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MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Muncie Symphony Orchestra and Marion Philharmonic Orchestra have joined forces to become Orchestra Indiana. Scott Watkins, who will serve as executive director, says the union grew from an idea to share conductors and resources.

Watkins said he and his board began thinking, “What if we shared a conductor? What if we shared the music together? What if we shared our staff, our resources, shared our musicians together and shared programs?”

Orchestra Indiana plans to operate as an umbrella organization for regional orchestras. As part of the organization, member groups will be able to share programming, streamline marketing processes and share leadership. The organization says the model will help other orchestras to be more operationally sustainable and allows for increased ticket revenue and donations.

“We’re an umbrella organization that can share those resources with many different orchestras,” said Watkins. “We have that expansion opportunity, but we’re starting together as Marion and Muncie. And together, we can unify the people through the power of music, and that’s the greatest thing ever.”

Orchestra Indiana will operate with a single governing board with representation from both the Muncie and Marion boards.

“We had a meeting and a really good discussion about pulling the two orchestras together,” said Marion Philharmonic Orchestra board member Bill Reece. “And Scott talked a lot about the unifying power of music, and through unity comes strength. And if ever there’s a time that we need strength in the arts, it’s today.”

The organization says the Marion and Muncie communities will have more concert choices as a result of the union.

“Music is a unifying power,” said Watkins. “It unifies people and gathers people together into a shared experience. One thing we wanted to do is share that—gather more people together, go into new communities and new neighborhoods, and unify people, share that music with people in other communities.”

Orchestra Indiana’s premiere season will begin in September with six concerts.

Indiana Wesleyan University has announced President David Wright plans to retire at the end of the current school year. Wright has been on the Marion campus for 25 years and served as president of the Christian-focused university for nearly a decade.

The board of trustees will be forming a search committee early in 2022 to make recommendations for IWU’s next president of Indiana Wesleyan University.

“It’s been amazing to see what God has done for the university over the years. Through the dedicated work of our brilliant faculty and staff, IWU has grown in academic depth and organizational sophistication,” said Wright. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of my alma mater, and I am extremely pleased the university has a solid foundation to continue its growth in the future.”

Wright has spent 35 years in Christian higher education. At IWU, he spent five years as a faculty member and associate dean, six years as vice president, five years as IWU’s first-ever Provost, and the past nine years as President.

During his time, the school saw its endowment grow from just over $50 million to $268 million.

GRANT CO., Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Marion Health has announced plans to invest $80 million to build a new medical campus in Gas City near I-69. The health system says the four-story, 100,000-square-foot hospital will include in-patient acute care, ambulatory services and an emergency department with a helipad.

“This expansion will bring convenient, state of the art care to our community in the southeastern region of Grant County,” said Stephanie Hilton-Siebert, president and chief executive officer of Marion Health.

Marion Health says the project will comprise about 100 acres in the northeast corner of I-69 and State Road 22.
Hilton-Siebert says proximity to the interstate was key.

“There’s a stretch of 93 miles on I-69 where there are no convenient options for emergency services,” said Hilton-Siebert. “This campus will meet the need for convenient, accessible care for both travelers and our community.”

The health system says it will maintain all existing hospital-owned buildings and integrate their future use into the campus.

Marion Health says the first phase will create approximately 100 new jobs. Construction has already started, and it plans to be operational in 2022.

MARION, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A recent study commissioned by Ivy Tech Community College reveals the Marion campus, which serves Grant, Blackford, and Jay counties, supports the equivalent of nearly 500 jobs, including 100 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. The report is part of a statewide examination of the economic impact of each of Ivy Tech’s 19 campuses.

The school says in fiscal year 2018-19, Ivy Tech Marion alumni generated $19.9 million in added income for the service area economy.

“With the vast majority of Ivy Tech graduates staying in Indiana, we are excited to be a partner is strengthening our communities,” said Ivy Tech Marion Chancellor Alex Huskey. “By providing students with affordable pathways to industry certifications, certificates, and associate degrees, students are able to develop skills that are needed in today’s marketplace.”

The broader study, which was conducted by labor market data company Emsi, indicates Ivy Tech Community College has an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion throughout the state. The study focuses on job creation, salaries, and increased business productivity, among other factors.

Click here to view the economic analysis of the Marion campus and click here for detailed analysis of the school system.

