BY RADONNA FIORINI

While there is nothing resembling a mountain in Tippecanoe County, there is a growing group of local mountain bike enthusiasts who are creating and maintaining trails and opportunities to participate in the sport they love.

The sport of riding bicycles off-road, on trails and rough terrain, has gained in popularity during the last 30 years and is something people of all ages can enjoy, says Jason Pruitt, president of the Tippecanoe Mountain Bike Association. 

Pruitt has enjoyed biking for decades, starting out with road bikes and riding competitively in endurance races. But when he began mountain biking, things changed.

“Once I got out in the woods, I thought, ‘This is so much better, just being in the woods and in nature. I love riding with friends, but sometimes just riding alone in nature is great.’” 

After he and a group of mountain biking enthusiasts found each other more than a decade ago, they began working together to help maintain the mixed-use trails they all used, and help educate people about protecting nature while enjoying the sport they love, he says.

Out of that effort, the TMBA was formed, and members have enjoyed biking and working together to create and maintain a robust series of area bike-accessible trails. There are now 26 miles of trails in Tippecanoe County that feature a variety of difficulty levels and are on public and private land accessible to the public. 

The first bike trail the group focused on is at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater. The trail system there was created for the Harrison High School cross-country team, but many other hikers and bikers have enjoyed those trails for years, says Tippecanoe County Parks Superintendent Randy Lower. 

“At first we wanted the mountain bike trails to parallel the running trails and not connect, because we didn’t want collisions between bikers and runners,” Lower says. “But that hasn’t been a problem and the biking trails now utilize and crisscross the cross-country trails. We haven’t heard about much interaction between bikers, hikers and runners.”

The Amphitheater trails are geared for novice riders, although some areas are a bit challenging, he says. There are two sections of trails and even a kid’s loop that is smoother and shorter so young riders can get a feel for the terrain.

There are many possible mountain bike features, but the basic requirement is a bike with a suspension system to soften the jolt of riding over roots and rocks, and a sturdy frame that can take the impact of rough terrain, says Garrett Wass, bike mechanic at Virtuous Cycles in downtown Lafayette. 

Wider tires with heavy-duty tread take the bumps better than narrow road bike tires. Working with a professional to determine the best kind of suspension, tires and brakes for the terrain you want to traverse will make your rides more enjoyable, he says.

On a recent June evening, more than 20 TMBA members gathered at the Amphitheater for a weekly ride. The group meets each Wednesday during the warmer months at different trails to ride, practice needed skills and receive updates on upcoming work sessions that keep the area trails in good shape, says Pruitt. 

The group was made up of bikers of all ages and experience levels, including Owen Broadstreet, a 14-year-old student from Delphi. His father introduced Owen to the sport when he was 10, and he rides regularly with TMBA. 

“This group is really inclusive,” says Broadstreet. “You just show up and you’re in.” 

Claire Stirm, who handles events and outreach for TMBA, has been riding for two years, after her husband introduced her to mountain biking. The couple rides together about three times a week, and she particularly enjoys the Wednesday TMBA rides and helping new or inexperienced riders feel comfortable.

The riders split up into groups that start down the trails at staggered times. The fastest, more experienced riders go first, but Stirm often rides with the last group, which is affectionately called the “party pace.” This group may stop to go over techniques needed for certain trail features, and members are happy to wait for slower riders so everyone feels included. 

Seth Aichinger, who has been riding mountain bikes for more than 20 years, says being part of TMBA has been life changing. He calls the members “super supportive and friendly” and he appreciates the educational elements that are included on rides. 

“There’s always room for improvement and the trails are always changing, so you have to pay attention,” he says. “It’s such an adrenaline rush and the Wednesday group rides are awesome.”

While the Amphitheater trails are a great place to learn the sport, more experienced riders are partial to the trails at Hoffman Nature Area. The six miles of trails in this heavily wooded area off old Indiana 25 west of Americus were cleared and specifically designed for mountain biking by TMBA members. The county parks department oversees the property. It’s a favorite spot for Wass, from the bike shop. 

“Hoffman is the best,” Wass says. “It has more advanced features than some of the other trails and was built by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.”

The Hoffman trail is a loop, and certain features are labeled so bikers can choose to go over the feature, such as a log or steep rock incline, or around it on a separate path, Wass says. In fact, labels have been added to several of the TMBA-maintained trails so bikers can make informed choices as they ride.

Parks Superintendent Lower concurs that the Hoffman trail is popular with more experienced riders, adding that the construction and maintenance of those trails, and others,  would not be possible without the work of the TMBA.

“They are always looking to expand and improve the trails,” he says of Pruitt and other members. “We wouldn’t be able to maintain all the trails because we just don’t have the manpower. And some of them run close to the river and creeks, which means the trails change because of erosion. (TMBA members) are out there rerouting them, improving and expanding them.”

When the group first formed, it focused on just keeping the existing trails clear of fallen branches and deadwood, says Pruitt.  Now the group meets many Saturdays to clear trails, cut back invasive species, pull weeds and break out new trails. 

Another challenging area is the Haan Trail, located off State Street near downtown Lafayette behind the Haan Museum of Indiana Art. A separate, lower section is accessed from Valley Street. Bob and Ellie Haan owned the property and lived in the mansion on the grounds when they became interested in mountain biking after making a trip out west in 1998. 

“We got interested in it on that trip and realized it was a skill sport, not an endurance sport,” says Bob Haan. “We came home and started building a trail behind the house so we could learn the skills needed for mountain biking.”

The Haans worked on the trails for about a decade, creating such features as benched areas, bridges, ramps and whoop-de-dos, along with 45-degree drops in the advanced sections. During that time, they made lots of friends in the mountain biking community and in 2011, opened the trails to the public. TMBA has since taken over maintenance of the trails that are connected through Valley Street. The Haans, both in their 70s, continue to enjoy mountain biking and the community that surrounds the sport. 

The TMBA also maintains the Murdock Park Trail, owned by the city of Lafayette, and McCormick Woods Trails, just west of the Purdue campus in West Lafayette. Two years ago, the local group was the first state-wide to join the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, which advocates for the creation of trails in Indiana and natural resource protection. 

One of the goals of TMBA is to find ways to connect the different county trail systems so riders can easily get from one to another. The group also is working with such organizations as the Girl Scouts to teach mountain biking skills and safety, and recruit others to help with trail upkeep.  ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED

When Retail Therapy owner Alicia Dunbar heard about an upscale shopping district near Indianapolis offering a ladies’ night out promotion with branded shopping bags, she had an idea: What if she and her Greater Lafayette colleagues did something similar, and what if they created reusable bags to dually promote the event and create a more eco-friendly buying experience?

Last July, Dunbar co-launched Girls Gone Local, which takes place the second Thursday of every month. For $10, women can purchase an exclusive tote to carry as they sip, shop and stroll through downtown Lafayette in early evening, at a time when smaller retailers typically are closed.  

Instead of getting multiple bags from multiple stores staying open late just for them, women can place all purchases in a single bag. Along the way, they can participate in seasonal experiences, like assembling a bouquet of flowers from various shops or posing for a photo with the Easter Bunny. 

The promotional events target a desirable retail demographic: busy women for whom a night out with friends is a rare opportunity. It’s a win-win for local businesses and buyers with a lot of purchasing power. 

“We tend to not make time for ourselves,” Dunbar says of women. “We always say ‘Let’s get together soon,’ but we never do it.” Girls Gone Local is something that friends can plan for month after month, she adds – without having to do any of the planning. 

Now entering its second year, the event is drawing not only Greater Lafayette residents but also out-of-towners looking for a destination shopping experience. 

It’s also attracted some unexpected vendors, such as a chiropractor, a law firm and a dental practice. During April’s gathering, the urban-chic Downtown Dental opened its doors to showcase a waiting room gallery of sunflower photos and offer each woman a single stem to add to her spring bouquet.

To help support local women-owned businesses without a storefront, many participating shops offer pop-up space for selling products such as crepes, popcorn, leather goods and cookies. Restaurants and bars offer specials, too, such as a free treat along with a cocktail. 

For up-to-date information on specific businesses that will be open these months, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/retailtherapy1005
https://www.facebook.com/hellodowntownlafayette
https://www.facebook.com/GGLLafayette. 

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

The Lafayette Life Insurance building on the corner of Teal Road and 18th Street in Lafayette has been transformed. The building, vacant since 2011, now houses a modern center for learning, for exploring. Students from all area high schools get career training that will prepare them for either postsecondary education or to enter the workforce. 

The idea for a career academy was the inspiration of area school superintendents. Les Huddle, Lafayette School Corp. superintendent, took a look one day at the building, which sits conveniently across the street from Jefferson High School, and had an idea. So he made phone calls to Rocky Killion and Scott Hanback, his counterparts in West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County respectively, to discuss the potential for that property and what it might do for students. 

“The original vision was for the three school corporations to partner together and build a facility that would serve the students from all three corporations,” says Huddle. 

And the Greater Lafayette Career Academy was born. It provides opportunities for students in their junior and senior years to seek training and certification in a variety of areas, all of which will help prepare them for their future, says Miranda Hutcheson, director, Career Technical Education at GLCA.

The vison grew, with partnerships from Ivy Tech, Purdue University and area industry. 

“Once GLCA entered into a design stage, the partnership was expanded to include others as [Greater Lafayette Commerce], Ivy Tech and local businesses and manufacturers,” Huddle says. “This inclusive model provided the design team with the ability to match the students’ needs with the community needs. The result of the multiple partnerships resulted in a quality facility that offers quality career pathways for students in our county to explore and succeed in.”

The courses vary in their offerings, their style, and their ultimate goals. In some cases, the courses are more introductory, giving students an idea of what to expect in certain fields, helping them decide if they want to continue in that career path. In other programs, students will leave with a certification or dual credit. 

As a public school building, the Career Academy is held to those same requirements as the home schools, Hutcheson says. Students with an Individualized Education Plan or who need classroom accommodations will receive any assistance they require.  

The fully remodeled building boasts 65,000 square feet of space — about 20,000 square feet were added to house the construction, automotive and manufacturing spaces. The result of the $30 million project is state-of-the art classrooms, labs and workspace, all of which help students achieve their goals of workforce preparedness. 

Students who enroll at the GLCA remain enrolled at their home schools. They will take courses on that campus in the morning and then move to the GLCA for the afternoon session. Students drive themselves or, in some cases, transportation is provided. 

The programs offered are designed to help students prepare for the future. Current offerings may include automotive services, aviation operations and flight, aviation maintenance, computer science, construction trades, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary arts and hospitality, education careers, emergency medical technician, engineering design and development, fire and rescue, manufacturing, medical assistant, networking and cybersecurity, precision agriculture, pre-nursing (CNA), radio/TV, and welding. 

Program offerings will vary. And not all programs are offered every year, Hutcheson says. They will differ based on student enrollment and staffing. 

Purdue has been a partner in some programming, and industry partners have already stepped up; some are offering incentives — which can include guaranteed job interviews, increased base pay and signing bonuses — to students who complete the Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate, a statewide competency-based program that rates competency in categories such as persistence, respectfulness, initiative, dependability, efficiency, academic readiness and discipline. 

Because the courses are so different, the work in each varies. Much of it is hands-on — students in culinary arts work in a test kitchen, while students in the automotive program work on cars. 

And the result, at the end of the year, is that some students take their skills to actual customers. In construction, the students build — and sell — playhouses. In the culinary program, the group opened and operated a lunch bistro for three weeks. 

Not to mention fun perks for students: When it was time to test out auto detailing, students got to bring in their own cars for that custom service. 

Each Friday is Life Skills Friday. Students have a chance to rotate through all he programs, seeing what each offers, learning skills and touring the building. Each program will offer a different activity — students learned about personal finance, how to hang a picture, and how to change a tire. 

Most instructors bring some real-life experience to the role. Lafayette Police Department officers help teach the criminal justice classes, for example. But there can be challenges for instructors in this environment, Hutcheson says. In a new facility with a new program, they may be the only instructor in that area, without any colleagues to directly work with. Thus, she says, the administration works to help provide resources and networking, such as the statewide conference it hosted in the spring. Because, Hutcheson says, she knows the instructors want to bring the best they can to these students. 

“They are committed to education,” Hutcheson says. “Most of them have industry experience. Their knowledge is invaluable to these students.”

Goals for the students will vary, Hutcheson says. Some will gain enough knowledge or earn a certification that will allow them to find employment in their field after high school graduation. Other students will go on to seek a two or four-year degree. And some students, having tried out a program, will determine that it is not the best fit and move in a different direction. Which, she says, are all successful outcomes. 

Because, she says, there is a bit of a misconception about the students who attend GLCA. It is not a repository for students who lack motivation or drive; it’s quite the opposite. 

“We serve all students who are interested in a career, with all abilities and all interests,” she says. “Kids choose to be here. The programs are competitive. They know that to be here is a privilege and not a right.” 

Enrollment continues to increase; Hutcheson is seeing a 50 to 70 percent increase each semester. The facility is designed to house about 950 students, but Hutcheson says they can be flexible and creative, using sone offsite locations. 

The goal is to help all students find their passion — whatever it may be. But it is, Hutcheson says, about the whole student. This is a place where they can spend some time figuring out and exploring who they want to be as they move into their postgraduate life.

“It’s a safe space to transition to adulthood,” she says. And in the halls of the GLCA, there are no limits.

“Now that the GLCA has been operating for several years and the pandemic has slowed, we are seeing more and more students enrolling in a variety of career pathways,” Huddle says. “Many of the GLCA students will continue on to some form of higher education, and many will leave the GLCA with skills that will allow them to enter the local workforce.”

And, Huddle says, it has truly been a boon to the entire area. 

 “The GLCA success is due to the local school corporations and our community partnering together to provide a unique educational opportunity for all of our students,” he says. “With the school and community partnering together, the GLCA can now be looked upon as a valuable community resource for our entire county.”

The students, though, truly benefit, and they say it best. Harrison student Elijah Froiland shared his thoughts in a Tweet in February 2021:

“Choosing to go to the GLCA has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The instructors are extremely kind and you can tell that they really want you to succeed. This has really made my senior year special.”  ★

For more information, go to: glcareeracademy.com

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

BizTown buzzes with activity as middle schoolers engage in an experiential learning program that allows them to run community businesses, receive paychecks, conduct bank transactions and purchase goods and services. The daylong visit to Junior Achievement’s interactive, simulated community is the culmination of an integrated teacher-led curriculum that teaches financial literacy and work and career readiness.

“It’s an opportunity for students to model good citizenship in addition to learning about personal budgeting, managing a business and exploring career paths,” says Resa Hodnett, capstone manager at Greater Lafayette JA. “Prior to arriving at BizTown, the students have learned about business operating expenses, how payroll works, how to manage their credit and their checkbook, and they’ve applied for a job. Arriving at BizTown is like their first day on the job.” 

Storefronts lining the mini Main Street, located inside the James Kirby Risk Family Junior Achievement Learning Center at the Lafayette Family YMCA, bear signage of area companies that sponsor the program including Kirby Risk, Purdue Federal Credit Union, Arconic, Wabash National, IU Health Arnett, State Farm and Freckles Graphics. 

Each branded storefront represents its respective company, so a medical facility is designed differently than an insurance office. The students are assigned specific roles within each company (e.g., CEO, CFO, designer, engineer, sales associate, clerk) and work together as a team to run the business. Community volunteers, including some from the respective sponsor businesses, coach students throughout the day. 

“BizTown is an opportunity for our partner businesses to build their workforce pipeline over time,” Hodnett says. “These students are getting their first look at the types of jobs available within their community. Sponsorship support enables JA to deliver our Indiana State Board of Education-approved programming free to the schools. Teachers can have confidence that the content correlates to the core curriculum and students learn they can stay in their community and have a really fun job.” 

The space is dual-purpose, serving as BizTown for fifth and sixth graders and as Finance Park for lder students, highlighting some different sponsor businesses. When seventh through ninth graders visit Finance Park, each student is assigned a persona with a specific job tied to an annual salary and other varying factors, such as a spouse or partner, children, credit card debt or education debt. The students learn more in-depth finance skills, such as making a monthly budget, understanding their debt-to-income ratio and applying for credit.

“We make the students save at least 2 percent of their net monthly income, which for some of them can be a challenge,” Hodnett says. “They start talking about jobs in different industries and average salaries for different positions. It’s a great time for them to start thinking about career pathways. The job they want might require a college degree or perhaps they’d rather go into the trades. Experiencing Finance Park helps start those conversations.” 

While students might pass by these businesses every day in town, they often don’t understand all the various positions necessary to run a successful business. They may think a manufacturing facility only offers jobs in manufacturing or only doctors and nurses work in health care. The BizTown and Finance Park simulations demonstrate the range of positions offered within a single company. 

“When students pass by a manufacturing facility, we want them to understand there are marketing, human resources, administrative and quality control jobs within those walls,” says Jen Edwards, executive director of Greater Lafayette JA. “We’re trying to help students understand that if they want to be a nurse, they don’t necessarily have to work in a hospital. They could work at a school, a small family practice or even a manufacturing facility. We want them to understand all the different potential pathways there are with different types of employers.”  

JA is an international nonprofit founded in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts. J. Kirby Risk championed bringing JA to Greater Lafayette in 1956. The organization provides free supplemental K-12 programming that focuses on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. The in-school programming is delivered by community volunteers who are recruited and trained by JA. During the 2020-2021 school year, nearly 500 Greater Lafayette JA volunteers served more than 7,000 students in six different school corporations.      

“Each program builds off one another,” Edwards says. “In JA Ourselves, kindergarteners learn about individual choices, the importance of saving and giving and how they contribute to their family. JA Our Families for first graders explores family members’ jobs and contributions to the well-being of the family and the community. In JA Community, second graders learn about other jobs and businesses in the community, paying taxes and how voting works.”

Through its programming, JA empowers young people to own their future economic success by enhancing the relevancy of education. The business concepts covered in JA prepare students for economically independent futures based on strong economic knowledge and solid personal financial management skills. A 2016 survey found that when compared to the general public, JA alumni have higher levels of educational attainment, career satisfaction, financial capability, entrepreneurial activity and household income. 

“I truly believe we are making an impact on these students and preparing them for their future,” Edwards says. “We are fortunate to have sponsorship support from our community partners who work alongside us to develop this next generation of community leaders.”  ★ 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Volunteer for JA 
Contact the JA office at 765-313-9586 or email Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org

Restaurant sponsor needed
JA is actively searching for a local business to sponsor the restaurant space for BizTown and Finance Park. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org 

Book the space
The JA facility is available to host community events, corporate trainings and small conferences. The space is free to use and is equipped with A/V technology. Contact Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org to learn more.

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

[ INVESTING IN THE FUTURE WORKFORCE ]

Arconic Foundation, the philanthropic arm of one of the largest manufacturing companies in the region, invests in skill-building learning experiences that enhance individual opportunity, specifically within STEM education and manufacturing workforce development. 

One initiative the foundation supports is Manufacturing Month, held in October. The interactive online portal launched by Greater Lafayette Commerce (GLC) teaches K-12 students about manufacturing and the wealth of career options available to them in the manufacturing sector. 

The virtual experience complements Manufacturing Week, which includes in-person workshops, an expo at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds and tours of local manufacturing facilities, all geared to educate K-12 students about the vast opportunities and career pathways available to them. 

“Arconic is a big supporter of Manufacturing Week,” says Scott Greeson, community advocate for the Arconic Foundation. “A number of years ago, the manufacturing industry began to see a shortage in the number of skilled workers. GLC and the mayor’s office wanted to develop a program to educate youth about careers in manufacturing, and Arconic jumped on board right away. Not only supporting Manufacturing Week but providing funding to convert those resources to an online format that instructors can access and integrate into their curriculum.”  

Greeson held a number of jobs at Arconic before retiring in 2018 as a tool and die design engineer and transitioning to his role as community advocate for the foundation. 

“I am very passionate about getting kids to realize that manufacturing is a respectable career path,” Greeson says, “that it is a good way to earn a living for your family, support your community as well as the entire state. With a little bit of planning, you can launch your career right out of high school and make an outstanding income from the get-go.”

Greater Lafayette Career Academy received funding from Arconic Foundation to outfit its makerspace, and the Lafayette Crossing School of Business and Entrepreneurship based in the Northend Community Center used grant money to furnish a computer lab.

“It’s not just about igniting a spark that leads someone to a career in manufacturing,” Greeson says. “It’s allowing kids to have access to the skills they need at the earliest possible age. Helping them to understand that they can use their hands and mind to create and build things that will make a difference in their community.”     

[ PREVENTING YOUTH SUICIDE ]

In December 2021, North Central Health Services (NCHS) announced its commitment of more than $1.1 million in Preventing Youth Suicide grants and support to 12 school corporations throughout North Central Indiana. The grants will support schools in six counties launching evidence-based youth suicide prevention programs, reaching an anticipated 35,000 students by the 2024 school year. 

“The schools will be working with an entity called Education Development Center (EDC), a global nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to improve education, promote health and expand economic opportunity,” says Stephanie Long, president and CEO of NCHS. “EDC is a national leader in the field of social and emotional learning, mental health and suicide prevention.” 

In addition to grant funding for the program, participating school and district teams will receive support from EDC on how to integrate mental health within their education systems as well as technical assistance to provide schools with training and systems support to build robust evidence-based suicide prevention efforts. The program has six key components:

  • Written protocols for helping students at risk of suicide
  • Written protocols for response after a suicide
  • Developing community partnerships to ensure students receive necessary support and services. 
  • Identification of youth at-risk for suicide
  • Promoting protective factors that enhance students’ well-being
  • Engaging key stakeholders, including parents and school leadership, in suicide prevention messaging, planning and training. 

According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 in Indiana and the second leading cause of death for ages 25 to 35. Centers for Disease Control data indicate that Indiana suicide rates have increased along with suicidal ideation for youth 10 to 24. 

“We looked at not only national data, but Indiana data and some local data from our schools indicating that students have felt extra stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Long says. “Our community needs health assessment completed in 2021 identified mental wellness as an area that could use some impact.” 

The Preventing Youth Suicide grants expand on work many of the schools have done to implement social-emotional competency, drug resistance and mental well-being curriculums. Coupled with the Resilient Youth Initiative grants, NCHS has granted more than $7.3 million back into community schools to support their efforts to maintain a protective culture for children and youth. 

“We’ve got excellent schools and educators in our community who are always striving to grow what they are doing,” Long says. “The Preventing Youth Suicide grants are an opportunity to provide them with necessary funding to support their work and connect them with experts in the mental health field.” 

[ EXPANDING ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY ] 

Students throughout the region have benefited from a three-year e-learning project that Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) launched in November 2020. Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic when many students were learning from home, the project has improved internet access in homes across WHIN’s 10-county service region to enhance e-learning opportunities. 

“WHIN allocated $5 million from our Regional Cultivation Fund (RCF) to enhance e-learning throughout the region,” says Pat Corey, vice president of engagement for WHIN. “Thus far, we’ve awarded more than $1.3 million in grants, impacting about 27,000 students. And we expect to fund a whole lot more.”

Established five years ago through a nearly $40 million grant from Lilly Endowment, WHIN is a consortium of 10 counties in north-central Indiana (Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White) leading the adoption of digital technology with the aim of becoming the first recognized smart region in the nation. 

“WHIN’s 10 counties form a living laboratory for advanced technology,” Corey says. “It’s a unique organization. There’s no other 501(c)(3) in the country that has accepted the challenge of accelerating digitalization. Indiana has a 20 percent gap in productivity in its advanced industry sector, and the country as a whole has an 80 percent gap in productivity in its agriculture sector. Closing those gaps is what’s going to keep Indiana competitive.”

Community Schools of Frankfort were awarded $157,000 from the RCF in February to equip school buses with hotspots, add hotspots to outdoor learning areas and help students with MiFi devices at home. 

A $10,000 grant to Frontier School Corporation turned FFA land plots managed by partner school districts into digital agriculture testbeds and living labs for students, area farmers and ag businesses to experiment with data collection in practice. 

MSD of Warren County School Corporation received a $105,000 planning grant to create a Department of Education-approved, dual-credit precision agriculture course and externship program for high school juniors and seniors. The curriculum will be made available to all WHIN school districts. 

Another grant in the works at Benton Central Jr.-Sr. High School will develop coursework in sensor-based technologies to get students excited about careers in data. Once the pilot career builder program is complete, all the school corporations in the region will have access to the new resource for their students. 

“Students don’t realize that the world of big data is here, and they need to be ready for it,” Corey says.  ★

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

char·cu·te·rie:
1)   A delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes, also: the products sold in such a shop (Miriam Webster)
2)  The hottest food trend since sliced bread (Everyone)

It’s the perfect food for the age of Instagram, but the practice of serving cured meats and accoutrements on a flat dish is centuries old. Charcuterie originated in France from a time when every bit of fresh meat available was used to create salted, hard sausages or dry-aged meat products that did not require refrigeration.

While the word charcuterie refers specifically to preserved meats (think salami, prosciutto, soppressata), in the last few years it has come to define about any food presented on a board or platter that allows guests to serve themselves.

Charcuterie is a given at Cellar Wine Bistro because it goes so well with wine, says Michelle Wise, who co-owns the downtown Lafayette wine bar with her sister Marla Milner.

“People expect it at a wine bar and we’re the only one in town,” Wise says. “We sell a lot of charcuterie and cheese boards.”

The bistro gets most of its meat from the Indianapolis-based Smoking Goose meatery and serves charcuterie with such interesting ingredients as lamb and elk, along with more traditional pork. European cheeses are on the menu as well as local selections and some from around the Midwest. The cheese and meat boards include lots of extras such as crostini, dried fruit, marcona almonds and house-made spreads.

 

Few other local restaurants offer charcuterie, but you’ll find it on the menu at The Fowler House Kitchen, and Bistro 501 offers a cheese board that includes house-made crackers, pickles and fruit preserves. 

For Hannah Esteban, owner of The Charcutie Girl, charcuterie is both passion and vocation. Esteban fell in love with the idea after visiting Italy in 2016 and began making boards at home for friends and family. After attending Bible college in Oklahoma, Esteban and her husband, Kelson, moved back to Indiana in 2018 and bought her grandparents’  farmhouse in White County.

On Valentine’s week, 2021, she decided to test the retail waters and posted a picture of one of her creations on social media, offering to do custom boards. She was surprised when 60 orders came in, and the online business took off. 

“Pretty quickly I thought, ‘Man, if I’m going to do this I have to get permits and licensing and get my business set up through the state,’” Esteban says. “It was kind of overwhelming, and it’s all been a learning process.”

The orders kept flooding in, so she obtained state permits and insurance and earned certification through ServSafe, which teaches food safety and handling procedures. Esteban also found space at a commercial kitchen in Carroll County where she prepares and assembles charcuterie boards, boxes, mini-boxes and even individual cups for corporate events and parties. She also delivers the products she creates. 

“It’s very labor intensive,” she says. “I wash every vegetable and piece of fruit, chop it all up, make salami roses, and assemble everything. It’s just a lot of prep work. We have something for everyone now and just put our own twist on it.” 

That “something for everyone” statement is not really hyperbole. In January, she began providing snack boxes to the two locally owned Java Jo’z coffee shops, and they frequently sell out. She can prepare vegetarian boards, offers number-shaped boxes for special birthdays and anniversaries, prepares candy and sweet trays and her favorite — grazing tables. 

Prepared for a minimum of 30 guests, the grazing tables feature a spectacular array of meat, cheese, bread, crackers, dips and spreads, honey and preserves, veggies, fruit, chocolate and other sweets. They are assembled on site and she sometimes hires a family member or friend to help with assembling such large orders, Esteban says. 

Esteban also pairs up with other small businesses to offer classes on creating your own charcuterie boards. For a per-person price, she provides the food and a platter for each one attending, gives instructions, and sends a finished board home with each guest. 

This busy entrepreneur is expanding her reach and has secured a lease for space in Market Square Shopping Center on Elmwood Avenue in Lafayette. She plans to open a store there in September that will feature a small café with retail space for gifts and a room for classes and private gatherings. In the meantime,  her products can be ordered through her colorful website — thecharcutiegirl.com.

And it’s easier than ever to create your own charcuterie at home. Local stores, from Aldi to Fresh Thyme, offer pre-assembled packs of meat and cheese and a nice selection of salami, summer sausage, cheese, olives and other accompaniments. 

If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options for a board, look no further than downtown Lafayette’s Rose Market. Owner Tracy Deno has stocked up on such specialty items as fig hard “salami” that is plant-based, gluten free and comes in four flavors. It looks like a cured meat, and has a spicy, fruity flavor that pairs well with cheese.

The store also offers products from Herbivores Butcher, which produces vegan “meat” and dairy-free cheese products. You’ll find shelves of vegan honey, nut butters, spreads, condiments, dipping sauces and pickled vegetables.

“We’ve gone in this direction for those people who are trying to eat differently,” Deno says. “We’re always looking for new products for vegans and vegetarians.”

Rose Market also offers a few charcuterie boards and accessories, so there’s no excuse to not get fancy with your party snacks.  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made working from home mandatory for many workers, the concept of coworking spaces was beginning to take root.

The cofounders of MatchBOX Coworking Studio – Jason Tennenhouse, Dennis Carson and Mikel Berger – saw a need for a professional space for early stage entrepreneurs, according to Amanda Findlay, managing director of MatchBOX.

“The cofounders … were inspired to bring a coworking space to Lafayette because of their own involvement and interests in local entrepreneurship,” Findlay says. “The coworking model is loosely based on the concept of hackerspaces, or shared, community-run spaces for tinkering and tech.”

MatchBOX, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was ahead of its time in Indiana. Findlay says the concept of shared and community-focused workspaces started to emerge in larger cities during the late 2000s.

“Even before the recent and necessary rise in remote work, MatchBOX saw a need … founders growing their businesses, freelancers and contractors operating in the gig economy, and anyone dissatisfied with their home office.”

Breanna Benn, whose responsibilities as client relations and facilities support manager include The Purdue Railyard coworking space, has heard the dissatisfaction stories from some of its clients.

“They’ve worked from home, they’ve got small children and that’s been a distraction while they’re home,” Benn says. “They are coming to The Railyard for a place to go to concentrate and get out of their home.”

Both MatchBOX and The Railyard occupy large buildings. MatchBOX is located in downtown Lafayette and occupies a 12,000-square-foot space that once belonged to a car dealership. The Railyard’s site – inside Herman and Heddy Kurz Purdue Technology Center — is 26,140 square feet, which Purdue boasts is one of the largest single coworking spaces in the United States.


Each coworking space offers convincing arguments to lure potential clients.

“As an extroverted armchair anthropologist, I find community to be the most compelling value of a coworking space,” Findlay says. “Entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers are all susceptible to professional loneliness. Research has shown that a sense of belonging is a fundamental human need, and having ‘work friends’ has a positive impact on professional happiness, motivation and productivity. For someone without an office full of colleagues, there are few opportunities to build friendships in the workspace outside of coworking.”

Findlay adds that a coworking membership is much less expensive than rent for a private office. Access to shared resources such as printers, meeting rooms and fast, reliable WiFi are benefits included in MatchBOX’s membership. So is a coffee bar, phone booths and a reserved desk area. There’s also free access to the MatchBOX Makerspace and acceleration programs for members. 

