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MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Walmart (NYSE: WMT) has unveiled new details on a planned 2.2 million-square-foot, next-generation fulfillment center in McCordsville. The retail giant says the project will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Hancock County and also feature state-of-the-art automation technology.

The facility is being built at 5258 W. 500 N. in McCordsville and is expected to open in the spring of 2023. Walmart is not disclosing how much it is investing in each of the new centers.

Our partners at the Indianapolis Business Journal reported on plans for the facility in June 2020. According to public filings, the center is set to include 146 docks, and parking for 1,985 cars and up to 916 trailers.

The facility is one of four new fulfillment centers planned by Walmart with the goal of providing next-day or two-day shipping to most of the country.

The centers, which feature robotics and machine learning, will double the capacity and number of orders allowed to be fulfilled in a day, according to Walmart.

“We continue to modernize our supply chain network and prepare for growth in our digital business, and this new facility will play an integral role in helping us serve even more customers and Walmart+ members with access to fast shipping on millions of items,” Karisa Sprague, senior vice president of supply chain e-commerce fulfillment at Walmart, said in written remarks.

A spokesperson for Walmart tells Inside INdiana Business hiring for the McCordsville location will begin next spring. The company will be hiring for full-time positions including control technicians, quality audit analysts, and flow managers.

Walmart says its first next-gen fulfillment center will open this summer in Joliet, Illinois, followed by the McCordsville location next spring. The third will open in Lancaster, Texas in fall 2023 with the final one set to open in 2024 in Greencastle, Pennsylvania.

The announcement comes at a time when consumers are relying on packages being shipped to their homes more than ever before. While online ordering has continued to increase over the years, the pandemic saw a huge surge in such orders as Americans stayed home during lockdowns and had essential items and other goods delivered to their doors. While coronavirus restrictions have eased, many consumers’ online ordering habits remain.

Aside from a growth in online orders, Walmart and other retailers are trying to make sure that their shipping speed keeps pace with rival Amazon, which offers same-day, one-day and two-day delivery options for those who pay for its Prime membership.

The announcement comes nearly three months after a Walmart fulfillment center in Plainfield was destroyed in a massive fire. The company said in late April it did not plan to reopen the facility.

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.

Coronavirus links

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.

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A McCordsville man and prosecutors have reached a plea deal in the July 2019 hit-and-run in northern Hancock County involving a bicyclist from Anderson.

Jonathan K. Jacobi, 38, will plead guilty to a count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. Another similar count will be dismissed.

According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Terry Huff, 67, of Anderson, was riding his bicycle west along State Road 234 when he was struck by a vehicle from behind sometime before 10:25 a.m. July 26, 2019. The crash occurred just west of State Road 9, about six miles north of Greenfield near the rural community of Eden.

Huff was found laying in a ditch by another driver and police were called to the scene. He died Aug. 4, 2019, at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Evidence collected from the scene indicated Huff was legally riding with traffic near the white fog line when he was struck.

Video surveillance from a homeowner of the hit-and-run eventually led to Jacobi, who according to deputies, confessed to being the driver of the truck in the hit-and-run. Deputies said they found the truck in a Marion County body shop.

Jacobi is free on bond pending his sentencing at 1 p.m. Sept. 21. Judge Scott Sirk will consider the plea deal. The penalty penalty proposed in the plea deal would would be from two to 12 years in prison, and a fine up up to $10,000.

Jonathan Jacobi (Provided Photo/Hancock County Jail)

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. 

On May 4, 2018, 120 kindergartners and their families gathered in the Fortville Elementary School parking lot for the annual Kindy 500. (Brenna Donnelly/WISH Photo)

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.

MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – A 16-year-old boy is in the hospital after being shot in the back.

It happened in McCordsville on Saturday night. Police are still looking for the person responsible.

According to Chief Harold Rodgers, Jr., this is the first shooting he’s seen in McCordsville since he became police chief 27 years ago.

People living in the Austin Trace neighborhood say Saturday night was unlike anything they’ve seen before.

“I heard commotion, and then our dogs started barking. … There were cop cars everywhere,” said Joe Robertson, a neighbor. Robertson said he has lived in the 6700 block of West Odessa Way for the past 10 years.

Robertson said he was shocked to hear a teenage boy was shot in the back. According to Chief Rodgers, the bullet may have hit the teen’s spine.

At this point, police aren’t releasing much about what led up to the shooting or if the teenager was targeted. Officials said they are following up on leads and have multiple witnesses.

“It is just kind of scary because it is so close to home,” said Alyssa Dillon, a mother of two young girls. She said she is hopeful an arrest will be made soon.

“It is kind of scary to think that they are still out there. We don’t know what their intentions were with that person, but I definitely hope they find him,” said Dillon.

“It is a shame that a young kid or anybody would have to be shot. He’s got a lot of life left in him,” said Robertson.

The name of the teenage boy injured in the shooting is not being released at this time.

MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — McCordsville police are investigating after a teen was shot in the Austin Trace neighborhood.

It happened Saturday night around 11 p.m.

McCordsville Police Chief Harold Rodgers Jr. confirmed Saturday just before midnight that a 16-year-old boy had been shot in the back.

Rodgers said detectives were on the scene conducting interviews with witnesses, but that there was not suspect information immediately available.

He described the victim’s condition as awake and breathing and said the victim had been rushed to a local hospital.

Authorities had blocked off the neighborhood and asked residents to stay inside their homes as police K-9 officers conducted a search late Saturday evening.

This is a working investigation.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

McCORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A letter sent home to parents by an elementary school teacher is causing some controversy about religion and freedom of speech.

