BY MEGAN FURST
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Wolf Park  • wolfpark.org/summer-camps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civic Youth Summer Theatre • lafayettecivic.org/camps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
westlafayette.in.gov

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

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

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

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

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

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

YMCA – Camp Tecumseh  • camptecumseh.org

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

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

YMCA – Straight Arrow Day Camp • lafayettefamilyymca.org

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Columbian Park Zoo is set to open April 16. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Marta Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY RADONNA FIORINI 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a look at each grant:
READI Grant 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some projects being considered include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Learning Recovery Grant Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two other Student Recovery grants were awarded locally:

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

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

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

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

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
COLLAGE PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

represent too much, says Lee. 

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

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

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

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

We want everything to reflect our focus.”  ★

 

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farmers market opening soon >>

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

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

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

8Eleven Bistro 
201 Grant St., West Lafayette

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

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



Black Sparrow Pub

223 Main St., Lafayette

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

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

501 Bistro
501 Main St., Lafayette

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

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

Cellar Wine Bistro 
1001 Main St., Lafayette

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

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

Folie
526 Main St., Lafayette

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

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

Fowler House Mansion
909 South St., Lafayette

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

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

Sixth Street Dive
827 N. Sixth St., Lafayette

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

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

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE FANS SAY

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

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

Loren Tate, Champaign News-Gazette

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

Kenyon Murray, former Iowa basketball player

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

Dan Shulman, ESPN

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

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

» Games played: 810

» Sellouts: 409

» Overall record: 665-145
(82 percent)

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

» Big Ten games: 359-107
(77 percent)

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

BY KARIS PRESSLER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

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

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

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

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

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

So who knits these timeless French Knot designs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

her Nepali colleagues to create something new and 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ
PROFILE PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV, OTHERS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About The Farm 

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

Reserve Your Seat

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

Know Before You Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lafayette, Indiana Thrive IV Lounge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolfies in West Lafayette Indiana

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

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED, FIREWORKS PHOTO BY DAVE SCHMIDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That tradition was disrupted this past summer thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation was forced to severely curtail its major fundraising effort of the year, settling for an online presence of live musical performances over Facebook Live.

Kyra Clark, marketing and events director for the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, says it’s safe to say that this year’s Taste of Tippecanoe, scheduled for July 31, may be the most important Taste since the first event.

“The Taste is our major fundraiser and the largest single-day arts fundraiser in Indiana,” Clark says. “It’s incredibly important for us to fundraise and get with the community.”

To make it as safe as possible for visitors, the Taste of Tippecanoe will be spread over a large area of downtown surrounding Riehle Plaza and the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. Also, there will be just two stages this year for live entertainment.

“We’ve increased the size of the footprint to make it a little easier for people to sit down and appreciate the food and the local restaurants that are going to be participating at the Taste,” Clark says.

“We are going to make things as safe as possible. We’re going to have hand-sanitizing stations, and all of our volunteers will be wearing masks. We will never hold an event that puts our community at risk. We are not going to be a superspreader event. We would never risk our relationship or our reputation with our supporters.”

If this year’s Taste is important to the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, it may be equally important to Greater Lafayette-area restaurants. Nearly every establishment has suffered from the government COVID-19 mandates that have kept away the usual numbers of customers.

But several local restaurants are bullish on the Taste of Tippecanoe. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation had 12 commitments by late February from Arni’s, Grilled Chicken and Rice, Corn in the USA, Dippin’ Dots, Gibson’s Shaved Ice, Indiana Kitchen Bacon, Java Roaster, Kona Ice of Tippecanoe County, Lepea, McGraw’s Steak Chop and Fish House, Red Bird Café and Thieme & Wagner.

“That’s pretty normal for this time of year,” Clark says, “but our goal is always 30 to 32 restaurants.”

The latter number is the most Clark has seen during her four years with TAF.

“This is an event where restaurants are incredibly busy, and it is an event where the majority of our restaurants sign up closer toward the event so they have an idea of staffing and timing,” Clark says.

Last year’s virtual event and the loss of revenue have forced more budget cuts than just the number of stages.

“The biggest change this year is that there will not be a fireworks show,” Clark says. “It was just something we could not fit in our budget.