The Railyard’s amenities include a café, a mailbox and a business address at the Research Park. 

“Being a member of The Railyard you also have access to our networking events,” Benn says. “We just started up a network event called ‘The Mix.’ We invite, essentially, anybody who wants to come. It’s a good opportunity for startup companies, entrepreneurs to really network with people in their industry.

Findlay says the most popular service MatchBOX provides is meeting rooms. 

“For professionals interacting with clients face-to-face, the meeting rooms are a standout resource,” she says. “Renting rooms as needed or meeting in coffee shops or other public spaces can be expensive or distracting. Our members enjoy access to spaces that are accessible but professional to host and facilitate meetings. 

“For entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses, our office hours program has proven helpful in getting more complex questions answered, especially for the first-time entrepreneurs who are still learning the ropes.” 

Now that Greater Lafayette is moving out of the pandemic, Findlay believes MatchBOX will continue to grow.

“There will always be jobs that are more or less amenable to remote work,” Findlay says. “I think that the infrastructure for remote work was already decent and has recently been improved out of necessity. In-person or on-site work perhaps is no longer the default or assumed way that employees will get their jobs done.”

Another side effect of the pandemic was people coming to the decision that maybe their current job isn’t satisfying or paying enough to continue.

“One exciting potential outcome for MatchBOX and Greater Lafayette is that we might start to see that a person changing their career or employer won’t necessarily need to relocate and build an entirely new network,” Findlay says. “We’ve had several MatchBOX members change jobs while working in the studio, and their new employer is on the other side of the country, but their office and their routine and their ‘work friend’ circle all stayed the same. It’s a much less disruptive experience that allows people to detach the town they live in from the location of their employer and stay in a community they love while growing professionally.”

Membership numbers are beginning to grow at The Railyard, approaching 100.

“Before the pandemic we were probably within the 80s,” Benn says. “It hasn’t grown to a huge increase quite yet, but everybody I’ve talked to wants this for the same reasons, so we believe we’re going to grow even more.

“I’m planning to have more events and more networking opportunities. A lot of people are looking for that now. They’ve been in their houses and haven’t met new people. We’re just trying to come up with new ways to have people interact with one another.”

The Railyard has something else in common with MatchBOX, a tie to transportation. 

There’s a homage to the Purdue Schenectady No. 1, the first full-scale locomotive used in the Purdue Locomotive Testing Plant in the late 1880s and early 1900s. 

The Railyard boasts antique railroad memorabilia as well.

“It’s funny that a lot of people don’t know the whole story,” Benn says. “It is interesting to a lot of people.”

MatchBOX isn’t just a home for business professionals. It also appeals to artists, creative writers, podcast hosts, gamers and cosplayers.

“We’re definitely here for the hobbyists,” Findlay says. “For the makerspace specifically, the cosplay and gamer crowd enjoys building props for their costumes or game play. Custom mini-figures and carrying cases seem to be popular in the boardgaming community.”

MatchBOX also provides scholarship opportunities and programming in place to support early stage entrepreneurs and members of the Greater Lafayette community, Findlay says.  ★

To find out more about MatchBOX, visit its website at mbx.studio or call 765.588.9295. 
To learn more about The Purdue Railyard or to become a member, contact Breanna Benn at 765.588.3470 or email PurdueRailyard@prf.org

BY CINDY GERLACH

If you are hoping to sell your house, good news: It’s a great time to put your house on the market. But if you’re a first-time home buyer, be prepared. It might be tough for you to get your offer accepted in a tight market.

Properties that are priced in that “sweet spot” — properly priced and in reasonable condition — are seeing single-digit days on the market and multiple offers, says Charlie Shook, broker and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Shook. Right now, that “sweet” price is from $150,000 to $350,000. Prices that might have once been considered fairly expensive are now seen as the norm. It’s a reflection of the economy, of supply and demand.

“It sounds exciting, but it’s really just a reaction to the economy,” Shook says. “Brokers don’t want that. It makes prices go up. There are more buyers than product.”

Inventory in Tippecanoe County is at historic lows, says Stacy Grove, a broker and owner of the Russell Company. On one day in early March, active listings for single-family houses were at 67. But when filtered for those that had offers, that number dropped to 46. Of those listings, 12 were in West Lafayette. The prices ranged from $79,900 to $1.5 million. And of those 46, only 19 listings were under $300,000.

“People don’t understand the crisis that is our inventory shortage,” Grove says. “We just don’t have the new construction to back up the inventory demand.”

For sellers, this means a potential profit. People used to have to hold onto a house for several years before they could see making any money with a sale; now, Grove says, properties can appreciate up to 1 percent a month; one need only own their home for a short time before they can recoup their costs and see a return. 

For those trying to buy their first home, the process might be an arduous one. Most listings for houses under $300,000 are seeing multiple offers, many above the asking price. 

“We’re seeing multiple offers over the list price,” says Grove. “The list price used to be our ceiling, now it’s our floor.”

Buyers are waiving inspections and writing offers without contingencies. Some buyers are able to write cash offers, getting temporary loans to avoid financing. And they are adding what is known as an escalation clause, offering to beat the best offer up to a certain amount. 

“It’s a valid strategy,” says Shook. “Those intangibles are becoming more and more popular.”

And when prices are not reflecting the appraisal, buyers are offering to pay the difference in the appraisal gap, says Grove, essentially taking an advance on their equity. 

“It’s the Wild West out here,” Grove says. “It is crazy.”

Thus it’s a great time to sell your house — if, that is, you have someplace to go. Because the story for buyers, especially first-time buyers, is not so rosy. 

Getting your offer accepted may be a path fraught with disappointment and frustration.

But even though it seems abnormal, some buyers are seeing their offers accepted. One just has to be ready and prepared to make an offer — there probably isn’t a lot of time to consider your options. Look at a house and be ready to act immediately. Write your best offer. And be prepared for little to no negotiating. 

The best advice for a buyer? Use an agent, says Markus Jamison, team leader at Keller Williams.

“If you’re just googling properties, by the time you get on there, it probably already has an offer. And get prequalified.”

It is, Shook says, a great time to invest in real estate. The uptick in prices certainly is evident. In 2019, 40 homes in Tippecanoe County sold for more than $500,000; in 2021, that number was 116. For homes in the $400,000-500,000 range, 2021 saw 136 sales, compared to 82 in 2019.

“Our market has been undervalued for years,” Shook says. “My gut feeling is people are feeling more confident about investing in real estate.”

People who think they may build a house instead are likely in for a surprise — and a wait. With supply chain issues, materials are more expensive. The estimate to build a ranch house, on a slab, is around $450,000, Grove says. Add a basement, and the price jumps to $650,000.

With interest rates predicted to go up in the coming months, the market could change. But it may not be to a buyer’s advantage, says Grove. 

“At some point, with inflation going up, people will be spending more on necessities,” she says. “At some point, they won’t have the money for a mortgage they once did. The buyer pool will shrink because they won’t have the liquidity they once did.”

Jamison says it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. But with rates at historic lows, buyers could still be in a good position. 

“That’s the plus side,” he says. “In the long run, you’re not paying as much. It’s a tug-of-war, and we don’t know where it’s going.”

Shook encourages buyers to not get too frustrated. It may take some time, but your dream house is out there. He projects that 2022 will look a lot like 2021 did, but some of the pent-up demand will abate. 

“The professional real estate community understands the angst, the pain a buyer has to go through,” he says. “It’s hard to call a buyer four or five time and tell them they didn’t get it. But I’m always amazed at how often the next house is better.”  ★

BY MEGAN FURST
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Wolf Park  • wolfpark.org/summer-camps 

Wolf Park, an education, conservation and research facility located in Battle Ground, offers Summer Science and Art & Enrichment camps for children of all ages. 

Two-day camps are arranged for grades K-8 and vary by theme, date and age group. For example, children in grades 4-5 will explore ecosystems, and children in grades K-1 will learn about the wonders of wildlife in their backyards and beyond.

Education and Advocacy Director Christopher Lile says, “Wolf Park’s summer camps provide a unique opportunity for youth to connect to the rich history of Indiana’s wildlife. Campers learn about wildlife conservation, animal husbandry and how to become wildlife advocates through engaging games, crafts and activities.”

There also are opportunities for teens ages 14-17 to be wildlife advocates in an 8-week volunteer program geared for those interested in pursuing a career in wildlife. An additional opportunity, called Junior Keeper Camp, is a 2-day experience that introduces youth to the field of wildlife conservation where campers will carry out daily keeper duties at Wolf Park.

Lastly, new this summer is Art & Enrichment Camp for grades K-8. Campers will use their artistic skills through nature and conservation-themed projects. The projects will serve as enrichment for several of the animal ambassadors throughout Wolf Park. 

“All youth programs focus on empowering the next generation of conservation champions — their voices are essential to ‘Save Wolves, Save Wilderness,’ ” Lile says.

Dance Moves & Gymnastics (DMG) • flipdmg.com/camps 

Dance Moves & Gymnastics, also known as DMG, is on Meijer Drive in Lafayette and offers several different summer camp options.

Dance Director & Marketing Manager Kaitlyn Williams says, “DMG is the place to be for summer camps, starting at age 18 months with Mommy and Me camps though school-age children.” 

Three-day camps feature different themes including princess, adventure island, jungle gym and Olympic dreams. One-day Mommy and Me camps also are themed and geared for toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old.

“We have dance, gymnastics and baton twirling with fun performances. Come help us celebrate 40 years of DMG this summer,” says Williams.

For youth interested in cheerleading or baton twirling, campers have the opportunity to perform at a Lafayette Aviators baseball game at Loeb Stadium. Registration for all DMG summer camps begins in April.

Greater Lafayette Commerce Robotics in Manufacturing
greaterlafayettecommerce.com/robotics-in-manufacturing-camp 

Organized by Greater Lafayette Commerce and in partnership with local Boys & Girls Clubs, Robotics in Manufacturing Camp provides week-long day camp sessions to area students in grades 1-8. Sessions vary by location and grade, but all focus on educating youth about the applications of new technology in modern manufacturing.

Workforce Development Director Kara Webb says, “Robotics in Manufacturing Camp is a great summer activity for campers in our region. Campers develop and grow in their knowledge of coding and programming in a fun environment with robotics, 3D printers and more. We bring in local industry at the camps as well.”  

A typical day at camp rotates children through stations that build upon what they learned the day before. Stations will cover EV3 robots, Sphero robots, littleBits, 3D printing, Scratch coding software and more. It’s a great way to get hands-on with manufacturing skills and processes while meeting local manufacturers.

“Campers get to engage with local manufacturing and logistics employers to learn about what is created and produced in their backyard, and what careers they have in the industry,” Webb explains. “I’m always fascinated by how creative and innovative the campers are!”

Civic Youth Summer Theatre • lafayettecivic.org/camps 

Civic Theatre in Greater Lafayette hosts a number of camps serving youth interested in choreography, singing, acting, musical theatre, improvisation, design and performance. This summer, Civic Theatre has planned the following camps: Choreography; Theatre Intensive; Rising Stars Camp: Moana’s Island Vibes; Out of the Box; and Curtains Up Camp: Disney’s Moana, Jr.

“Summer camps with Civic Theatre are incredible opportunities for kids to develop performance skills and theatre knowledge in a fun and team-focused environment. The most beneficial takeaways the campers have shared have been the friendships, sense of accomplishment and self-confidence gained from working together towards a common goal,” says Julie Baumann, director of education and outreach.

As an example, the Curtains Up Camp will prepare camp participants for a final, full-scale production of “Moana, Jr.” with lights, sound and costumes. Technical crew members are also needed for this production. Interested teens should email Julie at julie@lafayettecivic.org for possible tech crew openings. Positions include set construction, sound board operators and backstage crew members.   

Wild About Horses • wildabouthorses.net/summer-camp-2018 

Wild About Horses Equestrian Center, located in West Point, was established in 1998 by Pam Bowen Gibson. She focuses on teaching the fundamentals of a balanced rider through horsemanship, partnership on the ground, kindness and respect for horses. 

Her summer camp program, going on 24 years now, includes two  lessons per day in this week-long camp. The week concludes with a Friday afternoon horse show, open to camper families and friends. Children ages 7 and older are welcome and are encouraged to bring a change of clothes and boots. 

Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
lafayette.in.gov • columbianparkzoo.org

McAllister Center Summer Camp: Children ages 6-12 are welcome to the McAllister Center each summer for day camp full of fun activities. Campers go on field trips to the City of Lafayette’s aquatic facilities and parks. They’re also able to visit the movie theater and bowling alley. 

Registration is available in weekly sessions, and there are discounts for households with multiple campers. Before and after care services are included in the weekly fees, and a junior counselor program is an option for 13-14 year-olds.

Columbian Park Zoo Camp: Zoo day camp programs are planned for children ages 3-14 with a variety of themes and schedules. Zoo Cub mini-camp is organized for children ages 3-4 in three-day sessions. Preschoolers experience hands-on animal encounters, games, crafts and other activities. Children also enjoy supervised outings to zoo exhibits. 

Learning Adventures Camps are offered to three different age groups: ages 5-7, ages 8-11 and ages 12-14. The learning camps highlight nature-based topics alongside hands-on activities and animal 

encounters. Behind-the-scenes tours are a popular addition to zoo camp as well as games, crafts and STEM activities. 

The campers in the oldest age group get an inside look at what it’s like being a zookeeper. This unique week-long day camp has been offered at the Columbian Park Zoo for over a decade, and it’s perfect for those interested in animal-related careers. Campers work alongside staff zookeepers and gain experience with public speaking in front of small groups of zoo visitors.

West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
westlafayette.in.gov

West Lafayette Wellness Center Summer Camp: After celebrating its one-year anniversary since opening, the West Lafayette Wellness Center is ready to host campers for a second summer. Children ages 6-11 participate in this day camp for one-week sessions. Campers get to make a splash in the indoor pool, participate in both indoor and outdoor sports and games, create crafts, go on field trips and enjoy special guest speakers.

Lilly Nature Center Camp: In addition to the camp held at the wellness center, the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department is also hosting a new summer camp at the Lilly Nature Center off Lindberg Road. Children will explore a new, nature-themed day camp for each week-long session. Session themes cover such topics as insects, wildlife, plants and geology.

Head Camper Program: Area teens ages 13-15 are invited to apply for a new Head Camper Program at the West Lafayette Wellness Center. Participants will gain leadership skills and work experience in a day camp setting. Head campers have to undergo an interview process and must be responsible, enthusiastic, reliable and be willing to serve as role models to the younger campers.

Boiler Kids Camp • purdue.edu/recwell/sports-and-programs

After a two-year hiatus due to Purdue’s COVID-19 policies, Boiler Kids Camp is returning this summer at Purdue RecWell. Youth ages 5-12 register for week-long sessions. 

Activities include rock climbing, swimming, arts and crafts, cooking, games and visits to on-campus landmarks. Before and after care services are included, and both RecWell members and non-members are welcome.

YMCA – Camp Tecumseh  • camptecumseh.org

Located on the banks of the Tippecanoe River in Brookston sits Camp Tecumseh. There are a variety of camp options for kids ages 5-12, including overnight, equestrian and day camps as well as adventure trips. 

Summer day camps are themed, week-long sessions full of planned activities that include games, horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, archery, obstacle courses, fishing, nature adventures and more. With more than 600 acres to explore through trails, lakes and pools, there’s opportunity for a new adventure every day in this faith-based environment led by expertly trained counselors.

YMCA – Straight Arrow Day Camp • lafayettefamilyymca.org

The YMCA hosts the Straight Arrow Day Camp just outside Lafayette at Camp Treece for weekly sessions during the summer. Camp sessions are themed with related activities that include swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, archery, obstacle courses and team building.

Campers are divided into age groups: Preschool Camp for ages 3-5, Regular Camp for ages 5-9 and Youth in Action overnight camp for ages 10-12. Straight Arrow Day Camp also offers a Junior Counselor Camp for youth ages 13-15.

Bus transportation is provided for pick-up and drop-off from the YMCA. Additionally, a pick-up and drop-off site is available at West Lafayette Elementary School.  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH

Teledyne FLIR’s slogan is “Everywhere You Look”. 

For 20 years, this company in Purdue’s Research Park has been improving technology, “helping people around the world save lives, protect the environment and enhance productivity. We’re building more than innovative technologies; we’re striving to build a more sustainable, more efficient, safer future.” 

Teledyne FLIR, a company started by two Purdue graduates who worked with Dr. Graham Cooks, is owned by parent company Teledyne, a large multinational conglomerate. FLIR is a leader for its applications in thermal imaging and chemical detection, says Clint Wichert, director; site operations. 

The company is best known for its highly specialized chemical detection instruments. There are broad applications for these instruments, which use mass spectrometry, allowing for very specific chemical identification. They can separate specific chemical mixtures, allowing the identification of minute amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals. 

“Our instrument is really the best to use in these applications,” Wichert says. 

This highly specialized equipment can be used by the military, first responders and by hazardous materials units. 

It can, for example, detect fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is highly addictive and possibly fatal when taken in high doses. It is often mixed with other drugs on the black market; this technology can detect fentanyl at even 2 or 3 percent, when it is mixed with acetaminophen — a dangerous and potentially lethal combination.

Improvements in technology have made these instruments smaller and more compact over the years, and they are now portable, meaning they can now be transported to a site. With a three to nine-month backlog in some modern forensics labs, this means less time to identify a substance, and less chance that substance will be contaminated during transport. 

“This technology is really the gold standard for chemical identification,” says Wichert. 

The instruments are sensitive and complex. For years, they were large; with the computer required, pumps and the power source, they took up a great deal of space. But the same technological progressions the world has seen in all other areas have helped make this technology more portable and accessible. 

“We’ve worked progressively over the past 20 years to miniaturize the technology,” says Wichert. “Something that used to weigh 120 pounds is now down to under 40 pounds. This same kind of tech progression has happened and been pioneered in West Lafayette.”

The company employs around 50 people and hires many Purdue graduates but also gets talent from Indiana University and Rose Hulman. Employees are drawn to the Lafayette area and working in the Research Park, with its proximity to the Purdue campus and ability to continue the collaboration with Dr. Cooks. 

As the company continues to grow and expand, it looks forward to expanding these life-saving technologies, Wichert says. 

“It’s been great over the last 20 years to really have the support of the community and of Purdue,” he says. “We work with experts, and we like to be able to tap into this talent pool, both technology and manufacturing. We’re happy to be part of this community.”  ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Sunlight streams through the windows of the red-painted brick building at 623 Main St., casting soft rays into the vintage space. On a white painted cabinet between the front door and the check-out counter, packages of walnut shortbread cookies rest on an elevated cake plate, while clusters of biscotti stand at attention in ivory mugs bearing the bakery’s logo. Nearby on the same wooden countertop, handmade doily bags bearing pieces of chocolate hang from the branches of a gilded tree, while a house plant on a marble-top stand adds a contrasting green to the vignette.

In this Pinterest-perfect space, gallery-white walls and honeyed wood floors serve as the backdrop for carefully curated displays of dozens of different pastries, all handmade by bakers Sergei and Natasha Vasili. 

Founded eight years ago, their Scones and Doilies Bake Shop serves up European-inspired, made-from-scratch baked goods that are as delicious as they are pretty.

“Our products are unique, handcrafted and freshly baked using quality ingredients. Our recipes are all original, and you’ll see seasonal flavors and varieties. For example, during Easter we make decorated Easter cookies and Greek Easter bread,” Natasha says. 

A fresh look

Natives of Albania – a mountainous coastal country situated on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula within the Mediterranean Sea – the couple worked in food service after immigrating to the United States. “We learned a lot about the industry – product trends, food safety and customer service,” Natasha explains. They baked on the side, getting rave reviews from family and friends for their pastries and decorated cakes. 

Eventually, with the encouragement of their daughters, the two launched their business at local farmers markets, using a commercial kitchen for baking. Then they moved downtown into a space that they shared with City Foods Co-Op.

Two years ago, when City Foods closed its Main Street location, the Vasilis became the sole proprietors of the space, and they set to work on freshening it up. Rustic wood walls and corrugated metal trim gave way to a cheerful, neutral and slightly boho space that allows their intricately detailed pastries to be the stars of the show. 

Their goal, says Sergei, was to make the place “feel like something different, something really unique. I think people in Greater Lafayette really enjoy that.”

Rustic and elegant

Albanian baking is a mix of Mediterranean, European, rustic and elegant, and all of that is on display in Scones and Doilies. On any given day, customers may discover gingerbread cookies piped with tiny flowers nestled next to delicately rolled pieces of baklava and berry galettes enveloped in flaky dough and sprinkled with sugar. 

Menu items vary but generally include scones in such flavors as honey fig pecan and white chocolate raspberry, challah bread, rugelach, baklava, biscotti, cookies, cupcakes, and galettes in savory flavors such as roasted vegetable and ham and cheese. Several gluten-free pastries are regularly available, including scones made on site. 

“We also craft specialty cakes, all baked to order, dense in texture with our signature buttercream icing and beautiful decorations,” Natasha says. Along with traditional flavors of chocolate and vanilla, the bakers offer specialty flavors in lemon blueberry, blackberry lime, raspberry champagne and carrot, in double-layer, triple-layer, half-sheet and full-sheet styles. Pricing varies by flavor and decoration. Some of these special orders are spotlighted on Scones and Doilies’ Instagram page, their colorful sprays of flowers puddling over iced layers. 

Sales for a cause
The Vasilis love giving back to their adopted community of Greater Lafayette as well as communities around the world. In addition to being active in the International Center at Purdue University, the couple supports Gift of Life International (GOL), a Rotarian-based organization whose mission is to provide life-saving heart surgeries to children in developing countries. 

Nine years ago, they helped to facilitate surgery in Indiana for their niece in Albania, who was born with a heart condition. Today, the couple says that Luna is a happy, healthy young girl – a testament to the partnership between GOL and Riley Hospital for Children. The couple continues to raise funds for the charity through the sales of some of their baked goods and handmade items such as doilies and mittens. 

“We’re able to support them in bringing the babies here, or sometimes they bring the doctors there,” Sergei explains of the charity, which to date has treated more than 40,000 children from 80 countries, according to the organization’s website.  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Everyone deserves a second chance. But for individuals in recovery from addiction, second chances can be hard to come by. A grant-funded partnership between Phoenix Recovery Solutions, a division of Phoenix Paramedic Solutions, and Valley Oaks Health provides peer-based recovery support to individuals struggling with issues related to substance abuse, mental health or homelessness.  

“Our certified peer recovery coaches have lived experience and are in recovery from mental health or substance use themselves,” says Jason Padgett, the director of marketing solutions for Phoenix and one of the founding members of its quick response team (QRT), which facilitates the second chance program with support from the statewide Indiana Workforce Recovery Initiative. The QRT, which includes a warm line staffed 24/7, services nine counties: Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Cass, Carroll, Benton, Newton, Fulton and Pulaski. 

“As a person in recovery myself, I didn’t have many choices when I entered recovery 16 years ago for alcoholism,” Padgett says. “Alcoholics Anonymous has saved millions of lives, but recovery is not a one-size-fits-all journey. The beauty of peer support is that unlike saying ‘this is how I did it, you’re going to follow my same path,’ a peer recovery coach takes the view that your journey is your journey. We’re here to help show you your options and support you on your journey by connecting you to community resources. It’s up to you to decide what route to recovery you want to explore.” 

One of the biggest challenges for persons in recovery is maintaining employment. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act protects addicts in recovery from a substance use disorder, relapses — not uncommon on the path to recovery — can lead to a positive drug screen, tardiness or missed work, which can lead to dismissal. Embracing a Second Chance Workforce, a new program offered by Phoenix QRT and Greater Lafayette Commerce, seeks to educate and empower businesses on how to support employees through addiction recovery. 

“Our goal is to partner with local corporations, particularly manufacturing but any industry, to refer employees who test positive on a drug screen or are having trouble with mental health or substance abuse issues,” Padgett says. “The companies would contract with us to assign a peer recovery specialist to support that individual on their recovery journey. That allows the company to retain the individual on its workforce, which is much cheaper than hiring and training a new employee. There are tax incentives for companies that embrace second chance policies.” 

A Lunch and Learn panel discussion held in April featured representatives from companies that embrace second chance policies geared toward people in recovery as well as individuals with felony records. As a follow up, a second chance career fair is scheduled from 1-7 p.m. May 18 at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. In addition to showcasing companies embracing second chance policies, the career fair will also have representatives from community social service organizations.

“We want everyone who comes to the career fair to have access to every community resource they could possibly need,” Padgett says. “From peer support to treatment to ongoing education, they can even get help creating a resume or practice interviewing to make them comfortable speaking with potential employers.” 

Holding a job is a large part of an individual’s recovery capital, the internal and external resources that can initiate and sustain long-term recovery. Phoenix, which embraces felony-friendly hiring and employs several individuals in recovery in addition to Padgett, will be among the employers represented at the career fair. 

“I’ve had a relapse in recovery and I was supported by my employer,” Padgett says. “It meant the world to me. A bump in the road doesn’t have to mean going all the way back down to the bottom and starting at zero again.”  ★ 

 

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

For many of us who grew up in Greater Lafayette during the 1960s and 1970s, one of those places was Columbian Park. It had everything for children of all ages and their parents. 

A merry-go-round. A train ride. Playground equipment such as the imposing “curly” slide. Gas-powered bumper cars on a winding paved track. A large swimming pool whose fenced-off 10-foot deep section was at first scary and then a rite of passage toward adulthood.

“We’ve brought back some things for people who remember the park when they were kids,” says Jon Miner, director of operations for Lafayette Parks and Recreation.

No, “monkey island” isn’t coming back. Nor is that swimming pool or the bumper cars.

But the COVID-delayed carousel will be opening sometime this summer. Returning for a full season of operation is the train that gives riders a tour of Columbian Park, and the paddle boats.

“We’ve changed enough to adopt what people are looking for today in recreation,” Miner says. “So those families who don’t remember that can still come to the park and make their own memories. Coming to the ballpark to watch the Aviators play, going on a paddle boat ride or seeing a concert at Memorial Island. Visiting a first-rate zoo. 

“Even though the water park is different than the old pool, I think people growing up with Tropicanoe Cove will have the same memories we had of the old round pool. There’s a lot there for the community and people of all ages. Bringing back the paddle boats, the train and the carousel will add to that experience.”

It’s been more than 20 years since the last time a merry-go-round entertained children in Columbian Park. The 42-foot diameter carousel, which was budgeted for $600,000, will feature 36 carved horses and other animals. Morgan Constructors of Lafayette built the building that will contain the carousel.

“Once that’s up we’ll have a full allotment of rides,” Miner says. 

“I think it’s probably the thing most people are excited about. The paddle boats kind of surprised people last year when we said we were bringing them back. That brought a lot of nostalgia back. We’ll experience some of that same thing with the carousel. I think the carousel will be that same type of experience for those of us who remember the old carousel at Columbian Park, and for kids who didn’t experience that it’ll add another reason to come to the park. I think the community will be really, really pleased.”

The carousel and the restrooms under construction on the site of the former Jenks Rest building will wrap up several years of renovation at Columbian Park.

“We’re really looking forward to this summer since it’s going to be the first since 2018 where we haven’t had any construction happening inside the park,” Miner says. “Once that carousel is in, we’re going to have a good year where people will come and not have any construction fences up and around. It’s exciting to get to see what you want to see and not have to worry about restricted parking or ‘we can’t go over there because it’s under construction.’ ”

The new restrooms will serve the east side of Columbian Park that is home to Memorial Island as well as the SIA Playground and the picnic shelters.

“While bathrooms are typically not the most exciting thing to construct, they are critical infrastructure,” Miner says. 

The biggest news coming out of Columbian Park during the past few months came from the zoo. Six of the nine African penguins died after contracting avian malaria.

The three surviving penguins – Shazam, Sagely and Donner – are “doing well,” according to Miner.

“They’ve gained weight and are holding their own,” he says. “I am not a veterinarian nor an animal person but I think we’re past the illness stage with them. There can be some long-term effects of avian malaria on surviving penguins. It’s a matter of keeping an eye on that and making sure we’re doing the things necessary to keep them healthy.”

The Columbian Park Zoo is set to open April 16. 

By that time, the zoo’s neighbor – Loeb Stadium – will be home to Lafayette Jeff high school baseball for the second consecutive year following Loeb’s renovation.

Loeb also will host a movie night on April 22. The animated film “Onward,” featuring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer, will be the second movie shown at the ballpark following “Elf” this past fall.

The Lafayette Aviators summer collegiate baseball team opens its home schedule at Loeb Stadium June 1 against Terre Haute.

Residing west of Loeb Stadium, Tropicanoe Cove is preparing to launch its 23rd season. The water slides that remind some park-goers of the old Big Dipper slide is back for the fourth year.

“That’s hard to believe for those of us who remember the old round swimming pool,” Miner says.

Once the carousel and new restrooms open, that will be the last of planned construction at Columbian Park until possibly 2023. That’s a potential date to replace some of the equipment at the SIA Playground, which sits on the land formerly occupied by the pool.

“Playgrounds have a shelf life, and the SIA Playground is approaching 23 years,” Miner says. “That gets to be about the point in time you have to start looking at replacing some of those pieces for safety.”

Future plans also include bringing exhibits featuring primates and North American cats to the zoo. 

Also in the next year or so, fishing may be allowed again in the lagoon, which Miner was proud to say still has crystal clear water following years of decay and mud buildup.

“We’re continuing to work on the ecosystem in the lagoon,” Miner says. “We did a lot of stocking (of fish) last fall. It’s not going to be ready for fishing quite yet. The fish that are in there won’t be of size, but we’re working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Purdue on stocking it with the appropriate species.”  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
FOWLER PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
FLOWERS PROVIDED BY RUBIA FLOWER MARKET IN WEST LAFAYETTE

Are you dreaming of glamour or country chic?  Looking for a comfortable business setting or a place to unwind?  Book your next event at one of Greater Lafayette’s premier venues for that perfect spot.

Photo by Marta Lewis

Fowler House Mansion 
909 South St., Lafayette • fowlerhouse.org

Built by Moses Fowler in 1852, the house is considered one of the finest examples of a large Gothic Revival residence still standing in the United States. Ornately carved woodwork adorns surfaces throughout, and the ceilings in the north and south parlors feature elaborate plasterwork. With a combined indoor/outdoor seating of 150-200, the mansion is an iconic location for weddings and other private rentals. The Tudor-style formal dining room and Italian-style tiered patio and formal gardens combine to create an elegant and refined setting. On-site catering services ranging from charcuterie and crudités to full-scale entrées or buffet are available to enhance any event. All proceeds from rentals and catering benefit the 1852 Foundation, established to preserve the mansion. 

Duncan Hall
619 Ferry St., Lafayette • duncanhall.org
With its striking architectural details and stately grandeur, Duncan Hall evokes an unforgettable experience for guests. A variety of rooms from the intimate Victorian tearoom to the majestic ballroom can accommodate parties large and small. Benefactor Thomas Duncan bequeathed the resources to build this gracious, Colonial-style building, and the hall’s mission carries on Duncan’s wish to provide a place for cultural, educational and celebratory events that enrich the community. Since 1931, the hall has hosted myriad events, including plays, art shows, ballroom dances, wedding receptions, community forums and fundraisers — even a speech by JFK in 1959. 

