BY CINDY GERLACH
Historically low unemployment rates in Tippecanoe County should mean that most people who are searching for work have multiple opportunities to return to the workforce. There are, however, other factors that might keep someone from taking the job of their dreams: child care.
And with chronically understaffed businesses, employers feel the pinch every bit as much as parents.
Openings for children can be difficult to find, says Tammey Lindblom, co-CEO of Right Steps Child Development Centers. In Tippecanoe County, there are only 5,604 openings in regulated child care centers for children from birth to age 5. And that means there is a shortage of high-quality programs.
In Tippecanoe County, there are 117 regulated child care programs, says Grant Britzke, County Engagement Specialist for the Child Care Resource Network, a regional child care coalition builder and advocacy group. With more than 11,800 children under the age of 5, many parents are not able to find care for their children.
“Only 64 percent of those children can access a regulated program,” says Britzke. And only 3,798 of the available spots are considered high quality.
Needs are further complicated by non-traditional working hours; of the child care agencies in this county, only 11 offer overnight care and only four or five are staffed over the weekend. And to further complicate matters, staffing is difficult to find, particularly for those non-traditional hours.
The bottom line?
“For Tippecanoe County, we know we don’t have enough spaces,” Lindblom says.
However, “There’s overwhelming support for child care. Over 60 to 70 percent of the population is in support of policies that support child care access and affordability,” Britzke says. And there are conversations happening, he says.
In Tippecanoe County, there are people looking at early childhood initiatives, looking to address child care capacity and the growing workforce, with the understanding that child care plays a role in economic development. In May, Right Steps co-CEO Victoria Matney addressed Greater Lafayette Commerce on child care, presenting a proposal on a $14 million project that would, early on, offer care for 206 children, from birth to age 5, during traditional hours, and care would also be offered for second and third shifts. The proposed center would be located on an eight-acre site, thus offering room for expansion.
Matney says that Right Steps has conducted a feasibility study for the project and is in the process of identifying and adding partners who can contribute to making the project a reality.
“We have been actively engaging with the community by organizing several meetings to gather input and feedback regarding the project. These community meetings have been instrumental in shaping our approach and ensuring that we align with the needs and expectations of the local residents,” she says.
“Additionally, we have been meeting with local employers to assess their interest and willingness to invest in the project. We are pleased with the level of interest and engagement we have received thus far, and we are confident in the potential impact this project can have on the community.”
High-quality child care
What defines high-quality child care? Organizations that get this rating observe health and safety practices (first aid/CPR, child development, nutrition, cleaning/sanitation and universal precautions), observe proper ratios for children to caregivers, and have staff who meet proper education and training qualifications.
Such centers will typically have limited screen time, age-appropriate (and approved for safety) toys and equipment, and offer outside time; children are observed to make sure they are meeting developmental milestones and get age-appropriate, individualized developmental support.
At Right Steps, the goals are to “provide safe, consistent, nurturing child care that prepares each child for a lifetime of learning and success,” according to its literature. It supports healthy habits for children through nutrition, and it focuses on child development and early childhood education with its care.
The steps necessary to become a high-quality program are defined by Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY Rating System, which is a tool parents can use to see how each center fares. Accredited program meet the highest standards of care.
Many of these benchmarks on what is an appropriate environment have changed over the years. Playground equipment that was deemed “ideal” 25 years ago is not necessarily considered a best practice today.
“The trend is toward a natural environment,” Britzke says. “It’s more about the quality.”
Meeting community needs
For many communities, a focus on high-quality child care serves to meet multiple needs. From an educational standpoint, early childhood education benefits all children; making more child care centers that can help meet those needs for children will have long-term benefits, as studies show consistently that children who have early access to high-quality care perform better in school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Studies show that with access to high-quality early childhood education:
Availability of child care is also seen as an economic issue, says Britzke.
“You can’t go to work if you don’t have good child care,” he says.
And it’s critical for communities that wish to attract both employers and young people, says Lindblom. As people are evaluating jobs and the prospect of relocation, child care is one of many factors to consider.
“They’ll choose places that have that child care component,” she says. “Studies consistently show that children perform better in school if they’ve had better early education.”
Britzke and Lindblom stress that this is a bipartisan issue. “We are seeing a strong will to collaborate in each county and many are coming to the table with solutions.”
“Even though it’s complicated and there’s a lot to work out, I’ve never heard this much conversation about child care,” Britzke says. “It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s good that we’re all talking about it.”
Britzke is the coordinator of the regional program Supporting Our Families, a Greater Lafayette READI funded activity that will add 430 additional child care seats in the Greater Lafayette Region. The program will build Child Care Coalitions in each of the five counties in the READI region (Benton, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren and White), consisting of business, industry, child care centers and community leaders, to build support for solutions that increase child care capacity in each county. Supporting Our Families also will award micro-grants to child care centers to meet high-quality standards.
What can parents do?
Parents should know to get on a waiting list early – as soon as they know they might need care, especially for infants and toddlers, where there are the least spots.
“Parents don’t always understand how important it is to get on a wait list,” Lindblom says. “We have families with one child at one center and one at another to get those children in.”
And these programs are expensive. Care for infants and toddlers – where the ratio of adults to children is much higher – can cost more than $300 a week, even on a sliding scale. And this, Lindblom says, has a gap in actual costs. With grants and United Way funding they are able to bridge that gap. But they are always looking for ways to generate other funding.
Britzke is optimistic that, with conversations starting, parents and children will get the care they so desperately need.
“Ideally, what we’d like to have happen is that the child care offerings are so robust that each parent can choose what works best for their families,” he says. “Parents are currently sacrificing quality for the sake of a program that meets their work hours.” ★
In Tippecanoe County, there are 117 regulated child care programs. With more than 11,800 children under the age of 5, many parents are not able to find care for their children.
“Only 64 percent of those children can access a regulated program. And only 3,798 of the available spots are considered high quality.” — Grant Britzke, County Engagement Specialist for the Child Care Resource Network.
BY BRAD OPPENHEIM
West Lafayette’s New Chauncey neighborhood has quite the storied past, with its roots reaching back nearly 200 years. To spare its architectural history well into the future, the West Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission designated the neighborhood as a Local Historic District in 2013. Ten years later, maintaining the integrity of New Chauncey’s oldest structures is still top of mind among local leaders and neighbors.
“The first West Lafayette ‘Main Street’ ran through it (New Chauncey),” says resident and West Lafayette City Council member Peter Bunder.
As the 257-acre neighborhood grew alongside both West Lafayette and Purdue University, investors began purchasing many of its properties in the mid-1970s, according to the New Chauncey Neighborhood Association’s website.
Preserving and protecting New Chauncey’s collection of late 19th and early 20th century architecture became increasingly important to its residents, leading to the formation of the New Chauncey Neighborhood Association in 1977. To this day, its mission includes preserving and revitalizing architecture, along with improving the quality of life of neighborhood residents.
“New Chauncey has affordable houses with charm and visual interest you can’t find anywhere else in West Lafayette,” resident Linda Martin says.
As the community rallied to prevent New Chauncey’s physical past from slowly fading away, the neighborhood gained a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The National Register listing notes the significance of historic structures and districts but provides little protection when it comes to preservation, leaving the neighborhood’s historic structures in jeopardy.
The path to protecting New Chauncey’s history on the local level began with the West Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission. According to the West Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission Resource Guide, the commission was formed in June 2011, acting to preserve West Lafayette’s vast wealth of history. It is currently comprised of nine members appointed by the mayor and subject to approval by the city council. Aaron Thompson serves as the chair.
“The Historic Preservation Commission, through city ordinance, oversees a shared process essential for avoiding divisive conflicts over individual projects, especially in near-campus neighborhoods where the diversity of housing types, ownership and goals can differ from street to street or, often, within the same block,” Thompson says.
More than a decade after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places and just two years after the formation of the historic preservation commission, New Chauncey was designated as a local historic district, paving the way to protect its oldest structures. Currently, New Chauncey is West Lafayette’s only local historic district.
While the designation doesn’t prevent owners from making changes to their properties, they are required to consult with the commission and plan the best approach for home improvement projects, new construction, best practices for preservation, and choosing building materials that are approved by HPC policies and procedures. Once the proper review process is fulfilled, the commission decides whether to grant the property owners with a certificate of appropriateness, giving them the green light to move forward with projects.
Changes requiring commission approval include exterior changes to any structure, such as ensuring the original character is kept intact. General maintenance, such as making a repair to a door or window, does not require approval from the commission.
In addition to being a New Chauncey resident and city council member Bunder also sits on the
Historic Preservation Commission as a representative of the city council. He was responsible for the legislation that established New Chauncey’s local historic district status a decade ago.
“Many of my neighbors have gotten help from the city in creating excellent period-appropriate renovations,” Bunder says. “Personally, I got help with replacement windows.”
Bunder notes that one of the most interesting examples of a historical New Chauncey structure protected under the designation was the old Morton School, which opened in 1930. The school has gone through renovations, but it still maintains its historical integrity. It has since been converted into West Lafayette’s Margerum City Hall. “We have protected several old buildings in the village,” Bunder says. “While not the oldest, Morton/Margerum is the biggest and best.”
He says along with preservation, there has also been stabilization. “The value of your home is protected,” Bunder says. “Your neighbor, as the mayor once says, cannot just put a copy of the space shuttle on their roof!”
In a report by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, it was found that “historic districts seem to have the greatest positive impact on property values when the preservation commissions in control have effective communication of their rules and clear guidelines, firmly and consistently applied.”
Martin was an advocate for a local historic district from the get-go and sits on the Historic Preservation Committee. She says though the designation may cause some inconveniences, it’s worth it. “Historic, well-maintained neighborhoods add to property values,” Martin says. “Run down houses and super cheap renovations don’t make good neighbors.”
Resident Zachary Baiel says in the beginning he engaged with neighbors, meetings, discussions and information about establishing a local historic district. He advocated for providing a mechanism to evaluate the intentional neglect and demolition of properties for construction of new multi-family residents and apartment buildings.
Now, when the legislation is a topic of discussion among neighbors, he says, “The legislation comes up as an annoyance that residents must deal with when they want to make an update to their property. Unless there is a demolition that is prevented, it rarely comes up in a positive light.”
He says he also advocated for historic trees to be included as well, but that is not covered in the ordinance.
Resident Janice Brower says it’s important that the neighborhood maintains its historic district designation to prevent destruction of its beautiful, old structures. “I have always loved the look, construction and street appeal of older homes,” says Brower. “We’re lucky to live in a 100-year-old house within walking distance of Purdue.”
Thompson says it’s amazing to witness the re-emergence of the New Chauncey neighborhood as a community of choice for people coming from all walks of life.
“In college towns, far too few examples of near-campus neighborhoods maintaining this crucial balance of housing opportunity exist,” Thompson says. “Creating these unique market conditions doesn’t happen by accident, and there were many groups and individuals that took steps to raise up this neighborhood. Historic preservation is one aspect, which provides basic assurances that all structures, whether owner or renter occupied, must follow the same rules for making changes that affect their neighbors.”
“I love the history and like to see things remain as they originally were, improved perhaps, but not torn down for something else,” says Peggy Hoover, a long-time New Chauncey resident. “We come from our history and wish it to remain to know where we come from.”
Looking ahead to the next 10 years, Thompson says the Historic Preservation Commission seeks to continue its outreach to residents and property owners about best practices for preserving historic structures and maintaining vibrant historic districts.
“This is a partnership between the city and residents – meaning that commission members and our consultants have knowledge and experience to share on managing projects within our historic districts,” Thompson says. “We’re excited to work through the certificate of appropriateness process with residents who are working to maintain or improve properties within our designated historic districts.” ★
For more information about the West Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission and its responsibilities, visit: westlafayette.in.gov
BY KAT BRAZ
Summer is a great time to get outside and explore Greater Lafayette parks. With new playground installations, upgraded sporting facilities and greenspaces for humans and pups alike, there’s so much to appreciate about the area’s community parks.
“Investing in the future of our parks is so important when we think about quality of life in our community,” says Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski. “These park improvements enhance the overall experience for neighbors and visitors for years to come.”
S. Ninth Street & Beck Lane
Major improvements are coming to Armstrong Park, located on Lafayette’s south side, including a new playground.
“The new playground at Armstrong is going to be an amazing addition to the park,” says Roswarski. “Between the new playground and the many other park improvements, there is a lot to be excited about.”
The existing playground area will be doubled and feature rubber surfacing as well as multiple swings, slides and climbing features, including some pieces that stand 24-feet high. Existing tennis and basketball courts will be resurfaced, and new tennis nets and posts and new basketball goals will be installed.
Armstrong’s three baseball fields will receive a number of upgrades as well — new bleachers and concrete pads, grading and seeding of the fields, new roofs on all six dugouts and irrigation installed for field two.
3505 Greenbush St.
New playground equipment is being installed at
Munger Park this summer to replace existing equipment that had run its course. Lafayette Parks has playground safety inspectors on staff who receive certification through the National Recreation and Park Association. They monitor wear on playground elements to ensure pieces remain safe to use and are replaced on schedule, approximately every 20 years.
“I grew up with the metal slides at Columbian Park that burn your skin on a hot summer day,” says Jon Miner, director of operations for Lafayette Parks.
“Modern playground equipment is constantly redesigned to improve safety and incorporate different types of play. We evaluate our playground offerings across all the parks to provide a variety of options for children and parents.”
1635 Arlington Rd.
This one-acre neighborhood park on Lafayette’s north end is receiving a makeover. An aging tennis court was removed to make way for additional green space. The existing basketball courts are being resurfaced and new playground equipment is being installed.
Union Street & Creasy Lane
This spring, the city began expanding the existing parking lot at Macaw Park from about 30 spaces to 146 spaces. The popularity of pickleball — the Lafayette Indiana Pickleball Association boasts more than 300 members — drove part of the need for additional parking. Another phase planned for future years includes the addition of four more pickleball courts, according to Miner.
“One of the things we’re really excited about is the construction of a new dog park at Macaw,” Miner says. “It’ll have five different paddocks for different levels of play, including a small dog area. There will also be a doggy splash pad for water play.”
The membership-based dog park is scheduled to open in the fall. A new restroom building also will be added to support the expected increase in visitors.
Future plans call for an additional 12 pickleball courts — the first 12 were installed in 2018 — and a paved trail around the park, connecting to the Munger Park Trail.
“It’s already the largest group of outdoor pickleball courts in the state,” Miner says. “With the addition of a dog park and even more pickleball courts, we expect Macaw will become a destination park for the community.”
3630 McCarty Lane
CAT Park celebrated the opening of its all-inclusive sports field in May. The Tippy Stars, an inclusive baseball/softball program for individuals with special needs, played two games on the field, which is designed to host a variety of sports including baseball, softball, soccer and others. The field’s surface material is ADA compliant, providing individuals with all levels of physical abilities to participate.
A number of sponsors and community partners helped realize the project, including Caterpillar and Wabash Center. Wessler Engineering, Keystone Architecture and Kettelhut Construction generously donated staff time and expertise.
Also coming to CAT Park, an adaptive all-inclusive playground for youth and families. The specialized playground equipment is designed to foster active and engaging play for children of all abilities. Lafayette Parks is collaborating with Wabash Center as well as area families to ensure the playground design meets the needs and is inclusive of all.
Park & Wallace avenues
Lafayette Citizens Band held its 2023 opening concert at the Columbian Park amphitheater on Memorial Island over Memorial Day Weekend. The band is scheduled to hold concerts weekly on Thursdays through August 3 with a final concert on Labor Day — Monday, September 4.
“The Citizens Band did a show here last summer and loved it,” Miner says. “It spurred conversations to have the band relocate to Columbian Park for the entire season. We’re thrilled to have the band performing regularly in the amphitheater on Memorial Island. It’s exactly the type of community event that venue was created to host.”
At the Columbian Park Zoo, design planning has begun on a new primate exhibit. Additionally, the North American otter and eagle exhibits will be renovated. A zoo commissary building will also be constructed to provide housing for some species and provide space for staff to prepare meals for the animals. Plus, the African penguins have returned to their exhibit.
Cason Family Park
Cumberland Avenue, West Lafayette – Currently under construction
Construction began this year on the 30-acre Cason Family Park, which will feature nature-focused playgrounds, trails, water features, public
facilities and the Morris Schoolhouse. The modest building was constructed in 1879 and operated for nearly 40 years. It’s now located just east of its original location. ★
BY KAT BRAZ
As any affirmed Midwesterner will tell you, there are only two seasons: winter and construction.
The orange barrels, lane closures and detour signage that herald warmer weather are viewed as a nuisance by many drivers. Mike Madrid, CEO of Highway Safety Services, empathizes. He’s encountered traffic delays, too.
“Just the other day I was driving along U.S. 41, heading to a meeting in Terre Haute and the road was closed,” Madrid says. “I didn’t know it was closed — and we were the ones who closed it.”
There was a time, nearly 40 years ago, when Madrid would have placed those barricades himself. After working for the Indiana Department of Transportation for a few years in the early 1980s, Madrid saw an opportunity for locally sourced traffic safety products and services. He founded his first traffic safety company, The Mike Madrid Company, in 1984.
In the early days, Madrid did pretty much everything himself. He acquired equipment and supplies according to the needs of the contracts he secured. He hauled barrels and signage to the worksite. He learned how to be an entrepreneur as he was building the company.
“I didn’t know anything about the business side of running a business,” Madrid says. “I went to the Chamber of Commerce, which had a retired executives council, and they put me in touch with Ken Schuette. Ken helped me in a lot of ways, but the best thing he ever did for me was connect me with his friend, Mick McTague, who owned the largest asphalt paving company in the area. Mick became my mentor, introduced me to people in the industry and gave me all the work I asked for. My business just grew and grew.”
After experiencing explosive growth — including a spot on the INC 500 fastest-growing businesses in America and recognition as the Small Businessperson of the Year by the Indiana Small Business Association — Madrid sold the business to National Equipment Services in 1999.
“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Madrid says.
He continued to run the company for three years but then decided he wasn’t interested in working for a $750 million corporation anymore. He preferred being his own boss. He had a five-year noncompete agreement, so in the intervening years, he started a few medical companies and bought a home care business. Once 2005 rolled around, Madrid decided to return to what he knew — and Highway Safety Services was born.
“I wanted to get back into the highway business,” Madrid says. “I understood the players, I had relationships in the industry and there was less chance of failure. The first time you build a business, you’re in uncharted territory. You don’t know what works. Now, we have a good idea of which risks to take and which mistakes to avoid.”
Highway Safety Services moved into its new 20,000-square-foot headquarters on South 500 East in 2021. Madrid continues to expand the facility to house an ever-growing array of state-of-the-art equipment, such as a new computerized line-striping truck equipped to lay down epoxy road markings. The company employs 70 people, many of whom travel the state deploying construction signage, message boards, barricades and barrels or applying pavement markings and creating grooves. And because Madrid has done that work himself, he can empathize with his crew.
“When they’ve been out there for 14 hours in the hot summer sun, I can feel it,” he says. “I know how important it is to stay connected to our boots on the ground and give them the information and support they need to do their job efficiently and safely.”
Safety is a prime concern for Madrid. The company has invested in truck-mounted attenuators, the large yellow-and-black striped extensions on the backs of construction vehicles that visually warn motorists of approaching hazards and act as crash cushions to absorb impact and protect the vehicle and its crew.
“One of the biggest threats we face is inattentive drivers,” Madrid says. “Drivers are just not paying attention. We work in environments where there’s a lot of risk and we’ve got people’s lives on the line. We want everyone who works here to come home each night.”
Madrid’s not only worried about his crew, but his clients’ crews as well. Highway Safety Services acts as a subcontractor for the major road construction outfits in the area, some of which he first started doing business with back in the 1980s.
“In this industry, relationships are everything,” Madrid says. Not only among his clients, but within his workforce, too. Many of his employees enjoy long tenures with the company. “We always say that if you work in traffic safety for two years, you’ll stay here for life. It gets in your blood.” ★
Five Tips for Budding Entrepreneurs
BY KATHY MATTER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Not just a colorful form of self-expression, art makes for good business in Greater Lafayette. Two businesses – Flourish and Art With a Happy Heart – fuel a growing desire, and an actual need, for youth art instruction in our community.
For the longest time the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was pretty much the only game in town when it came to youth (and adult) art instruction outside Tippecanoe County’s various school systems. When COVID hit, the museum had to put the kibosh on a lot of programs.
But under new director Chris McCauley the institution’s broadest range of youth art classes ever — from Parent/Child Portrait nights to a series of four-day Art Camps — emerged this summer, and a slate of classes will continue through the school year.
“We’re open to kids and teens telling us what they want,” says Emily Snell, the museum’s class coordinator. “I’d love to offer jewelry, printmaking, sculpture. I’m working on a henna instructor and we’ve even toyed with the idea of a design-a-tattoo class.
Outside of the museum, the success of various art businesses and not-for-profit entities offering classes makes the local arts community happy as they dramatically increase the opportunities for youth to make their mark in art.
Former Montgomery County art teacher Amanda Kennedy, who started Flourish five years ago, has found that she can not only make kids flourish, but that she herself is flourishing as an educator not bound to a prescribed curriculum or state standards.
“I want to make art available to everyone. The idea of creating is powerful,” she says.
Originally opening in a small upper Main Street Lafayette location, her studio had just grown to the point where she could hire her first employee in 2020 when COVID hit. Kennedy kept going through virtual classes and selling her original line of sensory boxes for young kids. Recently she moved Flourish to a bigger storefront at 514 Main St. next to Artists’ Own.
Her themed sensory boxes – ranging from beach to farmer’s market – contain an imaginative array of art materials designed for creative play. The Farmer’s Market box, for example has cinnamon roll playdough (that she makes herself) plus little flowers, veggies, bees and more.
“You give it to them and then step back,” Kennedy says. “Sensory play can be therapeutic for very young children, developing skills before they can even hold a pencil. It feeds the imagination, helps little ones identify colors, and develops fine motor skills.”
Open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the studio lets kids stop by and draw or play without a reservation. There are a variety of scripted classes, such as elementary art, where they explore a different medium each week, a photo class for teens and a special setup where kids can don a poncho and throw paint at a canvas like Jackson Pollock.
Like Kennedy, Sarah Czajkowski at Art With a Happy Heart has a degree in art and used to teach in schools before opening her own studio located at 2139 Ferry St., where the well-known Sampson and Delilah Hair Studio resided for 30 years.
Located across from Murdock Park, “this is a very magical place. I believed it when I first set foot on this property, and the folks that come…. I think they feel it, too,” she says. A boutique fills the main building and features a uniquely curated collection of art, clothing, handbags, jewelry and more.
“The other building is the art studio where the magic happens through paint parties and classes,” she says. Most of her classes are aimed at youth. “With them I keep it really light and really fun. I pop popcorn and have music. I don’t want it to feel like school at all, but a place where they have creative freedom to do what they want to do.”
“Classes lend themselves to creativity and connection, fostering a sense of self-confidence and pride,” she adds. Her summer 2023 art camp explores working with glass, ceramics, wood and clay. In the fall, when regular classes restart, those art forms will enter the curriculum along with painting and drawing.
It isn’t easy to ferret out all the art opportunities Greater Lafayette has to offer. It takes some creative thinking on your part along with web searches and phone calls. As you might guess, however, some of Lafayette’s galleries offer classes.
Angela “LaLa” Vinson teaches pottery and more through her small LaLa Gallery at 511 Ferry St. The Herron School of Art-trained artist offers a late afternoon Art Club on Fridays for students. Art history lessons, painting and drawing projects, and pottery wheel instruction fill those hours.
Sharon Owens’ Inspired Fire glass studio on U.S. 231 South always has offerings for kids, including a fused glass class (no fire involved) and an ornament making party for ages 6 and up. Teens age 14 and up can register for flameworking. It’s an introduction to glass making and torch work by creating and ornamenting glass beads.
The West Lafayette Public Library opened a Creativity Lab as part of its recent renovation. The space offers a plethora of art supplies plus basic tools such as paint brushes and scissors for making things happen. Ages 13 and up can go in, make something, and take it home. A Creative Café happens on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. At each meeting teens are offered a new art challenge along with snacks and drinks to fuel creativity. A special summer 2023 activity planned by Teen Librarian Ashley Fletcher will use the lab to make water cannons.
Fletcher says more and more people are becoming aware of their “Library of Things,” which allows library card holders to check out creative tools, such as a soldering iron, light box, desktop magnifier or even a round loom, among other items, for home use.
Margerum City Hall in West Lafayette offers year-round youth art classes as well as camps in the summer with veteran teacher Jeanette Rehmel, affectionately known as “Miss Jeanette.” Drawing, painting and mixed media camps continue into late summer this year as well as creative expression. Other topics explored in youth classes include textile creation/tie dye and sculpy/sculpture. In Lafayette check out the McAllister Recreation Center, 2351 N. 20th St., for sporadic art activities.
Outside regular school hours various public and parochial schools in the county offer a Kidz Art program. Czajkowski taught in it before going out on her own and says it fills “an absolute need for more art instruction.” The Arts Federation of Tippecanoe County also offers a free After School Arts Program for elementary and high school students during the academic year in the TAF studios at Sixth and North streets in Lafayette. Some of the programs are visual art, but don’t be surprised to find dance, ukulele and guitar.
Every summer the Lafayette School Corp. offers Summer Challenge Art to keep interested students plugged into their creativity during the summer break. To participate in this summer school program students must live in Lafayette but don’t have to be enrolled at Jefferson High School.
Last, but not least, who would think of finding art classes in an apple orchard? But you’ll find Kennedy from Flourish at Wea Creek Apple Orchard at 10:30 a.m. Mondays this summer, as long as the weather cooperates. In an activity born out of the pandemic, youngsters can pursue anything from painting to paper lanterns outside “in a beautiful open field at the top of the orchard,” Kennedy says.
“There’ll be at least eight to 10 creative play stations to inspire messy fun and beautiful process artworks for every artist.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE ATHLETICS
Ryan Walters is learning a lot about Greater Lafayette when he’s not performing his duties as Purdue University’s 37th head football coach.
It’s been a whirlwind lifestyle since Dec. 14, 2022, when Walters was introduced to the community during a press conference at the Kozuch Football Performance Complex.
“When I was offered the job, I jumped at it without really knowing about the community,” Walters says. “When I got here and got to see the facilities, got to see campus and got to go out in the community … every day I’ve been blown away by the support, by the family atmosphere.
“My family can’t wait to get here. We’ve bought a lot here in (West Lafayette) and we’re building a place.”
For now, Walters and his family – wife Tara and sons Aaron and Cason – will live in a rental home. But while the family was still living in Champaign, Illinois, Walters had plenty of opportunities to explore Greater Lafayette.
“I’ve gone out and tried different restaurants,” he says. “I’ve been to some sporting events here in town. I got a chance to catch a Pacers game in Indy. I went to the mall. I’ve been able to get around (Greater Lafayette), which is why I’m getting more and more excited every day.”
Walters replaces Jeff Brohm, who departed for his alma mater Louisville after guiding Purdue to its first Big Ten Conference West Division championship in 2022. To many Boilermaker fans, Brohm’s departure was a matter of time after earlier flirtations with his hometown school and the University of Tennessee during his six-year stint.