“We’re saving a little bit of money, but we’re dedicating more space to the seating and the appreciation of the local restaurants. We’ve had to tighten our belt, but we’re working with what we’ve got and doing the best we can.”

Even with the pandemic still a concern, Clark is hoping that this summer’s Taste will be remembered as a celebration.

“The focus of this year’s event is celebrating 40 years of great Taste,” Clark says. “We’re super excited to be able to have an event again where we can provide local food to our community, especially at a time when our restaurants are hurting or struggling.

“This is an incredible marketing opportunity for them. Tens of thousands of people come downtown for this event. Obviously, with the COVID restrictions and the health guidelines, the attendance might look a little bit different this year, but we want that marketing opportunity and promotional opportunity for our restaurants and downtown businesses.”

For more information about Taste of Tippecanoe and updates on the event date and participating
businesses, visit tasteoftippecanoe.org. ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Last summer, tensions surrounding issues of racial injustice boiled over across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Locally, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters marched downtown on May 31 to rally for racial justice and take a stand against police brutality.

“Witnessing the energy of the young people and the memory, or the wisdom of the older people, together, that gives me hope,” says Rodney Lynch, pastor and director of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue University. “I was pleased with the number of people who were there. Most of them were white, that’s the demographics of this community. But standing up for racial justice is not a one-time moment; it’s a lifetime movement.”

Motivated by a desire to join like-minded community members to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Lynch joined the Diversity Roundtable (DRT) when he relocated to Greater Lafayette in 2016. An outgrowth of Vision 2020, a 2000–2001 community visioning project for the future of Greater Lafayette, the DRT began in 2002 when a small group of citizens started meeting to plan a Diversity Summit held in April 2003. It became a biennial event and this month, the DRT held its 10th summit. The 2021 Diversity Summit, held virtually and free to all participants, focused on Strategic Doing: Turning Conversation into Action.

In addition to the summits, the DRT meets monthly to discuss DEI issues in the community. The meetings are open to the public and co-facilitated by Lynch and Barbara Clark, who retired as director of the Science Diversity Office and director of the Women in Science Programs at Purdue in 2015. An all-volunteer group, the DRT is a committee of Greater Lafayette Commerce.

“We are the only group in the community focused on diversity in general,” Clark says. “We’re not organized in response to a crisis or an issue. We’re focused on raising awareness and educating people about the diversity issues in the community — anything from race to sexual orientation to disability — and how diversity, equity and inclusion intersect with social issues.”

Many of the monthly meetings feature speakers from the community, such as city government officials, school superintendents, police officers and university administrators who share their perspective on how DEI is supported in their respective institutions as well as identifying areas that still need to be addressed. Clark, who has served as a co-facilitator of the group since 2009, says although the same core issues may resurface, often they’ve been redefined in some way.

“An issue that we’ve discussed a number of times is ‘driving while Black,’” Clark says. “When we first started talking about that, it was somewhat surprising to the white folks but certainly not surprising to the people of color. One of the things the DRT does is develop programming to educate the community on these issues.”

One of the programs facilitated by the DRT addressed implicit bias. Lynch, who co-led the training, would ask attendees how many of them had “the talk” with their children. Invariably, white attendees assumed “the talk” centered around sexual activity. Black attendees gave their children the “police talk.”

“Black people do not have the privilege of not educating their children about how to conduct themselves when they are engaged by a police officer, so they get home safe,” Lynch says. “White children are raised to believe the police will keep them safe. Whereas we’ve seen time and time again, Black people are afraid to even call the police because our loved ones may not live through that interaction.”

The depth of implicit bias is magnified through a video experiment shown in the training that posits two men of different races in the same scenario. In one instance, a white man is shown breaking into a car in broad daylight. In the other, the man breaking into the car is Black. The white man sets off the car alarm multiple times, fishing with a wire coat hanger for 30 minutes trying to pop the door lock. A police car drives by without stopping. When the Black man attempts to break into the car, a passerby begins filming him with a cellphone almost immediately and the police arrive within two minutes. The video ends with the Black man in handcuffs surrounded by five police officers.