Gathering Acres Event Center 
5074 E 550 S, Lafayette • gatheringacres.com 
Situated in a picturesque country setting overlooking a pond, Gathering Acres provides an idyllic spot to tie the knot. A four-bedroom, two-bath bridal suite located in the main house is also available for rental. The 8,000-square-foot facility can accommodate 300 attendees and is climate controlled and available for year-round events. The charming space is accented by wooden chandeliers and plank flooring. There’s also a 1,500-square-foot covered patio that seats 75 with an expansive view of the countryside. Not just for nuptials, this event center books company events, church retreats, graduation parties, quinceañeras and family reunions.  

History Center
522 Columbia St., Lafayette • tippecanoehistory.org
This newly renovated history center in the heart of downtown Lafayette offers several spaces well suited for a variety of events. The former home of the Masonic Lodge of Lafayette, a building now owned and operated by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, includes an auditorium with optional dance floor and a commercial kitchen. There’s also a banquet hall, a lounge and plans to install a hardscaped brick patio. TCHA purchased the building in 2017 as a curatorial event space, offering affordable rentals and adaptable space, particularly for other area nonprofit organizations.     

Lafayette Country Club
1500 S. Ninth St., Lafayette • lafayettecountryclub.com

Billed as an everyday oasis, the Lafayette Country Club has provided a nearby vacation spot for area families since it opened in 1909. Available for weddings and other special events as well as meetings and luncheons, the facilities accommodate banquet events from 10 to 300 people as well as private meeting rooms and a conference center with a board room. While it is preferred that all non-members have a member host the event, it does have the capacity to sponsor events to non-members. Available catering menus include everything from simple refreshments to decked out buffets with a carving station. 

New Journey Farms
2181 S 800 E, Lafayette • newjourneyfarms.com

Located on nearly 14 acres in a secluded country setting, New Journey Farms offers both indoor and outdoor ceremony sites with the ability to host up to 350 guests, and ample parking. The climate-controlled facility allows for year-round use and provides modern amenities such as spacious private bridal suites. Large, covered porches perfect for socializing with refreshments flank the building and a grand staircase allows couples to make a memorable entrance. Polished concrete floors and lofted white ceilings contribute to an airy, bright vibe and modern ambiance.   

Northend Community Center 
2000 Elmwood Ave., Lafayette • faithlafayette.org/northend

Multiple community, conference and break-out rooms accommodate groups of various sizes at the Northend Community Center. A commercial kitchen stocked with amenities, a gymnasium with two full-size basketball courts and an innovation center with work tables for creative endeavors also are available for rent. The community center is an entity of Faith Ministries.  

The Stables Event Center
7071 S 100 E, Lafayette • thestableseventcenter.com

Clad in wood paneling with wagon wheel chandeliers, the Stables Event Center is awash in rustic chic elements. The family-owned facility is nestled on 40 acres of pastures and woodlands with a creek and horse farm providing attractive backdrops for photos. Sliding barn doors open to a spacious covered patio with firepit that looks out on to the bucolic countryside. Private bridal suites, ample catering and bar space and plenty of parking allow for a flawless event. The Stables is available for a range of events from live concerts to parties, even prom!  

Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds
1401 Teal Road, Lafayette • tippecanoecountyfairgrounds.com

Reopened in 2021 following a $21 million investment in renovations, the fairgrounds event center anchors the complex and provides a welcoming home for traditional fair, farm and animal-related events. The large, multi-purpose facility consisting of the coliseum and three wings is equipped with state-of-the-art audio equipment and rigging points. The space can be divided as needed to accommodate smaller rentals. There’s also a large fully appointed commercial kitchen available. The fairgrounds offers a number of other buildings and grounds for rent, too, including the west pavilion, horse barn, outdoor festival area and shelter house. 

Wea Creek Orchard5618 S 200 E, Lafayette • weacreekorachard.com

Owned and operated by three families who are descended from the pioneers who purchased the farm in 1855, Wea Creek Orchard and its 3,600-square-foot vintage barn create a lovely setting for weddings, showers, graduation parties and special events. Delight guests with wagon rides and incorporate orchard produce into your celebration. There’s plenty of space for yard games and a bonfire surrounded by wooden benches and hay bales. 

West Lafayette Golf and Country Club
3224 US Hwy 52 W, West Lafayette • wlgcc.com

The West Lafayette Golf and Country Club has been serving the community since 1941. Its remodeled clubhouse banquet facility complements the stunning golf course grounds the space overlooks. Services are offered to the public as well as to club members, so there are no limitations on who can book an event. Multiple dining rooms offer seating for events accommodating 25 to 300 guests. Whether it’s an elegant wedding, reception or rehearsal dinner, a golf outing or an important business affair, the country club staff attends to every detail from event coordination to custom menu creation. 

Rat Pak Venue
102 N Third St., Lafayette • ratpakvenue.com

With exposed brick walls, tin ceiling and enormous windows that overlook the Tippecanoe County Courthouse, Rat Pak Venue features architectural details befitting a glitzy city event. Whether it’s a wedding, graduation party, corporate gathering or social event, the combined ballroom and lounge can seat 220 guests or accommodate more intimate engagements. The name Rat Pak stems from the company’s mobile DJ services that are available to enhance any event, in addition to bar catering.  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The night of April 14, 2004, seems like a lifetime ago to Donte Wilburn, the Lafayette businessman honored as the 2021 entrepreneur of the year by the Indiana Small Business Development Center. That night, Wilburn, then 22 years old and a junior at Purdue University, sped through the streets of Lafayette, desperate to get his friend to the emergency room. The two had just been involved in a drug deal gone bad. Wilburn’s friend was shot four times. 

“That night altered my life forever,” Wilburn says. “I had been living a dual life since I was in 10th grade at Harrison High School and someone taught me how to sell drugs. I continued selling in college, but that night was supposed to be my last big drug deal. I could have died.” 

Wilburn’s friend survived the gunshot wounds. And eight months later, Wilburn pled guilty to conspiracy to deal marijuana, a Class D felony. He was sentenced to three years of community corrections. He went to jail but was allowed to leave to attend school and work. The only place that would hire him with his felony record was a local carwash. During that time, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue. 

“Underneath my graduation gown I was wearing an ankle monitor,” Wilburn says. “I asked the correctional officers if I could have one hour after graduation and they gave it to me. I took my girlfriend to Logan’s steakhouse and proposed to her. Before the food came out, I had to go back to jail.” 

Donte Wilburn, owner of Premier Detailing and Wash LLC, is presented with the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by David Watkins, Indiana Small Business Development Center State Director. (photo courtesy of Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier)

As a graduate and newlywed, Wilburn threw himself into his work. He wasn’t afraid of hard work, but he didn’t like what he saw in the carwash industry. Employees were paid minimum wage for grueling labor. They were treated poorly and looked down upon. 

“I was complaining and thinking, ‘I’ve got to get out of here,’ ” Wilburn says. “Then I heard a small, still voice tell me, ‘Ya know, if you don’t like it, change the industry.’ ” 

And that’s what he set out to do. He became a system manager and when that company closed down, he went to clean cars for Mike Raisor Automotive Group. In 2011, Raisor gave Wilburn the opportunity to reopen Premier Auto Detailing. Wilburn and his father renovated the facility, which opened on November 1, 2011, with 13 employees. Impressed with Wilburn’s tenacity and leadership in the company, Raisor offered to sell him the business and the property. Wilburn closed the deal in 2018 and became owner of Premier. 

“When Mike told me he was going to sell me the business, I broke down and cried,” Wilburn says. “There were a lot of trying times, but God came to me and showed me a grand vision of how he would bless me if I blessed the people in this industry. When Mike says those words, ‘I’m selling you this company,’ I realized that the vision I had in the middle of the night in 2008 was real. It was unbelievable.” 

Wilburn continued to grow the business and opened a second location in Kokomo in 2020. He now has dreams of franchising 50 locations throughout the country. In 2021, he became one of four new owners of the Legacy Courts sports complex in West Lafayette. The partners have expansion plans to create a Legacy Park that includes fields for baseball and soccer in addition to its indoor basketball courts. Wilburn and his father also invest in real estate. 

Nearly 20 years after that fateful night, Wilburn can hardly believe his good fortune. He and his wife, Tesha, are the parents of three children: Trinity, 13; Titus, 10; and Truitt, 4. Wilburn never had big dreams growing up. He certainly never imagined the life he leads now. 

“If one shifts their direction, it alters their destination,” Wilburn says. “If I would have known the opportunities and possibilities that lay before me when I was 18, where would I be now? My goal is to live a life that inspires others to come behind me. I want to give them hope that no matter how bad your situation is, you can come up out of it. I want my children to know that whatever they dream, they can attain.”  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

From its modest beginning as a small repair shop founded by John M. Stall II in 1953, Stall & Kessler has become Lafayette’s oldest jewelry store the old-fashioned way.

Building love stories one diamond at a time, Stall & Kessler’s reputation for quality and service earned it Greater Lafayette Small Business of the Year honors for 2021. Stall & Kessler emerged from a list of finalists that included Mecko’s Heating and Cooling, Starr Associates, Richelle in a Handbasket, Indoff Office Interiors and Advantage Title, Inc.

Greater Lafayette Commerce has been selecting Small Business of the Year winners since 1993. No business was honored in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Small Business of the Year award is something that we consider to be a tremendous accomplishment,” says Kristopher Kessler, co-owner. “It has taken decades for us to become what we are to have received it and reflects on more than ‘just an award.’”

Kessler credits the award to his customers and the Greater Lafayette community, which has embraced the foundation of principles and policies created by John Stall II, John Stall III, Jeff Kessler and Sandy Utz.

“Without the loyalty and support of our customers and our community we wouldn’t be around today,” Kristopher Kessler says. “Some things never go out of style: consistency of quality, outstanding customer service and a dedication to excellence in all that we do are principles we strive for. Regardless of what happens in our time – past, present and future – we believe that these core principles will always be in style.”

Stall & Kessler boasts that it has been “celebrating 68 years of love stories.” One story in particular has remained with Kessler.

A woman in her 60s or 70s came in holding a small, delicate ring. She asked a typical question: do you repair jewelry? Oftentimes, the affirmative answer yields a story behind the ring. This lady’s tale, though, was unusual.

“This story took me a bit by surprise and it was that day that I realized the significance of what we provide to our customers,” Kessler says.

The lady’s grandmother had given her the ring when she was 13. Now, she wanted it repaired to pass along to her 13-year-old granddaughter.

“To this day, it gives me chills,” Kessler says. “With a little bit of respect, the products we provide can last for generations. That is why the quality of product is so important as well as the expertise and quality of service, so we can allow love to transcend the effects of time through jewelry. 

“Love doesn’t live in what we do, but it can be represented through the products and services that we offer.”

Stall & Kessler often sees love stories at the beginning as well with couples shopping for wedding rings or gifts for special occasions.

“When people come into our store, it is usually a purposeful trip so people make an effort to come see us,” Kessler says. “We see relationships that we are privileged to be a part of and hope to develop for any occasion. Our hope is to be there to provide ring cleanings for a Saturday night out or a special item for a 50th wedding anniversary and everything in between.”

Like many professions, Stall & Kessler boasts an extra level of expertise. In this case it is home to Indiana’s only Master Graduate Gemologist. Stall & Kessler also has three Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamond graders, two GIA pearl graduates and three GIA Retail-Jeweler graduates.

The Gemological Institute of America, Kessler says, is the utmost authority in the jewelry and gemological world.

“If you are diamond shopping, the ‘4 C’s’ of a diamond is something that you will become familiar with throughout the purchasing process,” says Kessler, referring to cut, clarity, carat and color. 

A diamond’s cut refers to the quality of the angles, proportions, facets and finishing details. Color stands for how colorless the diamond is. 

Clarity indicates how clean the diamond is of inclusions and blemishes. Lastly, carat is the weight of the diamond.

“Becoming a Graduate Gemologist takes a series of courses in jewelry, diamonds and gemstones. There are also three separate lab courses that are in person to delve deeper in diamonds, gemstones and overall gem identification. The Master Graduate Gemologist … takes the Graduate Gemologist degree a step further into the retail specialization.”

Those skills allow Stall & Kessler to use a CAD (computer-aided design) software system that allows the repurposing of existing jewelry that might need a new setting.

As small businesses begin to make a comeback from the effects of COVID-19, those that can adapt to change like Stall & Kessler figure to survive.

Stall & Kessler has evolved from a jewelry repair shop to selling diamonds and other precious gems at its present location, 333 Columbia St., since 1979.

“Sixty nine years in the jewelry business has allowed for plenty of change,” Kessler says. “We hope to improve (our current location) for a more pleasant shopping experience and develop our online presence. Regardless of what happens, we will continue to work on developing our quality and consistency of products and services.  We will invest in the people who choose to work with us. Those things I can forecast with certainty. 

“The rest we leave up to the Lord, a little luck and perhaps a spark of inspiration from our people.”  ★

 

BY RADONNA FIORINI 

What does it take to score almost $35 million in federal and state grants designed to bolster long-term economic health and student-to-workplace success? For officials in six area counties and six cities within those counties, plus representatives from several educational institutions, it took joining hands and working collaboratively.

Two, multimillion-dollar grants have been awarded to Greater Lafayette Commerce that will be used to address quality of life issues, economic development and student readiness in a six-county region around Lafayette, says Greater Lafayette Commerce President and CEO Scott Walker. 

Greater Lafayette Commerce spearheaded the arduous process of applying for the grants, working in partnership with regional elected officials and education professionals to obtain $30 million through the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI, and a $4.9 million Student Learning Recovery grant.  

READI split the state into 17 regions and requires neighboring counties and communities to create governing boards that represent each region. The Greater Lafayette region, as defined by the state, encompasses Benton, Carroll, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties. 

While Lafayette/West Lafayette comprise the most populace cities in the region, collaboration between all counties and municipalities is critical for success, says Ben Dispennepp, economic development director for Warren County.

“Collaboration among regional counties and cities is necessary because people desire a diversity of living, recreational and employment options,” he says. “If we share in efforts to build up the region and promote across these invisible boundary lines, this region will offer a higher quality of life and provide more opportunities to thrive in the long run.”

Just applying for the grants was a challenging process that started last May. Creating a final action plan to be implemented in the next four years is the current challenge. 

“It’s complicated and we have to follow all the federal procurement and accounting guidelines,” Walker says. “The ultimate benefit will be fostering regional collaboration in a way that hasn’t been done before. It’s complex, it’s challenging. Over the long term, we’ll work to create more vibrancy and more economic development with regional partners in ways that are strategic.”

Here’s a look at each grant:
READI Grant 

After local officials learned of the grant in 2021, the Greater Lafayette Regional Board of Representatives was established. This 20-person group is comprised of six county commissioners; the mayors of Attica, Covington, Delphi, Lafayette, Monticello and West Lafayette; representatives from area economic development organizations; and representatives from Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College, Walker says. 

The board worked together to draft the more than 70-page Lafayette Regional Development Plan

which was approved by the state. The $30 million grant was announced in December. 

The plan calls for unprecedented collaboration between the urban and rural areas of the region with a goal of retaining and expanding businesses, including high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies. It addresses the need for a well-trained, diverse workforce, and the importance of addressing quality-of-life issues such as safe, affordable housing; a strong labor market; recreational and cultural opportunities; plentiful child care options; vibrant city centers; and sound infrastructure.

“The process has been very enlightening,” says board member John Dennis, West Lafayette’s mayor. “Bringing together several communities with different population dynamics, different economic drivers, and different needs and priorities has been a real eye opener for all of us.” 

Dennis describes Indiana as a diverse state with influences from around the world and an equally diverse and unique economic base. 

“Collaborating with our regional partners opened the doors for further collaborative opportunities and opened our eyes to the fact that although we might not share a ZIP code, we all share a great love for our communities and our state,” he says.

The regional board currently is identifying specific projects to be funded by the grant. 

Some projects being considered include:

  • Expanding the airport near Purdue, bringing commercial air service back to the region.
  • Residential development plans to address housing needs.
  • Investment in greenways and a trail system along the Wabash River.
  • Expanding access to broadband in rural areas.
  • Expanding the availability of quality child care.
  • Programs to attract talent and a diverse workforce, with a focus on veterans.

“At the risk of sounding hokey, all the projects submitted have a purpose and greatly benefit the region,” says Dennis, adding that he doesn’t have a favorite. “We’re very blessed here in Tippecanoe with two economically strong cities and county. Having a world-class university in our community doesn’t hurt, either.”

Warren County’s Dispennepp concurs that all the proposed projects are important in attracting and retaining a robust workforce. Adequate and affordable housing, however, stands out as one of the keys to long-term economic health.

“In talking with area businesses, they see housing availability as a concern for their workforce and their ability to expand,” he says. “And I would agree that low supply of housing impacts the cost of living, quality of life, and is a barrier to growing our workforce. Our READI project, focused on increasing housing in the region, would help accelerate the efforts that are already being made to address housing needs.”

Projects ultimately chosen must meet federal and state guidelines and be sustainable, long after the grant money runs out, Walker says. The stimulus money, he adds, will help leverage new private/public partnerships to sustain and grow the regional economy and quality of life. 

 “The READI funding will provide much-needed capital for economic development throughout our region,” says Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, also a board representative. “We have an opportunity to accomplish several quality-of-life initiatives that have been part of our collective conversations for years.”  

Student Learning Recovery Grant Program

This $4.9 million grant, which was awarded to Greater Lafayette Commerce in January, is aimed at addressing issues related to education and the workforce, says Greater Lafayette Commerce Workforce Development Director Kara Webb.

The federal and state stimulus money is designed to help students make up for learning losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the quality of education. Local leaders are focusing much of their efforts on creating strong connections between area manufacturing partners and schools. 

In the last few years, Greater Lafayette Commerce and local governments have partnered with companies to develop programs that introduce students to careers in industry and manufacturing. Those efforts have included tours of area manufacturing plants, and summer camps that offer hands-on opportunities to learn about careers in advanced manufacturing, logistics, coding, robotics and more, Webb says. 

Lafayette’s Roswarski touts collaborative work on such projects as the Greater Lafayette Career Academy, Greater Lafayette Commerce Manufacturing Week/Month and serving as a pilot city for Make IN Move, a statewide advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.

“These partnerships — along with our work with local businesses, industries and building trades — have built a strong foundation to maximize the use of these (grant) funds,” he says. 

The grant also provides funding for the creation of a curriculum that imbeds manufacturing principles into student coursework. Area manufacturers will work with Skyepack, a West Lafayette company that creates digital learning courses and pathways, and Ivy Tech to develop coursework that will help students obtain credentials and certifications before they graduate high school. Those credentials can help students land a job or get an early start on a college degree.  

“The Student Recovery Grant will help close learning gaps and prepare students for a career right after graduation,” Roswarski says. “Financial resources to schools and community partners will provide students with access to career opportunities and resources as they prepare to join the local job market.”

And the curriculum will emphasize lifelong skills that will serve students well, no matter what college 

or career they choose, Webb says. The teaching of such life and character qualities as attention to detail, confidence, independence and problem solving will be included in the curriculum for each grade level.

Area educators are excited that the curriculum will be made available to them on their own timeline, she says. Participating schools will use their own discretion in how to incorporate the teaching into different instructional areas.

The almost $5 million grant must be used by June 30, 2023, so some of the money will go to help participating schools hire additional staff and tutors to roll out the curriculum. 

Eight schools have signed on, and Greater Lafayette Commerce is offering the program to many more in the region. There is the potential to impact more than 12,000 students in the six-county area, Webb says.

And local industry will benefit from having access to a well-trained workforce, prepared to fill new, high-tech jobs in the region.

 “These programs will allow students to earn credentials and build a portfolio before employment,” Webb says. “We are building a talent pipeline and providing access to a talent pipeline. This will help students recover from the loss (during the pandemic) and have access to local jobs.”

Two other Student Recovery grants were awarded locally:

Purdue University’s College of Education received a $1.1 million grant and will be working with students in kindergarten through third grades in the Tippecanoe, Lafayette and Frankfort school districts.

“We are partnering with district leadership and K-3 grade classrooms … to expand literacy clinics to support emergent readers and writers; expand language clinics to support emergent bilinguals; and offer release time for teachers through our grant,” says Christy Wessel Powell, a Purdue assistant professor.

Purdue also is offering professional development for teachers and partnering school districts using online resources, related workshops and a lending library.

Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club of Tippecanoe County received a $383,813 grant to extend current programming.  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
COLLAGE PHOTOS PROVIDED

A small name change can go a long way. For The Arts Federation — known locally as TAF — the removal of Tippecanoe actually means more gains than losses.

Tetia Lee, TAF executive director, says the name has always caused a little bit of confusion. People have been known to refer to “Taft,” she says. Or when she’s out in the field, working with artists in other counties, the Tippecanoe label seemed to fall a little flat. 

Because as a Regional Arts Partner of the Indiana Arts Commission, TAF serves more than half a million residents in a 14-county area in north-central Indiana, the largest geographic area in the state. It’s much more than Tippecanoe County, and the time had come for the name to truly reflect that.

Thus with this rebranding, The Arts Federation helps to more accurately represent the counties represented by Region 4. 

Since 1997, TAF has provided support for artists and is the umbrella organization for more than 200 different member organizations. This encompasses everything from vocal and instrumental music organizations — large established ones such as the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony, or smaller ones like the Jazz Club — as well as individual artists — painters, sculptors, weavers or writers. Even performance venues such as the Long Center for the Performing Arts are members, using TAF services to help them network and reach their audience, or expand to a new one. 

TAF provides a physical home for those groups who need it, in their newly renovated facility, the Wells Community Cultural Center on North Street in downtown Lafayette.

The building has large and small meeting spaces, a dance studio, recording studio and craft space. TAF offers after-school arts programming for children of all ages. 

Financial support also is available to member organizations, as TAF helps administer a series of grants, both state and federally funded, both for operating and project support, to its members. 

The whole change began with a website redesign, Lee says. The organization knew it needed to update the site, make it more user-friendly, for ease of access.

“Our greatest change, we knew we would be overhauling our website to make it more beneficial and add some widgets,” Lee says. “We knew we wanted to do a rebrand.”

As they began to go through their style guide, emphasis fell back on the logo, which, Lee had known for a long time was less than ideal. With its multiple elements, it tried a little too hard to 

represent too much, says Lee. 

And a market test found that people found the old logo unrelatable. “People thought we were a manufacturing company,” Lee says. 

“It was a printer’s nightmare,” Lee says. “No one would even embroider it for us.” The new logo, a more simplistic yet visually appealing design, represents the arts with a sleeker, more cohesive look. 

New logo, new name — sort of — yet the same mission. And best of all, the acronym TAF is still accurate, so there’s no learning curve for longtime members. This rebranding will help better spread this message to the people TAF wishes to serve. And in the end, the new name better represents TAF’s mission and its outreach to the entire region.

“When I was out in the field, it was hard to gain trust because we had Tippecanoe in the name,” Lee says. “We are a regional arts organization. 

We want everything to reflect our focus.”  ★

 

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

With warmer temperatures and the promise of locally grown fruits and vegetables just around the corner, some restaurants are freshening up their menus from the comforting warmth of winter to the bright palate of spring.

Outdoor tables are being dusted off and fresh, herby menu options are popping up. Here’s a look at some of the changes coming for spring at area dining establishments.

The Bryant
1820 Sagamore Parkway W, West Lafayette
765-250-8963

Executive Chef Alejandro “Alex” Cruz is all about fresh from farm to table when he creates seasonal menus at The Bryant. Spring and summer mean more local produce with which to experiment and achieve the fresh flavors he loves.

Cruz shops at the farmers markets and also buys direct from some local producers. He generally offers new items as specials and those that do well may become part of the regular menu. 

“I like to help local farmers and I like to play with flavors and offer something different,” Cruz says. 

“Having salt and pepper on the table isn’t necessary if the dish is seasoned well. I try to make something that is good, just as it is.”

This spring he’s excited about serving lamb dishes with meat purchased from a local farmer. More gluten-, dairy-free and vegan options are in the works, from entrees to desserts. Look for the gluten-free Key Lime tart with an almond flour crust.

Fresh produce means colorful sides and salads, including a Caprese salad appetizer featuring a gazpacho/kale pesto, burrata cheese and prosciutto on a crostini. Or how about a corn cake BLT with local bacon, heirloom tomatoes and avocado on homemade corn cakes adorned with honey sriracha mayo?

Really hungry? Dig into the new Monte Cristo sandwich that features local ham, Swiss cheese and cherry jam, that is dipped in batter and deep fried. Wanting something a little lighter? The new Basil Ranch salad made with arugula and baby kale and topped with blueberries, peaches, fontina cheese, candied walnuts and pancetta might fit the bill.

Teays River Brewing and Public House
3000 S. 9th St., Lafayette
765-746-6614

The patio doors are open at this south-side brewery and restaurant that focuses on artisanal sandwiches, steaks and pizza, along with unique craft beer. 

“Our patio is the most popular outdoor seating area in Lafayette,” says owner John Hodge. “We’ll have an official patio opening party in mid-May, and it will be open as often as the weather allows.” 

While the Teays River menu doesn’t change with the seasons, some warm weather specials will be offered every month. The menu was refined in late winter to reflect current supply chain and labor market challenges, says Hodge. Rising food prices and the continuing difficulty in hiring staff meant the restaurant needed to focus on the most popular, easy to prepare items. More vegetarian and vegan choices also are available.

You’ll still find hand-crafted pizza, chops, salmon, flavorful sandwiches and salads, along with an extensive menu of signature beers. Here’s to the wind in your hair and a cold one in your hand.

East End Grill
1016 Main St., Lafayette
765-607-4600

From salads to appetizers to handcrafted cocktails, the spring menu at East End will be veggie and fruit forward, says General Manager Laila Syed.

Lots of herbs and fresh vegetables play a crucial role in the lighter fare featured currently. The grill changes its menu twice a year, freshening up salads and adding some lighter fish choices in the spring. For example, the fall salad featuring apples, seeds and goat cheese has been replaced with a green salad topped with berries and candied almonds.

The chef is working on a fresh fish appetizer to accompany the menu favorites that remain throughout the year, including the Wagyu beef, which comes from a farm in Cutler, Indiana. The restaurant works with about 10 different food venders, many in the region, to find the best quality and freshest ingredients possible.

“Our handcrafted cocktails are very fruit forward for spring,” Syed says. “We also feature lighter wines and funky beers.”

Due to Indiana’s unpredictable weather, it’s hard to know when East End’s outdoor tables will be open regularly. Just head downtown when a soft, warm breeze wafts through, heralding the lengthening days and promise of fresh flavors from locally grown produce.

The Whittaker Kitchen
702 W 500 N, West Lafayette
765-441-2010
info@thewhittakerinn.com

The kitchen at the Whittaker Inn is open to the public from 4-8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with a reservation made 48 hours in advance. To-go orders also are welcome. Call in your reservation or send an email. 

Chef Andrew Whittaker — who owns and operates the inn with wife Elizabeth — looks forward to freshening up the dinner menu each season and sees spring as the time to feature leafy herbs and seasonal veggies.

While the protein options — steak, fish and chops — are fairly consistent year-round, side dishes, salads, sauces and soups now feature lighter, brighter flavors. There will be a few new entrée options as Whittaker is experimenting with trout this season, in addition to his popular salmon dish.

“Our winter/fall menu has more shallots and robust veggies,” Whittaker says. “Spring and summer we use more leafy herbs such as basil, which we grow out in front of the inn.”

Seasonal vegetables such as asparagus and peas are going in risotto, and salads are updated with baby tomatoes, artichoke or steamed asparagus. Regular trips to the area farmers markets keep Whittaker supplied with many of the fresh ingredients that go in his signature dishes. 

Overnight guests also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, made to order from an a la carte menu, and can raid the night kitchens, which feature fresh baked goods and beverages.

Farmers market opening soon >>

It’s almost time again for delightful strolls through one of the areas three farmers markets, all of which open the first week of May and plan to operate through October. Here are the details:

West Lafayette Farmers Market: Opens Wednesday, May 4, 3:30 – 7 p.m., in Cumberland Park, 3065 N Salisbury Street, West Lafayette. More than 50 vendors offer fresh produce and baked goods, prepared foods and juried crafts. Wine by the glass from area vineyards is featured along with food trucks. 

Purdue Farmers Market: 
Opens Thursday, May 5, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the Purdue Memorial Mall, West Lafayette. Organizers are expecting more than 20 vendors offering produce, baked goods and prepared foods. Pay attention to parking restrictions and use nearby parking garages when possible. 

Lafayette Farmers Market: 
The area’s oldest market opens Saturday, May 7, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and will be open most Saturdays. Stretching along 5th Street in downtown Lafayette 

between Main and Ferry streets, the market features produce, meat, fresh flowers and house plants, crafts and jewelry, handmade soap, baked goods and more. ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Any season is the ideal season to linger over a scrumptious brunch. Perfect for celebrating a special occasion, catching up with friends or cozying up with a good book, the leisurely atmosphere of brunch invites you to tarry a while. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet delights or savory noshes, 

Greater Lafayette boasts a bevy of brunch options. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite local restaurants to indulge in seriously delicious Sunday eats (and drinks!). 

8Eleven Bistro 
201 Grant St., West Lafayette

If you’ve yet to check out 8Eleven, the culinary anchor of the recently remodeled Union Club Hotel at Purdue University, brunch is a great place to start. Its intimate setting preserved the historic building’s vintage oak paneling, sweeping Gothic windows and original stone fireplace. Soak up the classy aura as you savor farm-inspired cocktails and classic American dishes with a few French signatures. 

What to try: The croque madame is sinfully delicious. The menu lists it under handhelds, but with all that silky mornay sauce, you’re going to need a fork. The nearby Boiler Up bar enhances its craft cocktails with fresh garnishes provided by the College of Agriculture. Go ahead, make it a double.  



Black Sparrow Pub

223 Main St., Lafayette

Don’t be surprised to encounter a line of people waiting to dine at the Sparrow’s legendary brunch. The eclectic pub known for a mastery of craft cocktails and innovative bar food opens on the last Sunday of the month to serve up a hearty brunch. The menu changes every month and is often themed. Past brunches celebrated Lunar New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Oktoberfest.  

What to try: The frequently featured French toast with inventive toppings (think strawberry Baileys or baklava) is sure to please. You can’t go wrong sipping a greyhound. It’s half grapefruit juice so that counts as a serving of fruit, right?

501 Bistro
501 Main St., Lafayette

This airy upmarket bistro has anchored the downtown brunch scene for many years, serving up French-inspired fare that highlights local ingredients. Executive chef Cheyenne Buckley changes the menu with the seasons so there are always new flavor combinations to explore. Reservations recommended. 

What to try: The waffle Monte Cristo with blackberry maple dip offers an imaginative twist on an old brunch favorite. A delectable menu of boozy cocktails and virgin mocktails will keep you refreshed. 

