McDonald’s reopens, adds many new features

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 26, 2017)

After exactly three months of being closed, McDonald’s, 5 W. South St., Mooresville, opened back up Thursday.

On June 21, the building was torn down in order to be rebuilt with a variety of new features the previous building did not include, according to owner Paul Jedele.

In honor of the reopening, the Mooresville Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at the VIP party.

Changes to the McDonald’s included making the building bigger, getting rid of the basement, creating a dual drive-thru lane with digital menu boards, LED lighting, a surfaced parking lot and adding new features inside of the building.

In the kitchen, Jedele said they have added Combi ovens, the kinds used in high-end kitchens. The ovens are pressurized and use water to steam cook food, making it a “much more consistent product.” They will use it to cook eggs and bake chicken.

Customers will also have two different options to order their food when inside the restaurant, either by the traditional cashier counter or using one of the new kiosks. There will also be table service, where customers will grab a number and find a table to sit at, and a worker will bring their food to them.

“There’s been a lot of people are saying we’re eliminating positions; it actually creates more positions because it creates a greater capacity,” Jedele said. “We have more order points in the restaurant now, which means I need more people in the kitchen, which means it’s anything but a reduction in staff. It’s actually an increase in staff.”

There is also a community room inside the restaurant for community members to rent out for meetings. Those who are interested in reserving the room can ask the store manager.

Right now, the children’s playplace is not available, as it is still being set up. Jedele said it will be virtual play, called Active Play, where there will be 200 games to choose from and interactive screens.

For example, if the children want to play with a ball, there will be a light projecting from the top and onto the floor that displays the ball, and if the child kicks the “ball” it will respond and go in the correct direction. Jedele said when he saw the Active Play at a McDonald’s convention, the children were sweating just as much as they would if they were on the playground.

In addition to Active Play, there will also be touch art, which is an interactive screen geared toward 3- to 5-year-olds.

The playplace is set to be ready on Oct. 19, when the location will have its grand opening. Jedele said there will be a bounce house, Colts in Motion, giveaways and more in celebration of the reopening.

“It’s a thank you so much for being patient,” Jedele said, adding people would come in during construction and think the restaurant was open, but found out it was actually closed.

While the fast food restaurant officially opened at 7 a.m. Thursday, Jedele held a soft opening and VIP party on Tuesday evening. He said it was a way for the community to be excited about it reopening, as well as the staff to learn the new equipment and be prepared for the opening day.

“What I wanted to do is give all of the crew and their family a free meal on me, as well as prominent members in the community,” Jedele said.

Now being reopened, the restaurant has 85 percent new staff, with some training beforehand, but most of it “on the fly,” Jedele said. He is also looking for new staff, as they are always interested in hiring more workers, and can offer benefits for some.

Jedele said he is very excited about the new changes, and is proud of his general manager and supervisor building a new team around them.

“I’ll be honest, it’s been stressful up until this point. But now to see people smiling to people and to see the crew and the managers finally be like, ‘Oh we’re going to do this.’ It’s refreshing,” Jedele said. “We’re pretty excited about the restaurant and what things we have to offer with it.”

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PHMS student collects 105 coats for children in need

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 25, 2017)

When he and his mom were helping out at a donation center this summer, Max Rutherford noticed there weren’t any coats for children during the wintertime.

“So I decided — let’s start a coat drive to help these kids in need and help them out so they don’t have to go out and buy all these coats,” said Max, an eighth-grader at Paul Hadley Middle School.

Max and his mom Rachel Rutherford help out at Lambswear in Indianapolis — an organization that caters to children in the Indianapolis area who are also in the foster system.

Rachel said they will provide children with new underwear, socks, a pair of shoes, a coat in winter and a handful of outfits.

“A lot of these kids get pulled out of their home and don’t have anything except the clothes on their back,” Rachel said.

They have helped with Lambswear for several months. In June, Max decided he would work to collect coats and deliver them to the organization.