With his rapid rise on the college football coaching ladder, starting with a student assistant role at his alma mater Colorado in 2009, Walters says he hopes Purdue is his final coaching stop in a journey that has taken him to Arizona, Oklahoma, North Texas, Memphis, Missouri and Illinois.
“It is nice to be at my age and where I’m at in this profession and feel like I landed a destination job,” Walters says. “I’m over the moon appreciative over the opportunity to lead this program. I want my kids, who are 9 and soon to be 7, when they grow up I want them to say they’re from West Lafayette.
“I plan on being here a long time, as long as they’ll have me. There will be adversity at times. That is guaranteed in life, right? But I’ll promise you we’ll do everything we can to attack that and overcome that adversity with great attitude and with maximum effort to win championships here.
“There’s no excuse why this place can’t have sustained success and compete and win championships at the highest level.”
Having turned 37 on Jan. 21, Walters is the fourth-youngest coach in major college football behind Kenny Dillingham of Arizona State (32), Kane Wommack of South Alabama (35) and Dan Lanning of Oregon (36).
In addition to being the youngest Purdue head coach since 28-year-old Cecil Isbell in 1944, Walters comes to West Lafayette with a defensive coaching background on his resume. Not since Leon Burtnett was promoted from defensive coordinator in 1981 has Purdue hired a head coach who didn’t have a history of coaching offense.
This past season, Walters was named the 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year and On3 Coordinator of the Year. His Illinois unit was first nationally in scoring defense (12.3) and second in yards allowed per game (263.8).
Purdue hasn’t led the Big Ten in scoring defense since 1959.
Walters wasn’t always defensive minded in his football career. Before switching to safety during his playing days at Colorado from 2004-08, Walters was a quarterback.
Like his Purdue basketball counterpart Matt Painter, Walters seemed destined to become a head coach.
“That’s a good comparison if it holds true,” Walters said when told Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach Gene Keady knew Painter was a future head coach during his playing days in the early 1990s.
“The coaches I had in college would always say, ‘You should think about getting into coaching when your playing days are done.’
“I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
For whatever reason, as a player the Xs and Os made sense to me. I don’t know if it was because I had the quarterback background prior to playing defense. Once I started learning the defensive side of the ball it just kind of made sense.”
Walters is used to being among the youngest coaches on his previous staffs, but he’s older than five of his 10 assistant coaches, whose ages range from 26 to 56.
“I have had a quick rise in this profession because one, I enjoy it,” he says. “I enjoy the relationships. I enjoy the creativity and I enjoy the challenge and the pressure and the nature of this job. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
A side benefit to having a younger coaching staff is being able to relate to today’s athletes.
“My job as a coach is to put them in the best position to go play fast, go play free and go have fun while still instilling discipline and accountability throughout the program,” Walters says.
“I think the way that is communicated is easier because of my age. We probably listen to the same music. I can get on a video game and play a video game with them. The way we speak and the lingo is still similar. Hopefully, when I’m 50 years old and still in this profession I can maintain that.”
Walters doesn’t fit the coaching stereotype in another way. You won’t hear stories of Walters sleeping in his office or putting in 16-hour days. Family comes first.
“This job requires a lot of your time,” he says. “I think time is the most valuable commodity on this planet. So I’ve got time to get away. I like to spend that time with my family on vacation. We usually go to Hawaii every year for an extended period of time.”
The Walters family loves Hawaii so much their two dogs are named Maui and Kona.
Walters also insists his assistant coaches balance football with family.
“I’ve been a part of staffs where you sort of burn the candle on both ends,” he says. “You get diminishing returns if you do that, I think. I think sometimes people get stuck in ‘This is how we’ve always done it so this is how we have to do it’ instead of changing with the technology and the times.
“To me it’s important to give myself and my staff time to be fathers and be husbands, be available to your family. I think balance keeps you hungry, keeps you energized and can give you a better perspective on what is required and what is conducive to having a healthy environment in your program.”
It’s been more than 90 years since the last time a winning football coach at Purdue was followed by another successful coach. In 1929, James Phelan left for the University of Washington after leading Purdue to an undefeated season and a Big Ten Conference championship. His successor, Noble Kizer, won two more Big Ten championships and went 42-13-3 from 1930 to 1936 before illness forced him to give up coaching.
Since Jack Mollenkopf retired following the 1969 season with an 84-39-9 record, only three Purdue head coaches have had winning resumes. Jim Young went 38-19-1 from 1977 to 1981, Joe Tiller was 87-62 from 1997 to 2008, and Brohm recorded a 36-34 mark from 2017 to 2022.
So, how will Walters buck that historical trend?
“I know this place is not a rebuild job,” he says. “They’ve had success. So my job is to find areas where we can improve and do whatever I can to improve those areas. The areas that have been successful, make sure those stay successful and try to elevate that standard.
“I’ve always operated with a chip on my shoulder because of my age and my football background. My dad is not a coach. I didn’t have a long career in the NFL. I didn’t play at a ‘logo school’ per se. So, I’ve prided myself on my work ethic, my ability to enhance my talent in this profession. I think that my competitive spirit will continue to influence this building and the people that are coaching and playing, the support staff and all those areas to continue the success that Purdue has seen in recent years.”
Walters will get a chance to make a good first impression on Purdue fans. Four of his first five games as head coach will be played in Ross-Ade Stadium. Fresno State, coming off a 10-4 season in 2022, comes to West Lafayette for the Sept. 2 season opener.
Following a trip to Virginia Tech on Sept. 9, the Boilermakers host Syracuse on Sept. 16, a nationally televised game with Wisconsin on Sept. 22 and a reunion with his former boss, Bret Bielema, and Illinois on Sept. 30.
What should fans expect to see that first month of the season?
“You’re going to see a team that is going to be playing fanatically, playing fast; a team that loves to play the game and plays it the right way,” Walters says. “We’re going to be competitive. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be disciplined.
“Offensively, we’re going to score points. We’re going to throw the ball around. Graham Harrell and his track record with developing quarterbacks and skill players speaks for itself. I’m going to piggyback what the new Colts coach says. We’re going to throw the ball to score points and we’re going to run the ball to win games.
“Defensively, we’re going to confuse and harass the quarterback. We’re going to generate turnovers and limit explosive plays. We’re going to play smart football. More games are lost than they are won and so we are going to pay attention to the things that can potentially get you beat, like penalties, mental errors and turnovers.” ★
BY AMY LONG
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Tucked at the end of a dead-end street, the Footbridge Garden feels cut off from the rest of the world. Stand in the middle of the lush plot with your eyes closed as the leaves of the fruit trees rustle in the breeze, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re the only soul for miles around.
That is, until the roar of a nearby Norfolk Southern freight train interrupts the reverie. Open your eyes to glimpse rows of trash and recycling bins perched along the alley and the magnificent dome of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse looming over downtown Lafayette, only a half-mile to the north, and you realize that the garden was not designed to be a remote retreat. It’s supposed to be accessible. Within reach. Open to all. In the center of town.
Welcome to Footbridge Garden, a verdant fruit and vegetable patch that’s part of a network of 10 sharing gardens in and around downtown Lafayette called GrowLocal. The grassroots group formed in 2015 with the goal of building, nourishing and nurturing community through urban gardening.
Each sharing garden in the GrowLocal network is open to the public. There’s no membership required, no entrance fee and no plots for rent. The garden’s bounty is available to whomever wants to stop by to harvest it. All that’s asked of those who partake is that they contribute a little sweat equity. A sign at the entrance says, simply, “Take what you need, pull a weed.”
“I think there are people who pick from the garden, and they do it specifically when we’re not here, because they’re not sure they should, or can,” says Margy Deverall, one of GrowLocal’s founders. “When we do stop people and talk to them, we say, ‘Do you live around here? Well, this is your garden, too! There are strawberries over there that need to be picked. Go ahead!’ And they’re surprised.”
Deverall and Ken McCammon, longtime friends and experienced community organizers, hatched the idea of GrowLocal about nine years ago as they brainstormed a way to share resources — including knowledge, experience and people power — across a couple of community gardens.
At the time, Deverall worked in economic development for the City of Lafayette. Part of her job included neighborhood outreach, so she started a small garden on an unused wedge of city property on Erie Street. McCammon, who worked for a seed company and had access to inexpensive vegetable transplants, had started a garden at a downtown church as part of his involvement in a local neighborhood association.
“We were talking, and it’s like, ‘You’ve got a garden. I’ve got a garden. There are probably other people that have gardens. Why don’t we put a call out and see if anybody’s interested in working together?’ ” McCammon recalls. Others responded to their call, and a small network started to grow. But the idea of a network of sharing gardens didn’t come up until Harry Smith joined the group. An experienced horticulturalist, Smith had started a sharing garden at his church, and he explained the concept to the group.
“I had never heard that expression before,” says Deverall. “When he said, ‘It’s just one big garden and anybody can come and help,’ well, we liked that idea!” Because she worked in economic development, Deverall recognized that most of the gardens in their growing network were in a food desert — an area defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as having a high rate of poverty, inadequate access to transportation, and a limited number of grocery stores offering fresh produce and healthy food.
“Based on census data, those are in low-income neighborhoods where we knew there was food insecurity,” Deverall says. “It seemed like this is where we just want to grow food, and anybody walking by who needs it can pick it.” The organization’s mission statement and core values — which include building community, enhancing quality of life, inspiring healthful attitudes and actions, and providing access to healthy food and resources — practically wrote themselves.
The organizational structure of the all-volunteer network is straightforward. A small team that includes Deverall, McCammon and Smith handles most of the administrative tasks, including fundraising (they simply launch an online crowdfunding campaign each fall), grant writing and purchasing supplies. McCammon is friendly with a grower and distributer who donates thousands of vegetable transplants each year, and the GrowLocal leaders distribute them across the network in the spring.
By design, GrowLocal does not have its own 501(c)3 designation. As president of Friends of Downtown, a well-established nonprofit organization that promotes the vitality of downtown Lafayette, McCammon tucked the urban garden network under his organization’s community-building umbrella and maintains a column for GrowLocal on its balance sheets.
“All we want to do is garden,” Deverall says. “We don’t want to mess around with paperwork.”
So, GrowLocal doesn’t own the plots of earth. Rather, the member organizations — places such as churches and community centers — own the land, and when they signed on with the network, they agreed to provide water, a garden manager and a pool of volunteers. When there’s work to be done, garden managers rally their troops — usually by posting on Facebook — and available workers show up to plant, water, weed, spread mulch and mark rows.
Footbridge Garden, at 244 Smith St. in Lafayette, is part of a larger tract of land that was left over after a railroad relocation project and eventually bequeathed to Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette, which partners with low-income families to build affordable homes. This particular lot — hemmed in by a pedestrian bridge that spans the nearby tracks and a narrow alley on the other side — cannot be developed because it lacks street frontage and access to utility lines. So, shortly after the garden network officially organized, Habitat leaders approached the folks at GrowLocal to offer their space — almost a third of an acre — as a garden.
“It’s truly an unused city lot that can’t be put to much other purpose,” says Smith, who volunteers as the garden manager there. “The property is still [owned by] Habitat. And they basically turned it over to us to garden.”
Mulched paths criss-cross the broad plot and separate the annual garden at one end — where crops like tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, okra, sweet peppers and summer squash grow in long rows — from the perennial garden — a jumble of berry bushes, and fruit and nut trees.
Janet Clift, who lives a half-mile from Footbridge Garden, says she spends about an hour a week there in the summer, weeding and harvesting. She says she’s active in the garden, not just because sharing food is a noble cause, but because building a community is important to her.
“People in the community come and experience gardening, even if they don’t do it at home,” Clift says. “Even if someone’s not comfortable with it, they can’t keep up with it, or they’re not going to maintain it all summer, they can come and participate. And then they get to eat fresh produce that was made right in their home town, right down the street from them. And it’s just so cool.”
After school starts in August, gaggles of second-graders from Miller Elementary School a few blocks away make their way to the garden for a literal field trip — part of a broader GrowLocal outreach plan.
“It’s 45 minutes of chaos,” Smith says. “We kind of learned after the first year that you don’t really plan any curriculum. The kids drive the curriculum. They start asking questions the minute they walk in.”
“They go to that school. That means they probably live nearby,” Deverall says. She encourages the kids to come back with their parents, or grandparents, and to show them that they can pick from the garden, too.
A challenge, of course, is that the garden is open to everyone at all hours, while a volunteer garden manager is only on-site a few hours per week. “You always expect that if you put something out that’s free and you don’t watch it, somebody’s going to come and take everything,” says Clift, the neighborhood volunteer. “I don’t know if it’s because there’s so much, but it feels like people don’t abuse it.” GrowLocal organizers say there have only been a few issues — though not with vandalism or abuse of the space. The biggest problems have been with well-intentioned gardeners harvesting a little too vigorously. A crop of asparagus, for example, was mowed down before the crowns could establish underground.
“That’s the challenge,” Deverall says. “The gardens are here all the time, and you’re not here to educate people. So how do you educate people?” GrowLocal organizers solved the problem by making signs that identify the produce, explain when to pick it, and offer QR codes with links to recipes.
Because GrowLocal organizers will never be able to fully preside over the gardens, they will never be able to know exactly how many people are benefiting from them, or how much food they are harvesting. Most philanthropic groups can carefully track the populations they serve and the metrics that propel their mission statements, but the folks at GrowLocal are only just starting to participate in studies that estimate crop yield and gauge the group’s socio-economic impact.
“We’re not there, yet. But we’re growing in that direction,” says Smith. Until then, he adds, “We can’t really say that so many thousands of pounds of produce went here or there. But if it’s disappearing, we’re happy.” ★
BY AMY LONG
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
In a cheerful room in the Wabash Center program building, David Doyle shows off a bank of personal computers, a flat-screen TV hooked up to multiple gaming systems, and a closet packed with board games. He is giving a tour of Wabash Center’s Adult Day Services wing — a cluster of comfortable, colorful activity rooms where Doyle spends most weekdays.
A nonprofit agency that serves people with disabilities and special needs, Wabash Center offers an array of programs, including after-school activities, employment services and supported living. The Adult Day Services facility takes up just a small part of Wabash Center’s spacious program building on Greenbush Street, on Lafayette’s north side, and provides adults with special needs a safe place to socialize, participate in creative activities and practice life skills. In March, Wabash Center observed a grand re-opening of the space after a four-year, $300,000 renovation. The event kicked off a year of celebration, as Wabash Center marks 70 years since its inception in 1953.
Doyle, 71, uses a wheelchair and speaks just a few words at a time. He communicates mostly with his gentle smile and expressive eyes, which twinkle beneath a pair of bushy eyebrows. With help from a Wabash Center staff member, Doyle leads a tour of the new space, where once uninspiring classrooms have been transformed into engaging activity rooms with state-of-the-art technology.
In the game room, dubbed “The Hub,” Doyle likes to watch “The Golden Girls” on a personal computer. In the library, he enjoys working on puzzles. In the Sensory Room, a space outfitted with rope swings, comfy crash pads and engrossing tactile displays, Doyle is captivated by a light board that simulates an infinity tunnel. And in the Duke Energy “Smart Home,” which includes a homey living space as well as a nicely equipped kitchen, Doyle wheels up to the low-slung center island — an ideal height for people using wheelchairs — and whips up a batch of dirt pudding.
Doyle has been enrolled in the Adult Day Services program at Wabash Center for 56 years, since he was 15 years old, and he has witnessed much of the organization’s growth firsthand. He started receiving services at Wabash Center in 1967. The Greenbush Street program building — Wabash Center’s first permanent facility — opened the following year. At that time, the center served about 100 individuals with intellectual disabilities across six nascent programs in diagnostic services, therapy, training, education, day custodial care and sheltered employment.
Today, Wabash Center offers the most comprehensive array of services in west-central Indiana for clients with disabilities and special needs — from school-aged interventions to supportive programs for adults — helping them lead fulfilling lives with as much independence as possible.
“There’s about 100 providers of this kind of service in Indiana — some of them provide a small sliver [of services], and some provide a wider array,” says Jason McManus, Wabash Center CEO since 2016. “We’re one of the few that I feel serve nearly the entire continuum of care, from kids newly diagnosed with autism at age 2 or 3 all the way to individuals approaching the end of their life.”
The early years
Perhaps the organization’s most dramatic transformation happened in its earliest years — in the decade and a half before Doyle arrived.
In the early 1950s, years before special education was widely offered in public schools, families had almost no access to support for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Most of the parents [of children with intellectual disabilities] reported their family physicians advised them to institutionalize their children and generally offered little hope their children would be able to achieve even minimal daily living skills and social adjustment,” noted James R. Tilton, who served as Wabash Center’s executive director from 1965 to 1990, and who documented the organization’s origins in a slim booklet titled “A History of Wabash Center.”
Frustrated with the lack of resources and opportunities available to their children with special needs, two local families posted an ad in the Journal & Courier in search of others facing similar challenges.
Several families answered the call, and together they formed a support group that quickly morphed into an ad-hoc school for children with special needs: The Wabash School opened in a rent-free room at the YWCA in 1953, with an initial enrollment of 11 students. For 15 years, the fledgling organization bounced around between eight different makeshift spaces across Greater Lafayette, including the basement of an unfinished United Pentecostal Church and the abandoned Tippecanoe Elementary School on South Third Street — a decaying 1874 building that had been slated for demolition until Wabash Center moved in.
Each year, and with each move, the organization enrolled more and more students, and slowly added teachers. As the school expanded, the stakeholders spent those early years drumming up community support, making friends in local government and building relationships with local businesses. In 1956, Wabash School became a member agency of the United Fund (now United Way). The organization also cultivated a longstanding partnership with Purdue University, which provided a volunteer base and access to services such as speech therapy.
By the early 1960s, the school, which had begun to serve older teens and young adults in an employment workshop, became known as “Wabash Center.” Within a few years, it had become clear that the organization needed a permanent space. With support from community leaders at the local and state levels, Wabash Center secured government grants and raised enough additional money to pay for the $450,000, 18,000-square-foot program building on a five-acre campus at Greenbush and 20th streets. The new facility was officially dedicated in October 1968.
It was the beginning of the Wabash Center we know today. Through subsequent decades, Wabash Center continued to expand, completing a new administration building in 2002, and continually adding or adapting services to keep up with new laws and ever-evolving best practices.
Wabash Center today
Today, 70 years after its incorporation, Wabash Center offers a wide range of programs and serves about 800 individuals with disabilities and their families in vibrant spaces and with generous community support.
Now more than ever, services are needed for people with developmental disabilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 36 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder this year, up from 1 in 68.
n 2010. And in a study conducted from 2009 to 2017, the CDC reports, about 1 in 6 children (17 percent) age 3 to 17 were diagnosed with a developmental disability, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities, as reported by parents. The percentage increased from 16.2 percent in 2009-2011, to 17.8 percent in 2015-2017.
Although people with disabilities and their families have more options and agency today than they did 70 years ago, they still face challenges, including long waiting lists for care, complicated Medicaid waiver applications and piecemeal therapy plans. Through it all, Wabash Center is a beacon of hope for families seeking support.
“A couple of things make Wabash Center unique,” says McManus. “One is that we’ve been around for 70 years. I feel like we have some longevity in this space and some experience in this space. Not that we’re experts. We really believe that we’re co-experts in the care of the folks we’re supporting, and we do that in partnership with the families and guardians.
“Another thing that I think sets us apart is that near full continuum of care,” McManus adds. “And that means that someone can enter in our services at any point along that full continuum, but also that we could potentially serve somebody for their entire life … and I think that has some uniqueness.”
Besides the Adult Day Services program, which offers adults with special needs, including David Doyle, a place to develop life skills and make social connections, the Wabash Center flagship program building houses the Enterprise Services division, which helps people with disabilities and special needs transition to community-based employment. Wabash Center contracts with local businesses, including CAT Logistics, Maximus Logistics and Wabash (formerly Wabash National) to offer jobs in kit-assembly or piece work in Wabash Center’s sprawling workshop. In addition, individuals with special needs can perform janitorial services off-site for companies such as Caterpillar, Inc.
Through the organization’s Supported Living program, individuals with special needs have access to safe, affordable housing. Wabash Center owns 32 homes throughout Tippecanoe County, where clients live either on their own or with roommates and receive support from Wabash Center staff.
Wabash Center also offers a Family Supports program that matches trained caregivers with families who need help providing care for their loved ones. The center’s Guardianship Services program trains volunteer advocates and pairs them one-on-one with adults with special needs and area seniors.
In 2019, Wabash Center opened Grant’s House, a nearly 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, in a former medical office building on Salem Street, less than a mile from the center’s Greenbush Street campus. The bright, open space — designed specifically for kids and young adults with disabilities — houses Wabash Center’s Youth Services programs, including an after-school program, a summer day-camp and a day program for emerging adults.
Grant’s House was made possible with a $2.4 million grant from North Central Health Services, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in grassroots community support, and honors the life and legacy of Grant House, who worked in the Wabash Center Enterprise Services workshop and passed away in 2015.
In the coming months, Wabash Center will add additional programs to its array and will continue to close gaps in the care continuum. Later this year, the organization will open an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) clinic in an open wing of the Grant’s House building. ABA therapy helps children as young as 3 who are on the autism spectrum develop social and emotional skills through one-on-one intervention.
Melissa Strong, who chairs the Wabash Center board of directors, hopes that the launch of the ABA clinic is only the first step in opening up more options to families with children on the autism spectrum. Strong’s 10-year-old son, Cooper, has autism, and she knows firsthand how difficult it is to manage therapy appointments and case manager meetings, as well as a full-time job and a family with other young children.
Strong envisions bringing additional therapy services specifically for children on the autism spectrum under the Wabash Center umbrella, to streamline access. “How can we make this better for families and break down these barriers and bring these services together?” she says. “[The ABA clinic] is a huge first step to bringing this service model, that doesn’t exist today, to this community. And I’m super excited about it.”
Also in the works: A furniture thrift store offering a collection of gently used furniture for sale exclusively to clients of Wabash Center. The venture, called Jessie’s Attic, in honor of Jessica Steuterman, a Wabash Center client, has been set up in a repurposed storage room of Wabash Center’s program building and is due to open in the fall.
The project was the brainchild of Jessica’s mother, Erika Steuterman, who had been active on the Wabash Center board of directors for many years, and whose older daughter, Erin, also receives services at Wabash Center.
“We thought, ‘Well maybe we can do something so that people with disabilities who are starting out in their first apartment or first home … have a way to get what they need at a very low cost,’” says Steuterman. The retired U.S. Air Force major general announced in May her plans to bequeath to Wabash Center a $2.5 million legacy gift that will go toward Supported Living and Guardian Services, as well as Jessie’s Attic. The gift is the largest of its kind in the organization’s history.
Of course, by definition, Steuterman won’t be able to witness the impact of her legacy gift. But by opening the thrift shop this year, she can make an immediate difference in the lives of Wabash Center clients. “It will be fun to see it, and to see the good that it does,” Steuterman says.
“This is a lot of work, and it will continue to be a lot of work,” Steuterman adds. “And if it grows, it will take on a life of its own. But Wabash Center is the size of organization that recognizes the importance of this service.”
McManus says that his approach to providing services to people with disabilities is necessarily innovative. “We should be open to new ideas, because even though we’ve been doing this for 70 years, we don’t know everything,” McManus says. “I really feel like it’s part of our job — and my job personally — to be receptive to that and see where it takes us, knowing that we have the size and the resources to take some calculated risks like that.
“And I think that it’s fun to partner with people who have an idea that they’re passionate about, and can demonstrate that it will have some efficacy and impact. I think that’s part of our responsibility.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
On a warm spring day, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski left his office in City Hall to check on the progress of the new Public Safety Center on Columbia Street.
“The new sign was up,” Roswarski recalls. “It made me feel like, ‘This is a big city.’ That looked impressive.”
“Impressive” is just one of many adjectives used to describe the spacious home of the Lafayette Police Department.
“Cleaner, bigger,” was Chief of Police Scott Galloway’s assessment.
“Challenging,” says Tom Morlan, senior project manager for Kettelhut Construction, Inc.
“State of the art,” adds Dan McCloskey, senior project architect for American Structurepoint, Inc.
Let’s start with “challenging,” a word also used by McCloskey when describing the task of turning Roswarski’s vision into a building that reflects a forward-thinking, growing community while also honoring the historical context of downtown Lafayette into reality.
How do you design a building to meet the growing needs of a police department while making it welcoming for the public that helped pay for the $51 million project?
“This was accomplished by providing secure parking for police officers and staff, designing bullet-resistant barriers that are not perceptible to the general public, creating accessible, welcoming public spaces that offer opportunities for officers and the community to interact, and many other aspects that create a safe environment for staff and visitors,” McCloskey says.
If that seems simple, it wasn’t.
“American Structurepoint and Architects Design Group had to design the building for a variety of visitors, including people who are victims of crime that are seeking assistance from the police,” McCloskey says. “For example, a safe room is located near the first floor entrance where people can seek immediate assistance from police personnel. There is also a separate victims’ advocate entrance with soft spaces … that are welcoming with calming colors, lighting and furniture that evoke a sense of working together for families and children that need a safe, comfortable space in which to interact with police staff.”
Roswarski also insisted on spaces that would permit more than just police business.
A community room on the second floor that can accommodate up to 100 guests. An outdoor plaza with a pergola and seating area for live entertainment and movie screenings. All are accessible by an outside set of steps so that it won’t be necessary to go through the police department.
“We want it to be like Riehle Plaza, another community gathering space,” Roswarski says. “We want people to come down to the amenity deck, sit out there and eat their lunch.”
McCloskey’s firm also designed solar panels, installed by Lafayette’s Huston Solar, to offset a portion of the Public Safety Center’s energy use. The building also is home to electric charging stations and a green roof area with lush plantings, lawns and pavers.
It would take 23 months and approximately 300,000 manhours, Morlan estimates, for Kettelhut to construct the Public Safety Center. The first step was demolition of existing buildings and preserving the brick façade from the old Horner Building.
“We … took it apart brick by brick by brick and then rebuilt it,” Roswarski says. “The bricks were numbered. We couldn’t save the building, but we wanted to save a piece of that history and remember a piece of that history. That was the level of commitment that we went to to make sure what we did really was good for downtown also.”
Another historical era was unearthed by Kettelhut workers early in the construction process. The Dryfus Theatre once resided on the site before the opera house was destroyed in a 1914 fire.
“At the time, much of the debris was buried within the footprint of the old building,” Morlan says. “During excavation of the site there were some unplanned delays for removal of unsuitable debris left from the fire.”
Kettelhut also dealt with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. That included supply chain and logistics challenges, material fabrication delays and labor shortages.
One more challenge noticed by the Greater Lafayette community was the restrictions imposed on Sixth and Seventh streets.
“The building footprint essentially took up the entire property,” Morlan says. “A lot of coordination with neighbors, community and city departments was required to move all the materials, people and equipment onto the property over several years.”
“State of the art”
Part of American Structurepoint’s design included crime prevention technology. The Analysis and Response Center (ARC) is the hub of the Lafayette Police Department’s special operations division and criminal intelligence.