Cellar Wine Bistro 
1001 Main St., Lafayette

Open for brunch on the first and third Sundays of the month, the inviting ambiance at Cellar Wine Bistro creates a relaxing brunch vibe. The much-coveted window table for two allows you to watch the world go by as you dine. Chef Ethan Wise enjoys introducing atypical menu items that showcase global flavors. Reservations accepted. 

What to try: For an intense 
flavor explosion order the okonomiyaki, a cabbage and sweet potato pancake topped with marinated pork shoulder and a poached egg. Mimosas are a must at the area’s premier wine bar.  

Folie
526 Main St., Lafayette

Billed as a casual, upscale eatery featuring seasonal French and New American plates, Folie may be the gem of Main Street. Though its brunch took a hiatus at the end of 2021, we look forward to its return this year. With a kitchen that focuses on classic preparation and draws inspiration from regional and global gastronomy, guests embark on a culinary adventure during every visit. Watch Folie’s Facebook page for updates on the brunch schedule. Reservations accepted.

What to try: The ever-popular plántanos fritos (fried plantains) are divine. When paired with a chelada (Mexican beer cocktail) the combo is sensational.

Fowler House Mansion
909 South St., Lafayette

The Fowler House Kitchen hosts brunch once a month on the second Sunday. Take in the grandeur of one of Lafayette’s most stately homes, built in 1852 by Moses and Eliza Fowler. Despite the opulence of the ornately carved woodwork and exquisitely crafted plasterwork throughout the Gothic Revival home, this brunch is a casual affair. The best part? Proceeds from brunch help fund the continued preservation of the Fowler House Mansion. Reservations recommended.

What to try: Though the menu is ever-rotating, a savory biscuits and gravy is a signature entrée. The bar serves both mimosas and bloody Marys.

Sixth Street Dive
827 N. Sixth St., Lafayette

This no-frills watering hole specializes in Tex-Mex and American comfort fare, and those flavors influence the weekly brunch menu as well. As Diverienos know, brunch specials here are truly innovative and unlike anything served elsewhere in town. If apple cinnamon breakfast tamales in a whiskey cream sauce won’t get you out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning, what will? 21+ only.

What to try: Anything on special. Truly. And if you’ve never experienced the decadent Canadian grub that is poutine (French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and gravy), this is a good place to be indoctrinated. Not only does the Dive serve mimosas, but they serve beermosas and margmosas, too. ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden and his defending national champion UCLA team were the first to find out that Mackey Arena is a difficult place to play for Purdue basketball opponents.

A team featuring Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) came within a last-second shot of being the Boilermakers’ first upset victim when Mackey Arena opened on Dec. 2, 1967. More than 14,400 also witnessed Rick Mount’s debut in a Purdue uniform. The Indiana Mr. Basketball from Lebanon nearly shot the Boilermakers to victory with a game-high 28 points in a 73-71 loss.

Since then, Purdue has won more than 650 men’s basketball games, been home to the Big Ten Conference’s only women’s basketball national championship team and set a record attendance mark (10,645) for an NCAA women’s volleyball match.

Purdue men’s basketball, which achieved the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press poll in December, expects to fill Mackey Arena’s more than 14,000 seats for every game in the 2021-22 season. 

“Without question it gives us an advantage,” says Matt Painter, in his 17th season as Purdue’s head coach and a four-year letterman under his predecessor, Gene Keady, from 1989-93.

“The noise, the way it bounces off the ceiling, I think that’s a bit of a difference in how loud it gets. I used to always walk into the locker room after we win close games and say I don’t know if we would have won that game anywhere else in the country besides Mackey Arena. There’s no question the fans get us six to 10 points with the atmosphere here.”

The loudest Mackey Arena crowd was registered at 122.3 decibels during a 2017 victory against Indiana. That decibel level has been compared to sitting in the front row at a rock concert or the sound of a thunderclap overhead.

The noise quickly gets the attention of visitors and fans watching the games on TV.

“There is a possibility that Mackey Arena at Purdue is the loudest venue in college hoops. It kinda hurts to work here actually,” says ESPN’s Dave Flemming.

Mackey Arena was hailed as “the first of its kind among collegiate sports facilities” when groundbreaking for the circular concrete and steel structure with a domed roof took place on July 20, 1965.

For more than 50 years, Purdue has gotten its money’s worth from the $6 million investment that replaced the old arena inside Lambert Fieldhouse next door. 

Originally named Purdue Arena, it gained its current name in March 1972 when the facility was named in honor of long-time athletic director Guy “Red” Mackey, who had died the year before. 

On Dec. 12, 1997, the floor of Mackey Arena was declared “Keady Court” in honor of Gene Keady, the winningest coach in Boilermaker basketball history.

If possible, Mackey Arena became a louder place to watch and play a basketball game when an organized student section was added in the early 2000s. Originally called “The Gene Pool” to salute Keady, the organized body was renamed “The Paint Crew” when Painter replaced Keady in 2005.

Purdue senior Bryce Randolph, vice president of The Paint Crew, takes pride in doing his part to help the Boilermakers intimidate rivals.

“From the opening tip to the final buzzer, every single fan in Mackey is into the game,” Randolph says. “Mackey is such a tough place because of how engaged and passionate the fan base is every day and especially every game. Every game is insanely loud and it does not matter who they are playing against.”

Randolph cited a 96-52 victory against Wright State early in the 2021-22 season. 

“Purdue was up 30 points in the first half and the crowd would go crazy for every dunk or big 3-pointer the team had,” he says. 

The Paint Crew’s support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players. Senior guard Sasha Stefanovic notices during pre-game warmups that the Paint Crew is usually full an hour to 90 minutes before tipoff.

“You feel our students right on top of you, always yelling,” Stefanovic says. “It feels very intimate at the same time. The intimate feel is something you notice right away.” 

The deafening roar of Mackey Arena sometimes has its drawbacks. At Mackey’s loudest moments, Painter can’t call plays for his team and his players can’t hear what he’s saying.

“More or less, you can’t hear yourself think when it gets that loud,” Painter says. “You will have a moment or two every now and then where you are like, ‘This is unbelieveable.’ You become a spectator at times because (the players) can’t hear you. It is a pretty cool setup when it gets that loud. Even though it might be a little harder for us, it’s definitely harder for your opponent.”

Adds Stefanovic: “I’m telling you there are tons of times we don’t understand (Painter), can’t hear. Ball screen assignments, plays. Sometimes you practice with crowd noise when it’s going to be a big game. It’s a good problem to have.” 

Mackey Arena was a quiet place to play during the 2020-21 season, when only family was allowed to attend games due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Painter wondered how his players would react to playing before crowds this season. Only junior guard Isaiah Thompson and Painter’s three scholarship seniors (Eric Hunter Jr., Stefanovic, Trevion Williams) had experienced Mackey Arena at its most boisterous.

“Our freshmen and sophomores had never played in a sold-out Mackey until this year,” Painter says. “Those guys walking into their first game and having a sellout in an exhibition, they think that’s the way it is. It’s not normally the way it is.

“Your exhibitions, they might call them a sellout but you don’t see 14,000 people there like this year. I think it was something pretty cool for all of us, to be out for a year and then be able to see a sellout every single game.”

It’s been more than 30 years since Painter played his first game as a Boilermaker in Mackey Arena. While he doesn’t remember many details, one memory stands out.

“I remember how much Coach Keady was fired up at the time,” Painter says. “I’m thinking, ‘Man, is he like this all the time?’ He was really amped up because the season before they hadn’t played as well. I was fired up watching him.

“He would try to get the crowd even more amped up than they already were. I’m a little different how I’m wired. I’m constantly trying to keep my poise and think about the next thing coming up.”

Stefanovic was 11 years old when he experienced Mackey Arena for the first time. Thanks to his brother, a Purdue student, Stefanovic found a seat among The Paint Crew when Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore led fourth-ranked Purdue past sixth-ranked West Virginia on New Year’s Day 2010.

“It was a crazy, crazy environment,” Stefanovic recalls. “Those are definitely vivid memories.”

Randolph grew up imagining himself wearing a Purdue uniform in Mackey Arena. The next best thing was becoming a part of The Paint Crew when he enrolled at Purdue. 

“After getting in, I fell in love with going to the games with all my friends,” Randolph says. “I really feel like we have a huge impact on the games. The loudest I have heard it was against IU during the (2019)-20 season. Eric Hunter had a breakaway dunk to end the half and Mackey exploded.

“I have never been to another college arena so I cannot compare them to Mackey. But I have a hard time believing them being anything close to Mackey in terms of fan engagement and level of intimidation for opposing teams.”  ★

WHAT THE FANS SAY

“Few things feel as helpless as being on the visitor’s bench when Purdue gets rolling at Mackey Arena.” – Mark Titus, former Ohio State player

“Look up intimidation in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Mackey Arena.” 

Loren Tate, Champaign News-Gazette

“There are some environments that can’t be replicated and Mackey Arena is one of them.” 

Kenyon Murray, former Iowa basketball player

“Mackey Arena is one of the underrated, great environments in basketball. Does not get the attention it deserves for a place that absolutely rocks.” 

Dan Shulman, ESPN

“I feel like I say this every time Purdue plays a big home game,  but Mackey is a legitimately terrifying place.” – Eamonn Brennan, The Athletic

MACKEY BY THE NUMBERS
(As of Dec. 3, 2021)

» Games played: 810

» Sellouts: 409

» Overall record: 665-145
(82 percent)

» Non-conference record: 306-38
(89 percent)

» Big Ten games: 359-107
(77 percent)

» Average attendance per game from 1967-present: 13,096

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration – 

a contemporary, light- and glass-filled structure in the Discovery Park District of West Lafayette – provided a fitting backdrop last August for the announcement of an innovative, collaborative facility that will investigate the latest in hypersonic technologies.

The planned Hypersonic Ground Test Center (HGTC), revealed to a crowd attending a Hypersonics Summit hosted by Purdue 

University and the National Defense Industrial Association, will be located in the Purdue Aerospace District adjacent to the university campus. The new facility is part of ongoing, long-term economic development plans for Greater Lafayette and Indiana. 

“Creating this first-in-the-nation center is possible because we have industry partners that aren’t just on the cutting edge but are reinventing where the edge is. Couple that with the many thriving communities in Tippecanoe County, and a gushing pipeline of top talent at Purdue including researchers, students and graduates [that are] prepared to make the next giant leaps in both aerospace and hypersonic 

i“It’s because of days like today that our economy remains strong and Indiana reigns as one of the best places in the world to do business.”

Paving the way

Driving along the western gateway of the Purdue campus where State Street meets the U.S. 

231 bypass, you’ll notice a much different landscape from 10 or even five years ago. Rising from the flatlands are multi-story office buildings, R&D facilities, apartment complexes and $450K-plus single-family homes – all part of the $120 billion Discovery Park District development from Purdue Research Foundation and Indianapolis-based Browning Development LLC.

The planned community is designed to attract everyone from startup founders to corporate executives with luxurious homes surrounded by green spaces a short distance from where they work. The transformation, however, began with infrastructure made possible with the help of Greater Lafayette officials. 

In 2013, a $46 million Indiana Department of Transportation project to reroute U.S. 231 was completed, bringing the road parallel to the southern edge of the Purdue campus, with its northwest leg meeting up at State Road 26 near the intersection with Newman Road. This rerouting opened up new possibilities for business development adjacent to Purdue, and later in the year, the West Lafayette City Council voted to annex 3,997 acres including the Purdue University campus and the properties adjoining the U.S. 231 Highway Corridor. 

Two years later, with the consent of the West Lafayette City Council, Mayor John Dennis and his staff applied to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to certify part of the land as an aerospace district.

Then, in 2019, work wrapped on the $123 million State Street Redevelopment Project, a joint venture between the City of West Lafayette and Purdue University. No longer a state highway for through-traffic, the revamped corridor boasts wider sidewalks, bicycle racks, public art and landscaping from the Wabash River up the hill through Purdue. 

That same year, crews completed two other critical projects: construction of a roundabout at the intersection of State Road 26 and Newman Road, and the rebuilding of a railroad bridge with a wider, higher underpass. A collaboration of Purdue University, the City of West Lafayette, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Purdue Research Foundation, the projects were designed to improve traffic safety and accommodate larger commercial trucks for the anticipated arrival of industry clients. 

All of these improvements paved the way for the Aerospace District and the Hypersonic Ground Test Center.

The next frontier

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that can travel at Mach 5 or higher – at least five times faster than the speed of sound. The United States, Russia and China are all racing to develop hypersonics, seen as the next frontier in national security. 

Purdue University boasts a large team of hypersonic researchers in a number of subspecialty areas, along with expertise in systems-engineering research – the ability to bring these experts together in order to solve complex problems. 

The Aerospace District capitalizes on these capabilities as well as Purdue’s legacy in the broader discipline of aerospace education and research. To date, the university has had 27 graduates in space, and its aeronautical and astronautical engineering program consistently ranks among the top in the United States.

Aerospace and national security is one of four strategic focus areas of Discovery Park District. Boilermakers – and by extension, Greater Lafayette residents – are seen as an essential mix of its burgeoning workforce. 

“At Purdue, we’re committed to research at the very frontiers of science, especially when it can contribute to the national security of Americans,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels at the announcement of the new hypersonic center. “Becoming home to the nation’s premier hypersonics facilities can make such a contribution, while providing enormous new opportunities for our researchers, aspiring entrepreneurs and job-seeking graduates.”

Team effort

HGTC will further expand the district’s capabilities by offering a central shared facility supporting multiple laboratories. Rolls-Royce is the founding member of a new nonprofit consortium of national defense industry partners that will manage capital and operational costs for the facility. 

The unveiling of plans for the Hypersonic Ground Test Center came last summer on the heels of two other major announcements. 

In July, Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation officials reported on the planned construction of a 65,000-square-foot Hypersonic Applied Research Facility, which will house a hypersonic pulse (HYPULSE) shock tunnel and the only Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel in the world. 

Then, in early August, Rolls-Royce announced a significant expansion at Purdue, with new test facilities for high-altitude and hybrid-electric engines that are expected to power the next generation of U.S. military aircraft. The company, which notes that it has more engineers from Purdue than any other university, already has a jet engine facility located in Purdue Technology Center Aerospace, the first new building that was constructed for the Aerospace District. 

Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation will fund the construction of the HGTC. But, as with the infrastructure improvements ahead of the Aerospace District’s development, its expansion is the result of a team effort. 

“That investment from Rolls-Royce, the university and PRF, along with support from the state, West Lafayette, Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, laid the foundation for creating the HGTC,” said Purdue Research Foundation President and CEO Brian Edelman.  ★

BY KARIS PRESSLER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Over the past 10 years, several key moments have led Lindsay Mason, the founder and designer of French Knot, a knitwear company based in downtown Lafayette, to where she is now.

First, the moment in 2012 when Mason told her parents that she would like to start her own company after being laid off from her job as a knitwear designer. 

Mason’s parents, Carol and Ken, quickly set to work helping to incorporate French Knot and then create space in their New England barn for Mason to design and ship 12,000 hand knit hats and handwarmers made in Nepal that first season.

The second key moment was French Knot’s big move from Massachusetts to Indiana in 2017 when Mason’s husband accepted a job at Purdue University. Mason felt immediately welcomed and supported by the Lafayette community even if there was, and still is, the misconception that Mason and her Lafayette team knit all of the products they sell.

“We’re not up here knitting. We’re shipping over 80,000 pieces a season from our warehouse on North Street,” Mason says with a smile and then explains how wool sourced from South Africa and New Zealand is first hand-dyed and spun into a vivid color palate before being knit using a two-needle technique. Once Mason’s designs — that include hats, mittens, headbands, scarves, sweaters and slippers — are constructed, many items are embellished with tasteful beading and intricate embroidery that echo vintage design elements from the 1920s.

So who knits these timeless French Knot designs?

Sunlight pours into Mason’s work area on a Monday morning in her office above Third Street where jewel-toned swatches of fringed yarn festoon her work station. Next to one of the swatches, a picture of Mason and a Nepali woman hugging and smiling while surrounded by finished French Knot products reminds Mason of her “why.”

“She’s like my Nepalese grandmother,” Mason says of the woman who leads one of the knitting groups in Nepal that bring Mason’s designs to life.

Mason looks at the photo.  “She’s amazing.”

“We’ve probably done over 1,000 designs. She knows every single number in her head, every color, every single purchase order number… She always asks how my parents and my husband are doing.”

“We’re very tight,” Mason remarks of her connection to the Nepali knitting groups. “My favorite thing is going to visit them for the two weeks that I go over there every year. Every time we go there, we see their businesses growing.”

Mason, a graduate of Syracuse University’s Fashion and Textiles Design program, relies on her years of industry experience along with her artistic eye to create each original French Knot design that she often draws by hand before transferring to a CAD (computer-aided design) program. Mason began building rapport with Nepali artisans shortly after college, and she has maintained connection ever since. 

“I started working with Nepali knitters about 15 years ago,” she says and explains how at that time most of the hand knit items coming out of Nepal often used earth-toned yarns, had boxy pattern shapes and geometric color work. But Mason’s pull toward soft and flowing vintage design coupled with the use of vibrant yarns allowed 

her Nepali colleagues to create something new and 

dynamic — something that French Knot buyers such as QVC, Sundance Catalog and Anthropologie have never seen or sold before.

For Mason, her mission is not just to make French Knot’s products noticeable, but to also make the story of French Knot and the way the items are hand knit, hand embroidered, hand beaded, and hand lined both memorable and lasting. 

She’s worked hard to build and maintain trust, community and connection with knitting groups half a world away by ensuring that French Knot’s artisans are paid a living wage. Mason also works exclusively with suppliers who are certified in ethical and environmental practices. Likewise, she strives to maintain a sense of family among those who work beside her locally.

French Knot has become more than Mason ever imagined it could be.

This moment of reflection quickly evaporates. Mason closes several windows on her computer screen before joining Ryan Casucci, French Knot’s marketing and sales manager, to discuss upcoming social media posts, newsletters and the much-anticipated French Knot warehouse sale this winter season.

Several blocks away from Mason’s Third Street workspace, Chelsea Erhart, French Knot’s operations manager, along with the warehouse team, begin to process an order of hats that has just arrived from Nepal. The walls of the North Street warehouse are lined with pictures of French Knot’s artisans, adorned in bright colors and wearing wide smiles while knitting Mason’s designs. This shipment of hats, a design that Mason first imagined eight months ago, will be quality checked and processed before being shipped out again to buyers and boutiques throughout the United States, the UK and New Zealand. It’s a Lafayette layover for hand knit items.

“Did you know that Johnny Cash wrote a song about the Wabash River from Lafayette?” Erhart asks as the group begins to sort and inspect the shipment.

Linda Emberton looks up from a grid of hats she has arranged into groups of 10 and chimes in, “I heard that song on Jeff 92 this morning on the drive in.” Emberton then randomly selects a hat from each row to check that its size and appearance, including the size of the pom pom, meets French Knot’s specifications.

The group briefly discusses the song’s merits, illuminating the fact that this song is different from Cash’s “Wabash Cannonball,” a song about a locomotive train. Erhart taps the screen on her phone a few times until Cash’s gentle guitar fills the space and he croons, “If it wasn’t for the Wabash River, I’d be going out of my mind.” The group listens while working, some counting hats in time with the music’s beat.


This multi-generational warehouse team gathers almost daily in the fall to process and prepare French Knot’s orders for the holiday season. It’s too early for holiday music, so when Cash’s Lafayette-inspired song concludes, Erhart allows Cash’s next song, “I Walk the Line,” to play as she steps away to call a shipping company and inquire about an order of slippers that has disappeared somewhere between here and Nepal.

Jeni Rider, a Lafayette native, shares how she first learned about French Knot from the Sundance Catalog well before Mason transplanted her business to Indiana.

“I had been following Sundance. It’s the Robert Redford magazine, you know? It’s one of my favorite catalogs.”

One afternoon, Rider’s husband, Jeff, a local real estate developer, told Rider about meeting Mason while she was scouting properties in Lafayette before moving. 

“Jeff just told me, ‘You might love what she does… She designs those hats that you like. ‘That’s all he said, isn’t that funny? ‘She designs those hats that you like,’” Rider laughs. But when her husband and their three daughters brought home items from French Knot’s annual warehouse sale where the public can purchase discounted seconds and samples of Mason’s designs every December, Rider knew she had to connect with Mason after seeing her products in person. Rider has been working in the French Knot warehouse ever since.

She feels passionate about French Knot’s brand because the products have heart. “It’s these women’s livelihood,” Rider says while looking at a photo of Nepali women knitting. “It’s just beauty,” she says of both the individuals who create the products and the products themselves.

Rider and Emberton gather the inspected hats and pack them into several boxes that Kelley Brakstad, an HR consultant with French Knot who also helps in the warehouse when needed, has placed in front of their work tables.

“It’s all hands on deck,” says Brakstad, who first met Mason several years ago while working at MatchBOX Coworking studio, where Mason serves on the board. “This is a small business, we do what we need, right?” Brakstad declares before disappearing to make more boxes and retrieve purchase orders.

Emberton makes notes on a purchase order pinned to a clipboard while Rider slides a box of processed hats over to the shipping station several feet away where Mason’s parents, along with shipping manager Jonas Bellini, prepare and palletize the packages.

The group continues its work throughout the morning as Mason, Casucci, and the French Knot intern Sarobbie Hagen, join the warehouse crew to help process and ship.

Hagen, a media and mass communications major at Purdue, dives in with fulfilling boutique orders.

“We got an email yesterday about one of our hats,” Hagen shares. “This woman was like, ‘I love your Josephine cloche. I have three colorways and I just bought two new colorways on QVC.’”

Hagen’s experience at French Knot has helped her appreciate how the company’s story makes its products mean something to consumers.

“You can tell that people telling our story care more. Before they’d be like, ‘These hats are from French Knot and they’re warm.’ Now, on QVC they say, ‘These French Knot hats are designed out of Lafayette, Indiana, by Lindsay Mason and made in Nepal by women artisans. They’re beautifully handcrafted.’”

It’s been a whirlwind week for Mason. “It’s getting real,” she muses. “It’s getting real real.”

Between prepping for the holiday season, designing, packing orders and fielding questions from QVC about expanding her line from just seasonal cold weather items to include springtime products, the cherry on top — or maybe it’s the pom pom on top — is French Knot’s slated appearance on a Friday morning Today Show “Warm and Cozy” segment.

Casucci and Mason shipped an assortment of French Knot items to 30 Rockefeller Plaza last week, and now they anxiously await to see what products will be featured as they gather alongside the team of local French Knot employees at Ripple & Company for coffee and donuts.

“We’ve never been on the Today Show before. This is big for us.” Mason says as they wait for the segment. The anticipation along with the caffeination elevate the atmosphere as the group chats while always keeping an eye on the TV.

Mason’s parents stand alongside Mason and her husband. They have witnessed French Knot’s growth from the very beginning — from when they outfitted the family barn to become a makeshift shipping operation, to now, a moment in time when their daughter’s art along with French Knot’s story will be broadcast on national TV.

Brakstad sets a matcha latte in front of Pam Guarino.  Guarino came to work at the warehouse only a few months ago. “I’m fortunate that I’m a part of it,” Guarino says. “That I’m working here. I may not be knitting or helping to design or anything. It’s just, I’m a part of it. Getting to watch it. It’s exciting.”

Hagen agrees while looking around at her co-workers. “I don’t know how this business is just full of amazing people. Not one of these people doesn’t feel passionate about this brand.”

For Mason, this is why she does the work that she does – to create beautiful products, watch people grow alongside her, and celebrate, right here in the heart of Lafayette. For French Knot, not only does every stitch matter, but so does every person who has contributed to the company’s growth and continued success.  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

A major presence in the Greater Lafayette economy since 1985, Wabash National has positioned itself to prosper during one of the toughest periods in our nation’s economy. The manufacturer is a leader of engineered solutions in transportation, logistics and distribution.

Instead of fighting for survival during the nearly two years of COVID-19 and its side effects, Brent Yeagy, president and CEO, saw this time period as a chance to regroup and make plans to take advantage of the post-pandemic business world.

“I think it has given us the opportunity to look at the world a little differently,” says Yeagy, whose degrees include a bachelor’s in environmental engineering science and a master’s in occupational health and safety engineering from Purdue University.

“Anytime we have something as disruptive as a national pandemic, things begin to change the world around us. Some for the negative and ultimately there’s things that have a positive nature to it, or at least an opportunity.”

Decreed an essential business due to the economic impact of its semi-trailer and tank trailer production, Wabash National and the more than 6,500 employees nationwide successfully met the social challenges that came with COVID-19.

“The biggest challenge was the initial speed of change and the uncertainty that would be provided by the national government in how best to manage the situation,” Yeagy says. “That gave businesses an unclear footing as to how best to take care of their employees, how to navigate the downturn in the economy and how to forecast what would come next.”

Yeagy had to balance critical decisions with both the Wabash National shareholders and his employees’ best interests. 

Fortunately, the methods to protect those 6,500-plus employees were a far more simple task.

“We did an excellent job across the country in managing everything from how to use PPE, contact tracing and all those things that go around it,” he says. “What was hard is that underlying social impact that occurs. How do you manage a 6,000-plus workforce with schools closed? You don’t have child care. We really had to think of a very innovative way to manage those needs during a really hard time for our employees.”

Wabash National has altered its thinking to the new economic reality that puts more and more emphasis on e-commerce.

“For us, commerce has been a driving force in new opportunities for new products, new customers and new markets that we can position Wabash going forward,” Yeagy says. “We have altered our strategy to what we call ‘First to Final Mile,’ where we look at products and services that span across all logistics, including e-commerce.”

Among those new opportunities was the purchase of Supreme Industries, a Goshen, Ind.-based truck body business.

“We’re launching new products to meet the needs of these changing logistics accordingly. So we think for us, this is a sustainable change that will drive future growth for Wabash over the next decade.”

A noticeable change coming to the company is its name. Recently, it dropped the National part of its brand to become simply “Wabash.”

“We want to tell a story that we’re not the same Wabash,” Yeagy says. “We’re not Wabash National, we’re Wabash. We stand for something different. It’s a reflection of the dramatic organizational and structural changes that we have completed over the last two years that position us to truly grow across the company, to become the visionary leader across a growing transportation and product solution state.”

Greater Lafayette and Purdue University want to play a role in Wabash’s future. With $70 million in investments planned for its two Lafayette plants during the next two years, Wabash and the city of Lafayette agreed to a $25 million tax abatement during that period.

“I think first and foremost it shows trust in Wabash by the city of Lafayette and its leadership,” Yeagy says. “That allows us as a corporation that spans the entire country in terms of operating facilities to continue thinking of Lafayette as a place that we can invest as well.

“Specifically, it allows us to think about job creation opportunities that we have here in Lafayette to support some of the more high-tech product applications that we are bringing to market. As we think about re-capitalizing the equipment in Lafayette that’s been around in some cases for the last 20 years, it allows us to go deeper into the roots we have here. Which means that we can continue to be a contributing part of the community for some time.”

Lafayette is home to about 3,000 of Wabash’s employment force.

Greater Lafayette is also home to Purdue, whose resources are going to play a key role in Wabash’s future. Yeagy cites an unprecedented relationship forged with the Board of Trustees and Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

“We have connected with Purdue in a way that has never occurred in Wabash’s history,” Yeagy says. “We are now a major athletic partner. We are directly reaching Purdue students to the nature of technical skills we are trying to bring into Wabash as we execute our strategic plan.”

Wabash has a direct partnership with Purdue’s Data Mine, which is aiding the company’s multiple data science-related projects. Wabash also holds office space both at the Convergence center and the Railyard. An even longer term relationship with Purdue centers on welding safety and health-related research.

“It allows us to have a significant portion of our workforce to be closer to Purdue as well as we now have space for students, interns and other related academic project work to be done on campus,” he says. 

“We are extremely excited about what it means, not only for Wabash but the Greater Lafayette community.”

As Yeagy points out, Wabash’s reach is nationwide. Just look at any highway or road and it’s a matter of time before one drives past a semi-trailer, tanker or truck body manufactured by Wabash.

“There’s the absolute pride you feel when you see something that you’re attached to so intimately as the product you produce on our nation’s highways and roads,” Yeagy says. “But as a CEO, being able to step back, you know the people that produced them. You know the work. You know the challenges that were faced to get that product on the road, especially the last two years. You know peoples’ stories that went into building that product. When I see it, I think of all that. 

“People should understand they have a corporate entity in their community that builds the safest, most sustainable products in commercial transportation. I think that’s lost at times.”  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PROFILE PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV, OTHERS PROVIDED

When Lauren Reed joined the staff at The Farm at Prophetstown six years ago as events and education coordinator, she had no idea her role would evolve into her dream job as an executive chef. At the time, the nonprofit Museums at Prophetstown was in the red, and Reed and then-director Leslie Conwell focused their energies on restoring livestock and crops to reinstate the working farm and attract more visitors. 

“We needed to make money and I happened to have these skills as a chef, so I suggested we try holding farm-to-table dinners,” Reed says. “The first year, I did maybe five or six with 20 guests at each dinner. It took a couple of years but it’s really become a thing.”

Indeed it has. Chef Reed’s farm-to-table dinners, where diners feast on five courses while seated in various rooms of the Gibson farmhouse, are so popular that last season’s dates sold out within two days. A few dinners each year are reserved for members of the farm, and Reed also schedules private dinners for parties of 12 or more. 

“To my knowledge, we’re the only organization offering farm-to-table dinners in a museum environment,” Reed says. “Serving on vintage china in a 1920s setting creates a special ambiance and memorable dining experience.”

Although the atmosphere reflects the ’20s — the farmhouse is a replica of a kit home sold via catalog by Sears, Roebuck & Co. outfitted with antique furnishings and decor — the menus decidedly do not. Reed describes the most notable dishes of the decade as “downright nasty” as they featured lots of mayonnaise, gelatinous concoctions and canned seafood. Instead, she draws inspiration from the seasonal ingredients — greens, starches and proteins — grown right there at Prophetstown or sourced from other local farms. 

“I love using ingredients we produce here on the farm,” Reed says. “My focus is to use local ingredients as much as possible so it pigeonholes my menus in some ways. I don’t use pineapple, for example. I do bend the rules a bit; I’m not going to cook without lemon. But I don’t put a lot of extra stuff in the food because I don’t think you need to.

You don’t need 35 ingredients on a plate to make something taste good. When you use quality ingredients, the flavors will shine through.” 

Reed’s passion for cooking became evident at an early age. Family lore holds that when her parents bathed her in the kitchen sink, she’d reach out one hand to the stand mixer on the counter and idly spin the mixing bowl. Growing up in Rossville as an only child, she remembers coming home from school and frying up batches of homemade onion rings at age 12. It was no surprise that her very first job was working in the kitchen at the Milner nursing home in Rossville. 

“I’ve always loved food and I’ve always loved cooking,” Reed says. “But I didn’t think I would become a chef. I went to school to study food nutrition and journalism. I wanted to write about food. But I never stopped cooking.” 