Max said he reached out to his mother’s coworkers, posted on social media and asked friends and family if they had any gently used children’s coats they could donate. He also would collect monetary donations and use the money to buy coats at stores. When collecting the used coats, he would wash them and take them to Lambswear.

“We would go to every thrift store between here and all over town trying to find coats,” Rachel said.

After a few months of collecting, Max was able to donate 105 coats to Lambswear.

“I was shocked because just a couple months before, we only had 35 coats,” Max said. “The amount of coats we have gotten in the couple months just by people who saw this and money that we’ve gotten,I was super excited about that.”

Rachel said she was floored that a 13-year-old child would be willing to not only see the need, but to act on it. She said she hopes it shows people how even one person can make a difference.

“Now, we may never see the fruits of his labors but 105 kids are going to be warm this winter because he chose to do something and I think that is huge,” Rutherford said. “And I think if people just saw that and would get out and just see a need and do something. You don’t have to fix everybody’s problems but you can fix one person’s problem and that’s huge.”

Max said he is thinking about doing more drives in the future because the organization is always in need of different clothing items.

While this is the first time Max has been in charge of a drive like this, Rachel said he has always been helpful in similar situations. Because she is the outreach coordinator at Vertical Church in Plainfield, Rachel said Max has gone to homeless camps with her and her team since he was very young.

“This is the first time he’s organized something on his own but he’s always chipping in and helping out when there is a need.”

Max said he would encourage others to run a drive such as this because of realizing there are people out there who are not as fortunate as others.

“I feel like there’s a need for more people to realize there’s others that aren’t as lucky as them,” Max said.

To find out more information about Lambswear, visit lambswear.org, email info@lambswear.org or call 317-721-1664.

MHS alliance to host talent show for hurricane relief

(Originally posted on MD Times’ website on September 25, 2017)

After Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston, Texas, area at the end of August, the Mooresville High School Gay Straight Alliance wanted to help with relief.

Senior Michelle Aleksa, vice president of GSA, and Caleb Taylor, MHS English teacher and GSA adviser, started to come up with different ideas on how to raise money.

“We were kind of tossing ideas around and we were talking about a food drive and maybe a donation competition,” Michelle said. “Last year, we did a talent show for just the GSA kids so I threw out the idea of having it more school-wide and we ran with it.”

Since then, GSA members and Taylor have spent time planning the event, which included school promotions, auditions this past week and duty assignments for members.

The different duties the members will have to do during the event include running the concession stand, working backstage, being a runner and being a ticket holder.

This past week, the group held auditions after school for the talent show. The auditions led to 10 acts that are set to perform on Tuesday evening, which will include singing, dancing, standup, magic and slam poetry.

The group has also been looking for ways to raise more money for hurricane relief, besides just selling tickets. One of the ways they are raising more money is by selling food and drinks at the concession stand.

Along with raising money, the group is looking for ways to save money as well. Taylor said Ivy Tech has donated their cotton-candy machine and an individual donated their popcorn machine and the other materials needed to make the popcorn. He said they are looking for other businesses and individuals to donate items. They have also considered selling raffle tickets.

This past week, the GSA have been selling talent show tickets during lunch hours, which will also be available at the doors the night of the event.

Michelle said they would love for the public to come to the talent show.

“It brings in more donations and it’s a big deal for us,” Michelle said. “We’re really excited and we want everyone to be excited with us.”

GSA president Averi Sciscoe also said he encourages the public to attend the event as well.

“It’s for a good cause, so we just want as many people to come as possible,” Averi said. “We just want the community to come and watch and donate to us.”

The talent show will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the auditorium at MHS, 550 N. Indiana St. It is open to the students and the public as well. Tickets are $4 for students and $7 for adults, with 100 percent of the profits going to Houston Habitat for Humanity. For more information on the show, as well as donating an item or raffle prize, contact Taylor at Caleb.Taylor@mooresvilleschools.org.

School board approves teachers’ union agreement

(Originally posted on the MD Times website on September 23, 2017)

The Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation School Board held a special meeting Monday to approve a new contract agreement.

