Zach McKinney Will Be New Transportation Director for HSE Schools

Zach McKinney speaks at the HSE School Board meeting

When school is delayed or cancelled at the Hamilton Southeastern School system, parents have grown accustomed to hearing the voice of Jim White, the school district’s Director of Transportation.  You will be hearing a new voice on the phone line in the coming school year for those announcements – Zach McKinney.  Mr. McKinney was approved as the new Transportation Director at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.  He will replace Mr. White, who plans to transition to retirement in the coming months.

“I’m excited to join the team here at Hamilton Southeastern Schools,” Mckinney said after being introduced to the board by Superintendent Allen Bourff.



Will the Hamilton Southeastern School District Keep Its Name?

Members of the Destination Imagination team demonstrate their projects before the school board

Ever since the Fishers area was a sparsely populated farm region, and the local school systems were consolidated about 50 years ago, the school district covering Delaware, Fall Creek and and Wayne Townships (including Fishers and a few other adjacent areas) has been known as the Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation.  Based on action by the school board Wednesday night, there could be a discussion about changing the school district’s name.

The board hired MilesHerndon of Indianapolis to develop a brand identity, new logo, and marketing strategy for the school district.  Board President Matt Burke asked if a name change could be part of that study, and he was told that is part of what the firm will explore.  Board member John DeLucia said many people are very confused about the connection between Fishers and the local schools, since we have one high school named after the city (Fishers HS) and the other high school named after the school corporation (HSE HS).  The only decision made at the Wednesday night board meeting was to begin the process of looking into the name and other branding issues.  The board also approved Bitwise Solutions of Carmel to redesign the school district’s Web presence.  Both the branding and Web contracts with the two companies total $98,599.  The branding study is expected to take 6-9 months.

In other items from Wednesday’s board session:

–The board approved textbook rental fees for the upcoming school year.  Here are links:

Junior High Textbook Rental Fees

Grades kindergarten through 6th grade textbook rental fees 

Special Needs Fees

Fishers High School Textbook Rental Fees

School Board Memo on Fees


–The board voted to approve an administration recommendation on changes in some custodial services contracts.

–Board members held a lengthy discussion about how to move forward on library board appointments.

–The board honored Destination Imagination (DI) teams, which is a competition tied to creativity.

The “Super Dupers” and “Made with Real Cheese” were one of the 1,400 DI teams from 45 states and 14 countries showing their skills. There are 13 students on the teams, representing four schools – FHS, HHS, FCJ and FJH. The “Super Dupers” took 1st place in the Engineering Challenge, Secondary Level – Show & Tech. “Made with Real Cheese” came in 2nd place in the Scientific Challenge, Middle Level – Top Secret.


“Super Dupers” – Jenna Burow, Adam Fullhart, Silvana Gold, Louise Hazel, Ben Mann, Gabby Puzzella and Sean Wiseman.  Team Managers – Greg Fullhart, Tracy Gold, Ben Mann


“Made with Real Cheese” – Ava Benvenutti, Maya Fotedar, Alex Fullhart, Riley Gearhart, Mia Irvin and Ben Lilley.  Team Managers – Kirsten Gearhart and Lori Lilley


Sponsors –  Kristy Seitz, Kathy Seitz and Robin Young

City Council Moves New iTown Church Location One Step Closer to Final Passage

The Fishers City Council held a rare early-morning session to allow a proposed new site for the iTown Church to move forward quickly.  By passing the plan on first reading Wednesday morning, that clears the way for the Fishers Plan Commission to hold a July 12th public hearing and vote on a recommendation for the council.

The church originally planned to build a new house of worship at 126th Street and Brooks School Road, taking out the Gray Eagle golf course driving range.  After complaints from residents in the area, iTown is now proposing to locate their new building at 136th Srreet and Brooks School Road, on a plot of land now being farmed.

The city had passed an overlay area near I-69 where churches and other nonprofit organizations would be limited.  The measure under consideration would allow such use at the 136th Street location.  The city says that area is not well suited for other types of development.

Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Fishers, Tony Bagato, told the council this area at 136th & Brooks School Road is near the Interstate, but there is no nearby access to the highway.  The nearest interchange is at Exit 210,

Once the Plan Commission holds the July 12 public hearing and votes a recommendation, the City Council could act on the new location for iTown as early as the July 17th regular council meeting.


$6 Million Amphitheater Upgrade On The Way?