Reed earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana State, cooking at commercial restaurants throughout her collegiate years. When an upscale wine bar opened in Terre Haute, she contacted the executive chef who agreed to give her a two-week trial in the kitchen. It was a trial by fire. 

“It was me and a bunch of older guys; I was the baby,” Reed says. “I was the only woman. I had to climb my way up and I did. I ended up taking the grill job from the guy who was on the grill and he never spoke English to me again. He hated me after that because he had to wash dishes.” 

Though her skills were undeniable, she still faced sexism in the kitchens where she worked in the form of lewd comments, unwanted touching and targeted harassment. At one point, she worked as the head grill cook at a busy steakhouse, grilling upwards of 50 steaks at a time to temperature. She’d be in the walk-in cooler unwrapping steaks and coworkers would turn the lights off on her. Once, the general manager cornered her in the dish room and a bunch of guys laughed as she was sprayed down with the dish hose. She had to finish the final five hours of her shift in sopping wet jeans. 

“It’s very hard to be a woman in a kitchen, especially a male-dominated kitchen, which many of them are,” Reed says. “It takes a strong personality. You have to hold your own. 

You have to work harder and you have to work smarter. It’s an unfortunate culture that I had to endure. But I’m very proud of where I’ve been able to go and now, I’m the only chef here. I don’t have anyone to disrespect me. My kitchen is my own little baby.” 

When Reed first started the dinners at Prophetstown, she worked out of a much smaller residential galley kitchen that still exists adjacent to the compact commercial kitchen nestled in the basement of the farmhouse. Former Tippecanoe County Commissioner Nola Gentry was a big supporter of the farm and its mission and donated the funding to install the sleek stainless steel commercial kitchen that serves as home base for Reed and her small team of helpers who put on the dinners. After everything is served, Reed takes time to visit with every table to express her appreciation for the diners. 

“I love the mission of the farm; I love what I do,” Reed says. “I want our guests to enjoy a unique experience, to talk with the other diners and maybe make a new friend. I hope they get to experience ingredients they haven’t tried before or perhaps haven’t had prepared in that way. That they experience this place and want to support what we do here.”  ★

About The Farm 

The Farm at Prophetstown is a historic living farm museum set on 125 acres in Prophetstown State Park complete with a 1920s Sears, Roebuck & Co. replica farmhouse, outbuildings, orchard, livestock pens, pasture and croplands. For more information about events at the farm, visit prophetstown.org. 

Reserve Your Seat

Reservations for the first wave of farm-to-table dinners this year opened January 10. A second block of dinners, scheduled from August 13 to November 4 will be available for booking on April 11. Call the farm at 765-567-4700 to claim your spot. 

Know Before You Go

• No more than six spots per reservation. Larger parties are encouraged to schedule a private dinner.

• Payment is due at the time of reservation. Refunds offered with cancellations made at least 48 hours in advance. 

• All guests must be 21 years of age or older. 

• No menu substitutions. Vegetarian options may be available upon pre-arranged request. 

• Out of respect to fellow diners, please arrive on time. 

• As a small kitchen using farm-to-table ingredients, cross-contamination of allergens cannot be prevented.

Prophetstown State Park requires guests to pay $8 per vehicle for park admission, which is free with a farm membership or annual state park pass.  

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

If you’ve spent any time lately in the Wallace Triangle neighborhood of Lafayette, you’ve seen a number of formerly dilapidated houses rising from the ashes, with rebuilt porches, upgraded landscaping, fresh coats of paint and reglazed or replaced windows. 

While it is true that several developers and homeowners have been renovating homes in the area, a significant amount of the work can be attributed to a single couple: Alec and Kenna Williams.

Owners of The Heartland Concept, a realty, renovation and rental firm, the Williamses have tackled over 20 homes in the neighborhood around their own house, an American Foursquare on Elliott Street. Like the mother-daughter duo Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, whose adventures in fixing up their own Fountain Square neighborhood in Indianapolis are chronicled on the HGTV show “Good Bones,” Alec and Kenna Williams are setting out to revitalize their own city block, one property at a time. 

The best neighborhood it can be

It all started in 2014 when the couple purchased their first home, a green duplex in the Wallace Triangle, a wedge-shaped neighborhood bordered by South Ninth, Kossuth and State streets on the southern edge of Lafayette’s Old City.

Both Purdue University grads, Alec had studied sales and management, with a concentration in entrepreneurship, while Kenna had studied management with a concentration in marketing. Kenna had worked for a home builder in town, getting to touch “every piece and part” of the business, from quality control checks to sales to design ele-

ments, before taking a job in finance at Purdue. 

Alec was working in business development for a Midwest healthcare company, but he was looking for something different. An old-house aficionado, he had grown up in a Foursquare home that his dad had painstakingly rehabbed. 

From nearly the first moment they had met, the couple had dreamed of building their own company. As they first tackled the one-bedroom side of their home, then the two-bedroom side, they discussed whether they could turn their avocation into a vocation. Walking their dog around the block each day, the couple noticed a lot of homes that needed some love. 

“We’re very invested in this area, we love it,” Kenna says. “Alec says it best. If this is where we’re going to raise our family and have our children going up and down the street, we want this neighborhood to be the best it can be.” 

Diy-ing as a money-saver

The Williamses soon got the chance to test their professional rehabbing chops when an 1868 home on 10th Street came up for sale. With a bay window, a window seat, wide painted woodwork and built-ins, the home was oozing with cottage charm. But other old-house details had become obscured under less-than-faithful remodeling efforts, like a teal garden tub with a matching toilet. 

After hiring subcontractors for some of the work, the couple tackled as much as they could themselves. “Our belief was, if we’re going to make a business out of this, provide for our family, DIY-ing… that’s where you save money,” Alec says. Working late nights, early mornings 

and weekends, the couple slowly turned the house back into a cozy cottage. A claustrophobic screened-in porch was torn out and rebuilt, minus the screening. Faulty wiring was replaced, and new shingles went on the roof. Layers of paint were scraped and recovered in a light yellow with white trim. 

Inside, the 1980s bathroom gave way to a stand-up shower featuring subway tile, accented with a greenish arabesque. Board and batten replaced the dining room’s lower stamped plaster walls. Floors throughout were sanded, stained and top-coated, and the fireplace was painted and accented with crisp white shiplap. Inside and out, not-so-charming light fixtures were replaced with breezy ceiling fans and farmhouse lights. 

Two days after the couple wrapped on the rehab, in May 2017, they accepted an offer.

Little slice of lafayette

Fast forward to 2022 and The Heartland Concept is now Alec’s full-time job. Kenna has cut her hours as a senior financial analyst at Purdue, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked from home at a small desk on their second-floor landing. As they continue work on their family home – current projects include renovating the basement and reglazing the original five-over-one windows – they continue to rehab homes and commercial properties in their little slice of Lafayette. 

Their business model is simple: For each house that they renovate and sell, they buy another rental in their neighborhood, then fix up that one, and then rent or sell. Over the last few years, they’ve sustained an income with the rentals, which has allowed them to take their time with each house renovation — un-

like many developers, who have an imperative to renovate as quickly as possible in order to turn a profit. 

“I really hate calling any of our houses a flip,” says Kenna. “We really renovate, we take it down to the studs when necessary. I try to incorporate with the finished design, the old features. That’s renovation to me.” 

When floors can’t be refinished, the couple tries wherever possible to use engineered hardwoods for a vintage look. In bathrooms, many of which are much smaller than in newer homes, the couple can afford to use high-end finishes like penny tile floors and solid surface countertops. New light fixtures often evoke a vintage feel, like the wall sconces the couple incorporated into their own Elliott Street home. 

High-quality workmanship

One lesson they’ve learned: while aesthetics boost a home’s appeal, they are not all practical for long-term rentals. As a result, some of their newer rental renovations, like the tiny mint green bungalow they rehabbed, are outfitted with tub-shower surrounds that don’t need regrouting over time. Other finishes in the single bathroom, like the curved warehouse light and scalloped mirror, help maintain the vintage-modern balance.

With each renovation, whether for rental or resale, the Williamses aim to provide a level of workmanship they would expect in their own home. A case in point: the National Home the couple rehabbed outside their own neighborhood, near Columbian Park. Adding livable space in the basement was critical for resale value, and yet the basement leaked, which the couple attributed to water pooling outside the home because of a lack of gutters and downspouts.

Gutters installed, the couple went to work on the basement. Then winter came, with rains and melting snow, and the almost-renovated basement sprung leaks again. 

After considering less costly and less permanent options for the exterior, the couple decided to start anew. “We both looked at it, and [said] if this is our house and our space, we don’t want an issue,” Alec says. “We tore out all the walls and electrical, having a full interior perimeter drain installed with a sump pump, guaranteed against everything, then rebuilt.”

Expanding their focus

As the Williamses continue to buy, rehab and rent or sell historic homes, they also have expanded their focus to the commercial side of the neighborhood – namely, the corner where the Wallace Triangle meets Historic Ninth Street Hill and Highland Park. 

Last fall, as the City of Lafayette regraded the street and added brick pavers to help alleviate runoff, the couple continued work on the L-shaped structure. More than 100 years old, the building boasts large windows and red clay roofing tiles. Soon, its anchor spot will be the location of People’s Brewing Company. The venue will serve German cuisine, specially brewed German beers, wine and cider.

Although the parking lot along Ninth Street is ample enough, Alec and Kenna anticipate that many of the brewery’s guests will come from foot traffic, like England’s public houses. “People’s Brewery should do extremely well by how many community members around here have shown support,” Alec says. 

Since moving to the Wallace Triangle nearly eight years ago, about a dozen of the Williamses’ friends have moved there as well and begun working on their own homes – a testament to the couple’s success in their one-house-at-a-time revitalization mission. “We love what we do and it’s good to have an impact in the town we live in,” says Kenna.  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Greater Lafayette has been named Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes the community’s growth over the past decade and how it has prospered and thrived in a variety of areas, from infrastructure and jobs to beautification and quality of life. 

This year’s award looked, too, for a municipality that was a shining example during a year of weathering the pandemic.  

A large part of the credit for being chosen for this award goes to the various components that define our community, says Scott Walker, president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce, and their ability to communicate, to plan, and to work together. As the application was assembled and written, Walker says, it became evident just how much planning had gone into the progress of the past 20 years.

“We looked back at where we’d been over the course of two decades, the evolution of the community, the trajectory, and why we should be considered for this award,” Walker says. 

Back at the start of the 21st century, the community looked very different. And community, Walker says, is defined as the entirety of the area, with both cities and the county governments all working together. All these governing bodies were collaborating on a vision of what they wanted to see over the coming years. Hence Lafayette Urban Enterprise, Vision 2020 and the Downtown Development Corp. all played a role, as well as incorporating input from all three school corporations, leaders in industry, the arts and recreational facilities. 

Back in 2000, the population of Tippecanoe County was at 149,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Walker said leadership could see that the community was poised for potential growth, but it wanted to be prepared and for the growth to be intentional. 

The result was these various entities examining where the community was at the time, what the trends were, and what Greater Lafayette wanted to accomplish. A clear goal was attracting business and industry that would provide good-paying jobs that would contribute to the economy and would enhance quality of life for residents. The area has a strong manufacturing workforce, and the focus on talent and workforce retention has resulted in more than 3,800 jobs being added in the past five years. This is thanks to companies as diverse as Caterpillar, Antique Candle, Copper Moon Coffee and Schweitzer Engineering Labs, to name a few. 

And along with that, Greater Lafayette needed a community that would attract these businesses; needed neighborhoods, restaurants, parks, schools, and arts and culture that would make life attractive for families. This investment came in various forms, from public projects such as Lafayette Downtown Development Plan, the Hoosier Heartland Development Plan, the Five Points Development Plan and the Wabash River Development Plan. 

 The State Street Corridor, one example of these improvement plans, was a $120 million effort that transformed State Street, a major artery that runs through the heart of West Lafayette and the Purdue University campus. The transformation reduced automotive lanes and integrated other modes of transportation. It included public transit bus pull-offs, wider sidewalks and bike paths, increasing safety and outdoor seating for local retailers and restaurateurs. It also enabled upgrades to the water and sewer infrastructure and set the stage for the redevelopment of West State Street and Discovery Park District. The effort has led to both additional privately developed housing and office facilities, as well as helping expand the community’s parks, walking and bike trail systems. 

Other major public-private projects include housing developments in both Lafayette and West Lafayette, including The Marq, Pullman Station, The Press, LUNA, The HUB, RISE and the Ellsworth. In addition, Lafayette invested in a Downtown Streetscape project, which included sidewalk improvements, art installations, outdoor dining facilities and upgrades to pedestrian traffic; these upgrades were supported in part by downtown merchants. All of these urban housing developments have helped create a downtown that is active and dynamic. These projects are supported by tax increment finance (TIF) dollars. 
Purdue University Airport
Loeb Stadium

Quality of life projects also contributed to the community’s revitalization, including a new Loeb Stadium, upgrades to the Columbian Park Zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park, as well as other updates to Columbian Park. The Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds underwent a major renovation, and the Wabash Riverfront is looking at a $150 million investment, including the Riverfront Promenade, which was completed in 2020.

Ultimately, Walker says, all groups came together to work toward this common goal. Today, with the 2019 population at 195,732, the growth clearly did occur. And because of the planning, the communication, the collaboration, the county was prepared to absorb and accommodate that growth. As evidence? Many school districts in Indiana are seeing a decline in sizes of incoming kindergarten classes; in Tippecanoe County, schools have all seen significant growth and kindergarten class sizes have increased, says Walker. The area is clearly a destination; the $250 million investment in education over the past five years — including the implementation of the Greater Lafayette Career Academy — has paid off. 

For Walker, this award speaks, in great part, to a process. And it’s a process that involved the input of so many entities — from the cities, the county, parks departments, Purdue and the public schools, and business and industry — partnering and working together. 

“It appears that the city, the county, we’re all on the same page with the same goals and objectives,” Walker says. “We’re at a point where people are working together, collaboratively. We’re all pulling on the rope in the same direction. This is a well-run region.

“It’s that planning element that we’ve embraced in this community that works so well.”  ★

The Greater Lafayette Region is on the cusp of something big!  

On December 15, at 4 p.m., at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Board Meeting, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that Greater Lafayette will receive $30 million to fund projects in the Regional Economic Development Plan created this past summer.  You can find the plan and more information here: greaterlafayetteind.com/READI

 The $30 million awarded to Greater Lafayette was part of the READI announcement of $500 million allocated across the state of Indiana.  The governor’s plan is to increase quality-of-place and quality-of-life spending to enable regions around the state to compete for talent from across the United States and around the world. 

As a destination for talent, Greater Lafayette has a head start.  With Purdue University and the great companies that are well established in our region, people already make their way here from around the world.  The Regional Development Plan with the READI Funds will accelerate that trend and help all of the participating counties — Benton, Fountain, Warren, Carroll, White and Tippecanoe — capture some of that growth. 

While the ultimate decision on project funding will reside with the Greater Lafayette Regional Board of Representatives and has yet to be finalized, these were a few of the top ranked projects:

 

 ► Runway for Growth: LAF airport expansion to bring commercial air service to Greater Lafayette;

Supporting Our Families: Expanding high-quality childcare across the region;

Smart Relocations and Welcoming Veterans: Two projects to attract talent to Greater Lafayette;

► A Place to Call Home: Greater Lafayette Residential Development Plan; and

► Wabash River Greenways: Investments in trail systems around the Wabash River.

The process to create the Regional Development Plan over the course of the summer was the first time that the regional mayors and representatives from each county commission worked together. 

Greater Lafayette Commerce was proud to serve as the organizer. It was an unprecedented level of collaboration, and the group will continue to work over the next four years to bring the projects in the plan to life and work together to make this place, this region, Greater! 

Scott Walker is the president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce. He can be reached at 765.742.4044

 

BY KAT BRAZ

Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) established its Immigration Clinic in 2014. That year, the clinic saw 70 clients, providing assistance with various issues such as citizenship, consideration for DACA, applying for emergency visas, asylum or green cards.

Over the past seven years, the program has continued to grow, offering services to clients looking to legally immigrate into the United States. These are people who have already relocated to the Greater La-fayette community and are seeking legal assistance to acquire a visa, green card or gain citizenship status.

“It’s the only clinic offering immi-gration services of its kind within the surrounding eight-county area,” says Rev. Wes Tillett, executive di-rector of LUM. “We provide aid to a variety of people of different status-es, refugees, asylum seekers, people needing a work visa or a green card. Our clients could be feeling violence in their home country or just trying to get a better start for their family in the United States.”
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 12 percent of Tippecanoe County’s population are foreign-born—that’s more than 23,000 residents. Of those, around 18,000 individuals are non-citizens, which include some people who do not consider themselves true immigrants, such as international students and expatriates from other countries.

In 2020, the LUM Immigration Clinic provided help in 120 different cases, down from 256 in 2019. Due to the pandemic, LUM was not able to hold its popular citizenship class-es in partnership with the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. Still, a dedicated group of about a dozen trained and accredited volunteers has pressed on, under the leadership of the clinic’s two paid positions
— a full-time director and half-time assistant director — to keep the clinic operating under COVID-19 protocols.

“A lot of the work is just listening and learning the person’s story,” Tillett says. “We have to understand who the person is in front of us, where they are at and how they got here. And sometimes, the stories are just heartbreaking to hear what they are up against, what they are trying to flee or what they are working toward.”

Immigration Clinic Director Christian Gallo grew up in Bue-nos Aires, Argentina. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cole-gio Champagnat, master in laws degree from Indiana University, and JD from Universidad Católica Argentina. Gallo has many years of experience in immigration law and speaks four languages: Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese. His first-hand experience as an immi-grant himself enables him to quickly build rapport with many clinic clients.

“I understand what these peo-ple go through to immigrate to the U.S.,” Gallo says. “Some of them went through a lot of dangers to get here. And even if they didn’t, they arrive here and can feel kind of lost. Sometimes receiving a little help with something simple can mean so much to a person who is new to the country and doesn’t understand how bureaucracy works here.

“We are not just helping people get a better job or more income. We are changing their lives. We are giving them opportunities for themselves and for their families, for their children.”

For Gallo, every case is person-al. The needs to be met can vary immensely. Some clients might be looking for a better job or higher income, others might be trying to re-unite with a wife or child or perhaps it’s a trailing academic spouse who followed their partner to the area and now wants to establish citizen-ship or apply for a work visa.

“It’s very rewarding work,” Gallo says. “When you see the looks on their faces, that sensation of extreme happiness, it means so much. Sometimes they don’t have words, they just repeat ‘thank you’ over and over. In that instant, their life just changed for the better.”

Whether a person entered the country legally or illegally, they can still be entitled to certain benefits under the law. The mission of the clinic is to help people who are already in the area —encompassing Tippecanoe and surrounding counties — get access to those benefits, regardless of their immigration status. It’s work that aligns with LUM’s overall mission as an organization with a Judeo-Christian heritage.

“Our organization has strong Judeo-Christian roots,” Tillett says. “Harkening back to the Exodus story, there is definitely a command to be hospitable to the sojourner in your midst, because you, too, were once foreigners in Egypt. That command is still pertinent to Jews and Christians trying to obey those scriptures. From a core theological standpoint, that’s part of who we are and part of what we’re trying to do.

“On a more humanitarian level, we are simply trying to be good neighbors. We especially want
to fill the gaps in the community where no other organization is able to meet that need. Immigration is one of those areas, especially seven years ago, that LUM identified as something we could do to help our neighbors from other parts of the world who are having a difficult time navigating through the bureaucracy and getting the legal status that they need.”

The impact of the clinic is summed up by a note of thanks Jaqueline Valera wrote to LUM expressing gratitude for the assistance she and her husband, Ricardo, received from the clinic.

“Since obtaining the LUM Immigration Clinic’s help with our immigration process, my husband was able to obtain his work permit. His income has helped me out with my family and school debt. I no longer have to work two or three jobs. I no longer have to miss important family moments. I no longer have to choose work over my health. We would not be where we are today without your help.” ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

As a student office staff worker in Cary Quadrangle, a century-old, sprawling residential complex on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, Michaela Hixson is continually steeped in dormitory culture.

Romance blossoming on the graveyard shift. Mysterious snack food deliveries with unknown recipients. Guys in boxers parading out the doors during nighttime fire drills.

And then there was the time a student showed up in the basement simply wrapped in a bath towel. “No shoes, water on him, dripping, and he said, ‘Can I please have the key to my room?!’” Hixson exclaims, laughing.

For the West Lafayette, Indiana, resident, these adventures in collegiate life started long before the SATs were even on her radar. During her sophomore year at Harrison High School, while Hixson was working at a local ice cream shop, her mom shared a summer job opening — no undergraduate experience necessary.

“It was fun for me to see how college worked, to already be in that college environment in high school, dip my toe in for what was to come,” says Hixson, who just completed her sophomore year in Purdue’s College of Science. After beginning as a seasonal employee four years ago, Hixson has expanded to year-round employment, gaining important skills in teamwork, responsibility and time management along the way.

As adults, we may joke about our summers flipping burgers or blowing a whistle at the neighborhood pool. But in truth, these experiences typically offer far more than a paycheck or a bullet point on a college application. As summer heats up in Greater Lafayette, we present a sampling of paid and volunteer opportunities for your favorite teenagers, along with a few of the life lessons that the jobs may impart.

ACADEMIA

Purdue University
West Lafayette
purdue.edu

From serving as day camp counselors to prepping residence halls for fall, Purdue University typically has offered a plethora of summer jobs to local high schoolers and undergraduates. With a pause on staff hiring, the university has fewer openings for 2021. At press time, we found postings for such positions as custodians, groundskeepers, network operators and Purdue Surplus Store workers, some of which required applicants to possess a high school diploma or GED or be currently enrolled at Purdue.

See current opportunities at careers.purdue.edu. The Center for Career Opportunities shows jobs available at Purdue and beyond for current Purdue students and alumni; visit cco.purdue.edu/Home/myCCO

HOSPITALITY

Cafe Literato
West Lafayette
literatocafe.com

Located just a mile up the road from Mackey Arena, Café Literato is a brick oven pizza and espresso bar located in the Faith West complex of apartments, a fitness center, church facilities and a daycare. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant serves as a gathering spot and study hub.

Eric Black, a West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School graduate who started there at 19, was promoted to manager a few months later; now, two years in, he hopes to return to Ivy Tech soon to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.
He says that teen workers aged 17 and up can take orders, prep toppings and make beverages while honing communication and customer service skills.

“The owners say that we are in the business of people,” Black says.

“You won’t find a lot of environments to work in where you can tell that the people genuinely care and are friendly and social.”

A nice perk on top of the paycheck and all the friendliness: A free drink on each shift, along with a substantially discounted meal.

Copper Moon Coffee Company
Lafayette & West Lafayette

coppermooncoffee.com

Lafayette, Indiana-based Copper Moon Coffee Company boasts four café locations in the area, with more likely coming soon. Nick Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing, says the retail locations hire workers starting at age 16 to take orders, clean, and prepare food and beverages.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to be creative with our cafés,” he adds. “We encourage our team to come up with new creations, new drinks, new flavors.” In fact, one of Copper Moon’s seasonal specialties, the Lunar Fog — an Earl Grey tea latte with vanilla, similar to a London Fog — emerged out of an employee competition.

Even if teen baristas don’t win a design-a-drink challenge, they will gain skills in face-to-face communication, collaboration and sales. Additionally, says Thompson, “I think it would be pretty impressive, a cool, fun party trick, that they know how to make really good coffee drinks and maybe even do some art with the lattes.”

RECREATION

Get Air Trampoline Park
Lafayette
getairsports.com

Adolescents who couldn’t wait for PE class to start when they were in elementary school might feel right at home at Get Air Trampoline Park, located in a strip mall on the south side near Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza and Pub.

Teenage workers (typically 16 years and older) begin as lifeguards — “patrolling the park to make sure that everyone is being safe and having fun,” says Tyler Dubea, general manager. “Sometimes this would be refereeing dodgeball games, making sure that only one person is going in the foam pit at a time, or just engaging in small talk with parents.”

Dubea delights in teaching his charges the fundamentals of business success, such as teamwork and leadership. Beyond that, “I strive to learn about all of our employees, and figure out what they want to do after school, and teach them as much as possible about that aspect of our business,” he says. “I have had someone that wants to be a graphic designer, so we have discussed some of our park advertising, our target demo, and let them use their skills to design something
for us.”

McAllister Recreation Center
Lafayette
lafayette.in.gov

Outdoorsy types can enjoy fresh air and sunshine while chaperoning kids at McAllister Recreation Center’s summer day camp, located near 18th and Greenbush streets in the former Longlois Elementary School. The facility features a gymnasium, rec room, ball fields and lots of green space.

From late May through early August, counselors 16 and up plan theme weeks, attend development sessions and supervise youngsters on field trips to Lafayette pools and parks. Adolescents aged 13 to 15 can enroll in the Head Camper program, training for future summers.

“We pride ourselves on summer camp being a fun and rewarding experience both for kids and counselors,” says Ashley Conner, seasonal camp counselor with the City of Lafayette. “Counselors learn how to effectively communicate with children, peers and parents. They also learn strategies for managing children in a group setting.” While camp staff are typically hired by May, local teens can set their sights on jobs for 2022. 

ANIMAL CARE

Pooch Palace Resort
Lafayette & West Lafayette
poochpalaceresorts.com

With two locations in Greater Lafayette offering boarding services, doggie day care, grooming and group training classes, Pooch Palace Resort is a delightful get-paid-to-do-what-you-love opportunity for teens who can’t get enough of canines. “The biggest part of what makes this place fun is just being able to work/play and care for dogs all day long,” says owner Paul Whitehurst. Teen employees assist in the daycare and overnight areas by feeding dogs, taking them on breaks and cuddling and playing with their furry clients.

Emily Chubb works at Pooch Palace when she’s not attending class at Harrison High School or performing on Turning Point Academy’s dance team. “The dogs all have different personalities and there are no two dogs that are alike. This makes the day a lot more fun,” she enthuses. Along with discovering characteristics of different breeds, Chubb says she’s also learned about communication, time management and teamwork on the job. “The people around me always have a positive attitude,” she says. “It’s been a great learning experience.”

Whitehurst sees another proficiency that the teen has developed: leadership. Chubb is “one of our most dedicated and hard-working staff members,” he says. “She came to us as a very quiet and shy teen and has blossomed to where she is now training other staff members.”

Columbian Park Zoo
Lafayette
columbianparkzoo.org

From a Galapagos Tortoise to prairie dogs to the Laughing Kookaburra, the Columbian Park Zoo showcases wildlife from around the world in exhibits that teach visitors about conservation and biodiversity. For adolescents contemplating animal-related careers, the facility offers the immersive Zoo Teens opportunity.

Volunteers aged 14 to 17 who are accepted into the program perform non-dangerous tasks under the supervision of professional zookeepers and educators, such as cleaning and food preparation. Zoo Teens also interact frequently with humans as well, gaining confidence in public speaking and small-group communication, says Courtney Nave, zoo assistant education coordinator. “I’ve seen such growth, not just in interpersonal skills, but being leaders, through this program,” she says.

Applications have already closed for this summer; but check the website for late openings and other opportunities. ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Jon Miner knows first-hand the magic spell Loeb Stadium has woven over Greater Lafayette youths since 1940.

In 1984, at 15, Miner stepped foot on the Loeb Stadium infield for the first time as a member of Lafayette Jeff’s freshman baseball team and as a player for Firefighters in the Colt Recreation League.

“Growing up in this community and playing youth baseball, that was always a big deal to go to Loeb Stadium and watch a baseball game (and) hopefully play there one day,” says Miner, who played two years of varsity baseball at Jeff and visited Loeb Stadium as a senior member of the McCutcheon High School team.

Miner is now the director of operations for the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department. At the time of this interview, the renovated Loeb Stadium was just a few weeks away from opening day.

The renovation project spearheaded by Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski will make sure thousands of baseball players – and hopefully other athletes – will continue to play inside Loeb Stadium for decades to come. The renovation, which was estimated to cost $20 million, was completed on schedule for Lafayette Jeff’s baseball season opener against Central Catholic on March 31.

“The driving vision behind it, Mayor Roswarski who grew up in this community and knowing the history of Loeb Stadium, was to design and build a facility that would last another 80 years, like the old Loeb Stadium did, if not longer,” Miner says. “To give this community not just a wonderful venue for baseball but a wonderful venue for other community events.”

Roswarski’s vision for the new Loeb Stadium includes the potential to host soccer and football games as well as non-sporting events such as concerts. The new stadium has a seating capacity of 2,600.

“I think when it’s finally open and we break out of this pandemic and people are able to get into the stadium and watch an event – whether it be a baseball game, a soccer game or a concert – they are going to be really pleased with how this stadium has turned out,” Miner says.

There was much anticipation in Greater Lafayette when a front-page headline in the Journal and Courier on July 2, 1940, proclaimed “Park Stadium for Athletic and Cultural Events to be Memorial to Solomon Loeb.”

Bert and June Loeb contributed $50,000 (almost $935,000 in today’s dollars) for the construction of a 3,152-seat reinforced concrete structure inside Columbian Park. The stadium was named Columbian Park Recreation Center, which remained until 1971 when it was renamed Loeb Stadium.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski addresses the crowd at the March 31 grand opening of Loeb Stadium.
Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame Head Coach Paul E. “Spider” Fields poses with the Lafayette Jeff Baseball team.
Fans bundled up in the new stadium seating to watch the Lafayette Jeff Bronchos take on the Central Catholic Knights.

“Its purpose being to serve as a public stadium for athletic, cultural and educational events of various kinds; in fact any legitimate entertainment under sun or stars,” the 1940 article stated.

With lights installed as part of the construction, the stadium was projected to not only host baseball games but softball games, boxing matches, concerts, pageants and even horse shows.

Architect Walter Scholer had the foresight to make the stadium dimensions of Major League Baseball stadiums with 333 feet down the left field line, 404 feet to center field and 322 feet down the right field line. Retaining similar distances in the 2021 renovation required some out-of-the-box thinking.

When the decision was made to rotate the field 180 degrees from its original layout, placing home plate near the corner of Main Street and Wallace Avenue, the right field area needed a few extra feet. Since moving the zoo was out of the question, architects came up with a plan to extend the stadium entrance a few feet from the original footprint into Main.

But even that idea wasn’t as simple as it sounds.

“A lot of the fiber infrastructure in this community comes right up Main Street,” Miner says. “There’s only so far you can go into Main Street before you have to get into relocating that.”

Making the most of every foot available, home plate is positioned just a few yards from the corner of Main and Wallace.

When it comes to construction in Indiana weather, nothing comes easily. Toss in a shutdown of nearly a month in April 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions and it’s amazing that the project was completed in time for the Lafayette Jeff baseball season.

“All the contractors have done a marvelous job working through the snow we had, the cold snaps,” Miner says. “We couldn’t be more pleased with their work.”

The new Loeb Stadium also will serve as the front door to the 21st century Columbian Park. Spectators will have a view of the new carousel building beyond the centerfield fence, plus Tropicanoe Cove and the water slides just past left field.

Fans sitting in the suite level will be able to follow the progress of construction going on at Memorial Island.