“It’s assumed that the white guy is just locked out of his car,” Lynch says. “But the Black guy must be robbing that car. These are examples of the implicit biases we all live with.”

The difficulty of identifying implicit biases lies in the fact that we don’t always know we have them. These unconscious inclinations often operate outside of our awareness and can directly contradict a person’s espoused beliefs or values. The danger of implicit biases is how they affect our reactions and behaviors without our awareness. The goal of implicit bias training is to help attendees understand and acknowledge the systems of privilege in place that influence these unconscious prejudices.

These conversations are difficult to have, even among members of the DRT, who, by their very presence at meetings, are more inclined to be receptive to reframing their personal perspectives and committed to acknowledging and addressing DEI issues within the community.

“One of the things that keeps people coming month after month is that they can be honest and open at the DRT,” Clark says. “They feel safe talking about issues in a group where people have different perspectives because of their lived experiences.”

Another program offered by the DRT for the past few years centers around the book Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad. The book operates as a workbook, outlining journaling exercises and conversation prompts that force white readers to reflect on the roots of their own unconscious bias, how they benefit from the systems in place and how white supremacy plays out in their everyday lives. Small cohorts of 20 to 25 people work through the book together, meeting for weekly discussions over the course of one month.

“It’s not really fair to expect people of color to educate white people on issues of diversity,” Clark says. “If white people care about diversity and want to make a change, they need to put some energy into educating themselves. That’s what Me and White Supremacy is all about. The journaling can be difficult. The conversations can be intense, but it’s all very worthwhile.”

Before the pandemic, approximately 30 people attended the monthly DRT meetings. After switching to virtual meetings last year, the DRT has seen a slight increase of participation with up to 50 attendees. Those numbers may seem small, but the impact of the DRT on the larger community is far greater.

“We’re not only touching the people who show up,” Lynch says. “The people who participate in the DRT are armed with information they can use when they encounter injustice at their job, in the community or in their family. That’s the beauty of what the DRT offers. If someone is serious about combatting injustice, DRT is a good place to start. We can inform and educate.” ★

To receive updates about the DRT and information about its monthly meetings, email 
diversitytippecanoe@gmail.com or visit diversitytippecanoe.org. 

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

On the hunt for seasonal fruits and veggies? You’re in luck. The bounty of community supported agriculture (CSA) in and around Greater Lafayette allows consumers to buy produce directly from the grower. Area farmers markets connect buyers with vendors who can speak with authority on how plants were grown and how livestock was raised. Buying from a local source also reduces the carbon footprint required to acquire your food. Many area farmers adhere to organic practices, harvesting at peak growing season to deliver fresh food that’s both delicious and nutritious.

Farmers markets
As COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve, please consult websites and social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on market policies.

Lafayette Farmers Market
lafayettefarmersmarket.com

8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, May through October; Fifth and Main streets

The area’s largest open-air market, Lafayette Farmers Market dates back 182 years and is one of the state’s oldest outdoor markets. Vendors peddling produce, seedlings, flowers, meat, eggs, jams, breads, wood crafts, health and beauty items, home goods and even concessions line the cobblestones along Fifth Street every Saturday morning throughout the summer.

“Our market puts an emphasis on local-first,” says Rebecca Jones, quality of life coordinator for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “Our vendors come from within a 90-mile radius. We also prioritize vendors who sell produce to honor the market’s roots as a place of commerce for farmers and cultivators. At least 70 percent of items sold must be produced locally first-hand by the vendor. The remaining 30 percent must follow the same rules of being produced first-hand and be traceable to the maker or farmer.”

As a champion of local goods and services, the market offers programming that highlights community organizations, features local musicians and celebrates community holidays. The market also partners with local businesses to offer giveaways for attendees and incentivize giving blood when the Blood Bus visits the market. Vendors collaborate with the Veggie Drop program to provide excess goods to local food banks. The market is administered by Greater Lafayette Commerce on behalf of the City of Lafayette and sponsored by Subaru of Indiana Automotive.

“We know the market is not only a place of commerce, but gathering and idea sharing,” Jones says. “The success of our market is community driven.”

