2010 in review: School leadership, redevelopment, roadwork among area’s top stories

2010 in review: School leadership, redevelopment, roadwork among area’s top stories

By Josh Duke
Indianapolis Star
December 30, 2010

Taking a look back at the year that was in Hendricks and western Marion counties, financial woes continues to plague area schools, a couple of Main streets continues to undergo face-lifts to reinvigorate downtowns, and changes to some key community leadership positions left their mark.

Here’s a recap of some of the top stories:

Brownsburg superintendent saga: The year began with sadness for Brownsburg Schools as the superintendent, Kathy Corbin, announced in January her plans to retire. But no one could have predicted what would follow.

By late May, the School Board had narrowed a long list of candidates to just two men and eventually offered the job to Steven C. Disney Jr. in June. Negotiations, however, fell through the day before his scheduled announcement.

Days after those negotiations collapsed, the district turned to its other top candidate, Jim Snapp. The former Brownsburg High School graduate accepted the job later that month.

“Looking back, I don’t think we made the wrong decision in offering Dr. Disney the job first, but all of us are glad things worked out the way they did,” said Board President Kim Armstrong. “In Jim, we got the best man for the job.”

A half-year into his tenure, Armstrong said, the board couldn’t be more pleased with Snapp’s efforts. She expected a transition year of him easing into the job, but he has come in with a mindset of never wasting any year, she said.

“I see great things for this school corporation under his leadership, especially when it comes to student achievement because that is key to every decision he makes,” Armstrong said.

Hendricks Regional Health expands: The county hospital in Danville opened the largest expansion in its 50-year history in July. The massive $60 million state-of-the-art, three-story expansion included new pre-and post-procedure recovery rooms, 37 private surgery patient rooms for extended stays, a new central sterilizing area, outpatient services and a new cafeteria.

“To look back at our growth and the transformation from where we were, it was the most significant step in our history since the hospital’s opening,” said Yvonne Culpepper, vice president of nursing.

Avon band dominance: The Avon Marching Black and Gold did the unthinkable for a second year in a row, sweeping every competition they entered. The Avon High School Marching Band’s supremacy has spanned more than a decade after winning its ninth state title in 10 years and its third consecutive Bands of America Grand National Championship this year.

“It’s indescribable,” director Jay Webb said after winning the grand nationals title.

Speedway redevelopment kicks into high gear: After five years of planning, economica redevelopment at the town of Speedway is coming to fruition.

The home of the Indianapolis 500 has struggled in the past to breathe fresh economic life into this small racing town. That’s changing. And it’s changing fast.

In November, officials broke ground on the first of the new buildings in its revitalization zone that will house the U.S. home for Italian race-car maker Dallara.

The European-based company and its U.S. distributor, Indy Racing Experience, will put up a $7 million plant to design and assemble the next generation of chassis for the IndyCar series in time for the 2012 race season. It’s the company’s first U.S. plant.

Dallara’s choice to set up a place in Speedway has sparked interest from the race-car-parts supplier’s industry. Earlier this month, KECO Engineered Coatings announced it will spend nearly $1 million to refurbish a 40,000-square-foot factory that is the former home of Industrial Coating Services.

At the same time, six blocks along Main Street between 10th and 16th have undergone replacements of water and sewer lines, other utilities, sidewalks, streetlights.

Also Speedway officials got rid of the former Budget Inn at the intersection of I-465 and Crawfordsville Road — a highly visable corridor and gateway into the town.

The 112-room motel sat vacant for more than a year and had been the scene of nearly 40 police runs within a six-month time frame in 2010. The Redevelopment Commission bought the hotel in June for $750,000 and moved to demolish the structure to prepare for more redevelopment.

Wayne Township restores library hours to four branches: The Township Board approved an interlocal agreement with the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library to help fund the rehiring of employees and restore hours to four branches.

Wayne Township will pay the library $200,000 to keep services running at the Wayne, Eagle, Haughville and West Indianapolis brances. The funds are for one year.

Outgoing Township Trustee David Baird approached the library with the idea earlier, but an agreement could not be worked out, said IMPCL’s Chief Executive Officer Laura Bramble. She said Baird approached the library again after hours were reduced and employees were laid off systemwide.

In October, the library cut hours systemwide by 26 percent and reduced the books and materials budgeted by $1 million.

By November, 37 staff were let go as part of the library’s plan to meet an estimated $4 million revenue shortfall in 2011.

Funds to restore services at the four branches come from a combination of extra county option income tax revenues and the township’s $3.5 million rainy day fund accumulated to pay for the replacement of an aging fire station. There will still be enough money in the fund to repair and replace fire stations, he said.

The hours and employees will be restored within the first few weeks of 2011.

Honorable mentions

Plainfield remade its downtown, completing a yearlong Main Street beautification project, while the Plainfield Youth Athletic Complex opened this summer to draw more residents and visitors to that area.

Brownsburg fired Police Chief Steve Carroll in February, replacing him with one of his assistants. He sued the town later than month, but a county judge denied Carroll’s attempted to get his position back.

The retirements of Speedway Police Chief Jeffrey Dine and Fire Chief Curtis Dean within months of each other forced the town to replace a combined 65 years of experience and 24 years combined as chiefs.

School budget woes across the county led to numerous cuts in programming and staffing including layoffs of numerous teachers and administrators.

Decatur Township Schools Superintendent Don Stinson was arrested for driving under the influence in December following a year in which he considered leaving for a superintendent position at a much larger school district in Alabama.

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