogan, who identified himself as Renay Jenkins’ stepfather, said the family is crushed. 

“She’s just like her mom. Just beautiful,” he said. “She’s just an outgoing person, just happy about life. And it’s just a tragedy. It’s kind of even hard to talk about.” 

Bogan says he can’t understand why his stepdaughter was in such a dangerous place coming off the bus. 

“If kids gotta go this way, there needs to be some bike lane or something,” he said. “They just need to do something. Just do anything. Do something.” 

Other neighbors we spoke with agreed, saying they’ve written to Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight to have sidewalks or street lamps installed. 

“At 10 p.m. when I’ve got to walk home from work, there’s no way of seeing somebody walking. I’ve almost got hit a couple times and what happened yesterday was ridiculous,” said Angela Jones, who was spotted walking with her 5-year-old family member along East Alto Road. “It’s outrageous that there’s no sidewalk. There’s absolutely no safety for pedestrians out here.”

Jones says she lives in the same apartment complex as Renay Jenkins and says many residents there need to walk to and from the school or city bus stop. 

“I hope that something gets done about this because I would hate for it to be us, especially for my 5-year-old to get hit,” she said. “I don’t know what they’re going through, and I’m sorry.” 

Lee Carter also lives on East Alto Road and has noticed more traffic in recent years, in addition to faster moving vehicles. 

“Semis, cars, trucks, vans and a lot of people getting off work at Chrysler,” Carter said. “People get in a hurry. That’s the whole problem. They’re in a hurry to go nowhere.” 

He hopes to see changes on the road as well. 

“It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. Any child. I just cannot stand to see a child get hurt,” he said,  “and one that gets killed because of carelessness.” 

Kokomo School Corporation also released a statement about the death of Renay Jenkins:

“The corporation’s heart-felt condolences go out to this child’s family, who are members of the Kokomo Schools family. Kokomo School Corporation’s social workers and additional counselors are available today for students and staff at this child’s school building, as well as at other schools affected by this situation.

“We are grieving for the loss of a young life,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald said. “Kokomo School Corporation is praying for the family, students, staff, and community members impacted by this tragic loss. Kokomo Schools will continue to offer our support to our students and staff directly affected throughout this difficult situation.”

Sycamore Principal LaShaya Williams said she was heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of her students:

“Renay (Jenkins) will be dearly missed here at Sycamore,” Mrs. Williams explained. “Renay had such a beautiful smile Renay always shared joy in her classroom (5 th-grade KEY Gifted and Talented) and in our hallways . . . Renay had such a beautiful singing voice. I can hear her singing!

“Even though my heart is breaking, my staff and I understand that we must be strong for our Sycamore students and families. Our social workers and counselors today helped so many students and staff members, including me, begin the healing process.”

Family friends have also set up a Go Fund Me account for Renay’s family. 

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — One man is dead after officials said his vehicle crossed the path of a tractor trailer Sunday night.

It happened just after 10:30 p.m. when officials were dispatched out to a crash in the 5800 block West of State Road 26.

Investigations showed that 27-year-old Adam Betzner was driving a GMC Yukon Denali westbound on SR 26 when he crossed the center line and into the path of a tractor trailer.

Betzner was pronounced dead on the scene.

The driver of the tractor trailer sustained minor injuries. 

The crash remains under investigation.