SIMS, Ind. (WISH) — A United Parcel Service delivery truck driver died after hitting another truck Tuesday afternoon at a rural crossing, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office said.

Marion General Hospital and Swayzee Fire Department emergency crews and Grant County deputies were called shortly after 5:40 p.m. Tuesday to a personal-injury crash at the intersection of county roads 975 West and 400 South. That’s about halfway between Marion and Kokomo.

The driver of the box truck, Daniel Meza, 47, and passenger Wilmer Corrales, 18, were hurt in the crash. Meza declined medical treatment, but Corrales was flown to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, where he was treated for cuts to his head and later released.

The county coroner identified the UPS delivery truck driver as William Burns. His cause of death was pending.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ed Beaty said in a news release that an initial investigation found the UPS truck driver was southbound on County Road 975 West approaching the “T” intersection with 400 South. The box truck was westbound on 400 South when the UPS truck failed to yield the right of way and hit the passenger side of the box truck. The UPS driver was ejected from the delivery truck. Both vehicles ended up off the road in a soybean field.

MARION, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Phoenix-based Café Valley says it will increase the minimum wage at its two production plants, including one in the city of Marion. The independent wholesale bakery produces cakes, croissants and muffins for retailers across the country, including Kroger and Meijer.

Café Valley says it will invest about $7 million to raise the starting pay to $15 per hour. The company says the move is necessary as it struggles to find enough workers. The bakery says it is looking to hire 400 new employees at its facilities in Marion and Phoenix.

“Like many companies, we continue to face a challenging hiring environment as a result of the pandemic,” said Brian Owens, chief executive officer of Café Valley. “We’re committed to our team members and will continue to provide competitive pay and advanced training programs to enrich the employee experience.”

The company says it is also launched a fast-track career pathing program. Café Valley says the program allows entry level staff to follow a promotional path from production team member to supervisor in training.

MARION, Ind. (WISH) — Human error has been ruled as the cause of a large fire involving dozens of vehicles Tuesday afternoon at an auto repair shop northeast of downtown, a city fire official said Wednesday.

Marion Fire Department was sent about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday to a report of multiple vehicles on fire at Shrouts Towing, 1015 N. Horton Ave. That’s near the intersection with East Charles Street.

No one was hurt in the fire. The business has reopened Wednesday.

John Shrout, the owner, told News 8 by phone that the damaged vehicles were in a tow lot, essentially waiting to be turned into scrap. He estimated only 20 vehicles were damaged, and said an estimate on the total loss had not yet been calculated. The business never closed, Shrout said.

Brad Myers, the city’s fire marshal, said in a news release said the blaze involved 50 vehicles. Crews used 350 gallons of firefighting foam and 120,000 gallons of water, and had the fire under control about four hours after it started, the fire marshal said. Fire crews remained at the scene through about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Myers said city officials determined public waterways were not at risk from environmental hazards as a result of the fire.

Four other departments assisted Marion firefighters with the large blaze.

UPLAND, Ind. (WISH) — A former Taylor University professor was arrested Friday morning on multiple child-sex charges after an Indiana State Police investigation.

Jeffrey Marsee, 59, of Upland, is charged with a count of child molesting, two counts of child exploitation, and four counts of possession of child pornography in two separate criminal filings in Grant Superior Court 2 in Marion.

Marsee was a Taylor associate professor of kinesiology, the study of body movement. Upon discovery of the allegations in December, the university placed him on administrative leave and barred him from the campus of the Christian liberal arts college about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis. State police said he was dismissed from his job Dec. 11.

In a news release, state police said an investigation found Marsee allegedly committed sexual acts with a boy age 12 to 13 between summer and fall of 2002 at a Grant County home.

“During a forensic examination of Marsee’s electronic devices, investigators allegedly located child pornography. Further investigation revealed evidence that in 2016 Marsee purportedly uploaded photos containing child pornography to a web-based chat group,” the release said.

On Friday afternoon, Marsee was listed as an inmate at the Grant County Jail in Marion. Bonds were set at $100,000 and $20,000, the state police said. An online court system on Friday afternoon said warrants were issued for Marsee’s arrest but did not report any court dates for his cases.

The university’s interim president, Paige Comstock Cunningham, said in an online post Friday that initial reports in the fall from the Upland Police Department were shared with Taylor University, which reported the allegations to the Indiana Department of Child Services. She said the university cooperated with local and state police.