“With real-time access to city-operated security cameras and police body cams, officers in the ARC can respond to criminal activity and monitor major events efficiently,” McCloskey says.
The needs of law enforcement have changed since Roswarski joined the Lafayette Police Department more than 40 years ago.
“We basically had three radio channels – F1, F2 and ‘Eileen,’ which connected us to the state,” says Roswarski, who rose through the ranks to captain before winning his first term as mayor in 2003.
“When we look at the ability to be more efficient, when we look at the ability to use technology, whether it’s in dispatch, whether it’s in the ARC, whether it’s the way we are able to process property, evidence, bar coding, all those types of things … hopefully it will make the officer’s job easier, make it more efficient, less stressful.”
Roswarski believes the technology will allow officers to actually patrol the streets and interact with the citizens they’ve sworn to protect.
Galloway could barely contain his excitement when giving a tour of the Public Safety Center shortly before the May 24 dedication ceremony.
“For a city our size, this is the most technologically advanced and largest police department (facility) in the country,” Galloway says. “This is a tip of the hat to how much the city and our community respects and wants to have good public safety.”
Galloway hopes that the Public Safety Center could be a recruiting tool. At the time of its grand opening, the Lafayette Police Department was 30 officers shy of a full force.
“If you go to a football recruit and you’re between two schools, what the training room looks like and the weight room looks like matters,” says Galloway, whose force includes former Central Catholic and Purdue standout Danny Anthrop.
“We think that if young people see this department and how much we care about our staff and policing, this could be a draw for people.”
The expansion of City Hall in 1995 included a renovation of the police department spaces.
“We outgrew that building before it opened,” Galloway says. “People were doubled up in offices. I knew this even as a rookie officer: that building was not constructed to be a police department. It’s not safe.”
Like so many of us who have more stuff than space, the Lafayette Police Department had to find ways around that problem. The training center at 1301 South St. became “a hub,” Galloway says.
“If you are familiar with ‘Apollo 13,’ I considered that our LM (Lunar Module). It helped us get to the point where we could have this building. This is a police department, not a renovated office building.”
Every time Galloway steps into his office, with an unobstructed view down Columbia Street to the Wabash River, he is reminded how far the police department has come from the cramped spaces across Sixth Street.
Galloway’s favorite aspect of the Public Safety Center is the Sally port, a concept that dates back to Great Britain in the 1600s. A Sally port is a secure, controlled entrance into an enclosure such as a prison or a fortification.
“As an officer I was so conscientious of somebody escaping from the car or getting in a fight in the middle of the road out here,” Galloway says. “I think that is an incredible advancement we didn’t have before. I love our guys being safe around suspects who could hurt them. The Sally port serves that.”
In addition to the ARC, Roswarski’s favorite part of the Public Safety Center is the dispatch center. The previous dispatch personnel were housed in the basement of City Hall. No windows. No natural light.
“That’s really the nerve center of the police department with all the calls coming in,” Roswarski says. “To get those folks into a new facility with new desks and some natural light is a huge win and very important.”
Looking to the future
With the police department now calling the Public Safety Center home, what will happen to the space it occupied in City Hall?
The fire command will depart its Fourth Street location and move into a remodeled first floor.
“For the first time in our history, we’ll have a true public safety campus,” Roswarski says. “The second story, we are going to do some remodeling. We are about out of space over here. This will create additional space for the engineer’s office, the city attorney and purchasing.”
Plans for the basement remain undecided.
Railroad Relocation was the signature legacy of six-term Mayor James Riehle, who served from 1971 to 1995. Will the Public Safety Center become most identified with Roswarski’s tenure?
“That’s an interesting comparison,” says Roswarski, who is seeking his sixth consecutive term in 2023. “Certainly in my mind it’s my largest project that we’ve done to this point and probably the most significant. We’ve built the baseball stadium. We’ve moved the Pearl River sewer. In the early 2000s we mined a tunnel underneath downtown 3,000 feet long, 30 feet in the ground, 10 foot in diameter. That was a very, very significant project.
“When I think back to even all of those, in my mind this is the most significant project. Being a retired police officer, it has a special place for me. I think that it’s one I’m going to look back on with the most pride.” ★
BY JILLIAN ELLISON
In 2020, during the thick of the COVID shutdown and the shift to working from home, it wasn’t uncommon for employees across the United States to look at their remote work situations and wonder if they could find a better job fit elsewhere. Freed from the confines of their cubicles, for thousands of workers the idea of relocation to a new city was planted.
The Greater Lafayette area found itself the destination for many job seekers as the two cities began to receive accolades for their entrepreneurial atmosphere, world-class Purdue University and affordability. Among those accolades: a recent Wall Street Journal report that ranked Lafayette as the fifth best place to live for remote workers. That ranking was based on a poll that identified 10 factors people said they most cared about in a remote-work setting. Key factors included high-speed internet, housing prices, cost of living, employment and arts and entertainment venues and parks.
An additional lure for remote workers arose in April 2022 when Purdue University announced a first-of-its-kind program, not only inviting remote workers to move to the Greater Lafayette area, but to pay them to move as well.
If a $5,000 moving stipend wasn’t appealing enough, a few other perks were included: a Purdue ID card, permitting access to campus libraries and free rides on City Bus; free membership to care.com;
a 50 percent discount to the Convergence co-working space on campus and a discounted membership to Parkwest Fitness. The program ended in February after seeing a significant wave of applicants, but the program’s success signaled to stakeholders just how desirable the Greater Lafayette area is for remote workers.
Vanessa Hughes and her husband, both post-production television editors from Burbank, California, saw what the Wall Street Journal wrote about after just one brief visit.
The couple’s first experience in Greater Lafayette came in May 2022, when they stayed in the area while attending the famed Indianapolis 500.
“Before we left for the trip, my husband joked that I might fall in love with Indiana and we’d have to move here,” Hughes says. “Once we got here, I really liked the area and started looking for rentals, out of curiosity.”
It wasn’t long before she began seeing social media ads promoting work-from-home opportunities in the Greater Lafayette area with appealing incentives for remote workers to pick up their belongings and make the leap from the West Coast to the Midwest.
Once Hughes and her husband identified a viable time to make the move, she says they jumped on Zillow.com, cruising for a rental that fit their needs. Despite Tippecanoe County’s tight housing market, the couple was able to find a rental home in West Lafayette in just a few weeks.
Though they’ve only been in the area since November, Hughes says the vast amount of entertainment, access to university and community libraries, green spaces and friendly neighbors have made them feel at home in no time.
“I really appreciate the events calendar that Purdue Research Foundation puts out,” she says. “It’s daunting to move to any new place, and having an easy way to network and meet people is wonderful.”
For Ben Carson, however, the decision to move to West Lafayette as a remote worker was different: it was choosing to come back home.
Carson, a competitive debate coach and product developer for online academic competitions, moved from the Greater Lafayette area to New Jersey five years ago as a full-time debate coach, but as the pandemic shifted work online for many employees, Carson was looking for a change.
“With changing jobs, it made my ability to be remote, and to do that from anywhere was freeing, and I didn’t feel tied down to New Jersey anymore,” he says. “I was looking for different settings, but at that time coming back home made sense.”
Carson made his move in November, and like Hughes and her husband, he found himself in a lucky spot. He landed an available one-bedroom apartment at the Provenance Apartments in Purdue’s Discovery Park.
In five years’ time, Carson says one of the most visible changes he’s seen in the Greater Lafayette area has been the rapid development of the Discovery Park District, an area of the university’s campus that has seen more than $1 billion in development through the addition of housing, research facilities and commercial properties.
“At the time when I left, none of what is there now existed,” he says. “Now, it’s completely unrecognizable having not seen the growth in real time, but seeing that area being taken advantage of to its fullest extent is really great to see.”
Moving back to Indiana, Carson says he didn’t expect many surprises having lived here most of his life. Knowing Tippecanoe County has been a hotbed for development over the last decade, he expected to see some businesses he didn’t recognize and some buildings to look a bit different, but he was reminded of one thing as the seasons changed.
“I kind of forgot how windy it is here,” he says. “I didn’t really realize it and didn’t think much about it when I moved to New Jersey, because for the most part the weather is the same. But man, getting hit with that wind kind of took my breath away.”
Moving from California to Indiana, Hughes says her biggest surprise came after seeing the state’s famed breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.
“I am surprised by just how large a pork tenderloin sandwich can actually be,” she says. “I respect it, but I will stick to a spicy chicken sandwich instead.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
Greater Lafayette offers several of Indiana’s finest golf courses. Thanks to the mild winter, the most avid golfers got a head start on the 2023 season.
A new year also brings changes to our seven courses, ranging from improving course and facility services to the Cherry Lane realignment project making an impact on availability at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex.
Battle Ground Golf Club
A new club professional, Jackson Hillard, is among the changes that have taken place since last fall.
Hillard brings a decade of experience to Battle Ground, most of it spent at the Highland Lake Golf Course in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana
“Battle Ground had an amazing year last year, and I hope to be able to continue that trend,” Hillard says.
“While we are installing new cart path segments in the worst areas, we are also planting new trees and removing invasive ones. We have large plans to renovate our fescue/no mow areas with better seed to make the course a much smoother look.”
Battle Ground Golf Club opened on July 4, 1967, and resides on 160 acres neighboring Prophetstown State Park. It was the home of the Lafayette Country Club for nearly 50 years. While the original course design was by Robert Simmons, two decades ago the course underwent renovation under the guidance of world-renowned golf course architect Tim Liddy.
The club’s course favors every level of golfer, with wide bent-grass fairways offering multiple target lines. Sizable greens and large surrounding areas leave open an array of possible shots from close range. Longer hitters will be challenged by thick rough and strategically placed bunkers. Water comes into play on three holes.
Five sets of tees allow the course to play from 5,100 to nearly 7,100 yards. Amenities include a putting green, a short game arena and a practice tee equipped with five target greens.
Information on daily fees and/or memberships can be found at golfbattleground.com.
Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex
It will be an unusual spring and summer season at the Purdue courses due to road construction.
The Ackerman-Allen course is open for public play, but access will be from Cherry Lane via Northwestern Avenue and then taking a left onto Steven Beering Drive. A bag drop and operations trailer will be located between the golf course and Ross-Ade Stadium’s “R” lot.
Due to limited access and parking, the Kampen-Cosler Course is limited to Birck Boilermaker Golf Club members and members of the Purdue golf teams until further notice. Guests may play only when accompanied by a member.
Legendary golf course designer Pete Dye oversaw the creation of both courses. Ackerman-Allen is a par-72 championship golf course featuring large bent-grass greens and fairways. The challenges for golfers come from the rolling hills, tree-lined fairways, white sand bunkers and a few water hazards. Five sets of tees play from 5,300 yards to the championship tees playing more than 7,500 yards.
Rated one of the top collegiate courses in the nation, Kampen-Cosler has been awarded 4.5 stars on Golf Digest’s “Places to Play” and is ranked among the most difficult golf courses in Indiana.
It has been the site of the 2000 Men’s Big Ten Championship, the 2003 women’s NCAA Championship, the 2004 Indiana Open, the 2005 Women’s Western Amateur and the 2008 men’s NCAA Championship.
When it’s open for public play, Kampen-Cosler challenges golfers of all experience levels. Vast sand bunkers, native grasslands, ponds and a natural celery bog lead up to large bent-grass greens. Five sets of tees offer a playing range from 5,300 to more than 7,400 yards.
To book a tee time, see rates and to get construction updates, visit purduegolf.com.
“GolfWeek” calls Coyote Crossing the sixth-best course you can play in Indiana, and for good reason, says Brent Wills, president/general manager/director of golf.
“The course’s creative layout through the natural terrain, the improved turf quality for ideal playing conditions, the relaxed, player-friendly atmosphere and the camaraderie within the large and growing membership is what makes Coyote Crossing Golf Club special,” Wills says.
Coyote Crossing was the dream of local businessman Randy Bellinger, who teamed up with Hale Irwin Golf Design in 1998. The course opened on June 7, 2000.
“Hale was fully involved from the design process through completion of construction of the course,” Wills says. “Coyote Crossing’s features epitomize Irwin’s design philosophy of incorporating two critical design elements: the existing environment and land planning objectives.”
Built on the rolling terrain around Burnett Creek and within the Winding Creek neighborhood, Coyote Crossing maintains much of the wildlife, native prairies, wetlands and forests while still challenging every club in a golfer’s bag.
A semi-private golf club since 2017, Coyote Crossing logged a record number of rounds played in January and February thanks to the mild winter.
Mild temperatures also allowed director of grounds Mike Dunk and his crew to rebuild the 10 cart bridges as well as the four walking bridges on the course. Coyote Crossing has added a new fleet of 2023 EZGO Elite golf carts with just about every imaginable extra: comfortable premium seats, USB charging ports, windshields, sun canopies, rain covers for golf bags, sand bottles and beverage coolers.
Other improvements from the 2022 season include a revamped menu and food service at its restaurant/bar, the addition of fiber internet service at the clubhouse and a new floor installed in the pro shop.
Coyote Crossing is scheduled to host an IHSAA boys golf regional in June, the Indiana Girls State Championship in July and the Indiana Women’s Senior Golf Association state tournament.
Annual memberships are available and daily greens fees begin at $49 for 18 holes, including a cart. Tee time reservations are available online at CoyoteCrossingGolf.com.
“We would like to invite you to experience everything that Coyote Crossing has to offer, whether it’s as a new member, for a fun round of golf, to enjoy a casual dining experience or to host a banquet or event,” Wills says. “We are certain that you will have a memorable experience and will want to return again and again.”
Originally a family farm that has been in the Ade family for nearly 150 years, The Ravines was conceived in early 1994 and opened in June of 1995.
“It’s been a financial rollercoaster ride for 28 years, but we’ve survived and are doing well,” Ed Ade says. “We offer a very good product at a very fair price. It’s a family business. We try our best to make a round of golf at The Ravines an enjoyable family experience.”
The course provides two different 9-hole styles. The front 9 is longer and more open, with water, sand traps and mounding in play. Golfers then are challenged by a tighter, shorter back 9 with deep ravines to play over and around.
“All in all, it’s a fun course to play for golfers of all abilities,” Ade says.
Green fees have increased for 2023 due to increased costs for chemicals and fertilizer, as well as items inside the pro shop, Ade says.
“We’ve tried to keep our green fees low throughout the years, raising the fees slightly if at all,” he says. “Our goal is to keep the course in an upscale condition yet keeping our prices low, a good value for the money.”
The Ravines is now offering online booking at golfravines.com, but Ade says golfers may still call 765-583-1550 or 765-497-PUTT (7888) for tee times.
Memberships also are available at The Ravines for golfers who want to play 25, 50, 75 or more times per year. The Ravines offers a clubhouse and pavilion that is available for weddings, company outings and other events.
“If you haven’t played The Ravines, give us a try,” Ade says. “We think you’ll enjoy your experience.”
Lafayette Country Club
The oldest golf course home in Greater Lafayette was founded from a simple question.
“Why doesn’t Lafayette have a golf course?” Purdue Athletic Director Hugh Nicol asked prominent Lafayette lawyer William V. Stuart in 1909.
Spurred by that question, Stuart teamed up with other prominent citizens to plan a family-friendly club complete with golf course and other recreations on what was once known as “Reynolds Pasture.”
This information comes from “A History of the Lafayette Country Club – Celebrating Tradition, 1909-2009,” by Joanne P. Willis.
Today, it’s not uncommon while driving on South Ninth Street to watch members play the 9-hole golf course.
“The mild winter has allowed our members to get out for a few rounds without too much issue,” General Manager Alex Smith says. “With our course being smaller and since it has been here for so long, it’s not too tricky to get it ready to play. Our groundskeepers maintain it year-round, so we are usually ready to go when we have nice weather.”
The members-only facility also has a pool and tennis courts as well as a dining room. For information about joining the Lafayette Country Club or booking its facilities for weddings or other celebrations, visit lafayettecountryclub.net.
West Lafayette Golf and Country Club
It’s been almost 10 years since The Elks Country Club became the West Lafayette Golf and Country Club.
At its longest, WLGCC is a par-71, 6,256-yard course. The course rating is 70.4, and it has a slope rating of 120 on rye/bluegrass/bent grass.
In addition to winning a Reader’s Choice award from the Lafayette Journal & Courier, WLGCC has emphasized service to its members. The semi-private club also welcomes the public. Visit wlgcc.com to reserve tee times or to become a member.
WLGCC is home to club professional Joel Baumgardner’s Golf Academy (joelsgolfacademy.com), which provides clinics and instruction for all ages.
Be sure to check out the club’s “Annual Fabulous Fourth of July Celebration.” The family event is open to the public.
WLGCC also has a scenic banquet facility that is available for wedding receptions, parties, professional gatherings, charity events and other festivities. For more information, contact Julie Schremp at 765-463-2332. ★
BY BRADLEY OPPENHEIM
In a joint effort, Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County have made it a priority to address climate change and how it’s making an impact here in our own backyards.
After more than two years of gathering scientific data and input from the public, the Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan maps out both current and projected climate challenges and how we can take action now in creating a more sustainable Greater Lafayette for years to come.
Margy Deverall represents the city of Lafayette as a member of the plan’s Joint Leadership Committee, which was responsible for managing efforts to model the plan. “We are already experiencing change. We see more extreme heat days in summer, flooding events, poor air quality, among other things,” she says. “The plan looks at ways to address those making the community more resilient. We also look at energy costs and changes in where our energy comes from. Planning ahead for those likely changes makes us more sustainable.”
According to Deverall, the city of West Lafayette kicked things off several years ago when it began working with Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI), which works with partners throughout the state in confronting environmental change through research, education and community collaboration. Soon after West Lafayette began pursuing studies, leaders in Lafayette pondered their own plan, reaching out to leaders on the other side of the river, seeking advice and information about IU’s ERI.
“The first thing we did as members of the IU Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) Cohort Program, was gather information to determine our current greenhouse gas emissions (amounts and sources),” Deverall says. “Going forward, that can be remeasured, and we can see how we have improved on that number.”
Ultimately, the two cities decided to pool their resources and combine efforts. “The climate doesn’t stop at the river,” Deverall says. “The climate doesn’t stop at the city limits either.” Tippecanoe County also was invited to join in the effort.
Working with a shared vision, the three entities split costs and hired Greeley & Hansen, an environmental engineering firm, to help construct a plan and gather public input.
Once planning meetings were underway, the Joint Leadership Committee worked alongside Greeley & Hansen, interns and fellows from both Purdue and Indiana universities, gathering data. An Advisory Committee also was established, made up of community members and content specialists, tasked with providing input and expertise. In addition to these committees, hundreds of Greater Lafayette residents played a crucial role in providing their input through online focus sessions and in-person meetings.
“We garnered resident feedback and input, and by doing so, the public can look to this plan when holding government accountable and continue to raise awareness about environmental issues,” says Michael Thompson, a Joint Planning Committee member representing Tippecanoe County. “If residents have been seeking an opportunity to get involved, now is the time.”
Fellow Joint Committee Member Lindsey Payne, an assistant professor of practice in environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University and member of West Lafayette’s Go Greener Commission, shares the same mindset as Thompson. “Climate action is about community health and wellness and creating a better, more sustainable, resilient, and equity future for all,” Payne says.
The framework leading up to implementation of the plan was split into five program phases: initiation, development, execution, report development and implementation.
“Many, many people have been supportive of this effort, and almost everyone has commented that community leaders should be taking action quickly,” says Amy Krzton-Presson, watershed coordinator for the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation and Joint Leadership Committee member. “They want to know that our local government and industry leaders value these initiatives enough to act on them now. Planning is important, but it is time to take action and the public wants to see that action now.”
Following copious amounts of man hours spent planning, advocating and gathering data, the plan was finalized and made available to the public earlier this year. “As individuals, we truly can build the community we want to live in, we just have to make that commitment, act and support each other in our efforts,” Payne says. “It is really about the community coming together to shape this future for themselves and their future generations.”
BY KAT BRATZ
Ask Tim Detzner what he loves about trees, and you can hear the smile in his voice.
“So many things,” says Detzner, who retired as urban forester for the City of Lafayette in January. “I love watching them grow and seeing the different changes that take place. I love all the amazing services they provide for us. They clean carbon dioxide out of the air, provide oxygen for us to breathe, provide shade to lower temperatures, help reduce stormwater runoff and they add beauty to our surroundings.
“There are so many things to love about trees.”
Detzner worked at Purdue University for 34 years as lead arborist before taking the job as a city forester in 2017. He describes the role as a one-person position where the responsibilities largely include oversight and coordination of the planting and maintenance of street trees throughout the city.
“A city forester has to consider the urban conditions that affect species selection,” Detzner says. “There’s an awful lot of concrete around these trees, so you want to plan trees that will handle the city environment better than others, such as narrow trees that can grow and thrive without interfering with the buildings and sidewalks around them.”
The city frequently collaborates with Tree Lafayette, a nonprofit organization that has planted trees around the city since its founding in 1993.
“Tree Lafayette has planted more than 4,000 trees over the past three decades,” says Larry Rose, tree committee chair for Tree Lafayette. “We only have one planet to live on and we’d better take care of it. Trees help slow down climate change, produce much of the rain and clean the air. We encourage an urban forest for so many reasons.”
One of the city’s largest tree planting projects took place in 2022 when scores of volunteers helped plant 150 trees in honor of the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. The trees were planted along Underwood Street in north Lafayette. The first 66 trees were planted in the spring and the remaining 84 were planted in the fall. In recognition of the community’s efforts, the International Society of Arboriculture recognized Lafayette with the Harry J. Banker Gold Leaf Award for outstanding Arbor Day activities.
Lafayette has achieved Tree City USA recognition for 30 straight years by meeting the program’s four requirements: forming a tree board or department; creating a tree-care ordinance; designating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita; and observing Arbor Day with a city proclamation.
In 2022, Lafayette was one of only 138 cities across the globe to earn the designation of Tree Cities of the World. To be recognized, a city must meet core standards that illustrate a commitment to caring for its trees and urban forest on a higher level.
“Lafayette is very proud to receive these tree designation awards after many months and years of work by so many individuals and groups,” stated Mayor Tony Roswarski in an April 2022 press release. “Through our work with the City’s Urban Forester and other city departments, I’m excited to announce that we have a goal to plant over 1,000 trees in Lafayette over the next five years that will play an integral part in the work of the Greater Lafayette Climate Action Plan. We have a responsibility to combat climate change and I want to thank our partners of Tree Lafayette, SIA, Duke Energy, Center Pointe Energy, Tipmont REMC and the Lafayette Tree Advisory Committee for all their support over the years in making a difference in our community’s environmental footprint. By working together, we can make Lafayette greener.”
The work to plant more trees throughout the city will continue, but it will continue without Detzner.
After 45 years of tree care in Tippecanoe County, Detzner moved to South Carolina earlier this year to enjoy his retirement. ★
BY PURDUE UNIVERSITY HEALTH EQUITY INITIATIVES
In 2021, Purdue University recruited Dr. Jerome Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, as the university’s first ever Director of Health Equity initiatives (HEI). Dr. Adams was hired to leverage Purdue’s many unique assets to ensure more communities have opportunities to make healthy choices and live healthy lives. Based on guidance from faculty members, three thematic areas of focus were identified in early 2022: Food for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Mental Health and Substance Use. Faculty felt these thematic areas would give us space to learn, grow, engage, and create an impact in the health equity space across Indiana and beyond. Further, Purdue’s strengths in education and research, technology and data, engagement and entrepreneurship, and communication and policy provide a strong foundation for making a difference in these initially identified areas of opportunity.
Dr. Adams and his team are working aggressively to engage faculty, students, and staff across Purdue’s ecosystem to maximize the University’s impact in the Health Equity space both internally and with external partners. The end goal is to help fulfill Purdue’s land grant mission by promoting community health and success through ongoing partnerships and engagement. As an example of this work, the HEI Office recently released a seed funding opportunity to Kathleen Abrahamson, associate professor of nursing from the College of Health and Human Sciences. Her project is exploring the mental health challenges that exist within a local nursing facility.
Abrahamson’s project will consist of semi-structured interviews conducted by a nursing doctoral student with staff members and leaders to assess perceptions of facility climate, wellness needs, and ideas for change. Staff members will then be sent a validated survey instrument to provide a baseline measure for staff before intervention design. Lastly, a team of undergraduate students will conduct a faculty-led assessment of potential areas for quality improvement. The Purdue chapter of IHI Open School has committed to assisting the facility in implementing quality projects related to the mental health environment of the facility.
Abrahamson anticipates that two evidenced-based reports will be provided to the facility in May 2023 and September 2023 regarding the current mental health climate of the facility and that the data collected through this seed funding opportunity will be utilized to apply for additional funding to design an expanded project to address the quality of life and mental health and well-being among nursing home residents.
The Purdue HEI team would love to engage with your organization to work on additional projects which can improve health equity in the Lafayette community. To connect with any of our faculty members or learn more about our work, please visit our website: https://www.purdue.edu/provost/health
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CITY OF LAFAYETTE
Imagine a tablet computer that can display a map. Or play a video game. Or show a baseball game. Easy enough.
Now imagine a tablet computer that does those things, only in Braille.
This is the dream the team at Tactile Engineering is bringing to reality. The Cadence Tablet, a modular, hand-held device, will bring both static and dynamic content to life in Braille, in order to help the visually impaired experience all facets of life just as their sighted peers do.
The idea came to Wunji Lau, chief marketing officer, and Dave Schleppenbach, CEO, when they were students at Purdue University in the mid-1990s. Schleppenbach had some experience with Braille and was asked to help some visually impaired chemistry students with classes. He and Lau teamed up to assist them.
“We had these two students,” Lau recalls. “They were in pre-med and they were in trouble because chemistry, complex mathematics, any science class, requires a huge amount of graphics. So we were just printing graphics on paper, which was tedious and time-consuming. We thought it would be great if we could just do this electronically, just have the dots move up and down. How hard could that be?
“Well, 25 years later, it’s really hard.”
At the time, Lau and Schleppenbach had to rely on existing technology. Those older versions could only offer static content; plastic diagrams with metal plates were created to make large prints, which were expensive, and bulky — they are tactile, but not easily transportable. This, Lau says, was something they wanted to change; their goal was to create this same content electronically.
“All we want is to do this but in an electronic format,” he says. “Our technology does this, but it allows animation to be shown. Even something simple like just a moving ball. Once we realized we could do that, we have blind kids playing Pong. Furthermore, we have blind kids playing Pong with each other across the table or in separate rooms, on the internet. Internet gaming, internet interaction that blind people never had access to is now open.”
This is not necessarily new technology, Lau says. There are older versions of Braille tablets that offer this experience. But the old technology used a fragile kind of Braille cell that could only be arranged in a single line of Braille. In order to add another line, the machine just gets thicker and thicker.
“There have been plenty of other projects to make tactile Braille,” says Lau. “But the specific technology to do it affordably and mass produce it is something we have managed to do.”
The primary goal for the Cadence is education, Lau says. They wanted to open up options for courses — higher level science and mathematics — and make them more accessible.
“We always wanted to make it so that anyone who wanted to take a science class, who wanted to go to college, who wanted to find a career that they wanted to do would have that opportunity.”