Superintendent Randy Taylor shared that the teacher’s union formerly known as the Mooresville Classroom Teachers Association is now the Mooresville Education Association. He asked for the board members to approve a master-contract agreement between the school district and the union.

The contract is for the district’s teachers to receive up to a three-percent increase in their salary. According to Indiana Code, there are five factors involved for a compensation model, where the school system would only need to meet two of those factors.

The two factors Mooresville Consolidated has decided to use are teacher evaluation ratings and possession of content-area degree or content-area credit hours.

“The agreement brings back a salary step-system for all teachers, which promotes financial growth for our teachers while working within the framework of the state compensation model,” said a press release from Mooresville Consolidated.

According to assistant superintendent Dr. Jake Allen, a teacher must receive a rating of “effective” or “highly effective” to receive a raise.

In addition, he said there will be salary “lanes” based upon a teacher’s content-area degree or credit hours. The three lines will be a bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree plus 18 credit hours toward a graduate degree, and a master’s degree.

According to the district’s communications director Susan Haynes, the Mooresville Consolidated teachers ratified the two-year agreement on Monday. She said another part of the master-plan agreement is that all eligible support staffers will receive a raise to their base salary. Another portion of the agreement includes an increase of $500 toward health-care premiums.

The board approved the 2017-2019 master plan agreement.

The next school board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the education center, 11 W. Carlisle St.

Manns shares Gateway Project updates with town

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 23, 2017)

Along with other reports, consultant Chelsey Manns shared the latest updates regarding the Gateway Project to the Redevelopment Commission at its meeting Thursday.

She said the Bicentennial Park, located at the corner of Indiana and Main streets, should be completed by Nov. 20. Member Joe Beikman asked if the stage in the park would be ready by Victorian Christmas, which is taking place the first weekend of December.

The park’s opening raised some safety and liability concerns for the Victorian Christmas event. Manns said since the sod will be recently laid out at that time, it might be dangerous for people to walk on it. She plans to have another conversation with the contractors about when to lay out the sod.

Indiana Street has been milled, Manns said, and paving begins Monday. She said she had received a call from a former town council member that there is not enough room for a turn lane in between two of the medians on the south end of Indiana Street, but there is some confusion as only one lane is intended in the first place.

She looked at different striping options to make it more clear that it is not a turn lane. After an architect looked at the area, he said it is drawn out the way it should be. She said it is a part of the changes to Indiana Street that people are not used to and it will take some time to get used to it.

During the past few meetings, the RDC members have said they would like to take down the long wooden pole located on the west side of South Indiana Street. Manns said she got quotes from Rundell Ernstberger & Associates and Banning Engineering. To create the plan, Rundell said it would cost $4,700 and Banning said it would cost $4,800. On top of that, it would cost $6,800 to perform the work.

The commission approved for Rundell to remove the pole because they were the cheaper bid. Beikman voted against it because he said he thinks they shouldn’t be paying for something that should have been part of the original work. He said there have been “way too many add-ons” to the project.

Earlier this summer, the RDC members discussed how the light on the north gateway sign has not been working correctly since last December, which was when they were still under warranty with the contractors.

They found out recently there is water in an electrical box, making the sign not light correctly. Manns is working with contractors, town attorney Tim Currens, street superintendent Dave Moore and others to work on this issue.

Currens said the next steps include replacing the photocell, installing a computer chip at the contractor’s expense and finding out where the water is coming from.

After Manns had someone look at the roofing issues at Southbridge Crossing, she said they told her there is no need for a whole new roof. She asked for the commission to approve up to $3,000 for the maintenance required to fix any of the issues. President Harold Gutzwiller asked Currens if they couldn approve the work without any bids. Currens said they needed a bid, and Manns is going to look into that.

Member Tim Corman shared how Ivy Tech wants to even its payments out for its lease agreement, as opposed to accelerating them, because it will be easier for the school to budget that way. He said it will cost Ivy Tech a little bit more money, and that will start next July. The commission approved for Ivy Tech to even their payments.

The members decided not to have a meeting in October because of meeting so late in the month.