“While the criminal investigation is not yet complete, the Indiana State Police have informed us that none of the individuals were students at Taylor when the alleged abuse took place,” the Taylor leader said in her online post. “We know it takes courage to come forward with information about possible sexual abuse, and are grateful for those who have offered information to aid in the investigation.”

Comstock Cunningham asked people to pray for the victims. She also said Taylor’s counseling center is available at 765-998-5222.

The Taylor leader said anyone with information about the case should contact one of three sources: Jeff Wallace, Taylor University Police chief at 765-998-7765; Skip Trudeau, Taylor University vice president of student development, at 765-998-5368; or Detective Joshua Miller of the state police at 765-475-8111.


“Dear Taylor Community,

“I write to you with an important update to a situation about which we reported last month regarding a former Taylor employee. Today, the Indiana State Police (ISP) announced the arrest of former Taylor professor Dr. Jeff Marsee. The full statement is available here

“The arrest follows an investigation that began last fall, which initially focused on allegations of sexual abuse. 

“This is difficult information to share. It is even more difficult to learn that a former member of our Taylor community has been charged with grievous harm to a child.

“As a reminder, the initial reports were made to the Upland Police Department and then shared with Taylor University.  Upon learning of the allegations, Taylor University placed Dr. Marsee on administrative leave and barred him from campus.  Taylor also reported the allegations to the Indiana Department of Child Protective Services, and then worked with local and state law enforcement to investigate the allegations. Taylor continues to fully cooperate with ISP.

“Given the gravity of the misconduct allegations, Taylor University has independently retained an outside firm of forensic experts to investigate the allegations of abuse.

“While the criminal investigation is not yet complete, the Indiana State Police have informed us that none of the individuals were students at Taylor when the alleged abuse took place.

“We know it takes courage to come forward with information about possible sexual abuse, and are grateful for those who have offered information to aid in the investigation. If you have relevant information about this or any other situation involving sexual abuse, we invite you to contact one of the sources below. Please know that you do not need to process this information alone. Our Counseling Center is available to assist (765.998.5222).

“Please join me in continuing to pray for the victims and all those who have been affected by this situation. Please also pray for the local community and for our campus community to be comforted and restored by the Holy Spirit.”

“Taylor University Police Chief Jeff Wallace (765.998.7765)

“Taylor University Vice President of Student Development Dr. Skip Trudeau (765.998.5368)

“Indiana State Police Detective Joshua Maller (765.475.8111)”

Paige Comstock Cunningham, interim president, Taylor University

MARION, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Marion Regional Career Center has been chosen as an Amazon Future Engineer school as part of a program to improve computer science education access in underrepresented communities. Amazon and Edhesive partnered on the project to sponsor teachers and administrators to bring computer science to their schools.

The program will provide the Marion Regional Career Center with lessons, tutorials, digital curriculum for students, professional teacher development and live online support, all funded by Amazon.

“We have future computer scientist, engineers, and inventors in our classrooms across the district, I am proud that we have resources such as this to provide our students with the learning opportunities that they need to achieve their goals,” said Dr. Travis Hueston, Department Chair and Instructor of Cyber Security and Information Technology at MRCC. “We are excited to continue our growing partnership with Amazon and for them to see our students in action. Our students’ excitement for computer science is what drives me to continue to expand our programs, courses and extracurricular activities.”

MRCC courses are available to all students in Grant County.

MARION, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Main Street Marion has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program. The nonprofit says the accredited status signifies a “demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach.”

Main Street Marion says it has been nationally accredited since 2013.

Accreditation criteria includes comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

Over the past year, the Main Street Marion board says it has worked to realign itself with Main Street America and mission-driven, strategic objectives. The efforts include increasing annual donations by more than the previous five years combined and reinventing statistics collections for annual return on investment.

“Maintaining our National Accreditation membership with Main Street America is paramount to the contribution our organization makes to the Marion community. Because of it, we are able to apply for and earn more state and federal grants and access resources and expertise that will promote the success of our Downtown,” said Heidi Peterson, executive director of Main Street Marion.

Main Street Marion’s performance is evaluated by Indiana Main Street, a part of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Working with Main Street America, the organizations work to identify the local programs that meet 10 rigorous performance standards.

Main Street America is a program of the National Main Street Center and a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.