City officials appear to be soliciting proposals for a $6 million upgrade to the Fishers downtown amphitheater.  According to a story published in the June 28th edition of the Indianapolis Star, written by reporter John Tuohy, the proposal would expand the stage and add more restrooms.

City Councilwoman Selina Stoller is quoted in the story, saying the council will need to consider the cost of the project before approving the funds.

The amphitheater, adjacent to City Hall, has drawn large crowds lately, including Tuesday night’s concert with the Doo Band.  The July 7th concert scheduled with Loverboy is expected to draw about 7,000 people.  The concert if free, but tickets are distributed to control the size of the crowd.

Mayor Scott Fadness told LarryInFishers Wednesday morning that more details on the plans will be released once a developer is selected by the city.

You can read John Tuohy’s story at this link. (Note:  If you are not a subscriber of the Indianapolis Star, you may be limited in the number of stories you may access  online)

Hamilton County’s Drug Problem

(Commentaries from Fred Swift are posted on as part of a partnership with the Hamilton County Reporter.  The piece below appeared in the June 28th edition of the Reporter)


Fred Swift

Hamilton County Reporter

Drug overdose deaths in Hamilton County are averaging nearly three per month this year with an untold number of other non-fatal overdose cases.  Heroin is known to be involved, sometimes mixed with other opiate drugs, in a majority of the deaths and probably many of the non-fatal cases.

Is it an epidemic as some say? If it isn’t, it is nearing that point.

The most recent death was reported Monday, the 16th so far this year. For the entire year of 2016 there were 28 deaths in the county attributed to drugs, according to a concerned County Coroner, John Chalfin.

This year, probably for the first time, female fatalities have outnumbered male deaths. While it is widely believed that young adults in their 20s and 30th are generally the victims, the numbers show that individuals in their 40s and even late 50s have succumbed.

There are some efforts to combat the growing problem, but apparently no overall coordinated effort by law enforcement, emergency medical staff, health officials,
hospitals, the coroner and elected officials.

This week Chalfin contacted State Sen. Jim Merritt suggesting that the state provide
for more effective efforts to fight the problem. Merritt who represents a portion
of the county, has been an advocate for drug abuse legislation.

Hamilton County has long had a County Drug Task Force that works to locate
and charge drug suppliers. Ten detectives from various local police agencies are on
the streets pursuing dealers, according to Dwight Frost, head of the task force. The
task force is backed up by the Metro Drug Force operating in Marion County, but
aiding the surrounding counties.

The County Health Department has held a public training session on the use of
Narcan, a drug that can aid in reviving an overdose victim.

Grants were obtained to purchase Narcan for use by the public, and more than 80
doses of the drug have been made available to families which have a suspected
drug user, according to Health Department Director Barry McNulty. Another training
session is planned. All police and first responders in the county now carry Narcan.

The County Sheriff’s Department jail division processes hundreds of individuals
each year on charges that are either directly or indirectly related to the drug trade.
Some are charged with possession or selling, but others, charged with robbery and
theft, are known to be stealing to get money for drugs.

The Sheriff’s Department is also involved in education efforts to discourage
young people from getting into the drug scene. The DARE program (Drug Abuse
Resistance Education) has special emphasis, The sheriff has a special relationship
with Hamilton Heights Schools in which an officer serves as a Resource Officer.
The other school systems in the county have their own resource officers who
spend at least some of their time in drug education efforts.

Despite it all, there is suspicion that dangerous drug use and crime associated
with it is growing; probably not to the extent experienced in some areas, but still
enough to create a serious problem.

Identifying the number of opiate related deaths is usually possible, but the number
of non-fatal overdose cases is difficult.  Most cases go to hospital emergency room
in either Hamilton or surrounding counties.

Emergency room records are hard to get even for law enforcement due to various
privacy laws and hospital regulations.  But, officials suspect there have been dozens
of individuals treated so far this year in the various area hospitals.

So, the true extent of the drug problem remains somewhat ‘under the radar’ partially
due to the stigma attached to drug abuse and partially due to the legal consequences
of illegal drug involvement.

And, while various agencies are working hard at educating, treating and trying
to reduce the number of drug users and drug peddlers, an effective and combined
overall effort to stem the tide has yet to be developed.


(Editor’s Note: State Senator Jim Merritt appeared on a recent LarryInFishers interview podcast and discussed this issue at some length.  You can listen to that podcast at this link.)

Third HSE Schools Grad To Serve On BSU Board of Trustees

Kyle Pierce


Ball State has placed a student on its Board of Trustees since the late 1970s, with about 20 students having served in that role.   Three of those student board members have been alums of the Hamilton Southeastern School District.