Education was challenging, in part because of the difficulty in getting textbooks. They are not routinely translated into Braille, so they have to be special ordered. If students wanted to take any kind of science course, they would have to wait for a Braille textbook to be made; the class would start in January and the textbook might show up in April. And then when a student is done with the textbook, there is no resale market. The cost to convert a Braille textbook and have it printed is about $50,000.
The Cadence Tactile Graphics tablet is groundbreaking, too, because it’s modular. One unit is the size of an iPhone, but it’s possible to group four of them together to make a larger screen.
Using translation software, designed by the company, books can be uploaded to the Cadence, including pictures and diagrams — even moving picture. Users can annotate these files — and they can be shared.
“They can collaborate, they can discuss that with their teachers,” Lau says. “Teachers can make new content and distribute it around to all those who need it.
“And that’s really what we wanted to do. We wanted to build this community — a community that sighted people take for granted. This is something that is critical for school, for being able to work. This is what we wanted to do, to give that access.”
This display can cause rivers to highlight; chasing dots can show the flow of different bodies of water or weather patterns. Labels can pop up, in Braille, labels that can change dynamically. Users can zoom in. One of the first pieces of curriculum is an interactive periodic table. Having it all on the Cadence means students do not have to deal with a giant chart, nor do they need 118 individual flashcards.
It opens up, too, leisure activities that blind people have always been locked away from, says Lau. Video games, live sporting events, streaming content.
“This becomes a platform for media and communications and entertainment that has never existed before,” he says. “I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s a whole new method of communication.”
The tablet is manufactured locally, at Tactile Engineering’s factory on Duncan Road. The start-up company includes Lau and Schleppenbach, along with fellow Purdue grads Alex Moon and Tom Baker.
Also involved? Those two blind students who were tutored by Schleppenbach and Lau back in the ’90s.
“Really what drove this were a couple of students who went on to get Ph.D.s in chemistry, believe it or not, as blind students, and they still work with us to this day,” Schleppenbach says. “Kind of far out when you think about it.”
The start-up has support from the Purdue Foundry and other seed money from a group of investors. It also is working with Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership, helping it ramp up production from a start-up to a real company.
The factory is as automated as possible, Lau says. They have had help from other Indiana companies — it is a totally Hoosier product, he says. “A lot of the manufacturing techniques we use are things that people said could not be done. So we spent many years proving that wrong.”
There are 384 individual Braille dots in each tablet; each dot is powered to go up and down. Each one has to be carefully wound on a machine. After each coil is made, a set of robots puts them in individual modules; these modules can be replaced separately. Thus, if one part of the display breaks, only that part needs to be replaced; the other three still work.
The parts have to be extremely precise in size; any slight mistake turns into a huge error. Each unit has 64 tiny welds. Initially, all of that was done by hand, but now it’s automated. Everything is carefully tested; each dot is run 25,000 times, to make sure it’s functioning correctly. The displays are then assembled by hand.
The initial deployment centers around schools, starting in Indiana. By May, a dozen or so should be in use at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; the goal is to have 150 to 200 in use by the end of the year. The company is moving slowly because, in addition to manufacturing, tech support needs to be in place. One advantage is that tech support can be done remotely; if a dot gets stuck, it can be pulsed back into alignment remotely.
Ultimately, Lau says they would like to have a Cadence for each student to use and to take home with them. Because continuity is important — they don’t want a break in the learning process.
“We’re trying to minimize the need to ever have to send it back to a repair person,” Lau says. The device can be repaired by any trained electrician.
There is no firm price yet, as the tablet is still in the initial piloting stage and not yet for sale. But Lau hopes to have it available for $3,000 to $4,000; they want it to be as affordable as possible.
Another advantage to their technology: they use a more common chip, hence no logistics issues.
“It is absolutely about trying to produce the best device that provides the most usefulness and that removes the most barriers between a person and the content they’re trying to get to. That’s really all we want to do,” Lau says.
Lau and Schleppenbach say they never imagined, when they reconnected around 2010, that this problem still existed — they assumed someone had already solved it. When they realized no one had, it became their goal to change the lives of people with visual impairments.
“We have three pillars: hardware, software and the social piece,” Lau says. “We want to make sure it’s getting to the people who need them.” There are thousands of children who are in schools elsewhere, and it has historically proven very difficult to get materials and aid to those children.
“Part of our task and part of advocacy is in finding ways to reach that hidden population of people who need this device,” Schleppenbach says. “The unfortunate reality is a lot of blind people who aren’t in an urban area or don’t have a large amount of resources available to them end up as partial shut-ins, or not getting adequate education, or end up shuffled off someplace where they don’t have a voice and they can’t get out. And we want to be able to change that.”
Schleppenbach says this concept, which is incredibly intricate and complex, has been one that is rewarding. It’s a project that has been 25 years in the making. But the process of changing people’s hearts and minds is not always quick and easy.
“The scale we work at is so small, so many moving parts, so many different areas of physics, chemistry and math that come together to make this work,” he says. “Yet despite all that, it’s not really about that tech, it’s about the impact on a person. And that’s something that’s hard to measure.”
The CDC estimates that 3 percent of children in grades K-12 are severely visually impaired, says Schleppenbach. These students can’t use a Chromebook to do their homework, they can’t see the blackboard, they may not even be able to find the restroom or might have trouble at recess.
“It’s a very different experience for those kids,” he says. “And nobody talks about it; they don’t have a voice. People don’t know because they don’t have an avenue to express that. So, they wait for people to come help them, and there’s no agency in that. We want them to have that agency given to them because they’ve got the technology to connect with people to be their own voice.”
The visually impaired can feel as if they are second-class citizens, Schleppenbach says. There are so many ways they can’t easily function, everything from taking exams to paying for items with cash to starting a washing machine. These things can all add up, and “it’s like a weight you carry,” he says. Yet there is a place for them in society; there are careers open to them and employers who would embrace them. This tablet can help with that.
“I feel that as a society it’s inherent in our culture, especially in America where we celebrate diversity, the great melting pot, we have an obligation to raise each other up,” he says.
“If we don’t pursue that to the best of our ability, not only is that wrong, but we’re missing so much. Do you really want to have 3% of your society not able to participate? They could be workers, they could be teachers, they could be the next genius. Who’s the next Stephen Hawking? Nowadays people are really sensitive to diversity and equity. Some issues of equity are not solvable with technology, but this one is.” ★
PHOTOS AND STORY BY TIM BROUK
Whether it’s for a rhymable month, years, or just a day, a downtown Lafayette shop is giving former and current beer, wine and liquor drinkers an alternative.
Since its opening last October, Generation NA, 504 Main St., supplies non-alcoholic (NA) beer, seltzers, wines and spirits such as zero-alcohol whiskies, gins and rums to a clientele that likes to balance hard liquor with a non-alcoholic drink or those that have put down the hard stuff for years but miss the hoppy taste of a well-crafted IPA or mixing a classic cocktail. The shop that also features a casual lounge with old-school arcade games has quickly gained momentum, matching national trends in sober drinking.
“Like red meat or processed foods, people are more mindful about what they put in their bodies,” says Rob Theodorow, Generation NA owner, “beverage curator and hype man.”
“I think people will be surprised. I’ve seen a lot of people that can’t quite process it when they first have an NA beer — ‘That tastes like a real beer.’ They almost can’t believe it.”
Generation NA was the first shop of its kind in Indiana when it opened. A few months later, a similar shop was established in Carmel, Theodorow says.
In 2022, Nielsen calculated non-alcoholic beer sales in the United States at $328.6 million, up 19.5% from 2021. Globally, the non-alcoholic market is valued at $11 billion, up from $8 billion in 2018, according to Forbes.
Theodorow and media outlets point to the COVID-19 pandemic as a possible motivator for stronger sales. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported sales of alcohol increased in 2020 by 2.9%, the largest annual increase in more than 50 years. Deaths involving alcohol jumped 25.5%, totaling almost 100,000 deaths. Drinkers shifting to non-alcoholic brews is believed to be an after-effect.
Theodorow, also CEO for SFP, a downtown Lafayette web and media production company, noticed a burgeoning market soon after he stopped drinking alcohol two years ago. He invested in several regional breweries and distilleries that provided non-alcoholic products to fuel pop-up sales in his downtown office. Each sale brought in dozens of customers. When the space on Main Street became available, he swooped in, and Generation NA opened in less than a week.
More than O’Douls
Generation NA boasts numerous shelves brimming with cans of non-alcoholic brews. Some recommendations from Theodorow: Athletic Brewing, CERIA and Mash Gang.
The coolers also are stocked with more brews, as well as water and seltzer alternatives. Liquid Death’s canned waters are popular and refreshing. Some products are enhanced by CBD, adaptogens such as lemon balm, kava and ashwagandha, and even “functional mushrooms” such as lion’s mane, reishi and shiitake. These give a relaxing feeling while still staying safe and Indiana legal.
A couple recent visits saw steady customer flow and Theodorow behind the People’s tap pouring several samples and pints. Remember, Greater Lafayette’s blue collar and collegiate crowds have spilled more beer than most other cities of similar size can drink. Still, Generation NA is cutting through like Pedialyte to a hangover.
Ryan Pritchett sipped on a pint of People’s non-alcoholic APA while shopping for a six-pack and a growler to go. The Rossville man says he quit drinking alcohol eight years ago, but he still missed sipping on craft brews, especially from People’s.
“I’ve always liked the taste of beer, but I always thought the only option was O’Doul’s,” Pritchett says. “The variety here is unparalleled, probably better than anywhere in the country.”
Lafayette’s Joel Calabrese and Morgan Welker also had non-alcoholic beer and a six-pack of canned zero-alcohol gin and tonic drinks. The young couple enjoy mock cocktails at home while they cut back on alcohol consumption for 2023.
“We like beer, and we don’t really like pop so (non-alcoholic) beer fills that niche when you want something bubbly while cutting alcohol out,” Calabrese says. “We’re huge fans of this place.”
Welker concurs. “There are so many options, tons of different stuff to try. Compared to beer, you can’t really tell.”
Theodorow says his shop attracts out of town customers, most of whom are passing through Lafayette via I-65 or they drove from out of state specifically for Generation NA. Chicago, Cincinnati, and even California are the most common addresses he sees on visitors’ identification. Most are in the area on travel or vacation and find Generation NA online.
“I really wanted to make this a destination place for Lafayette,” Theodorow says. “I want people to come here as a destination. I want this to be something that can’t be replicated.” ★
Learn more about Generation NA at na.beer online. Enjoy free tastings every Friday.
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
The largest deal with an industry partner in Purdue University history is bringing $75 million to West Lafayette over the next 10 years.
That the agreement is with Rolls-Royce makes it a natural fit for Purdue, which has had a more than 70-year relationship with the global corporation that has customers in more than 150 countries.
“We have collaborated on many aerospace research projects, worked with numerous Purdue experts and have established a pipeline of talent from the university to our company,” says Warren White, Director of Assembly & Test-U.S., Rolls-Royce Defense. “In fact, over 700 Purdue grads work for Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis.
“With the aerospace expertise on campus, the strong support from Lafayette and West Lafayette officials, and the comfort level between the university and the company, it made perfect sense to invest there.”
The agreement funds testing and research in the areas of gas turbine technology and electrical and digital technology. Purdue’s Zucrow Laboratories, the largest academic propulsion laboratory in the world, will be the primary site for research in sustainable power systems through advanced technology in electrification, turbines, compressors and combustion with sustainable fuels.
Just weeks before unveiling the Rolls-Royce deal, Purdue announced it would construct a $73 million high-speed propulsion laboratory for hypersonic technologies in the Discovery Park District. The laboratory will span 55,000 square feet.
At the time the agreement was announced in May 2022, then-Purdue President Mitch Daniels said, “Purdue’s research partnership with Rolls-Royce will address some of the greatest technology challenges facing the U.S. Our faculty and students will work on advanced technology capabilities to ensure long-term national security. This will enhance the university’s role as a world leader in engineering research.”
White says, “Indiana is very lucky to have an educational institution like Purdue University as a pillar of research and a true leader in the world of aerospace. Not just the astronauts – although that history is fantastic – but there are so many other areas where Purdue has been in the forefront of technology advancement.
“At Rolls-Royce, we are very proud to be partnering with Purdue and continuing that great history of cutting-edge aerospace development.”
White says Rolls-Royce has a number of projects
underway in various stages at West Lafayette, including some of the hybrid-electrical testing work. New facility construction also is taking place, but he says it probably will be a couple of years before Rolls-Royce begins operation of test facilities in other areas.
Purdue President Mung Chiang, who began his tenure on Jan. 1, 2023, says, “Purdue has become the epicenter of hypersonic research and testing in the U.S. We are excited across three tracks: first, our own investment for federal and industry projects, such as the wind tunnel and manufacturing facility announced in 2021, and the high-speed propulsion facility in 2022 that Rolls-Royce will be able to use; second, private sector’s investment to grow their presence in the Discovery Park District at Purdue; and third, a nonprofit consortium of industry members for ground testing hosted at Purdue.”
One of those projects is aimed toward the company’s goal to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 2030.
“Our hybrid-electrical testing will help move aviation to a more sustainable future by reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” White says.
“High-altitude testing capability will enable us to make our engines more efficient in challenging operating environments. Hypersonic testing will help develop engines to help aircraft reach extremely high speeds. All of these are important aerospace ‘giant leaps’ and we are proud to be working with Purdue to advance these efforts.”
White says research and development projects are the primary focus for Rolls-Royce in West Lafayette. Side benefits to these projects are modest job growth in Greater Lafayette as well as enhancing the learning potential of Purdue students and faculty.
The roots of Purdue’s relationship with Rolls-Royce date back to a partnership with a company owned by one of the founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
James A. Allison founded the Allison Engine Company more than a century ago, and Purdue’s close proximity to Indianapolis led to Allison Engine hiring many Purdue engineering graduates. Rolls-Royce purchased Allison Engine Company in 1996.
“Since that time, hundreds of Purdue engineers have worked for Rolls-Royce, collectively making a major impact on our company’s products and designs,” White says. “The relationship is as strong as ever. We continue to perform research on and off campus and continue to hire Purdue grads every year.”
White, who earned his bachelor’s degree in aero/astro engineering and a master’s degree in industrial administration from Purdue, credits his time in West Lafayette for creating a solid foundation for his professional career.
“We have more Purdue engineers working at Rolls-Royce than from any other university,” White says. “My personal background at Purdue didn’t play a role in the company’s decision to invest in West Lafayette, though. All the business factors involved made it the right decision. I’m happy it turned out that way, and I enjoy making trips to campus.”
White has noticed the many changes in Greater Lafayette since his undergraduate and post-graduate days. He praised the unique partnership between Purdue and the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette.
“We have been happy to witness the economic redevelopment taking place in West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County as a whole,” White says. “The credit goes certainly to mayors, city council members, community leaders and the redevelopment commission — their vision and commitment to the current and future residents of Greater Lafayette.
“This vision along with the investments and growth spurred by the success of Purdue during the Mitch Daniels era and now with President Mung Chiang have been very impressive. Rolls-Royce is proud to be part of the community. It’s a great place to live and work.” ★
BY JILLIAN ELLISON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV AND VISIT LAFAYETTE-WEST LAFAYETTE
Few events throughout the year offer signs of better weather ahead than the first farmers markets of the season. Starting the first week of May, farmers markets hosted in downtown Lafayette, in West Lafayette’s Cumberland Park and on Purdue University’s campus will pick back up to a warm welcome.
Brittany Matthews, events director for Greater Lafayette Commerce, says regular goers shouldn’t expect many changes to the Lafayette or Purdue markets, both run by Greater Lafayette Commerce. The 2022 expansion of the historic Lafayette market’s footprint along Fifth Street, growing from the intersections of Columbia and Main streets farther north to Ferry Street, proved to be a great success, with the market nearly at its 40-vendor capacity just two months before kickoff.
“We are always open to new vendors joining the market, provided we have the space,” Matthews says. “We have had some inquiries from potential new vendors, but no specifics have been laid out just yet.”
A few vendors popular among market goers will be returning to the Purdue and downtown markets for 2023, Matthews says, including: RDM Farms, an aquaculture farm operation specializing in shrimp production; Maggie’s Kitchen, a local caterer crafting West African cuisine; and The Vegan Cheese Lady, an artisan dairy-free cheesemaker based in Lafayette.
While Lafayette’s 184-year-old market has experienced growth, the market held on Purdue’s Memorial Mall each season is limited in how much bigger it can grow.
“We would love to see the campus market continue to grow, and we are working on some ideas to make that happen,” Matthews says. “The challenge that market faces isn’t necessarily space within the mall’s footprint, but more of parking challenges and electricity options.”
All vendors who participate in the Purdue market are participants in the downtown Lafayette market, Matthews explains, but not the other way around. During the 2022 market season, a wait list was created for vendors interested in getting into the campus market, proving to the planning team the need for some creative thinking in ways to expand its layout.
The Lafayette market, whose presenting partner is Subaru of Indiana Automotive, sees participation from vendors traveling from 10 surrounding counties, making it a true Greater Lafayette event. Despite growing pains, Matthews says the feedback her teams receive from both markets is overwhelmingly positive.
“The markets are a staple to the community and serve as a place where attendees can experience culture and source locally grown and made products,” she says. “The markets are so well received that the McAllister Center in Lafayette hosted a winter market this year to allow market goers to have a winter outlet.”
Visitors can expect the same hours during this year’s season as well, with Lafayette’s market hosting Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while Purdue hosts on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., from May to October.
For shoppers looking for a weeknight market fix, the West Lafayette market has your answer. This pet-friendly market offers 60 vendors, says market manager Shelly Foran, with an array of produce, meats, dairy, plants and flowers, along with jewelry, baked goods, crafts and wine by the glass; area restaurants and food trucks serve up take-out options. The market, located at Cumberland Park, runs 3:30-7 p.m. each Wednesday from May through October.
Matthews says no plans are in place to expand the Lafayette market’s hours further into the afternoon, as wrapping up by 12:30 p.m. ensures the city is able to host other downtown events and festivals that require Saturday setup.
“Our vendors work hard to grow and expand their offerings to keep things fresh and engaging for market attendees,” Matthews says. “We are always hoping to continue to grow the market with new vendors and new ideas, which make the experience better for both attendees as well as our regular vendors.”
After a long winter spent inside, Matthews says few things help shake off the feeling of cold weather for her than the opportunity to walk around Greater Lafayette’s busiest hubs and interact with her community face to face.
“I love the open air feel the markets offer,” she says. “It is so much fun to walk the footprint, listening to music, sourcing fresh flowers and veggies along with unique homemade items. We are really looking forward to two great market seasons.”
Foran agrees, adding the West Lafayette market has a number of new attractions this year. “We’re very excited about the coming season.” ★
BY MEGAN FURST
Greater Lafayette’s locally owned businesses are the heart of our community. Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, money and passion into their companies. Join us as we look back at the small business of the month winners recognized by Greater Lafayette Commerce in 2022.
Mecko’s Heating & Cooling
418½ Sagamore Parkway N., Lafayette
According to Dave Mecklenburg, owner of Mecko’s Heating & Cooling, helping people in need and building relationships based on loyalty, trust and honesty have been key to their mission for the past 18 years.
“We will do all things possible to help our clients,” Mecklenburg says. “Hearing our clients call in and say that our employees did an awesome job and were very professional while in their home is one of the most satisfying and proud moments of being a business owner in this incredible community.”
Mecko’s Heating & Cooling offers both residential and commercial services on HVAC systems. They also provide a 24-hour emergency service, where someone from the company will respond and immediately address the client’s needs.
Giving back through community service opportunities is important to Mecklenburg. He serves on the Lafayette Parks and Recreation board and delivers food for the food pantry and Lafayette Urban Ministry. Mecko’s also has supported numerous charity events such as the Ebony and Ivory Ball, Toast of Mental Health, Blue Knight Auction, March of Dimes, Transitional Housing Bingo and 100 Men Who Cook
Great Harvest Bread Co.
1500 Kossuth St., Lafayette
Another longtime small business in Greater Lafayette is Great Harvest Bread Co., co-founded by Jerry and Janet Lecy nearly 17 years ago. The bakery welcomes you to its historic Kossuth district location with the delightful smells of freshly baked bread and pastries, hot coffee and other delicious treats.
The Lecys came across the Great Harvest Bread Co. franchise while living in Orlando, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Jerry and Janet had been considering a new chapter in their lives, and they knew immediately that it was the perfect business for them.
“I try to avoid fear. It definitely took us out of our comfort zone — my wife more than myself,” Jerry says. “Even the first year, she was like, ‘Do you miss our old life?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I don’t even think about it. This is happening. This is good.’”
In addition to coffee, sandwiches and desserts, Great Harvest Bread sells on average 150 to 200 loaves of bread daily. Their bread ingredients are simple and include honey rather than high-fructose corn syrup.
“We are about the bread. We are about quality ingredients,” Jerry says. “The honey whole wheat, which is our signature bread, has five ingredients: water, salt, yeast, honey and flour. You can pronounce everything.”
Great Harvest Bread also values community and regularly donates leftover bread to charitable organizations such as Lafayette Urban Ministry, Trinity Mission, a local women’s shelter and more.
Sweet Revolution Bake Shop
109 N. Fifth St., Lafayette
Since opening in June 2017, Sweet Revolution Bake Shop has doubled its size to accommodate the growing business. Located in historic downtown Lafayette, Sweet Revolution is family-owned by siblings Sarah McGregor-Ray and Jonathan McGregor and mother Debbie McGregor.
Chef Sarah had always dreamed of running her own bakery, while her brother Jonathan had a hunger for being an entrepreneur.
“I knew Sarah was gifted with food when she was 10,” Debbie says. “She would help me cook, and I just let her do more and more all the time. She is very gifted. It’s fun to watch.”
Sweet Revolution features specialty, freshly baked pies and pastries with natural ingredients. They also offer made-from-scratch savory quiches, coffee and teas.
Following the success of Sweet Revolution Bake Shop, the McGregor family opened Revolution Barbeque in 2020, also located in downtown Lafayette. They’ve appreciated the support of the community and their loyal customers and look forward to additional projects in the future.
Sparkletone Dry Cleaners
238 E. State St., West Lafayette
Customer service has always been the top priority at Sparkletone Dry Cleaners — over the past 66 years. Sparkletone was founded in 1956 by Robert Dudley and handed over to his son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Jeanne Dudley.
They’ve always focused on delivering the best service to their customers, and Jeanne, especially, has enjoyed getting to know each one.
“If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business,” Jeanne says. “I’ve always liked people. I always have, so it’s easy for me.”
Scott and Jeanne’s two daughters, Kristin and Robin, took over the business after their parents’ retirement so Jeanne could provide care for Scott. He passed away last year, leaving behind a wonderful legacy and a thriving business.
Robin focuses her attention on customer service and enjoys talking to all the customers, much like her mother. Kristin manages the day-to-day operations. Together, they provide an in-house dry-cleaning and shirt laundry service. Their two-day services return clothes clean, pressed and ready to wear.
“We keep it simple. Customer service has always been our number one priority,” Robin says. “We greet our customers with a friendly smile, listen to their needs and provide an affordable and timely service. We thank our loyal customers for our continued success over the past 66 years.”
155 Win Hentschel Blvd., West Lafayette
The Homestead, located on Win Hentschel Boulevard in West Lafayette, opened in 2017 by owners Mike and Jody Bahler. The Bahlers already had one location in Remington but decided to add a second to expand and grow their customer base.
Having always dreamed of a catering business of her own, Jody was excited about the opportunity her sister-in-law, Heidi, shared with her back in 2010. There was a building available for rent in Remington that would be ideal to open a bulk food, baking and catering shop.
Jody loved experimenting with different recipes and would often make them ahead of time and freeze them for later. This convenience made it easier to feed her growing family.
She brought this take-and-bake approach to The Homestead, where customers can enjoy a large salad bar, deli lunches, catering, frozen and bulk foods and a gift shop.
“It’s not anything gourmet. It’s just homestyle, basic cooking,” Jody says. “It’s very much a homemade product when the customer gets it.”
The farmhouse featured in their logo is an illustration of Jody and Mike’s family home. “That’s how we named it The Homestead because it truly is a family homestead,” Jody says. “We wanted it to be just kind of a warm and welcoming feel when people visit and when people hear the name. It has that warm, cozy feel.”
311 Sagamore Parkway N., Ste. 6., Lafayette
Mark and Sandy Sweval opened Speed Pro Imaging in 2011, but rebranded to GLGraphix in 2019. GLGraphix offers large-format graphics such as displays, banners and images that grab an audience’s attention.
They both enjoy different aspects of the business, and it shows in the success they’ve shared over the years.
“I’ve always enjoyed the sales process,” Mark says. “I love the flexibility. I love the freedom. I loved being able to chart my own destiny being an owner of a small business.”
Their flexibility was tested, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They had to quickly shift gears to make up for the lost revenue from large canceled indoor gatherings such as conventions and trade shows.
“I started really burning up the phone lines and calling people,” Mark says. “I found a way to replace the lost business.”
GLGraphix ended up designing thousands of COVID-related graphics for Purdue and area hospitals. This helped them stay afloat and come back even stronger.
The business is heavily involved in the community and supports Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA. They also provide discounted signage for numerous not-for-profit organizations in the Greater Lafayette area.
GLGraphix has been turned over to a new owner. In July 2022, Nathan Erber, founder of Mark VII Graphics, adopted the GLGraphix name and continues in the Swevals’ footsteps in providing quality graphics solutions to Greater Lafayette.
105 N. 10th St., Lafayette
Owner Timothy Balensiefer had high expectations for his company when he founded TBIRD Design in 2000. He had a five-year and 10-year plan for his design firm, yet he was able to accomplish all his goals within three years of business.
“It did grow a lot faster than we were expecting, but we knew there was a need in the community,” Balensiefer says. “Our clients trust us, and they like us. That’s why they come back.”
TBIRD Design helps prepare new industrial and commercial sites, assists local government in improving and extending infrastructure, evaluates boundaries, provides precise positioning and surveying and also creates residential neighborhoods.
The firm works with major industry players such as Purdue University, Caterpillar, Subaru and Wabash. They developed the Rise at Chauncey, a 16-story mixed-use project in West Lafayette that includes more than 21,000 square feet of retail space and 300 residential units. Additionally, TBIRD led the way for the HUB Plus building, which houses retail spaces and more than 200 residential units.
TBIRD Design also has worked on the design and construction of the downtown Lafayette streetscape and partners with the Tippecanoe School Corp. to develop new schools, athletic fields and other additions.
“We’re truly a local firm. That’s the way people feel about us,” Balensiefer says. “They know we’re local. We’ve been around for a long time.”
TBIRD gives back to the community and is a frequent sponsor of downtown events. It developed the Shamrock Dog Park in Lafayette and is working toward developing properties for the Boys and Girls Club, pro bono.
701 Main St., Lafayette
Instant Copy, located in downtown Lafayette, is a one-stop print shop. Established in 1986, Instant Copy merged with Lafayette Copier and Eco Shred in 2020 and is currently owned by T.J. and Dawn O’Bryan and managed by Toni Edmonson.