Purdue Farmers Market
purdue.edu/physicalfacilities/sustainability
11 a.m.–2 p.m. Thursdays, May through October; Memorial Mall

Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features several lunch vendors and other prepared goods vendors, such as bakeries, in addition to some floral and produce vendors.

Guests without a campus parking permit may pay to park in the Grant Street Parking Garage, approximately a five-minute walk. The 2020 market was canceled in adherence of the Protect Purdue COVID-19 guidelines. At press time, a decision about the 2021 market had not been made public.

West Lafayette Farmers Market
westlafayette.in.gov/farmersmarket

3–7 p.m. Wednesdays, May through October; Cumberland Park

Casual and laid-back, the scene at the West Lafayette Farmers Market welcomes shoppers to visit with its 50 to 60 vendors, enjoy dinner from local food trucks and unwind listening to live music. Started in 2005, the market showcases grown and collected goods (such as eggs, honey and maple syrup) alongside numerous crafts and body products including children’s clothing, tie-dye, jewelry, soaps and lotions.

“Our main focus is organic produce, but we have many excellent craft vendors, too,” says Shelly Foran, market manager. “All craft vendors are juried to ensure high-quality goods.”

The market makes a perfect dinner destination with a selection of prepared food vendors, food trucks and bakeries. Two local wineries rotate, serving wine by the glass. The market stipulates that 75 percent of the items sold must be produced locally, within 100 miles of the market. In addition to tips, local musicians earn a small stipend for performing, thanks to two sponsors: The Russell Company and Reliable Insurance. The market is administered by the City of West Lafayette.

Foran describes the dog-friendly market as community-oriented. “It’s a great place to visit and socialize,” she says. “Customers get to know their vendors. We have many shoppers who return each week. We want to be a destination market.”

Local farmers and CSAs
Specifics can vary among CSAs, but in general you commit to purchasing a share — a basket of produce — on a regular basis for the entirety of the growing season. Typically, you can’t dictate exactly what comes in your basket, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to experiment with cooking with seasonal ingredients you might not otherwise purchase. Some CSAs allow for half shares or split shares. Several local farmers offer direct purchase of their goods.

Beck’s Family Farm
Stop by the Beck’s vegetable stand east of Attica for homegrown tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. It also frequents the farmers market.

Bloomer’s Greenhouse
bloomersgreenhouse.square.site
This small, family-owned farm and greenhouse in West Point sells flowers, herbs and gourmet vegetables. It’s also frequently spotted at many central Indiana farmers markets.

Double M Farms
facebook.com/farmfood4U

Operated by a fifth-generation farmer, Double M’s farming model is grass-based, meaning you won’t find GMOs, animal biproducts or antibiotics in any of the meat they sell. The farm offers grass-fed beef and lamb in the spring and pasture-raised pork, poultry and eggs year-round.

Highland Heights Farm
highlandheightsfarm.com

Based in Frankfort, Highland Heights Farm offers a monthly fresh veggie box subscription available for delivery to Boone, Clinton and Tippecanoe counties. The range of products includes lettuce, greens and herbs, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes and carrots.

Huffman & Hawbaker Farms
Hhfarms.com

Tippecanoe County-based Huffman & Hawbaker Farms grows tomatoes, jalepeno peppers and banana peppers. Its U-pick strawberry farm usually opens at the end of May and lasts a few weeks.

Purdue Student Farm
purdue.edu/studentfarm

A small, sustainable farm located near Kampen Golf Course, the Purdue Student Farm grows vegetables, herbs and cut flowers using the principles that naturally govern balanced ecosystems. Operated under the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the farm disperses its produce to university dining halls, donations to community food pantries and through publicly available CSAs.

Sycamore Springs on Springboro
sycamorespringsfarmonspringboro.com

This family farm in Brookston raises grass-fed beef and pork and grows fruits and vegetables as well as organic certified garlic. Shop its in-season selection online.

This Old Farm
thisoldfarm.com

What started as one family’s commitment to growing wholesome food for themselves has grown into a regional wholesale distributor delivering quality ingredients to restaurants, grocers, schools and cafeterias around the state.
Families can still shop its wide selection of organically farmed meats, eggs, cheeses and other artisan products
available for pick up in Colfax.