“It was important to build a beautiful stadium and have the viewpoints be on the inside of Columbian Park and not have the people in the stands looking out into Oakland School, the Frozen Custard and Arni’s,” Miner says. “I think it brings Loeb Stadium more into the park and it will transform Main Street.

“We’re going to have state-of-the-art lighting, state-of-the-art concession facilities. There’s not really a bad seat in the stadium to view a baseball game. Then we have the video board that is really going to add to whatever event is going on there. This is something even communities with nice baseball stadiums don’t have.” ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The Spinning Axe
Barbara Huddleston spent years growing her catering and event business. At the start of 2020, her calendar was booked with weddings, parties and corporate events. When the pandemic forced the cancellation of large gatherings, Huddleston watched her business evaporate almost overnight. During a trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, over Labor Day weekend, she discovered a new passion — axe throwing.

“We actually went to visit Mammoth Cave, but it was closed due to COVID,” Huddleston says. “Looking for other things to do we found an axe throwing place near our hotel. About four throws in, I realized I loved it. I knew I needed to bring this sport back to Lafayette.”

That’s right. Urban axe throwing is a worldwide sport growing in popularity. The World Axe Throwing League, formed in 2017 by representatives from Canada, the United States, Brazil and Ireland, holds sanctioned tournaments year-round. Budding future champions could reside right here in Tippecanoe County and get their start at Huddleston’s latest enterprise, The Spinning Axe, 351 South St., Lafayette. After returning from her trip, Huddleston leased the location and took about seven weeks transforming a former sushi restaurant into an axe throwing venue and bar serving wine, beer, liquor and snacks such as nachos, pizza, soft pretzels and popcorn.

The family-friendly venue (they recommend ages 10 and up, depending on the physical ability of the child) accepts walk-ins and reservations, which are encouraged for large groups and on Saturdays. After signing a waiver, guests are assigned to a lane and an axe coach reviews safety precautions, gives pointers and explains different types of games that can be played. At the end of the lane, a large round bullseye painted on wooden boards serves as the target.

“I’ve been surprised at the number of women who’ve shown interest in axe throwing,” Huddleston says. “They want to do a girls night out, they want to schedule a date night. That’s been a really cool thing. Axe throwing isn’t as scary as it sounds. Our trained axe coaches will show you how to do it safely. We’re going to help you have a great time.”=

The Spinning Axe is open seven days a week. Cost per hour: Adults $22; Children $15. Military, fire and police personnel receive a discounted rate of $17/hour.
facebook.com/thespinningaxe

Lafayette, IN - The Spinning Axe
Lafayette, Indiana - The Spinning Axe

Learning to Thrive
Struggling to take your vitamins? Thrive IV Lounge, 1343 Sagamore Pkwy N, Lafayette, offers a relaxing and hydrating infusion of vitamins, minerals and nutrients directly into your bloodstream for maximum effect. Administered by registered nurses using the same medical grade supplies found in hospitals, the medspa offers an array of therapy treatments to boost immune function, bring migraine relief, reduce inflammation and even recover from a hangover.

Owner Sarah Kurtz was inspired to open an IV lounge after learning about the rising popularity of drip spas in other parts of the country. As an emergency room nurse for the past seven years, Kurtz wanted to offer preventative care that might help keep chronic condition patients out of the ER.

“There’s just not enough information out there for people to understand the importance of how to prevent getting sick,” Kurtz says. “By building the immune system, getting a lot of sleep, staying, hydrated, taking the correct vitamins and eating healthy you can prevent a lot of things from being a lot worse. After all these years in medicine, I’m just taking a different approach to help people get there.”

Once a client fills out paperwork covering medical history, medications, allergies, height and weight, the Thrive IV nursing staff checks vital signs before discussing available drip treatments. Once the IV is started, it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete the infusion. There are three private treatment rooms as well as a large communal lounge which Kurtz hopes to open up as the pandemic slows down.

Afraid of needles? Thrive IV offers a numbing spray to help ease the discomfort. Or you can skip the IV and order an injection instead. The biggest seller is the skinny shot, a special blend of hydrating fluids and vitamins to boost metabolism. Pair it with a Beauty Blend IV treatment for a fully rejuvenating experience. Not ready to leave the house? Thrive IV’s mobile concierge service brings wellness to the comfort of your living room.

“One liter of IV fluids that we give you is equivalent to drinking two gallons of water,” Kurtz says. “Results vary depending on the type of treatment and an individual’s metabolism, but the benefits of IV therapy usually last about five days to a week.”

Memberships are available for clients who want to make Thrive IV a regular part of their wellness routine. Though Thrive IV offers a relaxing, calming atmosphere, all IV medspas are regulated by the state of Indiana and must maintain the same safety standards as medical clinics and hospitals. All medications, vitamins and supplies are FDA approved. An ER physician serves as medical director, overseeing the lounge. IVs are administered by experienced ER nurses with the critical care skills to identify anything abnormal in a client’s session and refer clients to the ER or urgent care if necessary.

Thrive IV is open Thursday through Monday. Follow them on social media for daily deals and monthly specials.
thethriveiv.com

Lafayette, Indiana Thrive IV Lounge

Big Woods Restaurant and Bar | 516 Northwestern Ave., West Lafayette
Originating in Nashville, Indiana, in 2009, the opening of a Big Woods Restaurant and Bar in West Lafayette marks the Big Woods Village’s 10th
location — and the farthest north. With its focused menu of signature pizzas and a selection of burgers and sandwiches, Big Woods offers a cozy sports bar environment in the location formerly occupied by The Stacked Pickle on Purdue’s campus. Cocktails of the month feature spirits crafted by Hard Truth Hills, a division of the Big Woods brand also based in Nashville. Craft beer lovers will devour the Big Woods Quaff ON! beers, such as Busted Knuckle, Hare Trigger and Yellow Dwarf.
bigwoodsrestaurants.com/west-lafayette

Big Woods Restaurant in West Lafayette Indiana
Copper Moon Coffee in West Lafayette, Indiana

Copper Moon Coffee | 351 Sagamore Pkwy & 225 S. University St., West Lafayette
Brothers Brad and Cary Gutwein purchased Copper Moon Coffee (originally founded in the late 1960s) in 2007 and relaunched the business in Lafayette. Now with four locations throughout Tippecanoe County and a booming retail business, Copper Moon is the largest family-owned coffee company in the Midwest. The latest two locations include a spot on Purdue’s campus inside the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building and a standalone café in the former Salin Bank building next to Dog n Suds on Sagamore Parkway.

“We are delighted at the opportunity to continue expanding our reach into West Lafayette,” says Brad Gutwien, CEO of Copper Moon Coffee, in a January 2020 press release. “We think this in an ideal location that will be easy to access for most of the West Lafayette community.”
coppermooncoffee.com

Reveille Coffee Bar | 835 Main St., Lafayette
The inviting French-inspired décor of Reveille Coffee Bar creates a warm and welcoming ambiance the moment you step in the door. This cozy spot with friendly baristas churns out all manner of gourmet coffees, specialty teas, decadent hot chocolates and iced brews. Featuring a rotating selection
of locally made pastries, Reveille is the ideal spot to lounge away a morning.
reveillelafayette.com

Reveille Coffee Bar in Lafayette Indiana
Ritual Cocktail Bar in Lafayette, Indiana

Ritual Cocktail Bar | 211 N. Second St., Lafayette
The intimate, classy lounge vibe at Ritual Cocktail Bar quickly garnered a reputation for one of the coolest spots in town. A streamlined food menu features upscale snacks such as almond breaded duck tenders and roasted whole cremini mushrooms. But here, craft cocktails are the main attraction. Mixologists reimagine classic drink recipes and combine house-made syrups, bitters and juices; specialty spirits and unusual ingredients to create memorable concoctions that are meant to be savored, like a ritual. Feeling extra swanky? Stop by for Rat Pack night to sip your libation while listening to Sinatra, every Tuesday before 9 p.m.
ritual-bar.com

Ripple & Co. | 1007 Main St., Lafayette
Fans of East End Grill have eagerly awaited the opening of Ripple and Co., a fast-casual dining concept located across the street from the high-end restaurant and run by the same executive leadership team. The new multilevel eatery features a spacious second floor with outdoor dining and a private event space. Downstairs, the atmosphere of the lively counter-service restaurant is reminiscent of a food hall. Executive chef Ambarish Lulay brings the same elevated sensibilities found at East End to Ripple & Co.’s menu. Smoked meats, pork belly and “really good tofu” are just a few of the crave-inducing items available. With both cocktails and beers on tap, Ripple & Co. is an exciting addition to upper Main Street. Plus, a partnership with Greyhouse Coffee means you can pick up your favorite cup of joe while you’re there.
eastendmain.com/ripple-company

Ripple and Co. in Lafayette Indiana
Rusty Taco in Lafayette Indiana

Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Drive, Lafayette
Serving up authentic street tacos at affordable prices, Rusty Taco’s festive ambience encourages friends and family to linger over margaritas while enjoying boldly flavored tacos. With more than 30 locations around the country, each one emulates a neighborhood taco stand. An array of breakfast tacos is available all day. The handmade street taco menu features roasted pork, brisket, baja shrimp and fried chicken. Rusty’s commitment to high-quality ingredients and making food fresh-to-order ensures satisfaction in every bite. Wash it down with an ice-cold margarita and experience bliss.
rustytaco.com

Wolfies Northern Woods Grill | 352 E. State St., West Lafayette
Scott and Nyla Wolf opened their first Wolfies location in 2004. Designed for the “seeker in all things sports, nature and food,” Wolfies offers a casual sports-themed environment in the Wabash Landing site formerly occupied by Scotty’s Brewhouse. The West Lafayette location is the eighth in the state and the first to venture away from the Indianapolis area. The expansive menu is packed with sharable starters, salads, wings, ribs, seafood, sandwiches, tacos and burgers. Thirsty? Try one of the 30 local and regional beers on tap, along with a full bar featuring craft cocktails. One thing is certain, you won’t go hungry at Wolfies.
wolfiesgrill.com/West-Lafayette

Wolfies in West Lafayette Indiana

Stay up-to-date on new businesses and more by following Greater Lafayette Commerce on Facebook or visit greaterlafayettecommerce.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Located west of the Marq Apartments and Old National Bank along the Wabash River, the Riverside Promenade Deck was dedicated in July 2020 and represents the first completed project in the
“Two Cities, One River” master plan designed to enhance the quality of life along the Wabash, says Stan Lambert, executive director of the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation.

The promenade is a city block long, rising above railroad tracks and the river bank. It connects on the north to the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge next to Reihle Plaza, and to Columbia Street on the south, says Eric Lucas, principal with MKSK, the landscape architecture and urban design company that oversaw the project. Access also is available from the Marq building.

Because railroad tracks prevent access or a good view of the river from ground level, the promenade is at bridge level and pedestrians can enjoy a good view of the waterway without obstruction. The deck zig zags a bit, meandering through the space to mimic the flow of the river.

“The whole space takes its shape from the river,” Lucas says. “Seats rise up and tilt in different angles so the space mimics the river both horizontally and vertically. It is 15 feet wide at the narrowest spot, and 30 feet or so at its widest.” The configuration includes spaces large enough to accommodate a band or other type of entertainment.

The deck is constructed of sustainable, durable hardwood slats and steel beams with stainless steel cable netting around the perimeter. Planting areas and free-standing containers have been seeded with native pollinator flowers and grasses.

Decorative pole lights line the walkway and glowing lights under the benches brighten the pathway from dusk into the night. Even the area directly under the deck has been incorporated into the overall plan, says Lucas. A few metal grates were installed so walkers can look 20-feet down and see vegetation below. Native trees and ornamental shrubs have been planted there, some of which will eventually grow up through the grates, turning the deck into a more natural landscape.

Another feature people enjoy is an Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible walkway that connects the promenade deck to Reihle Plaza and Main Street. The gently sloping walk is a favorite with bikers and those with limited mobility, allowing stairless access from the street to the deck and the pedestrian bridge leading into West Lafayette, Lucas says.

Dennis Carson, Lafayette economic development director, says, “It’s a great event space – wide and with excellent views of the river. Even though COVID has shut a lot of things down, I see people walking on the deck and having their lunch there. We’ll be able to use it more fully in the future.”

Carson calls the Wabash a “great asset” and sees lots of opportunities for public use, recreation and private development along the river. The enhancement effort along the Wabash has been underway for more than a decade, as it began in earnest in 2004 when the WREC was formed.

The last 17 years have been spent creating and refining the master plan for public and private development along the river in Tippecanoe, Fountain, Warren and Carroll counties; creating partnerships between government officials, Purdue University, and private entities; acquiring land along the river bank; and working on watershed issues, says WREC’s Lambert.

The plan envisions a time when the river becomes the “…healthy, beautiful centerpiece of a whole, interconnected community. Building on the river’s beauty, the plan seeks to restore a healthy river ecosystem and create recreation and related amenities to create a unique quality of life and make the region a place of choice—especially for attracting and retaining employees in the high technology and bio-life sciences sectors.”

With a solid road map in place, the non-profit WREC is ready to move forward with some of the proposed projects, particularly in the Lafayette/West Lafayette urban corridor, but funding is always an issue.

The promenade deck project was pushed to the front of the line in 2015 when private developers started work on the mixed-use development that now houses the Marq apartments and Old National Bank regional headquarters.

“The promenade was in the masterplan, so we had to do it concurrently (with the Old National development) if it was going to happen,” Lambert says. “We had to get the whole project completed, including fundraising, in a very short time.”

With a $2.2 million grant from North Central Health Services, $600,000 from the city of Lafayette, and $485,000 from WREC, work on the promenade began in 2016 with plans to wrap up in about a year. Several construction setbacks and COVID-19 slowdowns pushed the finish date to 2020, but the $3.2 million project is now complete.

No other brick and mortar projects are currently underway along the riverfront, but the WREC is refining plans for the river corridor and pursuing grants and private donations for remediation of some industrial sites and development of greenspaces. The WREC has purchased 28 properties along the Wabash in Tippecanoe County and will work on river bank restoration and stormwater management.

A $325,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded in March will help the corporation address water quality issues in this area of the Wabash River watershed, according to information from WREC Watershed Coordinator Shannon Stanis, who will oversee the grant.

Most of that money will go toward a cost-sharing program that encourages those living within the watershed to adopt pollution reducing and water quality enhancing practices. The grant also will fund educational and community outreach programs as well as water quality testing. A similar grant obtained in 2019 was used for such projects as rain barrel and rain garden installations, tree and native turf planting, and streambank stabilization. These efforts helped reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment flowing into the Wabash.

While there may not be any flashy projects in the works, there is more interest and investment than ever in downtown Lafayette and the State Street corridor in West Lafayette, Lambert says. He cites tremendous returns from money invested in riverfront enhancement in other Indiana communities.

“These kinds of projects are costly and take a long time to do, but cities who invest in their riverfronts see a $5 return for every dollar invested within five years, and a $12 to $16 return for every dollar invested in 20 years,” Lambert says. The biggest problem is finding a dedicated funding source that is not subject to the vagaries of politics and changes in governmental policies.

He harkens back to the years-long railroad relocation effort in Lafayette that removed tracks from downtown streets. About 80 percent of the funding for that multi-million dollar project came from the federal government through earmarks in the federal budget. But that funding source was eliminated years ago, Lambert recalls.

“WREC is putting together a dedicated funding plan, looking at a food and beverage tax fund or something like that to help support and develop the riverfront,” he says. “That would spread the cost across the most people, and primarily those who are using the services.”

Any tax would have to be authorized by the state and Tippecanoe County Council, and no concerted effort to pursue such a fund is currently in the works.

If the stars align and consistent funding becomes available, Lambert sees a future for life along the Wabash River in Tippecanoe County that will include private mixed-use development, a new pedestrian bridge extending Brown Street across the river into West Lafayette, new parks and green space, small boat docks, a disc golf course, a band shell for outdoor entertainment, mountain bike trails and more.

In the meantime, why not plan a leisurely stroll along a promenade? ★

More information about the Wabash River master plan, including maps and historical perspectives, is available at wabashriver.net

Interested in partnering with the WREC on a pollution-reducing cost-share project? Visit: wabashriver.net/costshare



BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED, FIREWORKS PHOTO BY DAVE SCHMIDT

Occupying a mere block-long stretch on Columbia Street, organizers led by Steve Klink promised a 12-hour day of good food and door prizes in front of Loeb’s Department Store.
Proceeds would benefit the Tippecanoe Arts Federation.

Offerings included knackwurst and bratwurst, Teriyaki steak kabobs, oysters on the half shell and crab puffs. All that for a $1 admission plus free Coca-Cola and a chance to win door prizes and gift certificates every hour.

Loeb’s is now a distant memory for long-time residents of Lafayette. So, too, are many of the 12 local businesses that participated in the first Taste: Alt Heidelberg, Amato’s, Sarge Oak, Hour Time, Butterfield’s, Cork and Cleaver and Don the Beachcomber’s.

Gone, too, is the $1 admission price. Today, admission to the Taste is $10 for persons 13 and older. But it’s well worth the price

Digby’s, The Parthenon, Mountain Jack’s, The Downtowner and Red Lobster are the only existing businesses that helped launch what is now a 40-year-old tradition. And what a tradition it has become.

By 1991, the event had outgrown its one-block home and attracted 22,000 people to Sixth Street. Even that space was too cramped for two stages and an ever-growing amount of restaurant booths.

With 30 restaurants and an estimated crowd of 40,000, the 20th Taste of Tippecanoe in 2001 was spread out over Riehle Plaza, the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge, and the downtown area between Third Street to the east, Ferry Street to the north and Columbia Street to the south.

In 2019, three stages were set up along Second and Ferry streets, Fourth Street, and Fifth and Main.

That tradition was disrupted this past summer thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation was forced to severely curtail its major fundraising effort of the year, settling for an online presence of live musical performances over Facebook Live.

Kyra Clark, marketing and events director for the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, says it’s safe to say that this year’s Taste of Tippecanoe, scheduled for July 31, may be the most important Taste since the first event.

“The Taste is our major fundraiser and the largest single-day arts fundraiser in Indiana,” Clark says. “It’s incredibly important for us to fundraise and get with the community.”

To make it as safe as possible for visitors, the Taste of Tippecanoe will be spread over a large area of downtown surrounding Riehle Plaza and the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. Also, there will be just two stages this year for live entertainment.

“We’ve increased the size of the footprint to make it a little easier for people to sit down and appreciate the food and the local restaurants that are going to be participating at the Taste,” Clark says.

“We are going to make things as safe as possible. We’re going to have hand-sanitizing stations, and all of our volunteers will be wearing masks. We will never hold an event that puts our community at risk. We are not going to be a superspreader event. We would never risk our relationship or our reputation with our supporters.”

If this year’s Taste is important to the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, it may be equally important to Greater Lafayette-area restaurants. Nearly every establishment has suffered from the government COVID-19 mandates that have kept away the usual numbers of customers.

But several local restaurants are bullish on the Taste of Tippecanoe. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation had 12 commitments by late February from Arni’s, Grilled Chicken and Rice, Corn in the USA, Dippin’ Dots, Gibson’s Shaved Ice, Indiana Kitchen Bacon, Java Roaster, Kona Ice of Tippecanoe County, Lepea, McGraw’s Steak Chop and Fish House, Red Bird Café and Thieme & Wagner.

“That’s pretty normal for this time of year,” Clark says, “but our goal is always 30 to 32 restaurants.”

The latter number is the most Clark has seen during her four years with TAF.

“This is an event where restaurants are incredibly busy, and it is an event where the majority of our restaurants sign up closer toward the event so they have an idea of staffing and timing,” Clark says.

Last year’s virtual event and the loss of revenue have forced more budget cuts than just the number of stages.

“The biggest change this year is that there will not be a fireworks show,” Clark says. “It was just something we could not fit in our budget.

“We’re saving a little bit of money, but we’re dedicating more space to the seating and the appreciation of the local restaurants. We’ve had to tighten our belt, but we’re working with what we’ve got and doing the best we can.”

Even with the pandemic still a concern, Clark is hoping that this summer’s Taste will be remembered as a celebration.

“The focus of this year’s event is celebrating 40 years of great Taste,” Clark says. “We’re super excited to be able to have an event again where we can provide local food to our community, especially at a time when our restaurants are hurting or struggling.

“This is an incredible marketing opportunity for them. Tens of thousands of people come downtown for this event. Obviously, with the COVID restrictions and the health guidelines, the attendance might look a little bit different this year, but we want that marketing opportunity and promotional opportunity for our restaurants and downtown businesses.”

For more information about Taste of Tippecanoe and updates on the event date and participating
businesses, visit tasteoftippecanoe.org. ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Last summer, tensions surrounding issues of racial injustice boiled over across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Locally, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters marched downtown on May 31 to rally for racial justice and take a stand against police brutality.

“Witnessing the energy of the young people and the memory, or the wisdom of the older people, together, that gives me hope,” says Rodney Lynch, pastor and director of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue University. “I was pleased with the number of people who were there. Most of them were white, that’s the demographics of this community. But standing up for racial justice is not a one-time moment; it’s a lifetime movement.”

Motivated by a desire to join like-minded community members to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Lynch joined the Diversity Roundtable (DRT) when he relocated to Greater Lafayette in 2016. An outgrowth of Vision 2020, a 2000–2001 community visioning project for the future of Greater Lafayette, the DRT began in 2002 when a small group of citizens started meeting to plan a Diversity Summit held in April 2003. It became a biennial event and this month, the DRT held its 10th summit. The 2021 Diversity Summit, held virtually and free to all participants, focused on Strategic Doing: Turning Conversation into Action.

In addition to the summits, the DRT meets monthly to discuss DEI issues in the community. The meetings are open to the public and co-facilitated by Lynch and Barbara Clark, who retired as director of the Science Diversity Office and director of the Women in Science Programs at Purdue in 2015. An all-volunteer group, the DRT is a committee of Greater Lafayette Commerce.

“We are the only group in the community focused on diversity in general,” Clark says. “We’re not organized in response to a crisis or an issue. We’re focused on raising awareness and educating people about the diversity issues in the community — anything from race to sexual orientation to disability — and how diversity, equity and inclusion intersect with social issues.”

Many of the monthly meetings feature speakers from the community, such as city government officials, school superintendents, police officers and university administrators who share their perspective on how DEI is supported in their respective institutions as well as identifying areas that still need to be addressed. Clark, who has served as a co-facilitator of the group since 2009, says although the same core issues may resurface, often they’ve been redefined in some way.

“An issue that we’ve discussed a number of times is ‘driving while Black,’” Clark says. “When we first started talking about that, it was somewhat surprising to the white folks but certainly not surprising to the people of color. One of the things the DRT does is develop programming to educate the community on these issues.”

One of the programs facilitated by the DRT addressed implicit bias. Lynch, who co-led the training, would ask attendees how many of them had “the talk” with their children. Invariably, white attendees assumed “the talk” centered around sexual activity. Black attendees gave their children the “police talk.”

“Black people do not have the privilege of not educating their children about how to conduct themselves when they are engaged by a police officer, so they get home safe,” Lynch says. “White children are raised to believe the police will keep them safe. Whereas we’ve seen time and time again, Black people are afraid to even call the police because our loved ones may not live through that interaction.”

The depth of implicit bias is magnified through a video experiment shown in the training that posits two men of different races in the same scenario. In one instance, a white man is shown breaking into a car in broad daylight. In the other, the man breaking into the car is Black. The white man sets off the car alarm multiple times, fishing with a wire coat hanger for 30 minutes trying to pop the door lock. A police car drives by without stopping. When the Black man attempts to break into the car, a passerby begins filming him with a cellphone almost immediately and the police arrive within two minutes. The video ends with the Black man in handcuffs surrounded by five police officers.

“It’s assumed that the white guy is just locked out of his car,” Lynch says. “But the Black guy must be robbing that car. These are examples of the implicit biases we all live with.”

The difficulty of identifying implicit biases lies in the fact that we don’t always know we have them. These unconscious inclinations often operate outside of our awareness and can directly contradict a person’s espoused beliefs or values. The danger of implicit biases is how they affect our reactions and behaviors without our awareness. The goal of implicit bias training is to help attendees understand and acknowledge the systems of privilege in place that influence these unconscious prejudices.

These conversations are difficult to have, even among members of the DRT, who, by their very presence at meetings, are more inclined to be receptive to reframing their personal perspectives and committed to acknowledging and addressing DEI issues within the community.

“One of the things that keeps people coming month after month is that they can be honest and open at the DRT,” Clark says. “They feel safe talking about issues in a group where people have different perspectives because of their lived experiences.”

Another program offered by the DRT for the past few years centers around the book Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad. The book operates as a workbook, outlining journaling exercises and conversation prompts that force white readers to reflect on the roots of their own unconscious bias, how they benefit from the systems in place and how white supremacy plays out in their everyday lives. Small cohorts of 20 to 25 people work through the book together, meeting for weekly discussions over the course of one month.

“It’s not really fair to expect people of color to educate white people on issues of diversity,” Clark says. “If white people care about diversity and want to make a change, they need to put some energy into educating themselves. That’s what Me and White Supremacy is all about. The journaling can be difficult. The conversations can be intense, but it’s all very worthwhile.”

Before the pandemic, approximately 30 people attended the monthly DRT meetings. After switching to virtual meetings last year, the DRT has seen a slight increase of participation with up to 50 attendees. Those numbers may seem small, but the impact of the DRT on the larger community is far greater.

“We’re not only touching the people who show up,” Lynch says. “The people who participate in the DRT are armed with information they can use when they encounter injustice at their job, in the community or in their family. That’s the beauty of what the DRT offers. If someone is serious about combatting injustice, DRT is a good place to start. We can inform and educate.” ★

To receive updates about the DRT and information about its monthly meetings, email 
diversitytippecanoe@gmail.com or visit diversitytippecanoe.org. 

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

On the hunt for seasonal fruits and veggies? You’re in luck. The bounty of community supported agriculture (CSA) in and around Greater Lafayette allows consumers to buy produce directly from the grower. Area farmers markets connect buyers with vendors who can speak with authority on how plants were grown and how livestock was raised. Buying from a local source also reduces the carbon footprint required to acquire your food. Many area farmers adhere to organic practices, harvesting at peak growing season to deliver fresh food that’s both delicious and nutritious.

Farmers markets
As COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve, please consult websites and social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on market policies.

Lafayette Farmers Market
lafayettefarmersmarket.com

8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, May through October; Fifth and Main streets

The area’s largest open-air market, Lafayette Farmers Market dates back 182 years and is one of the state’s oldest outdoor markets. Vendors peddling produce, seedlings, flowers, meat, eggs, jams, breads, wood crafts, health and beauty items, home goods and even concessions line the cobblestones along Fifth Street every Saturday morning throughout the summer.

“Our market puts an emphasis on local-first,” says Rebecca Jones, quality of life coordinator for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “Our vendors come from within a 90-mile radius. We also prioritize vendors who sell produce to honor the market’s roots as a place of commerce for farmers and cultivators. At least 70 percent of items sold must be produced locally first-hand by the vendor. The remaining 30 percent must follow the same rules of being produced first-hand and be traceable to the maker or farmer.”

As a champion of local goods and services, the market offers programming that highlights community organizations, features local musicians and celebrates community holidays. The market also partners with local businesses to offer giveaways for attendees and incentivize giving blood when the Blood Bus visits the market. Vendors collaborate with the Veggie Drop program to provide excess goods to local food banks. The market is administered by Greater Lafayette Commerce on behalf of the City of Lafayette and sponsored by Subaru of Indiana Automotive.

“We know the market is not only a place of commerce, but gathering and idea sharing,” Jones says. “The success of our market is community driven.”

Purdue Farmers Market
purdue.edu/physicalfacilities/sustainability
11 a.m.–2 p.m. Thursdays, May through October; Memorial Mall

Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features several lunch vendors and other prepared goods vendors, such as bakeries, in addition to some floral and produce vendors.

Guests without a campus parking permit may pay to park in the Grant Street Parking Garage, approximately a five-minute walk. The 2020 market was canceled in adherence of the Protect Purdue COVID-19 guidelines. At press time, a decision about the 2021 market had not been made public.

West Lafayette Farmers Market
westlafayette.in.gov/farmersmarket

3–7 p.m. Wednesdays, May through October; Cumberland Park

Casual and laid-back, the scene at the West Lafayette Farmers Market welcomes shoppers to visit with its 50 to 60 vendors, enjoy dinner from local food trucks and unwind listening to live music. Started in 2005, the market showcases grown and collected goods (such as eggs, honey and maple syrup) alongside numerous crafts and body products including children’s clothing, tie-dye, jewelry, soaps and lotions.

“Our main focus is organic produce, but we have many excellent craft vendors, too,” says Shelly Foran, market manager. “All craft vendors are juried to ensure high-quality goods.”

The market makes a perfect dinner destination with a selection of prepared food vendors, food trucks and bakeries. Two local wineries rotate, serving wine by the glass. The market stipulates that 75 percent of the items sold must be produced locally, within 100 miles of the market. In addition to tips, local musicians earn a small stipend for performing, thanks to two sponsors: The Russell Company and Reliable Insurance. The market is administered by the City of West Lafayette.

Foran describes the dog-friendly market as community-oriented. “It’s a great place to visit and socialize,” she says. “Customers get to know their vendors. We have many shoppers who return each week. We want to be a destination market.”

Local farmers and CSAs
Specifics can vary among CSAs, but in general you commit to purchasing a share — a basket of produce — on a regular basis for the entirety of the growing season. Typically, you can’t dictate exactly what comes in your basket, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to experiment with cooking with seasonal ingredients you might not otherwise purchase. Some CSAs allow for half shares or split shares. Several local farmers offer direct purchase of their goods.

Beck’s Family Farm
Stop by the Beck’s vegetable stand east of Attica for homegrown tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. It also frequents the farmers market.

Bloomer’s Greenhouse
bloomersgreenhouse.square.site
This small, family-owned farm and greenhouse in West Point sells flowers, herbs and gourmet vegetables. It’s also frequently spotted at many central Indiana farmers markets.

Double M Farms
facebook.com/farmfood4U

Operated by a fifth-generation farmer, Double M’s farming model is grass-based, meaning you won’t find GMOs, animal biproducts or antibiotics in any of the meat they sell. The farm offers grass-fed beef and lamb in the spring and pasture-raised pork, poultry and eggs year-round.

Highland Heights Farm
highlandheightsfarm.com

Based in Frankfort, Highland Heights Farm offers a monthly fresh veggie box subscription available for delivery to Boone, Clinton and Tippecanoe counties. The range of products includes lettuce, greens and herbs, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes and carrots.

Huffman & Hawbaker Farms
Hhfarms.com

Tippecanoe County-based Huffman & Hawbaker Farms grows tomatoes, jalepeno peppers and banana peppers. Its U-pick strawberry farm usually opens at the end of May and lasts a few weeks.

Purdue Student Farm
purdue.edu/studentfarm

A small, sustainable farm located near Kampen Golf Course, the Purdue Student Farm grows vegetables, herbs and cut flowers using the principles that naturally govern balanced ecosystems. Operated under the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the farm disperses its produce to university dining halls, donations to community food pantries and through publicly available CSAs.