“Our customer service is our shining star here because we will always go out of our way to make sure that our customers are happy,” Edmonson says. “We want you to be satisfied with your project — whether we designed it, or you did.”
Instant Copy provides print, graphic design and bindery services, and customers can also shred documents in the store. Graphic artists are available to assist clients with design needs, including logos, business cards, brochures, posters and more.
It works with businesses such as Unity and Franciscan hospitals, Bauer Family Resources, Hartford House, Food Finders and St. Boniface. It also enjoys its regular customers who come in for help with printing, shipping labels, invitations and cards.
“We really try to branch out and work with a little bit of everybody,” Edmonson says. “Being that Instant Copy has been in business for so long, generally at one point or another, people have printed something with us.”
Instant Copy donates print materials for various nonprofit organizations — and prints flyers for missing persons and lost pets at no cost. “If there’s a customer in a hard spot, we do try to help out our community in that way with printing services,” Edmonson says.
Hearing Solutions of Indiana
– 750 Park East Boulevard, Suite 3,
– 480 West Navajo St., Suite A,
Additional Locations: Avon, Carmel, Delphi, Fishers, Franklin, Greenwood, IU Health Arnett, Kokomo and Zionsville
When Hearing Solutions of Indiana opened in 2018 with one location and one employee, it had no idea how quickly the business would grow in the next four years. Hearing Solutions of Indiana is led by husband and wife Michael and Dr. Judy Olson.
They offer several services to both new and existing hearing aid wearers, including fittings, repairs and programming. Hearing Solutions of Indiana also provides comprehensive hearing exams and treatment options for tinnitus.
In 2020, it added a second location in West Lafayette and has since expanded to include locations in Avon, Carmel, Delphi, Fishers, Franklin, Kokomo, Zionsville and IU Health Arnett. The newest location opened in Greenwood.
Judy and her team focus on providing the highest level of care and are committed to their patients and their employees. Judy understands what it means to have quality hearing, as she has worn hearing aids for 25 years.
“We’re always on the forefront of technology and that also helps us continue to grow — and to grow into new markets to bring the gift of better hearing to more and more people,” Judy says. “We have a passion for what we’re doing.”
“That’s what we’re about,” adds Michael. “It’s changing lives, and we’re committed to doing that throughout Central Indiana.”
Michael and Judy grew up in Greater Lafayette and feel fortunate to provide jobs to their 25 employees. They also enjoy sponsoring, educating and participating in community events. ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
Growing up on a farm in Fowler, Indiana, Johnny Klemme developed a passion for the Big Pine Creek.
“The Big Pine was kind of my stomping grounds as a kid,” says Klemme, who enjoyed fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
Now in his career as a Warren County-based land advisor and broker, Klemme is doing his part to make the Big Pine Creek Watershed an example of how teamwork between farmers, landowners and other stakeholders can combine profit with preservation of the natural environment.
“I’m really passionate about making sure these natural resources, particularly our soil and ecosystems of this creek, are taken care of so the next generation can enjoy them like we had the opportunity to do,” Klemme says.
Spanning 209,000 acres across Benton, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties, the Big Pine Creek Watershed is fulfilling its mission to voluntarily conserve and improve the natural environment while balancing the interests of those living within its boundaries.
“One of the big goals of this project is ensuring these farms remain profitable while making these types of conservation changes,” Klemme says. “If we can’t ensure the farmers remain profitable, then it all falls apart.”
“We have seen that farms and generational farms specifically are some of our best stewards of our farmland. We are able to demonstrate that profitability can be there while also improving the water quality downstream.”
Big Pine recently earned a 2022 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence from the state of Indiana. Big Pine was recognized in the land use/conservation category.
“The Big Pine Creek Watershed Project is a water-quality improvement program focused on preventing nutrient and sedimentary run off,” the citation states. “In addition to implementing practices like cover crops, other goals include educating farmers and landowners on the impact they have on the watershed, as well as raising funds to support this work.
“Since the program’s inception (in 2014), it has prevented over 110,000 tons of sediment from entering local waterways, hosted 6,500 participants at area events, reached 30 percent of watershed residents regarding the importance of water quality in the watershed and raised over $6 million to accomplish this work.”
The Big Pine Creek empties directly into the Wabash River upstream of Attica, the next step in a waterway journey that traverses the Ohio and Mississippi rivers before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
Educating others to think about that big picture has been Leslie Fisher’s job since 2016. Fisher was hired as coordinator of the Big Pine Creek Watershed project by the Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Fisher’s background of working with Purdue Extension-Benton County and local farmers, along with experience in resource management, made this job a natural fit for her skills.
“As of last year, the efforts of our farmers and landowners have prevented 289,478 pounds of nitrogen, 145,654 pounds of phosphorous and 110, 454 tons of sediment from entering waterways,” Fisher says.
Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous in our water helps minimize damage to aquatic plants, fish and lake organisms. Too much of both elements in water can result in overgrowth of free-floating plants that can block oxygen and sunlight needed for survival.
Excess sediment depletes the oxygen supply and can lead to killing fish.
In sports terminology, Fisher is the coach bringing together players with many different interests in order to achieve a common goal.
“The community needs to know that this project is possible through the efforts of 40-plus partnerships from several different types of organizations that would not typically work together,” Fisher says. “And that it’s only been successful due to those relationships and the commitment from our local landowners and farmers to become better stewards of their land.”
Major corporate conservation initiatives were formed with local co-op Ceres Solutions, Land O’Lakes, Coca-Cola and Tate & Lyle, plus other Indiana-based companies.
Complicating the mission is the fact that contrary to public belief, Indiana is not a flat-land state.
The northern and western regions of the watershed once upon a time were prairie, while woodlands covered the southern and eastern regions.
“Big Pine is one of those places where you’ve got this unique blend of very productive farmland that also feeds a major creek that has rare flora and fauna species on it,” Klemme says. “You’ve got smaller farms and more rolling wooded areas in the southern part of the watershed. As you get up in the northern parts of the watershed, those are all former prairies and former wetlands. It’s 90-plus percent row crop agriculture.
“The way we like to say it, there’s no better place to work on a giant case study of how we could implement conservation practices and have a positive effect on water quality than this particular watershed.”
The success story of Big Pine Watershed has been profiled in a 20-minute documentary, “Land – Values,” directed by Klemme with the aid of a small grant from Indiana Humanities. It premiered for online streaming Dec. 9.
“We’re just really fortunate that here in Benton, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties we do have some of the most productive farmland in the Midwest,” Klemme says. “Our area is being looked at and seen across the country as a leader in these type of practices, as well as a leader in technology, sensors and equipment that are being tested, developed and manufactured in the greater 10-county region through organizations such as the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network.”
Funding for the Big Pine Creek Watershed project has been extended through 2027.
There’s much more that can be done during these next few years, Fisher says.
“If (you) farm or own land, I would highly encourage you to reach out to your local USDA Service Center to discuss potential options on your land,” Fisher says. “There are all kinds of conservation practices that can make a huge difference both environmentally, but also economically.
“These could include planting cover crops in between the cash crop, reducing tillage, soil health testing and nutrient management plans and even adding pollinator strips on field borders. These conservation practices can solve many natural resource concerns such as erosion, improving soil health and improving water quality. They also can add some major value to the land.” ★
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Not-for-profit organizations were designed to fill a niche between services offered by the government and the private sector. Their not-for-profit status allows any proceeds to be funneled back into the organization to help in fulfilling the mission, rather than be shared with investors or other stakeholders. Hence running a not-for-profit requires a special set of skills, as executive directors are tasked with running programs and staffing, as well as with development, fundraising and donor relations, all working under the guidance of a volunteer board of directors.
Several of these organizations in Tippecanoe County are run by women. Here is a look at just a few of the women who are at the helm of local not-for-profit agencies.
Chief Executive Officer
Bauer Family Resources
Comegys developed a strong devotion to the nonprofit sector — and specifically youth serving organizations — early in her life, having benefited from youth development programming. Today her adopted daughter, Harley, has grown through her participation in similar programming. Her personal experiences led her to serve Bauer, an organization that empowers children and their families to thrive. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.A. in communications with a focus in advertising.
How did you become involved with this organization?
I originally became involved in the organization when I was serving as the CEO of a neighboring organization. We worked alongside Bauer in the community. When the previous CEO was set to retire, I was recruited to the organization.
What are your top three priorities?
• Enhance program delivery and accessibility: Embrace opportunities and create systems that allow for programs to replicate, expand, operate and innovate as dictated by the needs of the families and communities we serve.
• Amplify organizational impact: Communicate the difference that we are making, how we made that difference and why it is important in a way that elevates the organization.
• Proactively develop and strengthen our workforce: Become a sought-after employment destination with a culture that retains employees.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
Bauer is one of the best-kept secrets in the community; often the work we do is in the background. With my team, I want Bauer, and the impact we make throughout the community, to be more apparent. We serve thousands of people every single year and have deep connections with families. We need to highlight that work to increase the number of families we are able to reach.
Public Schools Foundation of Tippecanoe County
Isbell is a graduate of Jefferson High School and Purdue University (1989, political science). She and her husband Dan have four adult children and five grandchildren. This is their 10th consecutive year with a child attending Purdue University.
How did you become involved with the organization?
My reintroduction to public education came when my first-born entered kindergarten in 1997 and I volunteered as “room mom.” As our other children entered school, my involvement increased with PTO leadership roles and special projects. When my youngest daughter entered preschool I decided to re-enter the work force and found a job listing in the newspaper for part-time director of PSFTC. In January 2023 I’ll begin my 21st year with the organization.
Our top three priorities are to:
• Provide resources that innovate classrooms and engage students in a tangible way.
• Create valuable classroom experiences for both students and teachers.
• Showcase the extraordinary effort and dedication that teachers, administrators and support staff exhibit in schools every day.
What changes do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I hope that during my tenure, rather than operate with a narrow focus, PSFTC will forge new partnerships with businesses and other philanthropic organizations to leverage resources and offer quality educational experiences to all students, and that we will continue to provide teachers with resources that provide varied instruction and materials to engage an audience with vastly different academic, economic and social backgrounds.
Chief Executive Officer
The Arts Federation
Lee has impacted the cultural landscape of Indiana for more than 25 years. She has degrees from the School of the Art Institute, American Academy of Art, Florence Academy of Art, Indiana State University and Texas Tech. She is a classically trained artist and a dedicated advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion.
How did you become involved with the organization?
A member of the search committee reached out to my former boss who encouraged me to apply. After he asked three times, I sent in my resume, and the rest is history.
What are your top three priorities?
• Increase the accessibility of the arts to all people and communities.
• Continue to build The Arts Federation’s reputation as one of the strongest and best arts organizations in the nation.
• Cement the importance and role of the arts in community and economic development.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
Increase the diversity of the arts, artists and communities that are represented and celebrated in our present and future.
President and Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Greater Lafayette
Involved in violence prevention work with domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, Mickler is a versatile, highly adaptable, results-oriented professional with proven nonprofit leadership and management skills. During the summer of 2022, Mickler embarked on an eight-week embodied racial justice cohort for white leaders with fellow YWCA CEOs. She has a B.A. in psychology and a Master of Public Management from Indiana University, Kokomo.
How did you become involved with YWCA?
Like many, I have a connection to YWCA. In Kokomo, I attended YWCA as a child and was a swim instructor during college. When I was appointed as the CEO in August of 2021, it felt like an opportunity to continue to serve a mission that I was passionate about — four simple words that are challenging, but necessary: eliminate racism, empower women. I am honored to serve in this capacity and be entrusted with this community treasure.
What are your top three priorities?
• Develop bold initiatives that will allow us to drive our mission forward.
• Tell our story of one YWCA! We are an umbrella agency, with pillar programs that collectively support our mission and meet the needs of the community.
• Embrace collaboration — we know that the lift to effectively serve our mission will require action from both YWCA Greater Lafayette and the community.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
Amidst a pandemic that has resulted in an increase in domestic violence, exposed inequities in access to health care, emphasized necessity for workforce development, and highlighted need for racial and social justice initiatives, our work is more important now than ever.
We will continue to strengthen collaborative opportunities and solidify YWCA Greater Lafayette as the leader in violence prevention efforts and social and racial justice initiatives.
YWCA Greater Lafayette has provided needed services for 92 years, and we will continue to lead the charge towards equality. Together, we shall continue to add to the legacy of YWCA Greater Lafayette. We will continue to foster empowerment in action through our events, our collaborations and our pillar programs that we extend to each of the communities we serve.
YWCA Greater Lafayette will continue to do our work until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed and until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do. Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mental Health America, Wabash Vally Region
Christiansen is a U.S. Navy Veteran with an associates degree in law enforcement and B.A. in anthropology from the University of Iowa. She is a former semi-pro women’s football player and is the vice chair of the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund and a Certified Suicide Prevention Instructor (QPR Gate Keeper).
How did you become involved with this organization?
I was previously the executive director of Mental Health America-North Central Indiana based in Kokomo when I learned of this open position and was encouraged to apply. I did, and we merged with my old region last January.
What are your top three priorities?
• Staff/volunteer development
• Sustainable funding
• Innovative response to a mental health crisis.
Without the first two priorities, we remain in reactionary mode and the crisis grows.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I hope to offer systemic opportunities for individuals and their families struggling with mental health and addiction who have not been successful in the current mental health care and legal systems to get relief and empowerment so that they do not pass the trauma on to the next generations. I hope to take a tactical approach to youth mental health challenges and normalize early treatment and prevention of mental health and substance use disorders. I hope to challenge stigma in all its forms.
Katy O’Malley Bunder (right) passes the torch to Kier Crites Muller (left)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Food Finders Food Bank
(Note: Bunder announced her retirement as this issue of Greater Lafayette Magazine went to press. Long-time Food Finders staff member Kier Crites Muller was named the new CEO upon Bunder’s retirement.)
Bunder joined Food Finders Food Bank in 2008 as the executive director. Under her direction, Food Finders increased food distribution from 2.5 million pounds to 14 million pounds, expanded the Backpack Program and added the Mobile Pantry Program. In 2014, Food Finders conducted a capital campaign that enabled the food bank to move into two newly renovated buildings. The Food Resource and Education Center teaches life skills and nutrition classes and offers resource coordination for food insecure households. In 2020, in response to increased demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Food Finders opened a grocery store. The Fresh Market, open five days a week, distributes high-quality nutritious food to low-income households and served more than 17,500 individual households in 2020.
Before joining Food Finders, Bunder worked for Purdue University from 1985 until 2008 and founded the nonprofit organization New Chauncey Housing, Inc.
Originally, from Arkansas, Bunder earned her bachelor’s degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She completed her master’s degree at the University of Virginia. Bunder and her husband, Peter, moved to West Lafayette in 1985. They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.
How did you become involved with this organization?
In 2008 Food Finders conducted a search to find a new executive director, and I applied. I had previously founded a nonprofit and wanted to return to nonprofit work.
What are your top three priorities?
• Providing food to those who are food insecure.
• Running programs that help people overcome the root cause of hunger: poverty
• Making sure everyone in our community knows that people around us are hungry and those who can help donate or volunteer.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I am retiring in December 2022 and I have increased food distribution, added programs and moved Food Finders from an industrial park on the edge of Lafayette to the center of the city. It is much easier for those who need help to find it and easier for volunteers to help the food bank.
Tippecanoe County Senior Services
Earnst is the executive director of Tippecanoe Senior Services and has been in this position for three years. Her past work includes being the executive director of a family homeless shelter and program. She also has experience in social work, elementary education and early intervention for young children with special needs. Earnst has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Indiana University. She is originally from Elkhart and has lived in the Greater Lafayette area for 14 years. She is married and has five adult children and one granddaughter.
How did you become involved with this organization?
I became involved in this organization after a colleague suggested that I apply. I enjoy working with the senior population and being able to provide the services and resources they need to live a healthy and happy life.
What are your top three priorities?
• Raise more awareness of our agency
• Raise awareness of the services we provide to seniors
• Strive to continue to bring in the programming and services that will benefit the seniors we serve.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I hope to change the way our society regards the senior population by promoting value, respect and honor within my organization and within our community.
Tippecanoe Senior Services operates Tippecanoe Senior Center, Meals on Wheels Greater Lafayette and SHARP (Senior Home Assistance Repair Program)
Junior Achievement serving Greater Lafayette
A graduate of Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Edwards has a background in supporting local businesses, as well as local and national nonprofits.
She also currently serves as a Greater Lafayette Connector, on the Leadership Lafayette Selection Committee, Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette 100+ Women Who Care Steering Committee and President of the Jefferson High School Golden Broncho Club.
A connector at heart, Edwards’ leadership skills and community involvement has taught her that investing in people, organizations and workplaces helps keep our communities strong and vibrant. It is about empowering people by providing opportunities to grow, change and give back.
How did you become involved with this organization?
My love for education and workforce development come together at Junior Achievement. Serving my community through preparing students to succeed in a global economy is important to me. I truly believe our mission is truly making a difference in Greater Lafayette.
What are your top three priorities?
• Always be learning and growing as an individual
• Serve my community well
• Have fun
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I hope to create a culture where staff feels appreciated and wants to invest in the organization. Additionally, I want to leave a legacy for the organization, that the work being done today will be appreciated in the years to come.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Lafayette Transitional Housing Center
Layton has worked for LTHC Homeless Services, formally Lafayette Transitional Housing Center, for the past 28 years. She began her tenure after graduating from Ball State University with a B.S. in public relations. She started as a case manager at LTHC thinking that the job would be relatively simple — to help homeless families. But what began as a job has turned into a lifelong passion.
For the last 22 years, Layton has been the executive director, now President/CEO, of LTHC. She has overseen significant growth in the ongoing effort to meet the changing needs of the homeless population of our community. During this time, the agency has grown from one program to seven, from serving nine families to helping over 250 families in 2021. Such programs include: Coordinated Entry, Day Resource Center, Night Shelter, Interim Housing, Medical Respite, Permanent Supportive Housing, Rapid Re-Housing and Supportive Services for Veteran Families.
How did you become involved with this organization?
In 1994, when I started my career with this organization, I thought it would be easy for me to connect homeless families to housing options. I was from this area and could help navigate housing solutions. What I learned, very quickly, was there was a lack of affordable housing options for single-parent households. The families who needed help also needed employment, child care, transportation assistance and more. There were many barriers associated that I did not understand.
What are your top three priorities?
• End homelessness for individuals, families and veterans.
• Educate the public about people who are experiencing homelessness and how they need a community response to help.
• Build additional housing units and collaborate with additional partners to ensure housing success.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
I want to be part of the advocacy work across the state of Indiana to provide housing to all Hoosiers who are experiencing homelessness. This is not an issue just in Tippecanoe County. There is much work to be done.
President and Chief Executive Officer
North Central Health Services, Inc. (NCHS)
Long has 20 years of health care administration experience in various leadership roles. Before joining NCHS in 2015, she was the chief executive officer of Indiana University Health White Memorial Hospital. Long has a B.S. in nursing and a master’s in business administration. Long is a fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives.
How did you become involved with the organization?
Long joined the organization in 2015 as the president and CEO. NCHS owns and operates River Bend Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric hospital. NCHS also provides grants for eligible nonprofit organizations in an eight-county region.
What are your top three priorities?
The top three priorities of NCHS are based on the Community Health Needs Assessment, completed for our eight-county region every three years. The 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment identified the following critical health needs as our priorities:
• Mental/behavioral health and adverse childhood experiences
• Substance abuse
• Our community’s overall health and well-being
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
We are fortunate to live in a community where individuals truly care and are willing to work together for the greater good. I hope to remove barriers and support the mental health needs of our community, including access to care, social services and prevention programs for all ages. In addition to providing mental health services at River Bend Hospital, the goal of NCHS is to provide funding partnerships to expand and strengthen nonprofit organizations that improve health outcomes and develop healthy communities.
Leslie Martin Conwell
Tippecanoe County Historical Association (TCHS)
Conwell is an anthropologist and historian who did undergraduate work at Purdue University and graduate work at Indiana University. She has been employed in various capacities with the Tippecanoe County Historical Association for 40 years.
How did you become involved with this organization?
After going to my first Feast of the Hunters’ Moon in 1975, the Feast sparked the development of a strong love for the history and archaeology of Fort Ouiatenon. The historical association hired me originally as a tour guide and gift shop manager while I was in college, and after graduation, they hired me as a museum professional. I was very fortunate to work with people there who recognized my interest and encouraged me all through these years to be the best I could be in the museum field. I’ve had incredible mentors.
What are your top three priorities?
• TCHA is dedicated to collecting, preserving and
sharing Tippecanoe County’s diverse history.
• A major priority is to keep the Feast financially viable, inclusive and relevant, so that it continues to
contribute to the quality of life in the community.
• Ensuring TCHA’s fiscal viability through grants,
community connections and interpersonal relationships.
What change do you hope to effect during your tenure?
My time as executive director has been all about ensuring the historical association’s survival and viability. I came on board in June of 2020 — the height of the COVID pandemic. I worked in tandem with the board, staff, membership, sponsors, granting agencies, donors and volunteers to ensure the survival of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association through the significant challenges posed by the COVID pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of the 2020 Feast of the Hunters’ Moon. TCHA met its mission during the most challenging time the association has ever endured, and we accomplished much toward ensuring the future financial security of TCHA. I will be retiring from the executive director position in the very near future, and it has been an honor to serve TCHA and my community. ★
The pot Conwell is holding was found in the area of the archaeological site of Fort Ouiatenon It is constructed of copper, and is identified by experts as a cooking pot dating from the second quarter of the 18th century (roughly 1725-1750). The construction and style is identified as French.
BY TIM BROCK
FOR BASED IN LAFAYETTE
PHOTOS VIA MASS GIORGINI,
BY NEIL HITZE
This story originally appeared in August 2022 in Based in Lafayette, an independent local reporting project published by Dave Bangert.
Before I moved to Indiana as a 22-year-old, the only things I knew about Lafayette were that it had a delicious Indian restaurant (Bombay, RIP), and some of my favorite records were created at Sonic Iguana Studios, which I envisioned as a magical and almost mythical punk rock Mecca.
Just weeks after moving into a meager apartment at Sixth and Hartford streets, imagine my elation when an old band buddy from Missouri, Matt Bug, called me to see if I wanted to meet Mass Giorgini, the producer extraordinaire behind such anthemic punk releases as Screeching Weasel’s “Wiggle” and Rise Against’s “The Unraveling.” It was an amazing early experience of being a new Hoosier as I geeked out over meeting the bassist of Squirtgun, touring the studios, and eating pizza at a long-since-closed Noble Roman’s with Giorgini, Bug and the Groovie Ghoulies, who were about to start a recording session that weekend.
Twenty-two years later, the Indiana punk rock legend and his young family — wife Leah Giorgini and young children, Giovanni and Aria — moved to Rome in July 2022, where Mass Giorgini will be close to his familial roots and relatives.
It’s bittersweet to live here without Giorgini and the bragging rights of being in a town with a recording studio — that unmistakable red concrete block building on Kossuth Street — where so many punk rock heroes created amazing sounds. Giorgini will be taking his music and studio projects with him to Italy — as well as his affinity for Lafayette.
“It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Giorgini said, “and I shall forever be holding Lafayette in a beautiful spot in my heart.”
Giorgini’s mixing and mastering equipment is already overseas as Sonic Iguana’s audio legacy will continue. Giorgini revealed the existence of new Squirtgun demos, his band that played around the world since 1994.
Before appearing on MTV and the “Mallrats” soundtrack, Giorgini cut his teeth in the 1980s punk act Rattail Grenadier, which he formed with his younger brother Flav Giorgini. He then opened Spud Zero, an all-ages venue that ran from 1987 to 1988. The small club, once located at 1600 Main St. in the Five Points area, lives in the punk history books as one of only 28 venues that hosted Operation Ivy during the influential ska-punk band’s first and only national tour. In the ‘90s, Giorgini transitioned to recording and producing punk rock bands. Before the Kossuth location, Sonic Iguana had a busy stint in the 1990s near Fifth and Main streets.
No matter where in the world he resides, the Lafayette/Giorgini legacy will live on through the nearly 400 records he recorded, mixed and/or mastered, an incredible portfolio that only pales in comparison to Giorgini’s unwavering passion for his hometown of Lafayette.
Question: Why are you moving to Italy?
Mass Giorgini: My hope is that this move will give my children a similar cultural and linguistic experience to the one I had growing up between Lafayette and northern Italy. My own Italian upbringing was primarily in a smaller city — not unlike Lafayette in some ways — but I also spent a significant amount of time in Torino, which is a larger, industrial metropolitan center. Rome is not exactly the same — it’s an entirely unique place — but at least the language is the same, and we will be within driving distance of my parents’ hometowns and can visit with relatives on holidays.
Q: What is the future of Squirtgun?
Mass Giorgini: Squirtgun will pick back up soon enough. We had gotten to the point where our latest lineup was regularly doing a few shows per year in various locations, but the pandemic threw us for a loop and took the wind out of our sails. We have several demos for new songs ready, and our goal is to record some of those properly before planning more live appearances. I may get involved in some local performing among my dear musician friends in Rome, but I don’t plan for it to become a primary element of my time in Italy.
Q: Does this move make for more time to see your brother, Flav?
Mass Giorgini: This move absolutely means I’ll get to spend more time with my baby brother. As he lives in Leicester, England, we will be within a few hours of each other. Even better, flights in Europe are very affordable. It’s pretty common to get round-trip airfare from one country to the other for around a hundred bucks. That’s more like a local Greyhound bus ticket over here.
Q. Now that things have reopened during the last year, what does Lafayette-West Lafayette need to do to get its live music scene stronger?
Mass Giorgini: I truly believe it goes back to the idea that there needs to be a regularly operating all-ages venue. … All major concert venues are all-ages. You don’t hear of an over-21-only show at Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. The simple reason is that the draw is not supposed to be the choice of beverages, but the performance. If a venue exists with music as it’s raison d’être, then the audience will primarily go there for the music. With that focus, people will leave the venue and talk about the bands they saw, the songs they heard, the new sounds and styles they witnessed being created in front of them.
The Lafayette area is actually quite fortunate to have fairly regular shows, often featuring some major underground forces from around the Midwest. Between The Spot (Tavern), the shows put on by Friends of Bob and Mom & Pop Productions and the various venues who less regularly put on shows, it’s been exciting to see that there is still the will to promote and attend shows — despite the pandemic. That said, there is a real need for an all-ages venue. The level of enthusiasm of under-21 audiences is unmatched by even the most diehard groups of adults. Those audiences are the ones who will determine the Nirvanas or Green Days of the future — both of those bands having been born of the scene of playing small DIY shows across the country.
It would be simple to open an all-ages venue — and it could easily be community-funded. Importantly, it would not only serve as a venue to see artists perform, but also as a means to inspire young audiences to generate their own creative output, whether musical or otherwise. From a community perspective, it would also provide a safe environment for younger audiences, rather than having them seek improvised concerts at off-campus parties, often including unsupervised distribution of alcohol.
Q: What are some tips for young musicians wanting to start a band, punk or otherwise?