Parents in one first-grade classroom at McCordsville Elementary got the letter Wednesday and shared it all over social media.

Some parents told 24-Hour News 8 they are shocked and surprised by what they read in the weekly newsletter that went home with their child.

The first-grade teacher is asking parents to talk with their child and to let them know when it’s appropriate to talk about religion after an incident involving a group of students.

“I just couldn’t even believe that I was receiving something like this and reading something of this nature for first-graders,” said one parent who didn’t want to be identified.

In the newsletter under school language, the teacher made a note about religion after a group of five students talked about God, Jesus and the devil in a conversation.

“Maybe the five students she was having those problems, maybe sit them down and have their parents come in and just let them know you can’t be disrupting class, if they were disrupting class,” said one parent.

According to the newsletter, the teacher said she talked to the students about it the first time, but then the conservation came up again.

The teacher wrote, “With McCordsville Elementary being a public school, we have many different religions and beliefs, and I do not want to upset a child/parent because of these words being used. If you go to church or discuss these things at home, please have a talk with your child about there being an appropriate time and place of talking about it.”

“If it’s in the middle of academic time and it’s a distraction, then absolutely it would make sense for the teacher to kind of redirect,” said Kristen Young, who has children attending McCordsville Elementary. “But to squelch their desire to learn and to discuss with other friends is a shame I would say.”

Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. Superintendent Shane Robbins responded immediately to concerns from parents. He issued a statement and said in part, “Board policy states employees can neither advance nor inhibit religious views; trying to limit a student’s view on religion is a violation of a student’s first amendment rights.”

“I’m glad that the school is taking action,” Young said. “I’m glad that the school did send out an email and didn’t try to brush it under a rug.”

The superintendent said the district can intervene if the religious discussion becomes an academic disruption.

As for the first-grade teacher, a spokesperson for the district said the teacher is being addressed and this is a personnel matter.

24-Hour News 8 learned the first-grade teacher also sent another letter home to parents Thursday. In the letter, she said what she wrote Wednesday did not come across the way she intended.

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FORTVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – Classes have only just started, but one school system is already celebrating an important success.

With the start of every school year, many administrators across central Indiana face a common crisis: how to hire enough bus drivers.

The job takes training, dedication and an unflappable personality.  It also requires odd hours and often offers no full-time pay or benefits.

This year, for the first time in many years, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation has enough drivers to comfortably cover all shifts. Leaders credit a little creativity and a lot of commitment.

“They’re the caretakers of our children on their way to and from school, so that is important to us,” says Dr. Shane Robbins as he explains how he and his team are tackling the issue.

Earlier in the year, the district’s transportation team sent home a one-page flier to nearly every home in the district, offering the chance for anyone -and everyone- to learn how to drive a bus and do it for a living.

The flier is a direct appeal to parents and grandparents especially, offering “the same school schedule as your parent/grandchild”, benefits and pay of $23-$30/hour.

Response has been tremendous. The district is up to at least 40 drivers from 30 last year – and is currently training more.

“I love being able to see my children during the day,” says new driver (and former teacher) Natalie Tucker. “I get to know the teachers and community a bit better, then be home the exact same time they are.”

Tucker says until a few months ago, she never even considered driving a bus. “But now that it’s become a vision, I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

Leann Wright said her life changed with a trip to the mailbox, “Over spring break, I saw the flier come through my son’s folder for a bus driver.” After some hard Q&A and considerable family conversation, Wright shelved the business degree she was pursuing and will now drive the routes she once rode as a student.

“It was surreal walking through the old schools. It’s been 10 years and it was really neat.”

The district is happy to hire people who have little or no experience, but leaders say they will not send them out on the road without intense training.

“Physical and written tests and skills tests. A lot involved,” explains Transportation Assistant Rita Osborn. “Takes a lot of time, commitment, and money.”

So far, that commitment is paying off with peace of mind for the district, which no longer is in danger of a few driver sick calls or family emergencies leading to stranded students.

Not that the search is over.

“Come on in,” says Osborn. “I mean the more we get, the better. There’s always something we can put you into!”

To learn more about driver opportunities and many other jobs at Mt. Vernon Schools, click here.

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FORTVILLE, Ind. — Police are crediting tips from the public for arrest of a suspect in a June 15 robbery in Fortville.

Cody Toney, 19, of Fortville, was arrested June 15 after Fortville, Hancock County Lawrence and McCordsville officers responded to a clerk’s 911 call around 11:30 p.m. about an attempted robbery in the Huck’s convenience store, 322 E. Broadway St. The suspect had already left the store when the 911 call was made, Fortville police said in a news release.

During the investigation, several concerned citizens called 911 to help direct the officers to where the suspect was last seen, police said. “The tips were vital to the case and are great examples of the public and police working together to make our communities safer,” the release said.

Lawrence police dogs tracked the suspect to his home, where he was found hiding in a clothes dryer. He was taken into custody without incident.

During an interview at the Fortville Police Department, Toney admitted to the attempted robbery, a vehicle break-in and a purse theft. The purse was recovered in Toney’s home, police said.

Toney was taken to the Hancock County Jail to be held on charges of attempted robbery, minor consumption, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle and theft.

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MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Shoppers in McCordsville and Franklin now have a new option.

Meijer opened new locations in both towns Tuesday morning.

Meijer says each store is nearly 200,000 square feet, and they together employee more than 300 Hoosiers.

This is the first Meijer for McCordsville. Store officials presented Mount Vernon Community Schools with $25,000 for scholarships.

Both locations are holding special grand opening sales beginning Thursday.

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