Sycamore Springs on Springboro
sycamorespringsfarmonspringboro.com

This family farm in Brookston raises grass-fed beef and pork and grows fruits and vegetables as well as organic certified garlic. Shop its in-season selection online.

This Old Farm
thisoldfarm.com

What started as one family’s commitment to growing wholesome food for themselves has grown into a regional wholesale distributor delivering quality ingredients to restaurants, grocers, schools and cafeterias around the state.
Families can still shop its wide selection of organically farmed meats, eggs, cheeses and other artisan products
available for pick up in Colfax.

Thistle Byre Farm
thistlebyrefarmllc.com

A pasture-based, sustainable family farm in rural Delphi, Thistle Byre Farm’s mission is to help encourage others to make their homes nurturing, healthy and cozy without the use of chemicals, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Thistle Byre offers three different levels of membership for its meat and vegetable CSA.

Trinity Acres Farms
tendfarm.com/11319

Offering certified organic chemical-free produce and animal proteins, Trinity Acres Farms of Crawfordsville offers two CSA enrollment options. The conventional box CSA features an assortment of freshly harvested produce for 26 weeks, and the shoppers CSA allows buyers to choose their products from its online store.

Wea Creek Orchard
weacreekorchard.com

Offering a wide variety of fresh U-pick produce including apples, nectarines, peaches and pumpkins, Wea Creek Orchard makes a perfect family outing. The market, located south of Lafayette, also stocks its own line of canned goods including jams, jellies, salsa and barbecue sauce. Check the website for information about special events.

The Weathered Plow
Featuring fresh produce largely supplied by its own family farm near Camden, The Weathered Plow, 2325 Schuyler Ave., also sells delicious baked goods, take-and-bake meals, made to order sandwiches, candies and more. ★

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The fifth and most advanced generation of wireless internet technology is coming to a West Lafayette laboratory where innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs will put it to the test.

The 5G Innovation Lab opens this summer in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration near Purdue University. Owned and managed by the nonprofit Purdue Research Foundation, the Convergence Center provides space and resources to bring new innovations and products out of the lab and into the marketplace.

The 3,000-square-foot lab is part of the Indiana 5G Zone, a public/private partnership launched in 2020 in Indianapolis, says Managing Director Sean Hendrix. The 5G Zone was created in response to a push from industry, economic development groups and government to invest in technological research and infrastructure, positioning the state to attract and support innovative, high-tech companies.

The first 5G demonstration lab opened in Indianapolis last year, so the West Lafayette site is the second in the state. These labs allow companies and innovators to research new technologies without having to invest in their own 5G infrastructure and networks, says Hendrix.

When completed, physical work spaces in the West Lafayette lab will be connected to 5G through technology similar to an on-site, dedicated cell tower. Businesses, university researchers and private innovators can lease space there and full-time staff will be on-site to help new clients learn how to use the technology. The staff also can provide help in any testing process, or act as an independent, third-party team with assessment capability.

“5G is not just the next generation of wireless technology. It provides a fundamentally different way to do computing over networks,” Hendrix says. “There are tons of opportunity because this is not an established technology. The lab can help government, industry and academia test practical applications for 5G technology.”

If you’ve heard of 5G, it’s probably in relation to the next level of cellular phone speed and capability, but so much more is possible, says Troy Hege, PRF vice president for innovation and technology. The benefits of 5G include:
• Faster speed – up to 20 times faster than current wireless technology.
• Larger bandwidth – meaning more information can be processed at one time.
• Less latency – the lag between requests and responses in data transfer is reduced.

This technology is critical in the Internet of Things (IoT) and its ability to wirelessly connect different devices so they interact remotely, in real time, such as thermostats and video door bells that can be controlled from a cell phone. But much more complex applications are being studied.

One possibility is using encrypted video in a smart street system that collects data from cameras and sensors at road intersections so traffic lights can be controlled in real time, allowing for better traffic management, Hege says. While some of that technology currently exists, 5G has the capability to link all the hardware to a central facility so data coming in from across the system can quickly be analyzed.

This technology may be invaluable for manufacturing, machine learning, factories using robotics, and even agriculture systems, health care, and cybersecurity providers.

To create new uses for wireless technology, Hege says three basic things are needed: a device or sensor; software that actively processes data generated by the sensor; and a network that connects to the software and transmits or analyzes the data.

“This living lab is the center of bringing those things together,” he says. “Companies can bring new devices to the lab for testing and collaborate with researchers and professors who are the best in the world. Data analysis and machine learning are shaping industry all over the world, and this lab is the front door for research and application deployment.”

The 5G lab falls under the umbrella of NineTwelve Convergence, a nonprofit innovation institute designed to promote collaboration between business, academia and governmental entities in deploying 5G technology.

Two private companies are building out the necessary infrastructure in the Convergence Center: SBA Communications is the cellular network provider; and Tilson is the fiber optic backhaul network provider, Hendrix says.

He adds that the fiber optic network is owned and managed by SBA Communications, and PRF has signed a long-term service agreement with the company. PRF will operate the “testbed” portion of the lab’s network.

This means the network is not owned or operated by a specific internet service provider and so is considered a neutral platform. Another advantage to working with the West Lafayette lab is that the private wireless network will eventually be linked throughout the Discovery Park District, a 400-acre planned development that will include businesses, manufacturing, housing, retail and entertainment venues. That connectivity will provide a living laboratory where researchers can pilot applications in the lab and test and refine them in a controlled, real-life environment, says Hege.

“Elements of 5G are already out there, but we are at the very beginning of learning about this technology,” he says. “This will be a decade-long process and it will take all of us working together. We are thinking about all the ways data and connectivity impact our lives across the spectrum of where we work, where we learn and where we live.” ★

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

NineTwelve Convergence —ninetwelveconvergence.us

Indiana 5G Zone — indiana5gzone.com

Discovery Park District: Building a Connected Innovation Community — youtube.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

For the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration, that common focus is providing space and resources for academic research and private industry to collaborate, with the goal of seeing discoveries and innovations regularly make it out of the laboratory and into the world.
The Convergence Center, a 145,000-square-foot, five-story building located west of Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, is billed as “Private Industry’s Front Door to Purdue,” says David Broecker, chief innovation and collaboration officer for the Purdue Research Foundation, the non-profit entity that owns the building.

Companies want to collaborate with the university, Broecker says, because that partnership provides access to student talent, engagement with faculty and professors on the leading edge of research, and facilities such as established modern labs and innovation centers. PRF, through its Office of Technology Commercialization, also helps connect researchers with private industry to move inventions and discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace, while protecting intellectual property with patents and licensing.

But collaboration can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming if a company is not physically located near campus. That’s where Convergence comes in, offering flexible workspace options for established companies, startups — even individuals needing office space away from home.

“We want (Convergence) to be the place where companies and external collaborators meet with their counterparts from Purdue University and PRF to solve problems and address the answer to the question, ‘What keeps you up at night regarding your innovation/business strategy?’” says Broecker. “We want to make it easy for companies and external collaborators to be successful.”

Construction on Convergence, located at 101 Foundry Drive, began in 2018, with the $32 million building opening in January 2020, says Wade Lang, PRF vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer. The building is already home to several PRF entities along with four agriculture and life sciences companies. Improvements continue in the tenant spaces on three of the five floors, and retail space is being developed.

This summer, the 5G Innovation Lab will open in Convergence, providing companies and researchers access to the latest wireless internet technology in a lab setting.

It is the second such lab in Indiana and will allow the private sector and the Purdue community a place to experiment with the cutting-edge technology.

PRF is actively looking for new tenants for Convergence, which is managed by Carr Workplaces, a company based in Washington, D.C. Carr is a national workspace provider that manages brick and mortar office space but also offers such services as mail management and phone answering for those who may work from home but want a professional address and help with administrative chores, says Michelle Mercado, Carr business development associate.

Carr Workplaces provides a step up from traditional co-working spaces in that clients who lease space in Convergence have access to a dedicated phone line, email, fax and binding machines, copiers, shredding and notary services, high-speed wireless internet, and onsite tech support. There is a fully stocked coffee bar and conference rooms with videoconferencing capability and digital white boards for virtual collaboration.

“It’s a beautiful space,” says Mercado. “It has all the bells and whistles, and it’s positioned to be close to the university, but far enough away from campus to be its own entity. We meet people where they are. We ask, ‘What do you need? What tools will help you?’”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have begun rethinking their office needs, Broecker says. While corporate headquarters are shrinking, PRF finds that companies want to expand in strategic locations, often near universities, to tap resources that can meet their innovation and business needs.

“Bayer Crop Science is a great example of this strategy,” Broecker says. “Bayer has relocated three of their employees to create their own ‘innovation hub’ at Convergence that will facilitate interactions with students and faculty, and provide access to the places and spaces they need to be successful. We believe all of these aspects of the Convergence Center make it extremely unique among other leading universities.”

Convergence is ticking all the boxes for Beck’s Superior Hybrids, says Brad Fruth, director of innovation for the family-owned, Indiana-based seed company that operates in 14 states across the corn belt and is the third-largest retail seed brand in America.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what a treasure the center is,” Fruth says. “Our innovation team knew we needed to increase collaboration with different schools at Purdue. Having an office at Convergence means we have the opportunity to regularly connect with researchers and go to call-outs and make connections. All we had to do was show up and get our key. The Carr staff takes care of all the amenities.”

Headquartered in Atlanta, Indiana, Beck’s opened a Convergence office in summer 2020 and leases dedicated space that allows its innovation team to meet once a week in person, provides an office for team members to land as needed, and gives its intern a place to work. While the space might not be used every day, everything the team needs is available when it is on site.

And being close to Purdue means Beck’s team members are on campus more regularly. Companies have to be proactive about making campus connections, Fruth says, and he is always on the lookout for research and innovation going on at Purdue that can be applied in the real world to benefit Beck’s ultimate client, the American farmer.

While Beck’s is certainly connected with those doing agronomy research at Purdue, the company also is interested in leveraging data analysis, computer science and supply chain management research, Fruth says. His team’s goal is to be on campus regularly and make at least one new Purdue connection each week.

Fruth looks forward to the day, post-pandemic, when travel again becomes a bigger part of the Beck’s business model because the company can use space in other Carr Workplace sites around the country for a single-day meeting or extended conference.

Carr has about 35 sites throughout the United States, the closest being in Chicago, and this perk for anyone who leases from them is particularly useful for businesses doing recruiting or collaborative work, says Mercado, adding that the Carr team can even help with travel arrangements and event planning.

“Flexible lease terms and networking spaces around the country are some of the reasons why we’re (in Convergence),” Fruth says.

Those flexible lease terms are attractive because clients can rent private office suites that will accommodate a team of one to five people, share a private office between a few employees, or lease a dedicated desk in a shared work space that still offers access to all the office equipment and administrative help, says Ethan Kingery, Car’s general manager at Convergence.

Kingery works alongside Chelsea Hulbert, the local Carr community manager, who serves as receptionist and liaison between every tenant and each guest who walks in the door. Hulbert helps with shipping needs, answers phones and supports all the tenants in myriad ways
every day.

“We have a hospitality mindset that you could compare to the quality you would find at a luxury resort,” Kingery says. “We work with every tenant to see how we can support and amplify what they need.” And as a Purdue graduate and former university employee, Kingery has insight into Purdue’s unique culture and can work with Convergence tenants to help them make connections on campus.

While established companies such as Beck’s and Bayer Crop Science find Convergence a good place to land, startups also can lease dedicated or community space and have access to office equipment and administrative support. As an example, Kingery cites an entrepreneur who has leased space for her fledgling apparel company in Convergence and is in the building many evenings and weekends when she’s not working her day job.

“If you need 3,000 square feet or less of office space, we can work with you,” Kingery says.

While most Carr Workplace sites are in large cities and cater to white-collar tenants such as lawyers or lobbyists,

Convergence is unique in that it is the only Carr site near a top research university and attracts more scientists and researchers, says Mercado.

Convergence also plays a distinctive role within the Discovery Park District (DPD), a 400-acre, mixed-use development that broke ground in 2017. PRF, which owns and manages the land west of campus where the district is being developed, is partnering with Indianapolis-based Browning Investments, Inc. on the project.

“Over the next 10 years, we are projecting over $1 billion in development (at the Discovery Park District) comprised of business, research, residential, retail, advanced manufacturing and community spaces that will eventually attract upwards of 25,000 people living, working, playing and learning across the district,” says Broecker.

“With the 50,000+ students, faculty and staff at Purdue, Discovery Park District will become an incredible community in its own right on the campus of a leading research university … and the Convergence Center is the ‘business front door’ to the DPD.” ★

For more information about Carr Workplaces, go to:
carrworkplaces.com/locations/purdue_university/convergence

For more information about the Convergence Center,
go to: discoveryparkdistrict.com/the-convergence-center

Central Lafayette
Patio Dining at Parkside

Parkside | 1902 Scott St.
A Columbian Park staple for decades, Parkside reopened under new ownership just last year. The recently constructed patio opened in September and is nonsmoking, just like the reimagined restaurant. Outfitted with reclaimed lumber, polished concrete and a hanging garden, the stylish outdoor ambiance is a welcome respite. With dinner specials, smoked meats and “the coldest beer in town,” we don’t need an excuse to stop by and stay a while.
facebook.com/theparksidelafayette

Downtown Lafayette
Downtown Lafayette Patio Dining at Digby's

Digby’s | 113 N. Fourth St.
Tucked between two tall buildings, Digby’s patio may feel like an exclusive hideaway, and spaciously positioned tables along serpentine pathways dotted with trees lend an air of privacy. Its casual atmosphere belies what is arguably the best patio view in town. Gaze at the Tippecanoe Courthouse soaring overhead as local music emanating from the outdoor stage wafts over you. Reservations accepted, and your pup can come, too.
digbyspub.com

Downtown Patio Dining at East End Grill

East End Grill | 1016 Main St.
A seasonally inspired scratch menu, creative cocktails and a modern, urban vibe have earned East End Grill a reputation as one of the hottest spots in town. The restaurant has become an anchor of upper Main Street since it first opened five years ago. Weekend nights, tables are hard to come by without reservations, even more so for the few available on the small dog-friendly patio. Reservations encouraged.
eastendmain.com

Downtown Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Lafayette Brewing Co

Lafayette Brewing Co. | 622 Main St.
The first brewery to receive Indiana’s small brewers permit back in 1993, Brew Co. — as it’s known to locals — brews traditional ales and lagers on site. The kitchen sends out generous portions of unique pub fare that would satiate any appetite. Whether you stop by on Pint Night (Wednesday), Flight Night (Monday), Seven Buck Sunday or any other night, a good time is certain.
lafbrew.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Red Seven

Red Seven | 200 Main St.
Watch the world go by from your patio seat in the heart of downtown. From small plates to seafood to steaks, this new American restaurant offers an upscale urban dining experience for everyone. The extensive line up of seasonally crafted cocktails and local brews are enough to make you linger for an evening. Dogs welcome. Red Seven accepts reservations; although patio seating can be requested, it is not guaranteed.
red7grill.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Sgt. Preston's

Sgt. Preston’s of the North | 6 N. Second St.
Is there a more popular patio in town than Sgt. Preston’s on a sunny day? The Canadian-themed bar has been a staple in downtown Lafayette for decades, serving up delicious grub backed by a full bar with weekly dinner and drink specials. Often featuring live music on weekends, your best bet is to head over early to snag a table or visit on Monday for Schooner Night. 21+ only.
sgtprestons.net

South Lafayette
Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Rusty Taco

Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Dr.
Relatively new on the scene, Rusty Taco quickly impressed with its diverse menu of street tacos that pack bold flavors. With its festive umbrellas and charming string lights, the Rusty Taco patio gives off the mellow vibe of a place where you want to kick back, relax and forget about your worries for a while. Rusty says, “Tacos are the most important meal of the day,” and we can’t disagree.
rustytaco.com

Teays River Brewing and Public House | 3000 S. Ninth St.
This comfortable outdoor patio bedecked with picnic tables maintains a communal feeling even with sufficient social distancing. An extension of the laid-back scene that permeates inside, outdoor dining at Teays River features the same unique pub fare and tasty local brews. Bring Fido along; the patio is pooch friendly.
teaysriverbrewing.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette, Indiana at Walt's Other Pub

Walt’s Other Pub | 3001 S. Ninth St.
Not only does Walt’s Other Pub have a patio, you might even be lucky enough to score a seat on the balcony. Its immense menu with family-friendly options is sure to please. With 12 beers on tap, a robust wine list and a full bar, you have plenty of choices to accompany your meal. And if you go for lunch you might get served by the friendliest, most outgoing waitress in town. Everyone’s welcome at Walt’s patio, even the dog.
waltsotherpub.com

West Lafayette
Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at The Bryant

The Bryant | 1820 Sagamore Pkwy W
When The Bryant first opened its doors in November 2018, it already sounded familiar to longtime residents. The restaurant’s name harkens back to the much-beloved Morris Bryant Smorgasbord, which occupied the site from 1951 to 1994. After only a few years, the Bryant has quickly gained a place in our hearts, too. Its upscale, contemporary atmosphere and ever-evolving menu are enticing enough. Throw in one of the most inventive cocktail menus around? We’re sold.
thebryantwl.com

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana

Town and Gown Bistro | 119 N. River Road
Don’t overlook this gem of a place. Although located on a busy thoroughfare, the landscaped patio has been outfitted with numerous pots and planters filled with lush greenery that transform this cozy patio into a delightful oasis. Billed as “unfussy American eats” the chef-driven menu features familiar fare exquisitely executed. In addition to lunch and dinner, Town and Gown also is open for brunch and features a variety of vegetarian options. As if we needed another reason to love it.
facebook.com/townandgownbistro

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at Whittaker Inn

Whittaker Inn | 702 W 500 N
The Whittaker Inn’s picturesque country setting is the ideal location to enjoy a relaxing meal artfully crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Not just for out-of-towners, the Whittaker Kitchen is the heart of this inviting B&B just minutes from Purdue. The ever-changing menu offers new delights with each season, though we’re glad to see the scrumptious butterhorn bread rolls have become a mainstay. We could fill up on those alone. Reservations required.
thewhittakerinn.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

While much of life slowed or was outright canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city improvement and development projects continued, and many will come to fruition in 2021. From penguins to new planned neighborhoods, here’s a peek at what’s coming for our communities.

Columbian Park
Lafayette’s Columbian Park continues to be a beehive of activity with new attractions slated to open this spring and summer.

The recently constructed $20 million Loeb Stadium, located at the corner of Main and Wallace streets, will be dedicated at the end of January, says Lafayette Parks and Recreation Marketing Manager Samantha Haville. Some COVID-related delays pushed the project’s completion back a bit, but everything should be ready for Lafayette Jefferson High School’s baseball home opener in the spring.

The original Loeb Stadium, built in the 1940s of concrete, was long the site for Lafayette Jeff’s home games, the Colt World Series, and more recently the summer collegiate baseball team, the Lafayette Aviators, part of the West Division of the Prospect League. The new brick stadium, which will seat 2,600 people when suites and lawn seating opens later this year, is also designed as a multi-use space where concerts and family movie nights will be planned.

“We hope to make a big splash for the first Jeff home game and for the Aviators’ opener in early summer,” says Haville. “And we’re opening it up to community partnerships for a wide variety of events.”

The newest additions to the Columbian Park Zoo are scheduled to arrive before the zoo opens this spring. Nine African penguins will be shipped from California to inhabit the penguin house constructed in 2020. Their arrival was delayed because of travel restrictions, but the hope is that these warm-weather birds will feel at home and be ready for visitors by late April.

Another exciting addition, an updated blast from the past, will be a new carousel. Construction on a permanent building to house this family favorite has begun, located between the zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park. The carousel will feature hand-carved and painted wooden animals that represent some of those found in the zoo, along with exotic species and traditional horses. Haville says no date has been set for the opening of this much-loved ride.

While some of these new projects will not be fully used until the pandemic is under control, several planned features in Columbian Park will be open for individual use this summer.

Phase three of the Memorial Island project is proceeding apace. A new amphitheater with upgraded sound system is planned. The lagoon was drained last year, and sea walls are being rebuilt. Lots of new elements are being added to make the area accessible for folks with disabilities including boardwalks, new bridges, and ADA fishing nodes that jut out into the lagoon and accommodate a wheelchair, Haville says. The parks department is working with Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to choose fish that will be stocked in the refilled lagoon this summer.

“We are most excited about the fact that paddle boats are coming back!” Haville says. “The boats will be located on the south side of the lagoon near the train depot. We hope to have them available
in July.”

Cason Family Park
Keeping with the theme of public parks and outdoor spaces, West Lafayette has several projects in the works, says Erin Easter, director of development for the city.

Cason Family Park is a planned 14-acre prairie-style space being developed in two phases. The park, located on acreage donated by local farmer Lynn Cason at Cumberland Avenue and U.S. 231, is already home to the historic, one-room Morris Schoolhouse. Built in 1879, the school was moved to the property in 2017 and restored so it can be used for educational programs.

Construction on other park elements is slated to begin this year with completion set for 2022. Surrounding the schoolhouse will be outdoor play places, lawns and waterways. There will be picnic pavilions, public restrooms and several trails throughout the acreage.

“This will be a really fun, whimsical place to play that won’t feel forced,” Easter says. “There will be natural playgrounds with climbing rocks, wooden elements and rest areas.”

For bikers and walkers in West Lafayette, a planned 10-foot-wide pathway project will roll out this year. The path will run along Salisbury Street from Kalberer Road to Grant Street and end at Northwestern Avenue. The project will include shifting some traffic lanes and burying utilities, says Easter. Lighting and other amenities will be added during this two-year project, which will provide a safer way for pedestrians to move from the northern side of the city to the Purdue campus.

And the pathway will lead directly to the new Wellness Center just completed in Cumberland Park. This 73,000-square-foot facility houses a pool, gym, walking track, weight equipment and spaces for health classes, Easter says.

“A lot of our parks programming was put on pause in 2020,” she says. “It was difficult not to do those things last year, but we’ll have a beautiful new home (for those programs) when the time is right.” (See story on Page 22)

A New City Hall in West Lafayette

While anticipating summer activities, Easter and other city employees are spending these colder months settling into newly renovated office space at the Sonya L. Marjerum City Hall, formerly the Morton Community Center. Remodeling of the historic building began in 2019 and was largely completed in December when city workers began moving in.

The city offices have moved around for several years, but the more than $15 million renovations should allow the building on Chauncey Avenue to be a permanent home, says Easter. The name of the building was changed to honor the late Sonya Marjerum who served as West Lafayette mayor for 24 years.

“We moved into the building exactly two years to the date that construction began,” she says. “There are so many advantages to this space now. It’s ADA compliant and accessible. Four-fifths of the building space will be focused on parks or city programming and available to the community. And the new City Council chambers will serve as a true home for (the council’s) work. Before there was a sense of impermanence, but we hope this will be our final and forever home.”

City Hall’s first floor now has community space including two dance studios that can also host art programming and other activities. The first floor also houses the City Council chambers and other meeting space. The second floor is home to city staff including the mayor’s office, parks department, clerk’s office and other departments. A customer service desk is centrally located so visitors can easily get the help they need, Easter notes.

And additional community projects are planned between City Hall and the West Lafayette Public Library. Three public spaces will be added that include art pieces that also can serve as road barriers to temporarily block streets for festivals and large gatherings.

Lafayette projects

Lafayette also is completing some downtown projects and making plans for a new 70,000-square-foot public safety building and parking garage. The first public hearing concerning the facility design was held December 16, and the city hopes to begin construction this year with completion planned in 2023, says Lafayette Economic Development Director Dennis Carson.

The facility, which will be on property just east of City Hall at Sixth and Columbia streets, will house the police department and provide parking for city employees plus extra public parking spaces. The multi-story building will include open plazas for public use and be an asset to downtown living, Carson says.

Several Lafayette streetscape projects wrapped up in 2020 that have made downtown more pedestrian friendly and encouraged both investors and shoppers to see the businesses along Main Street as desired destinations. Paying attention to historic preservation and making the area more consumer friendly has paid off.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and people say being downtown is now a better experience, in a safer environment that is more interactive,” says Carson. “We’ve encouraged outdoor dining, which has been so important during the pandemic, and we have more retail than we’ve had in decades.”

While the growth of brick and mortar stores is a surprise in this age of on-line shopping, Carson says there are more clothing and other retail stores downtown than have been seen in years. That trend shows that the investment in improving sidewalks, installing public art, and focusing on local businesses has paid off as people feel more comfortable lingering and shopping downtown.

“We’re very excited about it,” he says. “It’s a testament that people like to experience things (in person). We know it’s been challenging for some of these shops but we think they’ll hold up and do really well when things open up again.”

Provenance

Perhaps the biggest project coming to Tippecanoe County is back across the river on the west side of the Purdue campus. As part of the Discovery Park District, the city of West Lafayette, Purdue Research Foundation and Old Town Design Group from Indianapolis have launched a planned housing development called Provenance.

Work has begun on apartments at the southwest corner of State Street and Airport Road to be followed by condominiums, town homes and single family homes, says West Lafayette’s Easter, adding that commercial and retail spaces are also part of the mix.

According to information from Old Town Design Group, this multiphase project will eventually include walking paths that connect to nearby parks, golf courses, shops and restaurants. The development includes lots for 56 single-family homes and 30 townhomes.

So grab your mask and take a drive around our communities to see the changes coming. While it feels as if our lives are shrinking, there are brighter days ahead with much to celebrate. ★

BY HANNAH HARPER
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Follow the leader. Lead by example. Take the lead. It’s safe to say that the concept of leadership has left an unmistakable imprint on the American vernacular, and rightly so, as it determines the course of everything from our countries to our businesses. Cultivating this vital skill in younger generations is an important part of ensuring our mutual success, and it is something in which Greater Lafayette continues to invest and value in the community.

TC Young Professionals

Tippy Connect Young Professionals provides young professionals ages 21-39 in Greater Lafayette an opportunity to discover their community and build lasting relationships with their peers and neighbors. With 151 members and several programs focused on the values of engagement, development, opportunity and service, the Greater Lafayette Commerce leadership program strives to be a connecting force within the community.

As a young professional, David Teter, a member of the Tippy Connect Young Professionals Steering Committee, has enjoyed the behind-the-scenes process of helping to organize opportunities for his peers.

“Knowing the community is the first step to making a difference, and I’m thrilled to know so many people with a passion for the community and developing new leaders and cultivating talent,” Teter says.

Programs such as Adulting 101 and Taproom Takeover are two such opportunities for young professionals to get to know the community.
Adulting 101 partners with local organizations to help young professionals learn or brush up on important life skills such as financial planning or changing a tire. Taproom Takeover allows Tippy Connect members to learn about the local restaurant scene through discussions with the business owners who operate them.

“Adulting 101 helps create those roots in Greater Lafayette because once you know [the community], you feel more at home, less out of place,” says Rebecca Jones, Quality of Life Coordinator and Tippy Connect Liaison for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “[Taproom Takeover] is another way for these individuals to grow roots.”

For Lafayette transplant Tyler Knochel, creating that sense of community for all young professionals is an important part of his involvement with the organization.

“Through my work at Tippy Connect, I want other people like me, young professionals and emerging leaders, to see Greater Lafayette the way I do,” he says. “I want to see more of us rally around our community and continue to make it great.”

In addition to community events, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also offers leadership training through its Success in 60 program and leadership conference. Success in 60 is delivered as a workshop where Tippy Connect members can learn personal and professional development skills that will equip them to become better leaders. Examples of past workshop topics include confidence and StrengthsFinder.

New to the programs offered through Tippy Connect is a leadership conference. The conference is tailored to young professionals and includes opportunities for networking, professional development tracks and keynote speakers.

“As long as you want to professionally develop yourself and personally grow with your peers, we have programming for you,” Jones says.

Although Tippy Connect Young Professionals caters the majority of its programming to a subset of the community, anyone who believes he or she may benefit from the organization’s programming is invited to reach out to attend an event. As a result of partnerships and connections to community organizations, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also gives members an opportunity to continue to serve the community through volunteerism and board representation even after they no longer fall into the designated young professional age range.

“We can talk about our community as a whole as it all relates to Greater Lafayette,” says Jones. “The end point for someone’s professional development isn’t when they’re 39 and aging out of Tippy Connect. It should be never.”

For more information or to join, please visit tippyconnect.com.


Leadership Lafayette

Since 1982, Leadership Lafayette has cultivated leadership potential in the citizens of Greater Lafayette to enrich the community in government, business and nonprofit sectors. The organization is an application-based leadership development program that prepares its cohorts through experiential learning and community engagement.

“Beginning with our Opening Retreat, we focus on identifying personal strengths as well as skills, abilities and passions that make each individual uniquely positioned to give back to our community,” says Kitty Campbell, executive director of Leadership Lafayette.

Each session focuses on a different area of the community to teach them about opportunities available in sectors such as civics, education and youth advocacy, human services, the arts and nonprofits. Participants also learn valuable leadership skills such as conflict resolution and team development.

For Knochel, who was a member of Class 46, several of the sessions gave him a greater understanding of challenges, talents and systems that exist within the community.

“My favorite session was all about building systematic support in our communities – how does the mission and reach of one organization or program connect and build into the mission and reach of another?”
he says.

The organization takes a unique approach to leadership training, focusing on servant leadership to provide exposure to opportunities where alumni can serve the community after completing the program. Through the Leadership Lafayette Volunteer Expo, the organization provides resources for alumni to get involved.

Knochel learned about leadership opportunities from his Leadership Lafayette experience in which he continues to take part.

“I serve on a committee for United Way and Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF), I serve on the steering committee for Tippy Connect Young Professionals, and I’m on the board of directors for an X-District and The American Advertising Federation in Lafayette,” he says.

“Leadership Lafayette was the first step I took in really getting involved in our community and helping build a greater Lafayette.”

Although the program is open to people of all ages, the organization has created partnerships to reach young professionals in the community.

“We collaborate with community partners, including Tippy Connect Young Professionals, to encourage businesses and nonprofit organizations to invest in the personal and professional development of their emerging talent, and to encourage young professionals to learn how they can get involved in our community and better our shared quality of life,” says Campbell.

Teter, a member of Class 49, gained insight into how community leaders work together to contribute to the overall success of Greater Lafayette.

“Leaders from various organizations collaborate and think of new events and activities that benefit the community, which is incredible,” he says. “I saw the start of some new ideas and collaborations during Class 49, and I’m sure Leadership Lafayette will continue to be an accelerator for the development of the community and leaders to move our community forward.”

For more information or to apply, visit leadershiplafayette.org.


The People Business 2.0

Providing a new and personalized twist for young professionals to build leadership skills, The People Business 2.0 is a personal and professional development organization owned by Sharlee Lyons. Certified as a Gallup Strengths Coach, Growing Leaders Master Trainer, and Fascinate Certified Advisor, among other qualifications, Lyons began the People Business 2.0 in 2020 after a career in multiple leadership and training roles.

“The People Business 2.0 is the collection of the personal and professional development best practices I’ve experienced in my professional career, and now I am blessed to share them with others,” Lyons says.