The latest appointee is Marlene Jacocks, a graduate of Fishers High School.  Another local grad, Kyle Pierce, was appointed to the board in 2013.  Dustin Meeks was a 2015 appointee.

“These appointments speak volumes about the education that is received at our alma mater,” Pierce said.  “We were taught to be engaged in our community, to think critically, to live lives showing our best character and to build a tradition.”

There are a total of 9 members on the Ball State Board of Trustees.



Perfect Weather for the 2017 Fishers Freedom Festival Parade

Mayor Scott Fadness, his wife Aunna and son Lincoln wave to the crowd along the parade route

If you were given the chance to write a prescription for a perfect parade weather day and have it filled, it would be the weather Fishers had for the 2017 Freedom Festival Parade. Temperatures were in the 70s with sun in and out among clouds scattered overhead.  It was a bit windy, but that was the only complaint I heard all day about the weather.

Watching the proceedings from my perch across from the municipal complex along 116th Street, the parade got underway at about 4:05 and the last unit passed us a about 4:50.  The crowd was heavy and deep along that stretch of 116th Street.  Many families were on hand and all appeared to have a great time.

Below are videos of the high school bands and more pictures from the Sunday parade:



Police Chief Mitch Thompson (dark uniform) and Fire Chief Steve Orusa (white shirt) walk the parade route


Retired Colts lineman Joe Reitz, a graduate of HSE HS, served as parade Grand Marshal


Fishers City Councilman Eric Moeller waves to the crowd, with his young daughter Sophie at his side


The Fishers Rotary Club had special seats for their parade appearance

Emotions Running High On Rails vs. Trails Debate

If there is one thing I have noted in the  local rails vs. trails debate, it is the fact that there are emotions running very high on this issue.  Sometimes, when emotions run that high, facts get a bit distorted.  I want to make a few specific comments here.

First, I have taken no position on whether the Nickel Plate rail line running through Fishers and Noblesville should be transformed into a trail or remain a rail line.  I have written about my fondness for the history of the train in shaping this area over the past decades.  I can also see the benefits of a trail.  But I have not come down on either side.

I wish to clarify something that appeared on the Noblesville Neighbors “Save the Train” Web page recently.  You can see it at this link.

In that posting, it states the following:

“Larry of Fishers reported today that the only proposal matching the desires of the Owners was the Northern-only bid submitted by the Hamilton County Visitors and Convention Commission. (a government agency…possible conflict of interest?)
Didn’t the HHPA make a statement that all proposals are confidential…? So how did Larry come to know this information?”

First, I did not report this.  What I did was repost a commentary written by
Fred Swift and originally published in the Hamilton County Reporter newspaper.  The Reporter and I have a partnership agreement.  That means the Reporter prints items from my news blog, and I post some items from the Reporter.

Fred Swift’s commentaries appear on my news blog as part of that partnership.  That does not denote that I agree or disagree with Fred’s observations, analysis or opinions.  His commentaries are posted as food for thought.

If you read the post on my blog at this link, you can see the item is clearly posted as a commentary by Fred Swift and not my own.

I am not being critical of the Noblesville Neighbors Web page.  They have strong feelings about this issue and are trying to put together all the information about the Nickel Plate’s future in one place.

I just was to be clear that I have taken no position either way on this issue.  I have no idea which proposal for the future of the rail line will be awarded by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.  Fred expressed his view based on the people he talks to and his own analysis of the situation, and that should be considered.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority has a meeting scheduled for July 10th.  We will likely know more at that session.

New Podcast: Hamilton County Goes To The Movies

It all started at a meeting where Adam Aasen and I met in person for the first time.  We were both familiar with each other’s work.  Adam writes about local issues in Carmel.  I write about Fishers on this blog.

Adam had listened to a few of my film review podcasts and mentioned that he, too, enjoyed film.  One thing led to another, and now Adam & I have started a weekly podcast. The title is Hamilton County Goes To The Movies.

We will talk about one or more films now in theaters, plus add to the discussion someone local to talk about that person’s connections to movies.

In our first segment, Adam & I review the latest Tom Cruise film, The Mummy.  In the second segment, we bring Joe Freeman into the discussion.  Joe is a retired minister often referred to as the “village pastor” of Fishers.

If you have any comments or other feedback about this podcast, send us your thoughts at a special e-mail account we setup just for that –