The next meeting, where the commission will have a public hearing for their amendment to the master plan, is at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the government center, 4 E. Harrison St.

Chamber helps businesses succeed

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 23, 2017)

On the third Thursday every month, many business workers from Mooresville and the surrounding areas come together for the Mooresville Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The luncheons are always from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge, 451 Samuel Moore Pkwy. After eating lunch and spending time networking with others, the chamber presents a speaker who talks about their business. This week, the chamber shared information about its own organization.

Jay Allen, of Techno Advantage, is this year’s chamber president of the board of directors. He spoke to the luncheon attendees about what the chamber does for the community.

Along with Allen and Mindy Taylor, executive director of the chamber, there is a board of directors. They are elected into this position and serve a three-year term. The current board of directors include Allen, vice president Chad Baldwin, treasurer Brittani Bentley, secretary Diane Huerkamp, Sarah Avampato, Jod Woods, Johnnie Robbins Moore, John Ward, Greg Hubler, Mark Chester and Susan Haynes.

There are also a number of chamber ambassadors. Allen said these ambassadors have previously served on the board directors or are even a past president. He said if anyone has questions regarding the chamber should ask the ambassadors.

Along with the monthly luncheons, the chamber has other networking opportunities as well. The chamber has Coffee Connections, held from 8 to 9 a.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at Bran N Shorts, 15 W. Main St.

The chamber also holds a Let’s Lunch event as a time for people to come and eat together for a chance to network and exchange business cards. The next lunch is at noon Tuesday at Morgan’s Corner Cafe, 457 Town Center Dr.

A free service the chamber provides is a ribbon cutting. Allen said business owners can contact the chamber about an opening, reopening, relocation or another announcement and the chamber members will come and hold a ribbon cutting for them. He said to reach out to Taylor about having a ribbon cutting for their business by going to her office at the Mooresville government center, 4 E. Harrison St.

Allen said what he loves about the Mooresville chamber specifically is how they do not want to be political and take any side. Instead, they want to focus on helping every business out in the community as much as they can.

“We strive and pride ourselves in we are not (political),” Allen said. “We don’t want to be like the other chambers… We want to support each one of our members. We want our members to make connections with other members.”

He also encouraged the attendees to help themselves by helping others.

After Allen shared information on the chamber, he had those who are running for a board of directors position to come up and say why they should be elected.

Those who are running for the chamber board of directors include Mark Lemieux of Citizens Bank, Brian Culp of Morgan Insurance Group, Pamela Siddons of Siddons Law Office, Dave Reddick of the Morgan County Coalition for Literacy, CPA Julie Lakes, Gina Jeskey of State Bank of Lizton, Ashley Duke of First Merchants and Mike Washington of MWPImages.

The ballots for the new board of directors are due by Oct. 4 to the chamber. The winners will be announced at the next meeting, which is at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Eagles Lodge.

Old Town Waverly Park preps for second festival

(Originally posted on the Reporter Times’ website on September 21, 2017)

In 1818, Jacob Whetzel was the first explorer to come to the area that is now considered Waverly. From then on, Waverly served as a town for people to live, shop and interact with each other.

Over the years, the area started to have drainage problems, which caused flooding in certain parts of the town.

After the town experienced flooding twice in one week in January 2005, planning commission director Kenny Hale knew something more drastic needed to be done in Waverly — drastic meaning taking the entire town down.

“We first just wanted to get people out of harm’s way,” Hale said as he explained how they began deconstruction of the town that following March, with relocating the residents of the town.

Hale said that was also when he and Jeff Quyle, a former Morgan County Commissioner and councilman, began their dream of turning that area into a park.

After 11 years of deconstruction and reconstruction, Waverly finally became a park for Morgan County residents last year.

To celebrate the park coming to fruition, Hale, the Morgan County Park Board and others who worked on the park decided to have a festival.

“Kenny had been working really hard and we wanted to officially open it and dedicate it to the county and get people where they knew they could come in because it’s been under construction for forever,” Volitta Fritsche, work release administrator for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Fritsche has played a role in helping build up the park and plan the festival. As the work release administrator, she helps with the inmates who are working on the park. She is also a member of the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Board.