Mass Giorgini: Your No. 1 motivator should always be your music. It’s easy to get carried away with things like where you are performing, your placement on the bill and who the “headliner” is, how many people attend the shows or how many records or T-shirts you sell. The truth is that ultimately none of that matters. It’s the music you share and its impact on you and your audience that is ultimately the most important part of the entire journey.
Q: What do you tell people from Europe about Lafayette-West Lafayette, music or otherwise?
Mass Giorgini: Believe it or not, Lafayette is brought up to me often by interviewers and music fans the world over. Because so much of the pop punk music scene internationally centered on albums I produced here, there is a belief that Greater Lafayette is a hotbed of pop punk bands, venues and record stores. The truth is that this area is quite varied in its musical interests, and we are no more pop-punk focused a city than most university towns. Despite that, it can’t be denied that Lafayette holds a special place in the history of the development of pop punk, and I am very proud to have been an integral part of that.
Q: If you had to just pick a few, what are your favorite Lafayette memories, musical or not?
Mass Giorgini: I still recall the Lafayette alternative music scene of the ’80s very fondly. From the birth of the Freakshow Bungalow on South Chauncey (Avenue), to the surprise appearance of the Dead Milkmen at a trailer park, to the extraordinary year of shows at Spud Zero, and the heavily attended shows put on at the old Morton School and other venues on the eve of the millennium’s final decade, it was a highly vibrant and creative period in Lafayette music. Those were the halcyon days, the golden age, and bands including the Atomic Clock, the Bored Cops and the Disease were the knights in shining armor who enriched and acculturated the music milieu of this area.
Q: What kind of impact do you think you’ve made in Lafayette since the Rattail years?
Mass Giorgini: I’d like to think that the many shows I set up in the ’80s and ’90s featuring top-quality bands, some of which ended up being influential on the world stage, enriched the local artistic environment. It certainly encouraged the involvement of a much larger youth segment in the arts.
When everything is considered, however, the studio may well be where I have left my biggest mark. A lot of the sound I tried to achieve has now become a de rigueur characteristic of melodic rock music at the level of the major labels, which I find rather ironic. The entire movement was trying to give a voice to the voiceless, a unique sound for a new generation that did not find itself represented in the mainstream. It was at least in part defined by its opposition to the status quo — and hearing it meant listening to the screams of the underground. Yet, now it is the sound of the institution, the establishment, and while the tonalities might tempt your ear, there is less and less certainty that the voice you hear is from like-minded folks of a similar ethical character.
Still, I am proud of my role in the creation of that sound as an artistic movement, and I love even more that when the name “Lafayette” is brought up in discussions of punk music around the world, the first thing mentioned is Sonic Iguana Studios.
Q: You’ve helped represent Lafayette punk rock so well since the ‘80s. What made you want to carry that mantle throughout the decades?
Mass Giorgini: When I say I love punk, I mean that for both the freedom of expression it represents and its focus on civil rights and the ending of oppression. But that’s not all — with the wave that began in the U.S. in the late-‘70s, it also began to emphasize the DIY development of an underground network independent of mainstream media and major label distribution. That meant bands started recording and releasing their own music and selling it directly to fans through mail order, and this was long before the internet. The same happened with the live music circuit — fans began renting VFW halls and community centers and putting on their own shows.
In that context, it simply always felt natural to me to promote the growth of a music scene where I live. In the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” the mantra “Build it and they will come” is repeated several times. I suppose one could argue that that is exactly what I did starting a few years before the film — I opened a venue, and both internationally renowned bands and local fans came to Spud Zero. Sonic Iguana Studios was simply a repetition of that on a grander scale.
★ ★ ★
While we’re here, time for one more story?
In a different timeline, Mass Giorgini moves to California to be Green Day’s recording engineer. He recalled:
Mass Giorgini: In 1995, I co-produced an album with Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. The band was the Riverdales, who had recently formed from the ashes of the recently dissolved (for perhaps the third time) Screeching Weasel. We tracked the music and vocals in Lafayette at Sonic Iguana Studios — the second location, downtown on Fifth Street — and added overdubs and mixed in Berkeley (California) at a studio I helped Billie build. Following that partnership, Billie and Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt (who had worked with me prior when I produced him in another of his bands, and also performed guest vocals on the debut Squirtgun album) proposed that I become the head engineer and studio manager for a recording facility they planned to build. Of course, that would have required me to move to California, and I simply was not emotionally prepared to leave Lafayette and my house. My father had passed away in late ‘94 and abandoning the family home just wasn’t something I was willing to do. So, I turned them down and one of my assistant engineers, who I trained right here in Lafayette, went out and filled the position.
It was partly my deep attachment to this town that kept me from making that major career jump — but I don’t regret it. Lafayette has been very good to me in many ways, especially as far as friendships and staying close to the memories of my parents. Coincidentally, Billie Joe Armstrong has recently gotten in touch with his Italian roots and has purchased a home in Italy. Although there are no specific current plans, I can predict I’ll be meeting up with Green Day in Italy at some point in the near future. As it so happens, when I was in Rome for a few months in 2019, Mike put me in touch with his daughter Estelle, who was in the Eternal City with a student group, and we went to dinner and strolled for hours together for three evenings in a row. It was very nice getting to know her better, as the last time I had seen her she was still in diapers.
Ultimately, it seems that while Green Day were not able to lure me away from Lafayette to Berkeley, Rome has a much stronger pull. As both my parents were from Italy, my first language was Italian, and I spent many years bouncing between the old country and Lafayette, it seems that the right combination of ingredients was finally able to get me to move away. However,
I must emphasize, my intention is for this to be a three-year experience and then return to my beloved Lafayette. I guess in the long run I have been able to have my Rome and Green Day, too.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Nestled near the Wabash River and tucked away from Greater Lafayette’s other industrial complexes, Evonik Industries’ Tippecanoe Laboratories is preparing for the next global pandemic.
During the summer of 2022, Evonik announced it would build a Lipid Innovation Center on the sprawling grounds of its Shadeland plant. The United States government, through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), is contributing up to $150 million toward the estimated $220 million project. BARDA’s goal is to promote the “advanced development of medical countermeasures” to protect Americans and respond to 21st century health security threats – such as COVID-19. Lipids played a crucial role for vaccine production during the pandemic.
“Certainly, the project is a boost to the image of Evonik in the Greater Lafayette community,” says Daniel Fricker, vice president and site manager for Tippecanoe Labs, one of the world’s largest contract manufacturing facilities in the pharmaceutical industry.
Customers big and small
Companies such as Evonik offer pharmaceutical companies comprehensive services ranging from drug development to manufacturing. In Shadeland, Evonik makes drugs for more than 20 industry clients.
“Customers big or small, the well-known pharma names or startups come to us with requests to produce a molecule,” Fricker says. “We have a deep knowledge of producing pharmaceutical products and hold up the standards of good manufacturing practices.”
These skills also will be applied in the innovation center for lipids, products that almost became household names during the COVID-19 pandemic because of their crucial role in delivering novel mRNA vaccines to millions worldwide. Germany-based Evonik provided lipids to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from a facility in its home country.
Greater Lafayette was picked as the site for the new Lipid Innovation Center after a global search process.
“It made the most sense here,” says Yvonne Hurt, a leading project manager for the facility. “Tippecanoe has a strong infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce.”
‘A secret weapon’
Fricker believes the decision went in Greater Lafayette’s favor partially due to the Midwest’s reputation for hard workers.
“The Midwest is a secret weapon,” says Fricker, who previously worked for Evonik in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Louisiana. “This speaks of people, society, and government realizing that the Midwest has the necessary capacities for such a strategic development. You are building on a proven Silicon Valley model.”
Modeled on California’s information technology cluster Silicon Valley, Indiana has become a home to a large, highly specialized and diverse health science industry.
The new facility is expected to add 80 highly paid jobs to the Greater Lafayette community when production begins.
That’s a significant boost to a current workforce of nearly 680 employees – plus an additional 150 contractors that assist with maintenance, logistics, catering and security on site.
The only larger Evonik facility in the U.S. is in Mobile, Alabama.
Groundbreaking is set for 2023, with production expected to begin in 2025.
“It will open up a lot of potential and a lot of growth for the local economy,” Hurt says.
What exactly is a lipid?
In layman’s terms, lipids protect a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA), which was the key ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The mRNA, produced in a lab, carries genetic information to teach our cells to make proteins. Those proteins then trigger an immune response inside the body.
Several different lipids form a lipid nanoparticle that encases the mRNA molecules.
In other words: Lipids are fundamental to producing highly effective mRNA-based vaccines.
“Without those lipids, mRNA wouldn’t work,” Hurt says.
The lipid nanoparticles are too small to be seen with the naked eye or a conventional microscope. “Think of them as tiny bubbles of fat protecting the mRNA so that it can get to where it needs to go,” says Hurt. “Without the lipids, the mRNA would break down in the body and never reach its target area.”
The potential of mRNA-based medicines seems limitless. “We’re working on every imaginable infectious disease,” says Drew Weissman, professor of vaccine research at the University of Pennsylvania. The list includes hepatitis C, HIV and malaria. But mRNA technology also can help treat diseases such as cancer.
Evonik’s lipid center in Tippecanoe County will ensure that there are enough lipids available for these new applications.
“In Tippecanoe, we are not only helping to prepare for future pandemics, but we’re also preparing for the fight against many other diseases,” Hurt says. “Our new facility has the capacity to meet global demand.”
Just three years ago, COVID was a word people couldn’t use in Scrabble. Now, it’s a reminder that a virus can cause worldwide deaths and serious damage to global economies.
Preparing a pipeline for lipids
When there is a next pandemic — and chances are there will be another in our lifetimes — how will Evonik Tippecanoe Laboratories be prepared to produce the lipids for a vaccine?
“We cannot foresee what’s coming, but we are working with a lot of partners, including many different universities, to build a pipeline ahead of time,” says Hurt, who grew up in Granger, Indiana, and graduated from Purdue University — just a couple of miles away from Tippecanoe Labs, on the other side of the Wabash River.
Purdue is an important partner for Evonik. “I’m thrilled with Purdue University, especially with their Alliance for the Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals,” Fricker says. “It exactly meets our needs. I don’t see a better partnership than this one.”
The Lipid Innovation Center is planned with an eye toward flexibility and quick adaptability to future needs.
“We are one of the key factors for the preparedness of the United States in case of a future pandemic by adding our assets, our competencies,” Fricker says. “The facility is also designed for different processes, so we can easily transfer a not-yet-known product into this plant.”
Evonik produced lipids within its Health Care business well before the COVID outbreak.
The inside of two dryers for pharmaceutical powders at the Tippecanoe site.
Right, top: An operations employee connects the fill spout to a tote bag for packaging. The process is contained to ensure that employees are shielded from potent pharmaceutical compounds.
Right, bottom: Evonik employee inspects the operation of a centrifuge isolating a pharmaceutical product at the Tippecanoe Laboratories.
“We have been working on mRNA and lipid technology for many years,” Fricker says. That capability was crucial for the quick reaction to the COVID outbreak and the strategic partnership with the German biotechnology company BioNTech.
“Using our ‘A’ team of engineers, we set up the lipid production in Germany in only eight weeks – months earlier than originally planned.”
The project’s name, “Speed of Light,” stated its mission to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in record time. Evonik played a pivotal role in that effort.
This success helped convince the United States government to make a significant investment with Evonik. The $150 million buys the U.S. a 10-year period of priority access to lipids in case of another pandemic.
History of innovation
The history of the Tippecanoe Labs facility goes back to 1953 when the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company completed its construction. Evonik, one of the largest specialty chemicals producers in the world, purchased the plant in 2010.
Brett Giltmier, an engineer and senior manufacturing manager at Tippecanoe, has been on site for 19 years. He witnessed its transformation from a facility serving only one company (Eli Lilly) to one that now collaborates with more than 20 customers – producing highly potent medicines for chemotherapy, for example.
“I’ve been here long enough to appreciate this trajectory. It’s wonderful to see a place with our history of innovation taking the next step into the future,” says Giltmier, who pointed to the innovation buzz in the Greater Lafayette community created by Purdue’s Discovery Park District, the massive mixed-use multidisciplinary research and business park. “We fit in very well with that as we have been doing similar things for a long time.”
Tippecanoe Labs, therefore, has deep community roots.
“The community involvement and support from our employees is our bedrock,” Giltmier says.
With an annual budget of $75,000 for community outreach, Evonik aims to make an impact on the Greater Lafayette community. Evonik’s focus for these funds is education, social services and youth activities.
Among the programs it funds are Partners in Education, Drug Abuse Resistance
Education (D.A.R.E.), and the Wizard Science Program. Evonik employees also take part in United Way, Greater Lafayette Honor Flight, Junior Achievement, food drives, Taste of Tippecanoe, Clothe-A-Child and blood drives.
“We want to extend the partnership with the community,” Fricker says.
Next for Tippecanoe Labs
The groundbreaking for the Lipid Innovation Center will take place in late March. But executives are already looking at what might be next for Tippecanoe Labs.
“The master plan always foresees an expansion,” Fricker says. These decisions depend on market opportunities, scientific advances and smart business decisions, of course. The announcement of the new Lipid Innovation Center that made global headlines last summer is a case in point.
“A few years ago, nobody was thinking about a pandemic, and I don’t think a whole lot of people knew what messenger RNA was. But Evonik and a few other companies were already working on this – otherwise, the COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t have been created so fast.” ★
BY KATHY MATTER
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
John Hughey could sense a hint of nervousness in his interviewer’s voice as the conversation took an unexpected turn away from the Long Center for the Performing Arts – where Hughey was seeking the position of executive director — to another performing space a block away called the Lafayette Theater.
It was 2019 and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski wanted the city to buy the deteriorating theater space. It would also be run by the person chosen for the executive director’s job.
“Would you still be interested?” he remembers being asked.
Would he? Feeling an adrenalin rush of enthusiasm, Hughey immediately responded in the positive. “I think I’m more interested. Not less.”
Running the Long Center with attention-grabbing national acts such as country artist Scottie McCreary and Master Chef Junior Live, overseeing a five-year renovation at the Lafayette Theater while booking small local shows there, and having sellouts at the first two shows at Loeb Stadium, Hughey seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Before Hughey, who was a resident of Fort Wayne and involved with the leadership of the Embassy Theater there when he was hired, the executive directors of the Long Center had all come from Tippecanoe County. But the job, which expanded to the Lafayette Theater in 2019 and to Loeb Stadium in 2022, was tailor-made for Hughey’s skill set.
“I’m not a performer but I’ve always been involved in live theater,” he recalls. The “seeds” of interest in booking and managing shows were planted during his high school days when he booked a Canadian acrobatic troupe and later an illusionist for benefit performances at Indiana Academy in Cicero. Dealing with agents led to handling hospitality, recruiting ushers and all the things the shows required.
There was no magic leap to theater management, however. Hughey majored in journalism at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which led him to newspaper jobs in Bedford and Bloomington, Indiana. Going for a master’s in journalism at Indiana University (with a concentration in arts administration), he started freelancing for the Indianapolis Star. He was covering the creation of the Palladium Theater in Carmel when the employment bubble burst at the Star and he got caught up in newsroom staff reductions.
It was then the magic happened.
His dealings with the Palladium management led to Hughey being hired as an arts marketer for Carmel’s grand new performance hall.
“The Palladium gave me a chance to thrive. I never thought I’d be on the same stage as Willy Nelson and Yo Yo Ma.” But he was. And he made things happen. When Yo Yo Ma expressed an interest in recording a digital single on the spot in the hall’s perfect acoustics, Hughey happily facilitated it.
His next stop as a marketer was the older and larger Embassy in Fort Wayne, where his charge was to up the already healthy show sales. And he did. The itch to take the next step – executive director — and oversee everything, including the always challenging job of fundraising, led him to the Long Center position.
With the pandemic on his tail as he moved to Lafayette, Hughey says, “I was so impressed with how we managed that.” One inventive use of the Long Center was to hold jury selection there because it offered the space for potential jurors to be socially distant and a stage for interviews.
“Giving back the quality that Mayor Roswarski wants to build here,” is Hughey’s mandate. “We want people to get excited about new ventures.” Everything, including the weather, went perfectly for the new concert ventures at Loeb Stadium in 2022. “My takeaway is how many complaints I get after a show. There were zero formal complaints, which I took as a compliment that people really enjoyed the shows.
“And we pulled in 1,000 people who had never bought a ticket from us before.”
The key to making the Long Center financially stable is a mix of three things: the 12 shows that Hughey recommends for the Long Center Presents series; rental clients; and resident performing groups such as the Lafayette Symphony. “We’ve done really well with comedy shows with Netflix driving that (popularity of individual comedians),” he says. The stage will likely see more country music shows in the future as well.
Local musicians who had used the Lafayette Theater stage in the past were worried about being homeless with Hughey’s arrival. It turned out to be a false worry. When Mayor Roswarski came up with money for badly needed new entrance doors for the Lafayette Theater, Hughey created the “New Doors Series” offering six performances in the fall, and again in the spring, where local musicians – think Sheeza, Graciously Departed, The Distance — and standup comedians are paid to put on a show.
“There is no list of people who can or can’t play in our facilities,” Hughey emphasizes.
Updating the Long Center’s main floor concession space and adding a new one on the balcony level are on his immediate to do list.
Overall, Hughey wants all the performance elements to work together to make memories. “The experience of bringing family and friends together for a show is transformational,” he says. “The memories you’re making can last a lifetime. That’s the business we’re really in – making memories!” ★
BY KAT BRAZ
Students who previously thought college might not be an option for them can now envision a future employed in the manufacturing industry while simultaneously pursuing a degree, thanks to a new program launched in fall 2022 by Greater Lafayette Commerce.
Supported by two grants from the Indiana Department of Education, Career+ aims to place more graduating high schoolers in locally available in-demand, high-wage jobs with full-funded post-secondary education. The initial grant specifically focused on manufacturing pathways. Several industry partners, including Cook Biotech, Evonik, Kirby Risk, Oscar Winski, Primient, Radian Research, Rea Magnet Wire Company, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Terra Drive Systems, Wabash National and WWS, have joined the Career+ ecosystem.
“Career+ serves the schools in our economic development region by training K-12 students in the 18 employability skills identified by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development as the key workplace skills for all jobseekers regardless of experience or occupation,” says Kara Webb, workforce development director at Greater Lafayette Commerce. “It also helps the manufacturers in our region find local talent for their workforce.”
Of the regions 1,800 high school graduates in 2023, only 900 students will be heading to college. Only 600 of those 900 who start college will complete their degrees. That means there are 1,200 potential candidates for manufacturing pathways. With hundreds of available jobs across manufacturing — the largest sector in the region — industry partners are eager to establish a pipeline of local talent.
“We need workforce,” Webb says. “And we’re not seeing it coming from anywhere else, so we need to grow our own workforce. That is what Career+ is designed to do.”
Career+ students who start working in manufacturing roles straight out of high school will have an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education at no cost to them because the grant also funds tuition assistance and reimbursement for all participating employers. The manufacturing pathways provide a career ladder for employees as they complete education while working at the company.
Greater Lafayette Commerce contracted Skyepack, a West Lafayette-based company that specializes in developing custom course content, to create digital modules that cover the 18 employability skills and 140 related competencies. There are video interviews with people who have careers in manufacturing and virtual tours of manufacturing facilities. As students complete modules, they are awarded badges that can collectively build a pathway within the program.
“The badges are verification that the student can show their potential employer they have demonstrated these skills in a classroom setting,” says Eric Davis, CEO of Skyepack. “The different pathways align with the skills employers are looking for in specific entry level jobs. So if a student wants to become a CNC operator or an assembler, there is a specific pathway that relates to each position.”
The online curriculum is complemented by activities and lesson plans that participating teachers facilitate in class. Currently, the program has been adopted by eight schools across the nine-county region. Career advisors and connect coaches within each school manage implementation of the program.
Additionally, two microcredentials have been developed as part of the work readiness program. Workplace Communication trains students in workplace communication skills such as working effectively in groups and giving and receiving feedback. Student Success, designed primarily for eighth graders, helps students build their four-year high school plan and think beyond graduation. Students and parents gain a better understanding of graduation requirements, the Core 40 diploma and dual credit opportunities.
The microcredentials are designed to be embedded into teachers’ current curricula. Program developers are also collaborating with Ivy Tech to align with the community college’s course offerings so students could earn college credits upon completion of their certificate programs.
“Earning a bachelor’s degree straight out of high school is not accessible for a lot of students,” Davis says. “There’s a new movement in education, tearing the paper ceiling, which is all about finding alternative routes to gateway opportunities outside of earning a bachelor’s degree. A large portion of students need better access to career opportunities. This program is designed to put students on a career pathway and connect them to an ecosystem of opportunities.”
Greater Lafayette Commerce continues to recruit more industry partners and schools to participate in manufacturing pathways. Next up, it plans to work with Skyepack to develop curricula for healthcare pathways.
“The whole goal of these pathways is to help students see that there are plenty of opportunities for successful careers in good paying jobs here in our region and they can still pursue post-secondary education, too,” Webb says. “We’re excited to expand to more schools in the counties that we serve and continue to grow our talent pipeline efforts in this community.” ★
BY KATHY MATTER
PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Who or what do the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette and the Boy Scouts of America have in common?
The answer to this puzzler lies in the upbeat personality of Chris McCauley, recently hired in a regional search for the executive director’s position at the Art Museum.
McCauley fits the scout motto of “Be Prepared,” which means one is always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do one’s duty. And after eight years of “doing his duty” on the organizational level of the Boy Scouts of America, most recently as the district director for the Algonquin and Pioneer Trails Districts of LaSalle Council of BSA, he brings a polished skill set to a different venue in 2022 – the arts.
If you’re having a hard time imagining the connection between starting campfires and preserving, growing and exhibiting consequential art works, it helps to know that McCauley’s not-so-secret passion lies in creating art.
“I love oil painting,” he professes, but that’s not the only art form that captures his attention. There’s woodworking that he learned from his grandfather and dad, photography, mixed media and visual design as well as poetry, songwriting and screenplays. Oh, and he did teach a class in basket weaving to the scouts.
Raised in the tiny farming community of West Branch, Michigan, almost three hours north of Detroit, McCauley had little access to art outside of books, which he devoured. His family’s values were high on social justice, and thinking outside the box was encouraged — two things that shaped his career path in the long run.
“It was an eclectic path,” he says. “As a kid I loved Frank Lloyd Wright and kept drawing terrible A-frame houses with a river underneath. I thought, ‘This is not it’.” Community college classes opened his eyes to a variety of art forms and at Ferris State University he ended up majoring in graphic design and marketing. One particular professor introduced him to art history and the impact of modern artists. “I just ate it up,” he recalls.
As he thought about careers, “I really wanted to make an impact, more than just myself.” Life took him first to Maurer Publishing where he put his degree skills to work. That desire to make an impact led him to join Kiwanis, the Lions and other community focused organizations. It led him to scouting as well.
He worked at leadership levels in the scouts for eight years, and his main duties included membership growth, volunteer engagement and recruitment, fundraising and community engagement. McCauley’s duties extended to advanced project management, leading teams of volunteers in developing and implementing plans for growth. He was also in charge of multiple special events or campaigns throughout his years there.
Just as he was getting the itch to move in a new direction, he saw the job posting for the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. What McCauley discovered during the interview process was a museum that was financially sound, had an impressive collection, an active board; a museum that had benefited greatly from informed leadership provided by Kendall Smith, Mona Berg and others. But everyone saw a need for younger leadership going forward.
“There was no one in the wings. They needed to bring in people to curate the next generation, to hand down the knowledge, passion and love for the museum,” he says.
“Providing that next generation of commitment is a huge piece of what I want to do.”
Although he and his wife, Kate, have been here less than six months, McCauley says, “Lafayette has a collective consciousness that makes it a wonderful place to be. We found a niche here right away.”
Reaching out and making connections throughout the community tops his to-do list. Beyond that he’d like to see the museum “bustling with activity” by expanding class offerings – ones with appeal to a younger generation such as tattoo design, digital animation, henna, set design – along with a new look at workshops and artist talks. And at the same time, he’d like to take art outside the museum walls. “I want the community to have touch points with art, make installations out and about in the community.
For the first time in 2022, the Art Museum served as coordinator for a favorite community festival, Art on the Wabash. McCauley feels it imperative to build on that and find more ways for the museum to give back to the community and enhance the quality of life in Greater Lafayette.
Making sure the museum continues to be a place where diverse voices can be heard and celebrated is also important to him. “I want to drown out any voices that say, ‘We don’t want you here’.”
Former director Kendall Smith gave birth to the idea of building an expanded museum campus on the banks of the Wabash River in West Lafayette. That goal will move to the back burner for a couple years while McCauley enthusiastically builds support.
“I want there to be a community outcry for a new museum,” he says. “That’s a really big moment for the community, and we’ll be ready when the time is right.” ★
BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV AND PROVIDED
Seems that more and more people are embracing what Petula Clark sang about for years. Downtown is the place to be.
While downtown Lafayette has seen a dramatic increase in shopping and dining options in the last few years, the number of housing units has also expanded with almost explosive growth occurring in the last five years.
Much of that growth has been in apartments and condominiums for rent, catering to young professionals, grad students and even retirees who have downsized and enjoy the vibrant restaurant and entertainment venues.
“Unique architecture and living spaces are a major draw with the kind of style and interiors you won’t find anywhere else,” says Dennis Carson, director of economic development for the City of Lafayette, emphasizing the historic nature of the area. “Other factors are downtown’s ‘urban feel but small town real.’ Downtown is a true urban center with the character of larger cities, but with that intimate feeling of a small town with friendly, inviting spaces, places and people that is walkable.”
In addition to unique housing options, Carson cites downtown’s amenities — such as restaurants, specialty grocers, boutiques, recreation and entertainment venues, and Indiana’s oldest farmers market — as the reason lots of people look to the area as a place to live.
More than 400 living units have been added since 2020, with more permits already issued for future projects, says Ryan O’Gara, director of the Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission. Most of that growth was in new construction, but the housing boom really started in the 1990s with the renovation of existing buildings.
As entrepreneurs began investing in downtown retail and dining establishments, the upper floors of many historic buildings still sat vacant, Carson says. Building owners gradually began renovating those spaces for rentals or for personal use.
“Over the years there were programs and assistance to renovate buildings and adapt upper floors as housing that helped build interest and momentum,” he says. “Over time, these upper floors of individual buildings, particularly on Main Street, became sought-after housing, and demand increased. So much so that larger infill opportunities started to be promoted and gain attention.”
Renaissance Place, a mixed-use project featuring office and retail space plus condominiums in the 200 block of Main Street, was one of the first such infill projects. That was followed by MARQ, also a mixed-use development located next to Riehle Plaza, bringing 99 modern apartments to the area in 2018.
And the growth has continued unabated. Here’s a look at some of the newest housing projects in downtown Lafayette:
530 Main St.
Eleven apartments, one short-term rental unit
Owners Chadd and Angela Gibson, who own and operate Gibson Painting Group, Inc., are lifelong residents who live in Rossville but frequently come to Lafayette, says Chadd Gibson. For three years the couple looked for a downtown apartment or condo to purchase where they could establish a second home. When they found two historic buildings that were adjacent but separated by a wall, their dream turned into an investment.