The leadership coaching provided by Lyons is customized to each individual client, making the leadership development experience personalized to the client’s unique needs and challenges. However, leadership coaching follows the same seven steps: (1) relationship development, (2) leadership competencies overview and assessment, (3) curiosity and learning about leadership competencies, (4) client setting goals for development, (5) assessments that lead to self-discovery, (6) coaching that leads to goal setting, and (7) client-driven action planning.

“I consider myself a ‘guide on the side’ as the client works through self-discovery, development, action planning and goal attainment,” says Lyons.

While leadership coaching is available to clients of all ages, Lyons offers coaching for young leaders through use of the Growing Leaders Habitudes curriculum, which was developed to teach leadership habits and attitudes to youth and young professionals through images.

“Our hope for the future depends on how well we train our young leaders, and it doesn’t happen by chance, it must be intentional,” she says.

Also intentional is Lyons’ choice to use The People Business 2.0 to bring leadership coaching to the Greater Lafayette community.

“My husband and I have lived in Greater Lafayette for 20 years,” she says. “It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere, and that is intentional. I love this
community.” ★

Additional leadership opportunities for young professionals:

• Evergreen Leadership: evergreenleadership.com

• United Way Emerging Leaders United: uwlafayette.org

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

This year marks the 95th anniversary of Kirby Risk Corporation, founded in 1926 when J. Kirby Risk borrowed $500 from his father and joined Otto Keiffer to open the Keiffer-Risk Battery Company in a small, abandoned blacksmith shop in Lafayette. Keiffer left the company within the year and was replaced by George Tweedie. The company became Risk-Tweedie Electric Service, and Risk was able to repay his father that $500 loan.

After Tweedie’s departure in 1934, the company was renamed Kirby Risk Electric Company, expanded into wholesale distributions of electric supplies and moved to a new downtown location in 1941. Through it all, Risk remained committed to a concept the company now refers to as sacrificial service.

Risk’s son, company CEO James Risk III, describes sacrificial service to mean placing the highest value on customers, employees, vendors and community relations.

“My father felt strongly that your life’s activities and your business should be based on integrity, respect for people and valuing others,” Risk says. “My mother and father were an amazing team. I learned by watching them that true happiness comes from serving others or enriching the lives of other people.”


The second-generation leader recalls accompanying his father to the company warehouse on evenings and weekends as a child.

“I was fascinated walking down the aisles with all of the different products, parts and equipment,” Risk says. “I didn’t necessarily know their purpose or understand how they worked.

Risk first started working at the company during summers while he was in school. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in management, he began his career at the sales counter and worked his way up to vice president of sales before he was named company president in 1972 at the age of 30. No stranger to leadership, Risk had already served as president of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

A commitment to community service is another value Risk learned from his father. According to Risk, his parents “left us a legacy of valuing others and having a sincere concern for your fellow man.” Among his many contributions to the community, the elder Risk championed bringing Junior Achievement to Lafayette and the younger Risk participated in the program in high school.

“The cornerstone to our company’s success is a commitment to long-term relationships with our employees and their families, with our customers, and with our vendors,” Risk says. “Equally important is having a presence in our communities. Our employees are encouraged to get involved in their communities, value other people and simply do more than what is expected. My parents lived their lives that way and I just tagged along for the ride.”

Family Business

Eddy Del Real was 4 years old when his father, Jose, opened Del Real Auto Sales. Jose still worked at Alcoa at the time. He’d wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the car auction, report to the plant at 3 p.m. and get off shift at 11 p.m. His three sons, Alonzo, Eddy and Tony, began helping out at the lot as kids, washing cars and performing other odd jobs on weekends or after school. Now all three sons — and their brother-in-law — work for the family business. 

“It wasn’t ever expected of us. We were raised to do what we love,” Eddy Del Real says. “For me, it’s an awesome opportunity. We’ve always been family oriented. We were all brought into the business. We each have investment in it. Dad showed us the ropes and we took it from there to broaden the business and expand it.” 

Since its founding in 1987, Del Real has expanded into three locations. Eddy manages the flagship Del Real Auto Sales in Lafayette; Alonzo runs Del Real Auto Connection on Sagamore Parkway, Lafayette; and Tony opened Del Real Automotive Group in Frankfort.
In terms of his father’s leadership style, Eddy Del Real says Jose’s
approach has always been firm,
but egalitarian. 

“There isn’t really a hierarchy of titles,” he says. “We were all raised as equals. We’ve never really had a boss. My dad has the knowledge, so we would ask him for advice and roll with it. He’s shown us that if you put your time and your investments into the business, you’ll reap the benefits. He’s done well for himself, and we want to continue that legacy.”

Eddy Del Real said one thing that sets the family business apart from other auto dealerships is the way they do business. Because their business carries the family name, the Del Reals are invested in every single sale. The company values stem from Jose’s strong work ethic and belief in transparency of the deal — no gimmicks, everything is sold with a warranty and deal the way you want to be treated. Though his sons manage the day-to-day operations, Jose is still involved in the business. 

“We still go to the auction together,” Eddy Del Real says. “Sometimes we’ll talk business at the dinner table when we’re all together. It’s something that will always unite us. My mom and our wives are the ones that keep us grounded.”

Counter philosophy

Basim Hussain started hanging out at his dad’s place of work when he was still too young to be on the payroll. What kid wouldn’t want to spend all day in an ice cream shop? Sabir Hussain operates three Coldstone Creamery locations throughout Greater Lafayette. Once Basim was old enough, he sought employment at one of his father’s stores.

“He considered applying for other jobs, even interviewed for a few. But they just weren’t for him,” Sabir Hussain says. “The way we provide flexibility to young people in school and sports and other activities, we go above and beyond in recruiting and keeping young employees.”

Basim’s only concern about working for his dad? He was worried he’d be missing out on a real work experience.

“At the end of the day, your dad probably won’t fire you,” Sabir Hussain says. “But Basim gets admonished just like anyone else, and to be honest, a little bit more than others. There’s extra pressure if the owner’s son isn’t in proper uniform.”

Hussain takes a long-term approach in developing his young workers. He looks for opportunities to challenge them to see alternate perspectives. He encourages them to be problem solvers. He guides them in cultivating strong customer relations skills that could be applied to dealing with clients in almost any future career path. Basim, now a freshman at Cornell University, remained at home during the fall
semester due to the pandemic. While enrolled in online courses,
he still worked part-time in his father’s store.

“For all my young employees, I hope there is something they pick up from this job that stays with them for the rest of their life,”
Sabir Hussain says. “I truly believe
it takes a village to raise a young person. My role may not be
counselor or teacher or pastor, but at the same time, it’s not nothing. I’m not just a person who signs
their check.” ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
PRODUCTION PHOTOS PROVIDED

The mere mention of coffee evokes smells and imagery that transport people to a place or a time. For many of us, it’s the first thing we reach for in the morning. Or it’s an excuse to gather with friends, to take a break or help us make it through a busy day.

It’s a staple in so many of our daily lives — it’s easy to take coffee for granted. But Brad and Cary Gutwein have taken their love affair a step further by making it their business. The brothers purchased the Copper Moon Coffee brand in 2006. And while they may not have reinvented coffee per se, they have taken this already existent brand to a new level.

This isn’t the brothers’ first foray into partnership in business. Growing up, the two always had a good relationship, says elder brother Brad. Brad graduated from Purdue University in 1989 with a degree in hotel and restaurant management – a good all-around degree with a focus on both business and hospitality – while Cary studied at Valparaiso University.

The two joined forces earlier in their careers when they operated a birdseed business, Morning Song.

“We’ve always gotten along really well,” says Brad. “We have a good balance of talent and skills. Cary is more operational, I’m more marketing and sales.”

But eventually, they outgrew their fledgling operation, ready for a bigger challenge. After they sold Morning Song they were ready for their next venture. And coffee, Brad says, was no accident — it was intentional. He had done a lot of research on coffee and knew that was a venture he was interested in — and one he knew they were well prepared to take on.

For one, they already had a company put together and an infrastructure, a hold-over from Morning Song. And many of their employees stayed on, says Nick Thompson, who currently serves as vice president for sales and marketing but has been with the brothers since 2007.

The concepts of working with birdseed — sourcing, working with an agricultural product, purchasing, packaging, selling to retailers — carry over to the coffee business.

“Those same principles work for coffee,” Thompson says. “They turned it into more of a passion.”

Brad Gutwein attended a trade show in Florida in late 2006, looking for inspiration for his coffee ambition. He visited a booth for a business based in Indianapolis. The brand, Copper Moon Coffee, was owned by a private equity firm; Gutwein knew it was a non-core asset and they might be willing to sell.

“And I was ready,” he says. “I knew what we wanted and what we were looking for.”

So the brothers took the brand name Copper Moon – formerly a part of the now-defunct Marsh supermarket brand – and ran with it. Since the purchase in 2007, the company has remade the entire franchise. Its first roasting facility was on the east side of Indianapolis; in 2012 the entire operation relocated to Lafayette. They have changed the design and packaging, experimented with new flavors and techniques.

“Everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Thompson. “We’re constantly creating things that go to market. We have that entrepreneurial ability to develop all the way to the end consumer. It’s unreal that we get to do that here in Lafayette. The ability for anyone on our team to come up with an idea on a dry erase board to producing millions of pounds of it.”

The 100,000-square-foot roasting facility on the east side of Lafayette roasts tens of millions of pounds of coffee each year, Thompson says.

Much of the coffee is sold online through its website, coppermooncoffee.com; it is also sold through other online retailers — Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Wal-Mart.

This year has been better than ever for online sales, Thompson says. The company did a refresh that launched in late January 2020, updating its brand. Copper Moon currently ships to all 48 of the continental United States.

“We expected growth,” he says. “It’s been out of this world.”
But they would like to encourage customers to purchase through the Copper Moon website. If they can see what people order, Thompson says, they are in a better position to help them with future purchases, making recommendations, or letting them know about sales or special offers.

“We get to establish relationships with those customers,” he says.

And the business has expanded into retail operations, opening its flagship café in April 2017 on State Road 26 near Meijer in Lafayette. It gave everyone a chance to see how consumers react to their products in real time.

“I think it kind of served as a good test kitchen for the brand, for what we could produce on a larger level,” Thompson says. “We could take that same coffee to the consumer, see what works. It’s a great marketing tool to reach our local community.”

Copper Moon recently opened its second location. The latest, on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette, has more than one drive-through lane, which helps serve customers during these pandemic months.

It’s a challenge, says Gutwein, but they’re learning and adapting.

Yet with coffee shops on nearly every corner these days, how did the brothers feel like they could put their own spin on coffee? Coffee – the world’s second-largest commodity, next to oil — is, these days, ubiquitous; how does one put their own spin on something that is everywhere?

“Coffee is very recognizable,” Gutwein says. “Which means it’s very complicated. You need to find a lane or a niche. We understand purchasing, packaging and selling to retailers.”

Much of their sales were, formerly, to offices that provided
coffee to their employees. Now that the workplace has shifted and so many people are working from home, Copper Moon’s sales and marketing have had to shift as well. People are buying more five-pound bags these days.

“At-home brewing has grown considerably,” Gutwein says. “Consumption rates have gone up.” People are drinking coffee for more of their day, or at different times. Consumer behavior has changed, and the business will have to change with it.

Thus, Copper Moon’s mission, says Gutwein, is to adapt its marketing and advertising, reaching customers in new way.

“The customers we do pick up are sticky,” he says. “We need to continue to advertise to them. That’s a real focal point with us.”

One of the most important pillars of the business model is Reach for the Moon, the company’s philanthropic effort. Copper Moon is committed not only to selling great coffee, but to serving others and giving back to the community.

It’s a term the team takes literally, Thompson says.

“It’s our giveback arm. We think coffee can help you reach your goals.”

We Give a Cup is its offer to provide complementary drinks to health care workers, firefighter, police officers, members of the military and educators.

“We’re trying to fuel our local heroes as they work to protect us,” Thompson says. “It’s a practical way for us to support our frontline heroes at this time.”

The initiative funds pursuits in STEM fields, partnering with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which provides more than 50 scholarships annually. It supports Purdue Space Day, Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, a 24-acre research center home to the world’s largest academic propulsion lab. And it supports a number of other organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Food Finders Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.

Copper Moon works because of its business principles and how it practices them, says Thompson. It’s a family-owned business, and it has local roots. The company produces high-grade coffee, and it is committed to sustainability as well as social, economical and environmental concerns. And it is committed to giving back to the community.

But in the end, it comes back to family. It’s a business that feels like a family. Because, of course, it is a family. Brad and Cary work very well together, Thompson says.

“It’s very much a family,” he says. “They’re a good yin and yang. It works.”

The brothers try to model excellent relationships.

“In business there has to be a lot of give and take, humility and respect for the other’s point of view,” Gutwein says. “We’ve done it our entire lives. We understand each other; we listen. If there are issues, we talk through them.”

And it’s a feeling that extends beyond the brothers; as Thompson points out, a good number of their team have been with them since the Morning Song days, people who work in operations, sales, marketing, graphic design.

And at the heart of the business: coffee. Because what better way to be successful than to love what you do, do what you love?

“Coffee brings people together,” says Gutwein. “It’s a global beverage — it literally is recognized globally. I love coffee.” ★

BY JANE MCLAUGHLIN ANDERSON
MELISSA MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY

As we happily flip over the calendar to 2021, discover a new place to pursue wellness for mind, body and spirit in Greater Lafayette. The West Lafayette Wellness Center opened in early January, just in time to pursue your New Year’s resolutions. Located in Cumberland Park on the north side of West Lafayette, it is open to everyone, regardless of residence. A recreation and indoor aquatic facility has been on the city’s bucket list for more than 30 years; the timing couldn’t be better to build a holistic center for health. The Wellness Center has something
for everybody.

Wellness Center Director Kevin Noe says, “This is much more than a gym or a fitness center; we are growing a community and building relationships with a wholesome family atmosphere. You can bring your kids in and drop them off at the Clubhouse while you take a class. You can work out while your kids are at basketball practice.” Having the space to create new programs and room to grow is exciting for the West Lafayette Parks Department, which most recently operated out of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School building.

The 7,300-square-foot fitness floor includes a full line-up of strength training and cardio equipment with a view. Wrap-around windows overlook the park, outdoor playground, pond and the adjacent Michaud-Sinninger Nature Preserve, teeming with wildlife. Inviting nature to indoor and outdoor activities sparks energy and wellness, reduces stress and gives people a place to connect with others the old-fashioned way – in person.

The large hybrid pool can accommodate swimmers of all abilities. There are three different ways to enter the pool: zero depth with water features for children, traditional stairs, and a wheelchair lift. The indoor aquatic facility features four lap lanes and areas for swim lessons and group exercise. There’s even a vortex section to walk with or against the current. Dive-In Movies in the pool area are just one of the fun programs in store. Parks Superintendent Kathy Lozano says, “Swimming is a lifelong exercise and something you can do well into your 80s or 90s.”

Like to play games? Great! There are plenty of opportunities to play sports in the two wooden floor basketball-sized gyms or the multi-purpose gym striped for pickleball. A four-lane running/walking track overlooks the gymnasium and is a great way to keep moving in the winter. If you like exercising in a group atmosphere, the Wellness Center has three studios for classes. The Wellness Center will hold youth and adult sports programs and summer camps in this space, but they are not included in the membership fee.

Membership includes unlimited use of the pool, open gym, strength and cardio equipment, indoor walking track, group exercise and wellness classes, and childcare while you work out. Members receive discounts on swim lessons and personal training, along with special member-only activities. Membership is open to everyone; however, households who pay West Lafayette property taxes and active military are exempt from the joiner’s fee.

Non-residents pay the one-time fee in addition to their membership package. No contracts are required, and members may put their accounts on hold for three months a year if needed. A variety of individual and family memberships are available, as well as daily passes. See the website for details, wl.in.gov/parks, or stop by the Wellness Center at 1101 Kalberer Rd., West Lafayette.
Integrating the Wellness Center within Cumberland Park provides opportunities to commune with nature and increase well-being. A marked 5K trail weaves around the grounds of the building and through the park. Eventually, the trail will lead to the new Margerum Government and Community Center.
In its very definition, recreation is the refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through an activity that amuses or stimulates; play. The Well-

ness Center is a prescription for attaining that refreshment.
“The Wellness Center has something for every health seeker,” says Wellness Coordinator Rachel MacDougall. “It’s no secret that exercise has many benefits. The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
Community rooms can be rented for meetings or gatherings with a nearby warming kitchen available. There’s even a party room by the pool to host children’s birthday parties. DogStudio is commissioned to create an interactive motion-sensing art piece in the lobby guaranteed to captivate and emotionally engage visitors. Check out West Lafayette Parks’ Facebook page for dynamic news, photos and videos of the Wellness Center and all parks and recreation activities. ★

“The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

On a cold winter’s day, or even a warm summer evening, a bowl of soup can be a meal or a side dish to a grilled cheese sandwich.

A good bowl of soup can bring customers into a restaurant, and there are several Greater Lafayette establishments that offer a variety of homemade soups.

“Soups are comfort food,” says Jody Bahler, founder and owner of The Homestead, which has locations in West Lafayette and Remington. “It’s like balm to the soul to enjoy a delicious steamy bowl of homemade soup.”
The Homestead believes in offering a wide variety of soups each month. Including its tomato basil, which is available daily, The Homestead usually has nearly a dozen soups on its monthly menu.

“There is enough to satisfy everyone’s taste buds,” Bahler says. “Everyone enjoys a steamy bowl of soup, especially during these cold wintry months.”

The Homestead’s website, homesteadbuttery.com, has a daily lunch calendar that allows patrons to see what soups are available on a daily basis. The Homestead also packages its soups frozen for customers to heat up at home, a popular business strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked which is the most popular soup among her customers, Bahler couldn’t stop at just one. There are five on her list: tomato basil, baked potato, Boilermaker stew, chicken noodle and cheesy broccoli noodle.

“We have several that rank up at the tip top in sales. Those five are in constant demand, which thrills us that our soups are enjoyed by so many,” Bahler says. Bahler’s personal favorite is tomato basil in combination with The Homestead’s grilled cheese sandwich. She also recommends getting the Boilermaker stew topped with sour cream, crushed cheesy Doritos and extra shredded cheddar cheese.

“Our soups are hearty and do not contain preservatives or fillers,” Bahler says. “They are made completely from scratch in our Homestead production kitchen in Remington, Indiana.”

In case you were wondering, The Homestead offers several gluten-free soups: chicken and rice, chicken tortilla, Homestead chili, tomato basil and white chicken chili.

The Homestead’s West Lafayette location, which is tucked inside Bell Plaza next to Wolf’s Chocolates and Boutique & Gifts by Michele, boasts 22 different varieties of frozen entrees along with pies, cookies, breads and sweet rolls. If the food isn’t enough, The Homestead sells candles, chocolates, jams, Amish noodles, deli meats and cheeses and locally raised freezer beef.

At Trish’s Red Bird Café in Dayton, chicken corn chowder has the honor of being the most popular soup. Not far behind, though, is the breakfast soup.

“I believe that these are so popular because they are so fresh tasting and just warm you up on the inside,” says Red Bird Café owner Trish Brown, whose personal favorite is her tomato basil soup.

“It’s not a traditional tomato soup,” Brown says. “It is very chunky.”

Brown believes the secret to her soups’ popularity is simple.

“I would say our soups are so special because we make them completely from scratch and I can tell you every ingredient in every one,” she says. “Our soups are not the ‘normal’ soups you see in other restaurants. We offer several that were created just for us.”

Trish’s Red Bird Café sells homemade soups by the quart, hot or cold, for $10. The current list includes stuffed bell pepper, loaded potato, broccoli cheese, chili, chicken tortilla, chicken corn chowder, tomato basil bisque and the breakfast soup. All are gluten-free.

“I feel that the Greater Lafayette area likes soups and chili because it is a good way to fill up, and it just makes you think of family,” Brown says. “Growing up in this area most of us ate a lot of soup, so at least for me personally it brings back happy memories. It’s just good comfort, feel-good food.”

Partially for space reasons, Great Harvest Bread Co. doesn’t offer a variety of soups like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café. However, Great Harvest owner Jerry Lecy says a great deal of care goes into each batch coming out of Great Harvest’s kitchen.

“We make these soups from scratch, so it’s not easy to perfect so many options,” Lecy says. Those options include butternut squash, cheesy broccoli, cream of mushroom, cheesy potato ham, and chili.

Like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café, Great Harvest customers list tomato basil as a favorite along with velvet chicken.

“The popularity contest between the tomato basil and the velvet chicken is a toss-up,” Lecy says. “Both are desired just as much. My personal
favorite is velvet chicken. I just love the creamy taste and shreds of chicken. The seasoning tops it off.”

For customers who desire to have Great Harvest soups at home, there are dry soup mixes for sale.

“We offer over 20 varieties of these soups that are easy to make and tasty,” Lecy says. “They can be tweaked to a person’s liking with additional ingredients, or it’s simple to just add water and heat up.”

Just as easy is Lecy’s explanation for why he believes soups are a staple of Greater Lafayette dining.

“I believe soup is so desirous in our area for two reasons,” he says. “First, it is a simple meal – don’t need to figure out which main course you want or which sides you want with that. It’s one easy decision: which delicious soup do I want?

“Second, it’s a comfort food (which) warms the soul and body.” ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The original idea behind Art with a Happy Heart Gallery and Studio was simple: find a way to share art and support the community at the same time. After quickly outgrowing her barn studio, owner and artist Sarah Czajkowski purchased the building previously occupied by Samson and Delilah Salon and Spa at 2139 Ferry St. in Lafayette. She set about transforming the space and opened to the public on July 1.

The gallery showcases artwork from local, regional and international artists while the studio provides an area for private art instruction, classes taught by visiting artists, seasonal craft workshops and paint parties, which is where Czajkowski got her start.

“Paint parties lend themselves to creativity and connection,” she says. “The experience fosters a real sense of self-confidence and pride. Guests are surprised and amazed that they created the artwork themselves.”
Czajkowski also offers a mobile paint party studio where she brings all the supplies to any location up to an hour away. The parties have been popular with girls’ night out groups, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, corporate events, bridal parties, church groups and fundraisers. Paint party kits are also available for purchase in the gallery. During the pandemic, Czajkowski has focused primarily on private group parties. Future plans for the venue include serving wine, beer and a small food menu on the outdoor patio and hosting live music once a week in addition to building out a full calendar of courses in fine art, pottery and jewelry making.

“To be able to do this for a living brings me so much joy,” Czajkowski says. “All I want is for people to be happy while they are here. It’s truly a magical place.”

Adapting art

The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was founded in 1909 with a three-part mission to collect art, exhibit art and provide educational opportunities for individuals in the community to learn about art and experience art hands on. The museum has remained true to its mission over the years, but COVID-19 presented challenges for traditional in-person instruction. Instead, the museum quickly pivoted to a virtual environment.

“Many of our faculty members created online learning experiences,” says Kendall Smith, executive director and CEO. “We’re trying a lot of new things.”

Last fall, the museum offered virtual classes in painting and drawing for kids and adults through Zoom and Facebook Live. Additionally, watercolor kits are available for purchase through the museum shop for students to use at home while watching a series of watercolor technique videos recorded by a member of the museum faculty. The pottery studio remains open to advanced students with limited occupancy.

“The reaction from the community has been very positive,” Smith says. “Several of our online children’s art classes have sold out right after they were announced. We plan to continue to offer virtual education and create video productions to enhance what we offer in the future. We’re all learning a lot.”

Art Classes Around Town

» All Fired Up
In addition to its paint-your-own pottery studio, All Fired Up offers off-site parties and pottery-to-go kits with everything you need to complete a masterpiece. Items painted with pottery paints can be returned to the store for firing to make them food safe. Decorative items that do not need to be food safe can be finished in acrylic paints. Learn more at allfiredupwestlafayette.com.

» Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Find online art activities and tutorials as well as information about virtual art classes for youth and adults at the Art Museum’s website, artlafayette.org.

» Art with a Happy Heart
In addition to private paint parties, artist-led workshops and even yoga classes, this recently opened studio and gallery holds open studio events where you’ll walk away with your own seasonal craft. Find out more at artwithahappyheart.com.

» Inspired Fire
Owned and operated by glass artist Sharon Owens, this glass studio and gallery located in Shadeland offers a range of classes for ages 6 and up with no experience required. See a complete list of class offerings at inspiredfire.com.

» Lafayette Atelier
Modeled after private art studio schools that emerged in 19th century Europe, this nonprofit art education studio was founded by artist James C. Werner. Focused on classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture, the studio offers weekly demonstration and life
drawing nights. Find them on Facebook @classicalfinearttraining.

» LaLa Gallery & Studio
Owner Angela Taylor teaches lessons, classes, parties, groups and students with special needs starting with children (3+) to adults in her private pottery studio located in the Bindery Artist Studios. Each class offering can be customized according to the student’s interest and level of experience. For more information, visit lalagallery.com.

» West Lafayette Parks and Recreation
Everything from basket weaving to watercolor to photography is on offer through West Lafayette Parks and Recreation. All programs take place at 1200 N. Salisbury St. (site of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School). View the entire recreation brochure at westlafayette.in.gov/parks.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GREATER LAFAYETTE COMMERCE

When you think of Greater Lafayette, what comes to mind?
A growing startup culture and world-class manufacturing?
Accessible arts and recreation for varied interests? Friendly
neighbors and excellent public schools?

For the members of the Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition (GLMC), these qualities and more boil down to this core message, which marketing professionals call a brand promise:
“Greater Lafayette is where progress, creativity and community thrive, so you can live expansively.”

More than two years in the making, the unmasking of the brand — unveiled in the Long Center in October to dispersed guests sporting an assortment of understated and glittered masks — includes new social media accounts, a video, a set of Greater Lafayette logos and a fresh website in a saturated palette of purple, green, orange, blue and teal. The stories that the visuals and the text tell are all designed to send the message that Greater Lafayette is not just a place that we come to; it’s a place where we want to stay.

Roots in the GE deal

Greater Lafayette’s brand is rooted in part in lessons learned from a major business development deal.
“We continue to hear stories of people who came here and thought they would stay for a while, but they never left,” says Cindy Murray, Lafayette city clerk. “When we were going through the process to bring in GE, what they used to choose our community, it really began to hit home that we needed to market ourselves to compete in a global economy for global talent.”
When the GE plant was built, she says, corporate officials stayed at the Holiday Inn Lafayette-City Centre and participated in a community scavenger hunt. Afterwards, the visitors met with Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and remarked that they didn’t know the region had so much to offer. Murray says that the mayor and his staff realized that they needed to tell the Greater Lafayette story in an entirely new way. “It’s all about people, the quality of life for people that makes them give Greater Lafayette a chance,” she explains.

A phased process

In May 2018, Greater Lafayette officials invited firms to bid on developing a comprehensive strategy. Ultimately, they chose Ologie, a firm that has worked with Purdue University in the past.

“They are a true branding agency who helps companies with clear, compelling and consistent strategy,” says Emily Blue, senior manager of brand, advertising and sponsorships at Purdue, who has been intimately involved in Greater Lafayette’s branding process.

The firm completed a deep dive with both qualitative and quantitative research, including an audit of economic development plans and communications materials, discussion groups and interviews with key stakeholders, and an online survey of the community. Among the constituents queried: corporations, businesses, K-12 schools and higher education, community and nonprofit organizations and government organizations.

Strategy and creative

The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition formed in February 2019, bringing together representatives from the City of Lafayette, the City of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, Purdue University, the Purdue Research Foundation and Greater Lafayette Commerce. One of the group’s first decisions was to ask member organization Greater Lafayette Commerce to coordinate the project and brand management for the coalition. Greater Lafayette Commerce promoted its marketing director, Michelle Brantley, to the role of project leader and brand manager.

Once the discovery process was complete, it was time for phase two, strategy. Against the backdrop of its research report, and with GLMC in a collaborative role, the firm identified key audiences, outlined key messages and defined a brand personality — how that messaging should look, feel and sound.

As phase three, the creative, began, GLMC again engaged in a competitive process, choosing Toledo, Ohio-based Madhouse Creative for the video, and homegrown advertising firm Dearing Group for website development. Officials also began training a small group of Lafayette business professionals, executive directors and community leaders — “An ambassador group to generate excitement,” says David Byers, Tippecanoe County commissioner.

A community on the rise

Collectively, the identity is designed to meet three main goals: increasing the talent pool by retaining and attracting a citizen workforce; spurring economic growth by attracting business investments and elevating quality of life; and increasing positive perceptions of the Greater Lafayette region. All of that can be summed up in the nearly five-minute video, starring a former NBA dancer and her husband.

“We were challenged to tell our story as a community on the rise in an exciting way,” says Brantley. “We’re focused on prospective employees, businesses and others that we are seeking to attract to our area.” That required several messages, borne out of the constituent research: what kinds of value-addeds transplants get when they relocate here, how Greater Lafayette often exceeds newcomers’ expectations, and why the region is a great place to do business.

All that, and they were shooting during a pandemic.

True fiction

After crafting a narrative, the Madhouse Creative team decided to cast a couple living in the same household so that they could shoot up close and still adhere to infection control protocols. Strategic camera angles allowed the two main characters to be shot in view of others while socially distanced from them. Filmed in August, many of the scenes take place outside.

The main character, an advanced manufacturing professional from a big city, interviews with several local companies before joining the crew at Subaru. While out running one day at the Celery Bog, she meets an agricultural tech entrepreneur. From dates at the Bryant, to bike rides, to a city hall wedding and walks with a baby stroller, we see the couple meet, fall in love — with each other and the community — and set down roots here.

Even in its fiction, the story should ring true to those who are familiar with Greater Lafayette, from the many familiar sights and sounds to the feelings that it evokes. As the protagonist muses, “When I moved here, I was looking for change. But what I found was home. This is the rich, full life I’ve always wanted. Each of us, every single person in our community, is what makes this place… greater.”

The Greater Lafayette Brand Launch Event

Un-Masking the Greater Lafayette Brand

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition held a scaled back brand launch event on Monday, Oct. 26, hosting a group of elected officials, corporate,
university and civic leaders, and brand ambassadors.

The event was planned in two parts to disperse guests and maintain COVID-19 protocol. GLMC partnered with restaurants and The Long Center for Performing Arts to provide a safe and entertaining brand premier event. Guests were asked to select their restaurant of choice and enjoy a four-course meal before the premier. Mixing and mingling at the restaurants was discouraged. Each venue was unique, providing guests with live entertainment and surprise swag bag deliveries during the dinner party experience.

After dinner, guests made their way to the Long Center for the brand premier, where they were treated to a red-carpet experience complete with a Greater Lafayette Walk of Fame. Again, mixing and mingling was minimized and guests were directed to their socially distanced seats. The program began with a dazzling performance of the Greater Lafayette brand narrative by Dance Dynamics. It was followed by short segments that revealed the elements of the new brand, including brand colors and logos, Greater Lafayette Magazine, the website and brand video.

We encourage readers to view the video at www.greaterlafayetteind.com,
the home page of the Greater Lafayette website.

Long Center for the Performing Arts
A quiet Long Center for the Performing Arts prior to guests arrival.