“We call (the festival) celebrating the past, present and the future, that’s what we promote and we want people in the county to come in and enjoy their natural resources,” Fritsche said. “We want them to engage and get excited about it, to share what resources, the great things that we have here in Morgan County.”

This year’s festival, which will take place all day on Saturday and Sunday, will be very similar to last year’s, but according to Fritsche, the organizers of the event have expanded it considerably.

The festival takes people back in time to the 19th century. There will be a variety of different activities for people, such as a Jacob Whetzel reenactment, Sully — an 1830s Irish canal worker — reenactment, a wildflower walk, children’s games and live music.

Last year, there was a blacksmith shop and education center, and Fritsche said those will have more going on this weekend. For the blacksmith shop, it will be fully functioning and operating, with several different people creating materials for attendees to see.

There will be three different exhibits at the education center — rug hooking, tin workers and Zach Smith’s Native Indian artifacts. He will not only be showing artifacts, but sharing tips on how to know if something is actually an artifact or not.

One of the town’s original bank’s building has been restored, which serves as a museum for the old town. Hale has a timeline of the history of Waverly on one of the walls for attendees to read.

Like last year, they will have the backwoodsmen encampments, where Smith will sometimes go to and present his artifacts. But there will also be Native Indian men teaching knife and hatchet throwing and a Native Indian woman with a tee pee set up.

At 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Hale will officially have a ribbon cutting for the riverwalk, a two and a half mile walk around the park. The ribbon cutting will be followed by a guided river walk tour, with more scheduled throughout the weekend.

Along with the different activities, there will also be more than 30 craft vendors and multiple food vendors.

For more information on the festival, visit the Waverly Park tab on the county’s parks and recreation website, morgancountyparks.org.

Schedule

Saturday

7 to 11 a.m. — Community breakfast

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Antique tractors, arts and crafts, Backwoodsmen Encampments, children’s activities, live entertainment

8 a.m. — Riverwalk: Early bird, bird watch with Joni James

9:45 a.m. — Riverwalk ribbon cutting

10 a.m. and 1 p.m. — Guided riverwalk tour

11 a.m. on the Bank steps, 2 p.m. in Methodist Church and 4 p.m. in Kid’s Town — Jacob Whetzel reenactment

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the gazebo — MLE Acoustic

11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. — The secrets of hunting Native Indian artifacts

12:15 p.m. on the Bank steps, 1:15 p.m. in Kid’s Town, 2:15 p.m. in the Backwoods Encampment, 3:15 p.m. on the Bank steps and 4:15 p.m. in the Backwoods Encampment — Sully, an 1830s Irish canal worker, reenactment

3 to 5 p.m. at the gazebo — Waverly Elementary fourth graders: patriotic songs

5 to 7 p.m. at the gazebo — Blue Town bluegrass music

7 p.m. at Methodist Church — Old Time Revival

Children’s activities at Kid’s Town

10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. — Sack races and frisbee

11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. — Rolling hoops and hula hoops

Also available — straw maze, bounce house, petting zoo and more

Sunday

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Exhibitors and vendors

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Antique tractors, arts and crafts, Backwoodsmen Encampments, children’s activities and live entertainment

10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the gazebo — Wiggleesworth Christian Folk

11 a.m. on the riverwalk — Wildflower walk

12 p.m. on the Bank steps and 2 p.m. in Methodist Church — Jacob Whetzel reenactment

12 to 2 p.m. at the gazebo — Southside Jazzers

12:30 p.m. — Secrets of hunting Native Indian artifacts

1 p.m. — Guided riverwalk tour

2 to 4 p.m. at the gazebo — Gold Dust Band

3 p.m. at Methodist Church — John Wesley reenactment

Children’s activities in Kid’s Town

10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. — Sack races and frisbee

11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. — Rolling hoops and hula hoops

Also available — straw maze, bounce house, petting zoo and more