“These buildings hold a really nice historical presence downtown and we were determined to hold that historical presence, while creating modern living spaces,” Gibson says. The couple worked with Lafayette’s Historic Preservation Commission to retain and restore the original façade of the 1868 Italianate buildings, and added many modern amenities in the three-story structure.
The buildings were linked and studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments were created that incorporate soaring 22-foot ceilings, large windows and original, exposed brick walls. New heating and plumbing, granite countertops and stainless appliances modernized the spaces, and an elevator was added allowing residents access to a roof-top patio. Sleeping lofts provide a creative solution for space in the smaller apartments. All the units were leased within 45 days of the building’s grand opening in July 2022.
The first floor features a separate, two-bedroom Airbnb available for daily or weekly rental.
The Gibsons received the Kurt Wahl Award for Historic Preservation in October at the Greater Lafayette Commerce Annual Celebration for their work on the building.
“Downtown has been revamped,” says Gibson. “There are nice bars, great restaurants, and shops. It has a big city feel but in a small town. It’s close to Purdue and is a really great place to be. I think it will only become better.”
200 S. Fourth St.
A modern, five-story building with 76 units
In the works for about five years before opening in August of 2021, this complex is part of a movement to bring more upscale living to the southern portion of downtown Lafayette. The simple, angular shape of the building features lots of large windows and great views of the surrounding area, says the project’s main investor, Ric Li, who developed the property along with Jackson Dearborn Partners of Chicago.
“I had a vision of building apartments that were a little bigger and better quality than what was widely available,” says Li, who graduated from Purdue and lived in housing where he could “hear through the walls.”
Although Fourth Street was home to several warehouses and empty lots, Li saw potential in building apartments that would appeal to young professionals and graduate and doctoral students
who wanted a modern, quiet place to live that was within walking distance of campus.
The COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for a nationally recognized fitness center to occupy the second floor, so four living units with floor-to-ceiling glass and beautiful light were added, Li says. The fifth floor apartments have high ceilings and the third floor units feature bedrooms with big windows and a view of the Wabash River and the Purdue campus. Each unit, ranging from studios to three-bedroom/two baths, is unique with stainless appliances and luxury finishes. The complex has been fully occupied since opening.
“I thought my resources could make a difference locally and I received a lot of support from the city,” Li says. “City officials and the mayor were a pleasure to work with.”
Li named the complex with his family’s business in Taiwan in mind. The name of the family business means virtue or integrity and translates to nova or light in English. His grandfather, who passed away 10 years prior on the day Nova Tower was completed, started the family business and Li honored him with the name.
500 South St.
Five floors containing 76 units, 13 floor plans
Opening in the fall of 2020, Pullman Station became one of the first completely new apartment complexes in the heart of downtown, says Rachel Shook with Shook Property Management Group.
The red and gray brick building features on-site parking and a host of amenities that appeal to retirees, graduate students and young professionals. Extra sound-proofing makes for quiet living, even in the middle of busy, historic Lafayette, she says.
The one- and two-bedroom apartments have such features as glass-walled showers, stainless appliances, granite countertops and extra closet space. The building has security, package delivery lockers and elevator access to all floors. The complex has been fully occupied since opening, says Shook.
615 Main St.
Scheduled to open summer 2023, 98 units
Still under construction, the newest addition to the downtown housing scene is named after the Luna Theater, which stood on the site until it was demolished in the 1960s. The site was a parking lot for years and the only open space on Main Street, says Luna Flats principal and local attorney, Andy Gutwein.
“Downtown is our favorite area for dinner and we’ve seen it get better and better with some real vibrancy,” says Gutwein. “I have other investments downtown and wanted to add to that vibrancy. It’s a place that’s walkable and has a variety of cultures and people you can interact with.”
Designed with 10,000-square-feet of retail space on the ground floor, Luna Flats’ upper floors will have studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments with washers and dryers, hardwood floors and modern finishes. Residents will enjoy a rooftop green space and a large patio with a grilling area and a pet park so they won’t have to take their furry companions out on the street in the cold or at night, Gutwein says.
The lobby will be large and reminiscent of a luxury hotel lobby, while other amenities will include a fitness room, bike storage and underground parking. The brick building’s façade was designed in consultation with historical experts in an effort to make it fit in with downtown’s more than century-old structures.
“We put a lot of effort into the architecture and had great input from the Historic Preservation Commission,” Gutwein says. “It will be a great addition to downtown.”
Other downtown apartment complexes built in the last decade include:
►The Ellsworth – 475 South St.
The building opened in the summer of 2022 and features studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Special amenities include a pet play area and washing station, bike storage and a rooftop terrace and courtyard. The complex is fully occupied.
►Brownstone Development Condominium – 201 S. Fourth St.
All five 2-bedroom units in this three-story brick building are leased. The condominiums opened in 2021 and have west-facing balconies on the top floor.
►Regency Springs – 103 S. Fourth St.
This four-story building has 64 one- and two-bedroom units, some of them furnished, and the complex also has a fitness center, clubhouse and garage parking. Opening in 2015, it was the first new apartment complex on the south side of downtown Lafayette in the last 10 years.
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Lafayette’s annual Christmas Parade was held on Saturday, December 3, in downtown Lafayette. More than 100 groups participated in the parade, including schools, businesses, service organizations and community leaders. The parade made its way down Main Street from 11th to Second Street, and the route was packed with festive parade goers dressed for the holiday celebration and the cold December temperatures. The parade’s big names —
Santa and Mrs. Claus — welcomed the crowds and spread holiday cheer as they kicked off the unofficial start to the holiday season.
BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Before the start of every NFL game, the stadium’s grounds crew uses a Clegg Impact Tester to determine the hardness of the field and to ensure the playing surface is safe for athletes. Developed in the 1970s in Australia by Baden Clegg, a geomechanical engineer and a lecturer at the University of Western Australia, the instrument contains an accelerometer, or hammer, that is dropped from a predetermined height to measure how quickly weight stops upon impact.
NFL rules dictate the reading must produce a score under 100 before a game can be played. The higher the number, the harder the playing surface and the higher the risk for a player to suffer a concussion if his head hits the ground. And every Clegg Impact Tester used by the NFL is manufactured by Lafayette Instrument Company, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
“People drive by the building and see the word ‘instrument’ and they think we make musical instruments,” says Brian Brown, sales manager for Lafayette Instrument. “We actually make and sell scientific instruments in more than 100 different countries, working with corporate clients such as the NFL, American Airlines and FedEx.”
In addition to being the sole distributer of the Clegg, Lafayette Instrument is the world’s leading manufacturer of Polygraph instrumentation and equipment and offers innovative technologies to support neuroscience research and instruments for human evaluation used in education, temporary staffing, human resources, occupational medicine, rehabilitation and other professions.
“For the past 75 years, we’ve been able to reinvent ourselves to meet customers’ needs,” says Jennifer Rider, president and CEO of Lafayette Instrument. “What started as a partnership with Purdue University expanded to partnerships with numerous universities, government agencies and other organizations around the world. Our product line and massive reach sets us apart from other businesses in the area, and even in the state.”
Lafayette Instrument was founded by Purdue electrical engineering graduate Max Wastl in 1947. What began as a small operation in a shed with one employee has grown into an international leader in scientific instrumentation manufacturing with the Lafayette-based headquarters and primary manufacturing facility that employs 48 people, and a second location, Camden Instruments, acquired in 1998 and located about one hour northeast of Birmingham, England, that employs around 20.
“Our Camden Instruments subsidiary focuses on neuroscience products exclusively,” Rider says. “They do some machining and a lot of their own assembly. They have their own engineering and tech teams, much like Lafayette, just on a smaller scale.”
Rider’s father-in-law, Roger McClellan, bought the company with two partners and restructured it in the 1990s with a focus on vertical integration, a business model that became critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lafayette Instrument has the capability to not only conceive product ideas and iterate on them but also build them out in full-scale production within our own facility,” Rider says. “Over the past 10 to 20 years, vertical integration isn’t quite as critical as it used to be. We have many options available to us, using providers around the state and sourcing equipment internationally. We still do as much as we can in-house because it saves money and it certainly saves us time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when other companies were waiting on vendors and suppliers, we were able to fulfill orders.”
The orders Lafayette Instrument fills range from simple instruments such as a pegboard used to test fingertip dexterity and gross movement of the hand in an ergonomics lab or basic calipers used for physical ability testing, to sophisticated computerized instruments used in health care, law enforcement and research facilities that can communicate instantaneous results digitally.
The Polygraph is one such instrument that Lafayette Instrument continues to innovate. The paper readouts depicted in the movies have been replaced with a computerized system that connects to a digital interface.
“The need for credibility assessment solutions has remained steady and increased,” Rider says. “The organizations that use Polygraph know it’s the best tool and technology available today, outside of basic interview and interrogation techniques, to try to determine if a person is being deceptive. But it doesn’t mean it is the exclusive technology that will always be used forever.
“There are academic endeavors, institutional endeavors and our own research and development to find ways to make it better. But the need for products like these aren’t going away. Whether it’s cybercrimes or terrorism or criminal investigations, the data acquired through these types of instruments is incredibly valuable.”
Customers approach the company with ideas for specific instruments they need. Occasionally those will be large-scale custom manufacturing orders, but most often they are tools that Lafayette Instrument can bring to market.
“We’re very ingrained in the industries we serve,” Brown says. “People recognize the Lafayette Instrument name and come to us for solutions. The confidence our customers have in our company to be on the leading edge of innovation and provide instrumentation that is going to benefit them is what keeps me excited.”
As Lafayette Instrument looks to its next 75 years, capitalizing on the strength of its employees — many are long-tenured like Brown — and its drive for ingenuity will propel its growth for years to come.
“To reach 100-year-plus milestones, you can’t be afraid of change and disruption,” Rider says. “We don’t want to be complacent and think we’ll have another 75 years of success doing exactly what we’ve been doing. We have to understand the value that we bring to the market and to our customers and build on that. We have to know ourselves. When you stray too far from your core strengths, that’s when a company starts to falter.”
Whether it’s working with governmental agencies, neuroscience researchers and industry, health care practitioners or the NFL, Lafayette Instrument offers solutions that advance safety, security, science and medicine.
“Every product that goes out our doors is helping someone or protecting someone,” Rider says. “There’s a lot of purpose in that work that gives meaning to what you’re doing. It’s easy to be fulfilled by that.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
Medical history has had its moments of accidental discovery that led to life-saving drugs and procedures.
A stack of uncleaned petri dishes eventually allowed Alexander Fleming to produce penicillin. Experiments with cathode ray tubes, gas and electricity would lead to the X-ray.
A slip of a catheter during a routine imaging test sent dye into a patient’s nearby coronary artery, producing the first coronary angiogram.
For Purdue University researcher Dr. Philip Low, the invention of an imaging drug that will help surgeons identify cancer cells began innocently 35 years ago from simple plant cells.
The drug, Cytalux, was approved in November 2021 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Marketed by West Lafayette-based On Target Laboratories, Inc., the drug uses fluorescent technology to identify cancerous lesions and cells.
“Plant cells took up the vitamin biotin and would gobble up anything biotin was attached to, so we could attach biotin on any number of different molecules and fool the cells into gobbling them up,” says Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the Purdue University College of Science.
“So after we accidentally discovered this as a mechanism to deliver anything we wanted into plant cells, I asked the question whether something similar might be possible in human cells.”
Performing a similar study with folic acid, a vitamin you can find listed on the side of a Wheaties cereal box, Low learned that only cancer cells took up folic acid and folate-linked molecules.
“We immediately saw the obvious benefits of that; we could deliver drugs selectively to cancer cells simply by attaching them to folic acid,” Low says.
“That selectivity would avoid the collateral toxicity that always occurs when good drugs go into healthy cells. … The healthy cells ignore the folate-targeted drugs.”
Low admits to many high and low moments over the 35-year process. The highs included the moment he discovered that folate linked to a bright fluorescent dye would ignore healthy human cells in a dish while causing all cancer cells in the dish to glow.
A low point came during a study of live animals that had cancer. The drug was found to be absorbed not solely by cancer cells but kidney cells also.
“Then we found the kidney cells actually weren’t damaged by the drugs,” Low says. “They didn’t retain the folate-linked drugs very long. After the kidney cells captured them from the urine, they transferred them back into the blood stream.”
A number of drugs were then tested on humans, and the results were encouraging.
“We find that within an hour after injecting the Cytalux … the tumor-targeted fluorescent molecule helps the surgeon find a lot of hidden malignant lesions, nodules, and tumor masses that would have otherwise gone undetected because they glow very brightly. The surgeon opens the patient up, turns on the fluorescent lamp, finds the brightly glowing cancer tissue and cuts it out.”
Cytalux was demonstrated on ovarian cancers first. A recent demonstration on lung cancer patients was eye-opening. In 57 percent of the lung cancer patients, extra disease was found that would have been missed otherwise.
“That’s extraordinary,” Low says. “That tells you first of all that the surgery without this new tool is not highly accurate. It also tells you that with this new ability to see malignant nodules the chances of removing all the cancer and creating a cure are greatly increased.”
The next step is to test Cytalux in other cancers and obtain broad FDA approval to use it in all cancers.
Those of us who have sat through lengthy prime-time commercials for prescription drugs for such ailments as asthma, type 2 diabetes and overactive bladder have wondered about the expense, not only of the time on network TV but for developing the drug itself.
Low says the average cost of bringing a new drug through clinical trials from discovery to the hospital is about $2 billion. Not to mention the years-long process to gain FDA approval.
In comparison, Cytalux was done “on the cheap,” Low says. Venture capitalists put up more than $100 million to run Low’s studies, beginning with the elaborate studies on animals, through the human clinical trials.
“These are FDA-overseen clinical trials,” Low says. “They are very carefully monitored. You have to record every ‘hiccup’ of a patient, so you follow them like a ‘helicopter mom.’ ”
In all, approximately 232,000 documents were turned into the FDA to obtain regulatory approval for Cytalux. Listed in those documents were everything that happened in manufacturing, the stability of Cytalux, toxicity in the animals, all the therapeutic data in humans, the benefit to the patient, the percentage of the patients in which surgeons found extra cancer and detailed description of how the drug would be shipped.
“You can’t just go down to the post office and send a package to each hospital,” Low says.
The work really began once Cytalux was approved by the FDA: Hiring a company to do the manufacturing, followed by hiring a sales staff to visit surgeons across the United States, Europe and the Far East.
A few months later, Low received approval from the FDA for a drug that targets prostate cancer. One form of that drug also can be used for fluorescence-guided surgery of prostate cancer.
“But more importantly, we also made a radioactive version that is targeted specifically to prostate cancer cells,” Low says. “This was given ‘breakthrough status’ by the FDA on March 23 … because it successfully treats drug-resistant prostate cancer.”
Almost one-third of patients who have the metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer respond to Low’s drug, whereas only 2 percent of the same patient population respond to other available therapies.
Switzerland-based Novartis saw such promise in the prostate cancer treatment that it bought the company Low founded, Endocyte, for $2.1 billion just to obtain the drug.
“They expect it to be a blockbuster drug,” he says. “It significantly exceeds the capability or performance of any other prostate drug.”
It’s been quite a career for the son of a Purdue faculty member. Low caught the science bug while taking chemistry courses from Jim Guy at West Lafayette High School. It wasn’t all work and no play for Low, who played basketball for Hall of Fame coach Bill Berberian.
Seeking to be a chemistry major, Low ventured west to Brigham Young University for his bachelor’s degree. He earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of California-San Diego.
Originally not planning to be medically focused, Low’s life changed when he happened upon “this crazy discovery that plant cells would eat up biotin along with anything attached to it, that I got the idea to look for something similar in animals. It just turned out fortuitously that folate went specifically into cancer cells.”
Even though he is 10 years past many people’s retirement age, the 75-year-old says it’s been too difficult to retire.
“I’m just grateful to be part of the process,” Low says. “It’s very rewarding. I enjoy what I’m doing.”★
BY KATHY MATTER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
In bright pink script neon, high on the wall of Mary Lou Donuts’ new eastside Lafayette flagship store, four words say it all:
Eat more hole foods
In the friendly but competitive world of donut baking in Greater Lafayette everyone — from Cassidy Kitchel, who makes gluten-free and vegan donuts at Rose Market in downtown Lafayette to Debbie and Tom Corlew, who quietly run the area’s second oldest, and very traditional, donut shop on Veterans Memorial Parkway — agrees on that adage.
While donuts of varying types, and freshness, can be found in pretty much every gas station, convenience store and food market plus national donut chains, area pastry lovers loyally seek out and abundantly support the Corlew Donut Company, Hammer Donuts, Mary Lou Donuts and Rose Market in Lafayette and The Homestead in West Lafayette.
Chances are good there’s at least one name on this list you’ve never heard of, so let’s meet these folks. And when you’re done reading this, put these stops on your morning calendar. Nothing tastes better than donuts and cider in the fall!
Stop 1: Corlew Donut Company
Make this stop one because while you’re on the southside you can also pick up cider at locally owned Wea Creek Orchard, 5618 S. 200 East.
Tom Corlew, the shy baking genius behind the donuts here, prefers for his wife, Debbie, to do the talking. You might be shy too if you spent every night, six nights a week from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. by yourself making donuts.
“He’s 65 and started baking as a teenager. It’s all he’s ever done,” Debbie says. Originally, he worked for Payless in Anderson as a baker, then was asked to move to Lafayette to manage baking production at Payless stores here. “It’s a lot of hard work. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. Donut baking is a skill,” she says.
In 1999 Tom and Debbie decided to open their own southside Lafayette bakery. They’ve never advertised, but word of mouth brings in a steady stream of people. “Our donuts speak for themselves,” says Debbie. “The southside is booming and our business just keeps getting bigger.
“Our donuts are fresh every day. We don’t sell day-old donuts and we never freeze them. You can’t freeze donuts and make them taste good.”
Every night anywhere from 70 to 140 dozen donuts and pastries roll out of Tom’s kitchen. Weekends draw the most customers through the doors of this true mom and pop operation. Debbie, Tom and son Thomas do it all. After most of the donuts are baked, Debbie comes in at 3:30 a.m. to fill and ice them. Thomas makes the icing and glazes the super light yeast rings.
Besides the quintessential glazed yeast ring, best sellers at Corlew include tiger tails, long johns, apple fritters and jelly Bismarcks. With their mandate to bake fresh daily, “we can’t have all those weird, different donuts that we’d just have to throw away. We just go with what’s popular,” Debbie says.
Corlew Donut Company is open 5 to 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Look for them next to the Arco gas station on the corner of 18th and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Stop 2: Hammer Donuts
If you’re looking for crazy, whimsical donuts, look no further than Hammer Donuts, which got its start in the now defunct Discount Den on Purdue’s campus five years ago but, since January, scents the air on Lafayette’s Main Street.
And, no, the owner’s name is not Hammer, as is often asked. Think “Boiler Up! Hammer Down!” and you’ve got it. The Taiwanese owners, Michael Cho and Cecilia Chiu, majored in engineering at Purdue, moonlighting in donut making.
In October 2017 an ambitious Purdue student, Tate Schienbein, taught himself to make donuts, built a team and started selling donuts to Purdue students through the Discount Den on campus. Michael joined as a donut chef a year later, later adding the title of general manager. A sugary tangle of circumstances iced by COVID issues nearly put the fledgling business out of business until Michael and Cecilia took a leap of faith and rented the space abandoned by Kathy’s Kandies.
On any given day you might find an elegant crème brulee donut or a kid-friendly Lucky Charms donut looking back at you from the glass case. For Valentine’s Day baker Cho and his staff painstakingly hand-cut donuts into hearts, and at the holidays they’ll carve out a handful of Christmas shapes and decorate them with multicolored icing. Have a special occasion, like a gender reveal, you want a donut for? They are your bakers.
Hopping across the river brought unexpected challenges. Temperatures and humidity levels in the kitchen demand constant watching in the donut making process, Cecilia says. “It was the biggest struggle; even the change of water made a big difference. A wider range of temperatures was OK in our West Lafayette location but we had to be more specific in Lafayette. We had to figure a lot out.”
As engineers they were data driven, and in the end data saved them, nudging changes in mixing times and frying temperatures, among others. They held onto their contract to provide donuts to Circle K gas stations, some campus locations and a lot of churches. “Right now, we’re geared to wholesale and that makes us stable,” Cecilia says, while they build up their walk-in business.
During the week the glass case is filled with more traditional choices. Years of appealing to adventurous college students plays out in the cases on Fridays and Saturdays when you’ll find marvels of modern donut making such as blueberry cheesecake donuts, lemon pie donuts, Samoa donuts inspired by Girl Scout cookies, S’more donuts with a marshmallow in the hole or Voo Doo donuts, which have to be seen to be appreciated.
Hammer Donuts is located at 611 Main St., Lafayette. Hours: 6 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
Stop 3: Mary Lou Donuts
Mary Lou Donuts opened the doors of its tiny A-frame bakery restaurant on South Fourth street in 1961. In the 61 years since, four different owners have opened new chapters in the venerable business.
Give Mary Lou and Stu Graves, who also operated Graves Bakery on the West Lafayette Levee, credit for originating the iconic Lafayette business. They gave the store its name and its donut recipes. Then came the Keith Cochran era, followed by the Brian Freed era. When former Jefferson High School math teacher and girls’ basketball coach Jeff Waldon took over in June 2017 he wanted his era to be marked by modernization and growth. “It’s an honor to carry on what the other three did for the community,” Waldon says.
Immediately Waldon began overdue planning for a bigger facility and this April opened a 4,000-square-foot bakery restaurant on Commerce Drive behind the Olive Garden. Initially visions of a bigger A-frame flooded his dreams, but builders nixed that idea. What emerged was a big, white happy donut box of a building with huge hot pink and turquoise polka dots sprinkled all over it, mindful of the sprinkled donuts inside. Ample kitchen space allowed him to make a million-dollar investment in an automated donut fryer. Soon a robot will be “hired” for its light touch that keeps donuts from flattening out in a key part of the automated process.
None of the time-tested recipes have changed, but Waldon acknowledges that a slightly different taste might be noticed beneath the glaze. Shortly after he took over “the FDA mandated the elimination of all trans fats in frying. It does change the taste a bit,” he says. Still, it hasn’t stopped people coming in the doors and walking out with polka dot boxes full of treats.
“With the new machinery we can produce 250 to 300 dozen donuts an hour, eight times what the old store could do,” he says. Customers used to complain that they couldn’t get enough cream horns because the original bakery could only produce 120 a week. Now the number is closer to 500 a week.
This fall you’ll find Mary Lou Donuts and their polka dot boxes replacing Kroger’s products in all the local Payless stores, another mark of Waldon’s expansion plans. His dreams are now filled with visions of a huge bakery in the Indianapolis area that would allow Mary Lou Donuts to be in all the Kroger stores there. He’s actively working on making that dream come true. “My job is to expand the business to honor all the people who put in hard work before me,” he says.
Locations for Mary Lou Donuts are at 1830 S. Fourth St. and 4150 Commerce Dr., Lafayette. Hours for both are 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
Stop 4: The Homestead
Although the glass front donut case fills just a small corner of West Lafayette’s Homestead, known for its foods to go as well as its breakfast and lunch business, the donuts are a point of pride in the store.
That’s because each and every cake and yeast donut is hand rolled, cut, fried, filled and frosted, something full-service restaurants rarely do. “We keep it fairly simple — basic customer favorites,” says owner Jody Bahler. “It’s just an enhancement for our business.”
Homestead’s flagship store calls Remington home and that’s where the donuts are made each night, Monday through Friday. Then they’re driven to West Lafayette in time for that store’s opening at 7 a.m. Three days a week they’re also delivered to Franciscan Hospital.
“We taught ourselves how to do it,” she says. “Friends of ours own a donut shop in southern Michigan and we watched their process (which takes 5-6 hours) then tweaked it for us. Labor is the most expensive thing in a donut.
“It’s so much fun. Yes, it is!” Jody says. “I like doing the finishing touches.”
High on the list of Homestead favorites sits a maple bacon long john. Bacon dusted with sugar caramelizes in a frying pan before nestling into its home in the long john’s creamy maple icing. “Long john” is a Midwest term for a bar-shaped donut, probably taken from long underwear worn on the farm in the winter, although no one knows for sure how it became attached to a donut.
Stepping outside the box, Jody has even constructed tiered wedding cakes out of donuts. For special events the restaurant will provide a big board with pegs on it with, of course, a donut on every peg so attendees can grab and munch.
Because donuts are best fresh, Homestead reduces its prices at 3 p.m. daily for any still left in the case. “You can fill a box for $5, but it’s always a risk.”
She offers a tip for making a donut bought late in the day taste like it just came out of the fryer. “I suggest popping it in the microwave for 5-7 seconds. It’ll taste like it’s just out of the fryer.”
The Homestead is located at 1550 Win Hentschel Blvd., West Lafayette. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
Stop 5: Rose Market
Cassidy Kitchel was working at The Arts Federation when her parents first opened Rose Market, but she came on board as a baker in January and her gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan donuts have quickly put the small Main Street shop on the map.
A self-described health nut, she’s been creating and tweaking recipes for more than a decade, ever since her son was diagnosed with celiac disease as a toddler. “I baked my own stuff because you couldn’t find it, and when you did it was too expensive.”
There’s science and a lot of practice behind each donut in her glass case, which beckons buyers, a colorful treat for the eyes as well as a tasty treat for the tummy. “Being gluten and dairy free takes lots of practice but I think I’ve perfected it,” Cassidy says. Even folks who are not gluten free find the taste surprisingly delightful, something they don’t have to lie about liking.
Cassidy feels her grandmother Dolores Rose, for whom the store is named, has become a cooking angel watching over her shoulder. “I was really close to her. She found so much joy in cooking for others and I really channel her. Love comes through in what you bake,” she says. “I can feel her with me.”
Her joy comes in seeing donut-deprived celiac kids go crazy over a bright blue Cookie Monster donut with bulging eyes. “When they haven’t had it, or can’t have it, and are finally able to pick something out, it makes me so happy,” she says. “I’ve had people literally stand in front of the case and cry to have this in our community.”
That includes treat lovers of all ages who have allergies, need to eat dairy free or eat vegan. When they go to a regular bakery there’s often just one choice they can eat, or more often, no treats at all.
Cassidy takes pride in using cage-free eggs, high-quality flour and top of the line ingredients all through her process. There are no artificial dyes in Cookie Monster’s blue icing. All her rich colors come from plant-based superfood powders. Even the colored sprinkles can boast of being dye free, perfect for kids who have allergies to food dyes.
Although Rose Market offers donuts all week, the widest selection fills the case on Saturdays. French toast, coffeecake and streusel donuts are among the best sellers along with perennial favorite blueberry. Every time you go there’s likely to be a new treat staring back at you, such as a stuffed donut that’s a play on strawberry shortcake with vegan whipped cream and fresh strawberries on top.
Vanilla donuts provide the base for ice cream sandwiches with non-dairy chocolate ice cream, a dollop of vegan whip, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and sprinkles. Also in the freezer case you can find gluten-free biscuits and gravy.
Because Cassidy’s donuts are baked, not fried, you can pop them into the freezer and expect them to come out just as fresh as they went in.
Word of the business has spread quickly on social media, generating a loyal base of kids and adults that come in weekly and “we have new people every week too. I think we’ve just scratched the surface,” Cassidy says.
During the interview for this story a Mexican baker, owner of a bakery in the Yucatan who was visiting relatives in the states, happened upon Rose Market and walked out with a small box of donuts. Ten minutes later she was back extolling their virtues and asking Cassidy for a gluten-free baking lesson. “The donuts are amazing. They taste so good and they’re beautiful,” exclaimed Maru Medina. “Oprah needs to find you.”
Rose Market is located at 816 Main St., Lafayette. Hours: Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
From humble beginnings
50 years ago inside an old church building, the Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club has been a welcoming embrace for Greater Lafayette’s children.
Treece was a Lafayette businessman whose interests included Burger Chef franchises. He was one of the original owners of the Indiana Pacers when the team joined the American Basketball Association in 1967.
He paid $30,000 for the former Riverside Church of God, located on North Ninth Street across from the then-Tippecanoe Junior High, to set up the first Boys Club in Lafayette. Steady growth during the next six years led Treece to put $100,000 toward a new building that opened at 1529 N. 10th St. in 1980.
An early member of the Boys Club was one of five brothers living with a divorced mother and on welfare.
“My lifetime has been with the club,” says Barry Richard, executive director of the Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club.
“The Boys Club allowed me to develop the areas I needed to, to then become a member of the Lafayette Police Department, become the sheriff, become a city councilman, county councilman, be able to do all the things I’ve done.”
With pride, Richard gave a tour of the building that he says is unlike most Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States.
Walk inside the door and to the left are rows of tables and chairs designed to be used by 60 to 100 children a day to do their homework.
“Typically, when you go into a Boys and Girls Club you’ll see a pool table, ping pong table, foosball, air hockey. We prioritize academics,” Richard says. “This is set up as our academic hall. We help them with their homework after they’ve had their snack. We have certified teachers come in to help them.”
That’s not the only academic space in the building. Thanks to the generosity of SIA associates in 2012, a learning theater room is available for smaller groups.
“We can conduct lessons and help the children in a classroom setting,” Richard says.
The Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club also prepares children for life outside the classroom. Richard says Lafayette is the only Boys and Girls Club in the U.S. to have an area dedicated to a barber shop/beauty shop. It even has a replica barber pole outside the door.
“To help children with their self-esteem and their personal hygiene, I thought it would be neat to have our own barber shop/beauty shop,” Richard says of the shop, which is stocked with everything one would see at a local establishment. Volunteers take care of the services, which are free to the children.
There’s even a laundry room inside the club, where staff members teach children how to use a washer and dryer.
It’s not all work and no play, though. There are enough board games to stock a toy store. A multipurpose room is used for arts and crafts and includes a TV set. Meals can be eaten in the room, too.
An old locker room has been converted into a game room, where the Boys and Girls Club standard air hockey, foosball and pool tables are located along with video games.
“We’ve utilized our building to the full capacity,” Richard says. “Typically, by mid-winter we’ll have 100-plus children here a day.”
The future at the North 10th Street location includes baseball and soccer fields. Land has been purchased surrounding the Boys and Girls Club and much of it has been cleared of unsightly dilapidated housing.
Open to children ages 6 to 18, the club offers an annual membership for little to no cost. For $10 — or 83 cents a month, as Richard says — that’s the only expense families will pay at the Boys and Girls Club. Scholarships are available for families that cannot afford to send multiple children.
“Beyond that, there’s never any charge,” Richard says. “They don’t pay for programs, snacks, meals, field trips. Nothing.”
The Boys and Girls Club expanded its services in 1999 to the former Tahoe Swim Club on Beck Lane in Lafayette. With expansion of that facility, which includes a game room, a gym and two academic spaces, approximately 100 students are welcomed daily.
A third location on land at South and 23rd streets is nearing the fund-raising stage. Richard expects that club to serve 150-plus students from the surrounding Murdock, Sunnyside and Oakland schools as well as the Columbian Park neighborhood where Richard grew up.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Richard says. It’s going to have two gyms, game rooms, arts and crafts, personal hygiene area, the learning theater, the academic support.”
Richard estimates that once funding is in place, construction would take 18 to 24 months.
“I want to make our facilities, our organization their Disney World,” he says. “The children we serve don’t get to go to Disney World. This is some of the highlight of their childhood, that they know it is a safe place to come and they’ll be taken care of.
“We’ll make sure they get their homework done, that they have the Christmas presents, the acknowledgment of them doing well. We’re going to fill that void in their life, to let them know that they have self-worth and they are able to be successful. To break the cycle and become a giver back to our community. That’s what we all need.”
The cycle was broken in the Richard family, and he gives much of the credit to the Boys and Girls Club.
“What I was able to get from the club was that independence and self-worth,” Richard says. “I never thought growing up I had to be rich. My thought was I don’t want to be poor. I know what poor is. What do I need to do not to be poor? The answer was you need to work, you need to be responsible, you need to have a good work ethic, you need to treat others well and you need to have that vision of goal setting to become successful down the road.”
Richard’s children grew up to be a Major League Baseball player/high school coach, a school principal and a teacher.
He has seen others break the cycle, too, when the club was the only positive thing in their lives. They’ve become businessmen, police officers, teachers and members of the armed forces.
“I really do believe that what we are doing with our programs, our discipline, our structure, our caring, our academic support, is developing those next generations to be the leaders of our community,” Richard says. ★
BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Pandemic pups. COVID kittens. Lock-down lizards. Many of us acquired new pets in the last three years as we spent more time at home, cuddling in front of screens. But we’re now venturing out and looking for venues that also welcome our fur babies.
From parks to trails to restaurants with outdoor dining, Tippecanoe County offers many places to explore with pets.
Brad and Heidi Harner have been taking their dogs to Prophetstown State Park since it opened near Battleground in 2004. They like what state parks have to offer and were excited to explore the native prairie and wooded paths that make Prophetstown unique.
“The wide open spaces are wonderful, especially prior to any weather events,” the Lafayette couple explains in an email exchange. “The subtle seasonal changes of the prairie are beautiful to see and learn about. We love the variety of walking through the woods, circling a pond, out in the fields and down around the marshes.”
For many years and in all seasons, the couple took Lucy, a rat terrier, and Joey, a beagle/border collie mix, to explore the more than 18 miles of trails at Prophetstown. And some of those jaunts were more exciting than others.
“One cold late autumn hike, Joey mistook the stillness of the pond for a grassy field and went plunging in head first (Joey was not a “water dog” in the least!),” recounts Brad Harner. “After his (and our) initial shock, he was able to get out quickly without me having to go in and get him.”
Joey and Lucy are no longer living, but the Harners sometimes take their current corgi/Jack Russell mix, Meghan, to Prophetstown and other area parks and trails. Because Meghan is not as socialized as their previous dogs, the couple is more cautious about taking her out where they might encounter other dogs.
Knowing your pets and how they interact with others is important when deciding to visit the park, says Prophetstown Office Manager Kristin Sauder. Every Indiana state park has similar requirements for pet owners coming out for the day:
• All pets, no matter the species, must be on a six-foot or shorter leash at all times
• The park has a “carry-in, carry-out” policy, so you must clean up your pet’s waste and take it with
you out of the park. There are no trash receptacles available
• You’ll pay an entrance fee
• Animals are not allowed in any enclosed building at Prophetstown, or any state park, and can’t
go into the Aquatic Center. Service animals are welcome in some buildings
• If your pet becomes a nuisance, you may be asked to leave the park
The leash law is in place to protect your pet, as well as wildlife and other visitors, Sauder says. She remembers an incident in which a dog on a very long leash wandered into tall grass and had an unfortunate encounter with a snake. Visitors should keep their animals in sight and stay on the trails to avoid unexpected encounters with wildlife.
The park also allows overnight camping, and lots of people bring pets with them, but owners should never leave their pets unattended.
“Keep them with you,” Sauder says. “We once had a dog get loose and it was running around the campground. It escaped from a pop-up camper while the owners were at the Aquatic Center and (park personnel) had a hard time finding them.”
For more information about visiting Indiana state parks with your pets, go to https://secure.in.gov/dnr/state-parks/property-rules-and-regulations/pet-rules/
Knowing your pets and how they interact with others is important when deciding to visit the park, says Prophetstown Office Manager Kristin Sauder. Every Indiana state park has similar requirements for pet owners coming out for the day:
The leash law is in place to protect your pet, as well as wildlife and other visitors, Sauder says. She remembers an incident in which a dog on a very long leash wandered into tall grass and had an unfortunate encounter with a snake. Visitors should keep their animals in sight and stay on the trails to avoid unexpected encounters with wildlife.
The park also allows overnight camping, and lots of people bring pets with them, but owners should never leave their pets unattended.
“Keep them with you,” Sauder says. “We once had a dog get loose and it was running around the campground. It escaped from a pop-up camper while the owners were at the Aquatic Center and (park personnel) had a hard time finding them.”
For more information about visiting Indiana state parks with your pets, go to https://secure.in.gov/dnr/state-parks/property-rules-and-regulations/pet-rules/
City and county parks
Fall is a beautiful time to explore the 25 parks and public facilities in Lafayette with your pet, the more than 1,200 acres of parks and trails in Tippecanoe County, and the 460 acres of recreational areas in West Lafayette.
Samantha Haville, marketing manager for Lafayette Parks and Recreation, says all the city parks are pet friendly and most feature pet waste stations with bags and trash cans. There are six miles of paved trails and many more unpaved in the city limits.
Other city recreational facilities welcome dogs at certain times of the year. No pups are allowed in the city pools except during the annual Pooch Plunge, held at Castaway Bay at the end of every summer season. Pets are not typically allowed at Loeb Stadium in Columbian Park, but once a summer the Aviators baseball team sponsors Bark at the Park, when dogs are invited in, Haville says.
Only service animals are allowed in the Columbian Park Zoo because pets can be upsetting to the full-time zoo residents, Haville says. And not even service animals are allowed in the Wallaby Walkabout exhibit or the IU Health Family Farm that includes a petting zoo.
For a complete list of city parks and trails, go to http://www.lafayette.in.gov/408/Parks-Trails
Tippecanoe County Director of Parks Randy Lower says most county parks are open to pets, but he encourages pet owners to be considerate of other park goers and the park staff charged with maintaining the properties.
“By all means, clean up after your pet,” Lower says. “As an example of what can happen, we have soccer fields at the (Tippecanoe County) Amphitheater and Davidson Park, and those are wide open spaces where people like to walk their dogs. It’s tough for the poor people who come out to play soccer when they first have to clean up the fields.”
And the maintenance crews are not happy when they have to clean poop off their mower blades at the end of the day.
“Just use common sense and be cognizant of other people,” Lower advises.
While the county website does not have a comprehensive list of trails, you can find that information at https://www.alltrails.com/us/indiana/lafayette
West Lafayette boasts more than 460 acres of recreational areas, picnic grounds, nature trails and playgrounds. Included is the beautiful Celery Bog Nature Area, replete with native plants and wildlife and about five miles of trails. Using good pet etiquette is important when visiting these natural spaces that already are home to wild animals.
Happy Hollow Park is a city favorite with families and their fur babies. With two miles of trails and footpaths, picnic areas, accessible playgrounds and restrooms, this park near the city’s heart has features to please the entire family.
Maps and more information about West Lafayette parks and trails are available on the city website, https://www.westlafayette.in.gov/parks/
All local parks and trails require the same common sense behavior: keep your pet on a six-foot or shorter leash; clean up your pet’s waste and deposit it in a trash receptacle; make sure water is available on site or bring some with you, keep aggressive animals at home. Both Lafayette and West Lafayette also have dog parks, where dogs can play off-leash.
Many local restaurants with outdoor patios welcome pets. A quick call to the restaurant can confirm whether or not pets are welcome in their outdoor spaces.
The spacious, shaded patio at Teay’s River in Lafayette has hosted many dogs and even a few cats, says Manager Molly Sundquist.
“We have water available and we welcome pets outside,” she says. “They have to be on a leash, even the cats, but people are welcome to bring them.”
Downtown Lafayette eateries Red Seven and East End Grill also welcome well-behaved dogs and make water available for furry companions. In West Lafayette, Brokerage Brewing Company and Café Literato have patio spaces where animals are allowed.
Consider the weather before going since many patios are concrete and your precious pet could overheat if not in the shade. The American Kennel Club also recommends taking a big bag of treats with you, so your pup doesn’t feel left out of the feast.
Animals that are well-socialized may enjoy a trip to a restaurant patio, but be clear-eyed about making that choice. Dogs that are aggressive or anxious around new people, noises and smells should be left at home.
And just remember that not everyone loves animals as much as you do. Some diners may be skittish about sitting next to Fido or Fluffy, so be considerate of other diners, the wait staff and your fluffy family member. ★
BY JILLIAN ELLISON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Arms stretched forward, face down on a rolled-out floor mat, instructor Betsy Totty asks her yoga class members to take a deep breath and slowly exhale, timing their breathing to match the in’s and out’s. In the studio at Community Yoga, Totty wants the group of a dozen people to take the time to familiarize themselves with their own bodies, the same ones that serve them each day.“Listen to what your body is telling you,” Totty says. “Are you feeling any areas that feel a little tighter today? How have you thanked your body for carrying you through this week?”
Something newcomers to yoga classes don’t often realize is that not only is the hour-long session an exercise of the body, but more importantly it’s an exercise of the mind, says Jacqueline Allen-Magers, owner of Community Yoga in Lafayette. There are physical benefits to yoga, of course, she explains, but the practice of vinyasa yoga – the yoga her studio’s classes focus on — works to calm your nervous system.
“Our lives are very go, go, go, and when your sensory perception is bombarded, that’s when we become overly stimulated,” Allen-Magers says. “Practicing yoga does the opposite. It’s trying to turn your perception inward, calming your nerves, leaving you feeling lighter, both mentally and physically.”
While yoga studios across Greater Lafayette offer different versions of the practice, they are all supportive of each other’s goals: breaking down obstacles that exist around yoga, working to make it an inclusive environment.
Finding your Zen
A quick internet search to find out just how many forms of yoga there are will make your head spin. Courtney Biancofiori, co-owner of Society Yoga, isn’t interested in putting a label on what her studio offers.
“Focusing on a specific type of yoga in the studio, I feel, takes away from the entire Yogi narrative,” Biancofiori says. “It is all yoga, and I want to break down the barriers that hold the average person out on the street back from walking in here, taking some time to destress and sweat a bit and find a sense of belonging.”
Across the Wabash River at HOTWORX, co-owner Megan Wilson says sweating it out won’t take you long. Offering virtually instructed classes in its studios, HOTWORX offers “Hot Yoga,” a 30-minute isometric workout inside a sauna room. “As the infrared heat penetrates your body causing you to sweat, the isometric postures further accelerate detoxification by physically removing the toxins from your organs through muscle contraction,” Wilson explains.
While they try not to label classes at Society Yoga, Biancofiori and co-owner Kim Barrett say if you’re looking for a class in a style you’re accustomed to at other studios, they can help you find it, and possibly more.
From low intensity up to what Barrett calls a “Society Sculpt” class, classes featuring different equipment offer the opportunity for newcomers to dip their toes into the practice of yoga, which for Biancofiori, boils down to linking our breathing with the body’s movements.
“Everyone’s idea of relaxation is different. Some people might not be able to sit in a meditative pose for a long period of time,” Biancofiori says. “They might find meditation through push-ups. I find my Zen just by sweating it out.”
Bridging people through yoga
For the past seven years, Be Moved Power Yoga has hosted “Yoga On The Bridge” across the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge, and for owner Anita Trent, watching as people come from the two cities to meet in the middle builds the definition of community for her.
“Our community in Greater Lafayette is so special, because it is one so rich in culture and varying levels of experience,” Trent says. “To watch these people come together from all corners of the world is something I love and look forward to.”
There is always room for growth and improvement, however, Trent says, as she aims to create a more inclusive space for all in her studio. “We are a wonderful and unique group of female teachers, but what I would love in our studio is to see some more diversity in our teaching team,” she explains.
“I am very interested in bringing on more gender diversity as we continue to maintain a friendly, open space. If you’re willing to work hard and you’re willing to sweat, then you’re going to fit in great here.”
Trent says she was introduced to practicing yoga as a child, when her mom would leave early in the morning for work and would turn on PBS, which ran “Lilias, Yoga and You.” Into adulthood, she ran half marathons and played soccer, but after a knee injury put her on the sidelines, a friend who’d become a yoga instructor encouraged her to come to a class to start slowly easing back into fitness. Getting back into the motions of yoga for Trent was like a flood of memories, reinspiring her love for the practice.
That moment of memory and clarity on her yoga mat several years ago is something she hopes to bring to all who walk through her doors, and she knows her colleagues across Greater Lafayette strive for that, too.
“Yoga gives us the tools on how to be really clear about who we are and who we’ve been, but it also helps find clarity in simply loving ourselves and doing good for our bodies,” Trent says. “In yoga, we are working to take the next best step, and here in Greater Lafayette, we have so many amazing people teaching yoga and bringing that good into our community.” ★
BY KEN THOMPSON
A large number of Tippecanoe County residents cannot remember a time when Caterpillar Inc., wasn’t a major part of Lafayette’s east side landscape.
The Deerfield, Ill.-based company is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.
Caterpillar is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Lafayette, a partnership that Tippecanoe County commissioner Tom Murtaugh says is beneficial to both.
“Caterpillar has played an essential role in the growth of this community and the region,” Murtaugh says. “In addition to creating great employment opportunities for hundreds of families over the past few decades, Caterpillar has been a generous community partner and supporter of the United Way and countless other community initiatives.”
In 2021, employees and the Caterpillar Foundation provided approximately $548,000 through the United Way for their communities, according to Joe Markun, Large Power Systems Operations vice president for Caterpillar Inc. The Caterpillar Foundation also provided grant funding of more than $290,000 to non-profits in 2021.
Additionally, the Lafayette Drive Team – an employee-led advocacy group, makes donations to local sports teams, food banks, scout troops, transitional housing centers, Habitat for Humanity efforts, the YWCA, and other organizations.
Caterpillar is stepping up its community involvement with a 40 Days of Giving program that launched in early August.
“This is a facility-wide initiative to engage our employees and give back to the communities that have supported us continually over the past four decades,” Markun says.
“Teams across engineering, supply chain, human resources and more are finding needs in our communities and providing their time and resources to address them. While we have much to celebrate internally with the 40-year milestone, none of this would be possible without our community partners.”
It was big news in 1977 when rumors began to circulate that Caterpillar was interested in building a plant in Lafayette.
Murtaugh’s family played an important role in the plant’s location. His was one of four families who sold a combined 425 acres to Caterpillar in 1977. The deal was so top secret that Murtaugh remembers “company X” buying his family’s farm.
Even after officially announcing the land purchase on Sept. 22, 1977, at the downtown branch of Lafayette National Bank, Caterpillar chairman William L. Naumann had little to say publicly about the decision to bring the manufacturing of its new Series 3500 diesel engines to Tippecanoe County.
That morning, members of those four families — James Murtaugh, Richard Smith, Donald Lecklitner and Paul Hamman — learned who “company X” really was.
Journal & Courier business writer Judy Horak reported that Naumann cited four factors that attracted Caterpillar to Lafayette. First was the site not only being large enough for a Caterpillar facility, but it also had excellent access to I-65, railroad transportation and good utility services.
“We find a strong spirit of community pride and cooperation here,” Naumann said of the second reason. He was just as succinct with the other two factors.
“The quality of local government and community services is excellent. Finally we are attracted by the quality and character of the Lafayette-West Lafayette-Tippecanoe County area.”
While the courtship was completed, it would be five years – November 1982 – before employees began pre-assembly work on parts for the Series 3500 high-powered diesel engine. The first Series 3500 engines were assembled in December 1982.
Tony Roswarski was on the verge of beginning a career in law enforcement 40 years ago. Today, he’s approaching 20 years as mayor of Lafayette.
“Caterpillar has been an important piece of our economic foundation for the past 40 years,” Roswarski says. “Its global presence helps put Lafayette on the worldwide economic map. Closer to home, it creates great paying jobs, pays taxes that help fund the police, fire and parks department along with great schools.
“Caterpillar helps families build their future and have a high quality of life. They have been a wonderful corporate citizen, giving back through the company and its employees. Thousands of people a year enjoy CAT Park, and more now will have the opportunity as the new all-inclusive sports field will be finished soon. Caterpillar truly has made a positive impact on Lafayette over the past 40 years.”
Look no further than these numbers to measure Caterpillar’s impact on Lafayette’s economy. When it announced in early January 1982 that it was taking applications for 40 maintenance positions, the company received approximately 600 resumes.
As more job openings were posted, Caterpillar’s local post office box overflowed with resumes. More than 3,400, in fact, by March. As Lafayette celebrated the new year 1983, approximately 300 management, salaried and production workers were in place.
Today, Markun says the Lafayette Engine Center machines and assembles diesel and natural gas engines that power the world – the 3500, the 3600 and the C175 engines.
“When our facility opened, we were developing and manufacturing 3500 engines,” he says. “Over the 40 years, this engine platform grew to be the industry standard for heavy-duty diesel and gas engines worldwide, and we introduced two more platforms – the 3600 and C175. These units are custom-built to ensure our customers get exactly what they need.
“The 3500 engine primarily helps support the electric power, oil and gas, rail and marine markets around the globe. The 3600 is a huge player in the oil and gas segment, and the C175 is largely utilized in mining and electric power applications.”
These engines power mining trucks carrying ore to be processed, tugboats guiding ships to harbor, drill rigs tapping oil and gas reserves, and generators bringing electricity to communities, hospitals and data centers.
Caterpillar may be celebrating its 40th birthday locally but it also is looking ahead to the next decade. The Lafayette facility will play a key role in Caterpillar’s effort to “integrate sustainability” into its core business.
The company website boasts how Lafayette’s facility is meeting the goal of recycling power into the day-to-day operations.
“When a new engine or component is offered, it is important that we conduct many testing hours on each product to provide confidence to our customers that they are buying the highest quality engine available.
“The amount of energy created by the testing process is tremendous. Rather than waste it, the team explored various options to harness the energy. Understanding that endurance testing is a necessary and critical means to assure product quality, they looked for a way to use the electricity-generated power to support facility operations which would otherwise have been wasted.”
Caterpillar states that the electricity generated by the endurance test pad provides supplemental energy to power the Lafayette plant. With roughly 130,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions avoided over the last five years, Caterpillar has saved more than $11 million.
“Harnessing the power from their endurance testing is just one example of the Lafayette facility’s sustainability journey. Through their continuous improvement projects, the team has implemented several programs resulting in general reductions in greenhouse gases, water usage and waste.” ★
BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
Need a place to pick up a quick lunch to take to your desk? How about a snack, or groceries for dinner? … Downtown Lafayette is now home to three markets, each with its own personality and niche for the urban shopper.
Bistro Market & Deli
115 N. Fifth St.
If you’re looking for elegance and a European shopping experience downtown, step into Bistro Market & Deli. The former Lahr atrium has been transformed into an upscale, French-themed market, with wares to match. As a bonus, the space was designed to historically honor the former Lahr Hotel — the current layout mirrors the way space was used more than a century ago, with vintage photos in the foyer as evidence.
The bodega has a variety of offerings — everything from a coffee bar with bagels (imported from New York City), fresh local produce, a deli counter, refillable oils and vinegars, and international foods.
The space fills a specific need downtown says Mary Buckley, who, along with her daughters, Theresa and Cheyenne, owns and operates both the market and Bistro 501 next door. Buckley knew that with downtown residency at an all-time high — and with construction looming — the demographic of young urban professionals and empty nesters would welcome a downtown market. So the three went to work to determine how to make such an idea a success.
“There’s a difference between a dream and business,” Buckley says. “What does the area need and what do you know?”
The pandemic interrupted their plans to expand into the atrium, but it also gave them a chance to plan with great intention. They were able to carefully survey the space and look for exactly the right layout, along with finding appropriate furniture and fixtures.
The result is a charmingly customized space, with walls in Cape Cod blue, an elaborate iron entry gate (also locally crafted), and an eclectic feel.
But it’s more than just a market — it’s a place to visit, to relax. There is a seating area upstairs — where hotel guests would have sat a century ago — and down, so patrons may sit and sip their coffee and eat their sandwich or salad, using the WiFi. There is a table to play checkers and an area to read the newspaper.
The vibe is friendly and inviting — even dogs are welcome. Customers can find groceries to cook their own meals, or they can pick up sandwiches or pre-prepared dinner for two. You can find products for a gift box, with fun and quirky items available — everything from toys for children to sauces to charcuterie boards — or even cleaning supplies from the Broom Closet.
The Buckleys have a commitment to excellence and to supporting small business. As a women-owned and operated business, it works with local vendors and with other small businesses.
The market can be a bit overwhelming, Buckley says, as it does not use traditional overhead signage. So, she says, patrons should ask an associate if they need assistance finding anything. Parking can be a challenge, she knows, but if customers park in the city parking garage, the market will refund the parking fee and offers curbside pickup — do your shopping, leave your cart, go get your car, and come back for valet grocery service.
The market is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. every day but Tuesday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are market days, with special sales. And if you don’t see what you want, the market can get it for you in 72 hours.
Buckley says the market’s business is booming, and she is pleased with the role they can play downtown.
“We really took a page from the past and brought it into the present, hoping for a successful future.”
Specialty Food Market & Apothecary
816 Main St.
If you’re shopping downtown with dietary needs, look no further than Rose Market.
Owner Tracy Deno says the first mission of the market was to be a haven for people who need allergen-friendly foods. But it has expanded to also feature items that are non-GMO and organic. It has a large selection of gluten-free foods — for the gluten intolerant crowd, shopping can be difficult, as gluten can be a hidden ingredient in so many foods — even in places that seem unlikely.
Rose Market fills that niche. It offers a wide variety of healthy, tasty foods.
“We try to focus on the ingredients,” Deno says. “We don’t like a lot of junk.”
She even offers gluten-free and vegan donuts, which have been a big hit. (See story on Page 48.) People are surprised to find formerly unsafe foods available to them.
“We’ve had people get emotional,” Deno says.
Rose Market is committed to being environmentally friendly. It offers sustainable cleaning products, which can be refilled. And it is committed to maintaining health without an abundance of chemicals, so the market sells personal care and wellness items that are natural as well.
400 Main St.
Friendly Market, the newest arrival on the downtown scene, is a basic convenience store, offering its patrons quick snacks, drinks and amenities.
The store, at the corner of Fourth and Main, has a full offering of candy, snacks and beverages. If you’re looking to grab a quick drink, this is your stop. It has a full soda fountain as well as canned beverages of all types.
Food offerings are limited, but Friendly Market does have some canned and frozen foods. It also carries an assortment of cleaning items and household necessities.
Coffee is available, as is a space in which to drink it — a small seating area in the front of the store offers newspapers and a view of Main Street. It’s the perfect place to sit, sip coffee and read the news of the day. ★
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 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
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:
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
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com to learn more.
BY KAT BRAZ
[ 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:
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
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
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.”