Thistle Byre Farm
thistlebyrefarmllc.com

A pasture-based, sustainable family farm in rural Delphi, Thistle Byre Farm’s mission is to help encourage others to make their homes nurturing, healthy and cozy without the use of chemicals, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Thistle Byre offers three different levels of membership for its meat and vegetable CSA.

Trinity Acres Farms
tendfarm.com/11319

Offering certified organic chemical-free produce and animal proteins, Trinity Acres Farms of Crawfordsville offers two CSA enrollment options. The conventional box CSA features an assortment of freshly harvested produce for 26 weeks, and the shoppers CSA allows buyers to choose their products from its online store.

Wea Creek Orchard
weacreekorchard.com

Offering a wide variety of fresh U-pick produce including apples, nectarines, peaches and pumpkins, Wea Creek Orchard makes a perfect family outing. The market, located south of Lafayette, also stocks its own line of canned goods including jams, jellies, salsa and barbecue sauce. Check the website for information about special events.

The Weathered Plow
Featuring fresh produce largely supplied by its own family farm near Camden, The Weathered Plow, 2325 Schuyler Ave., also sells delicious baked goods, take-and-bake meals, made to order sandwiches, candies and more. ★

Central Lafayette
Patio Dining at Parkside

Parkside | 1902 Scott St.
A Columbian Park staple for decades, Parkside reopened under new ownership just last year. The recently constructed patio opened in September and is nonsmoking, just like the reimagined restaurant. Outfitted with reclaimed lumber, polished concrete and a hanging garden, the stylish outdoor ambiance is a welcome respite. With dinner specials, smoked meats and “the coldest beer in town,” we don’t need an excuse to stop by and stay a while.
facebook.com/theparksidelafayette

Downtown Lafayette
Downtown Lafayette Patio Dining at Digby's

Digby’s | 113 N. Fourth St.
Tucked between two tall buildings, Digby’s patio may feel like an exclusive hideaway, and spaciously positioned tables along serpentine pathways dotted with trees lend an air of privacy. Its casual atmosphere belies what is arguably the best patio view in town. Gaze at the Tippecanoe Courthouse soaring overhead as local music emanating from the outdoor stage wafts over you. Reservations accepted, and your pup can come, too.
digbyspub.com

Downtown Patio Dining at East End Grill

East End Grill | 1016 Main St.
A seasonally inspired scratch menu, creative cocktails and a modern, urban vibe have earned East End Grill a reputation as one of the hottest spots in town. The restaurant has become an anchor of upper Main Street since it first opened five years ago. Weekend nights, tables are hard to come by without reservations, even more so for the few available on the small dog-friendly patio. Reservations encouraged.
eastendmain.com

Downtown Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Lafayette Brewing Co

Lafayette Brewing Co. | 622 Main St.
The first brewery to receive Indiana’s small brewers permit back in 1993, Brew Co. — as it’s known to locals — brews traditional ales and lagers on site. The kitchen sends out generous portions of unique pub fare that would satiate any appetite. Whether you stop by on Pint Night (Wednesday), Flight Night (Monday), Seven Buck Sunday or any other night, a good time is certain.
lafbrew.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Red Seven

Red Seven | 200 Main St.
Watch the world go by from your patio seat in the heart of downtown. From small plates to seafood to steaks, this new American restaurant offers an upscale urban dining experience for everyone. The extensive line up of seasonally crafted cocktails and local brews are enough to make you linger for an evening. Dogs welcome. Red Seven accepts reservations; although patio seating can be requested, it is not guaranteed.
red7grill.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Sgt. Preston's

Sgt. Preston’s of the North | 6 N. Second St.
Is there a more popular patio in town than Sgt. Preston’s on a sunny day? The Canadian-themed bar has been a staple in downtown Lafayette for decades, serving up delicious grub backed by a full bar with weekly dinner and drink specials. Often featuring live music on weekends, your best bet is to head over early to snag a table or visit on Monday for Schooner Night. 21+ only.
sgtprestons.net

South Lafayette
Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Rusty Taco

Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Dr.
Relatively new on the scene, Rusty Taco quickly impressed with its diverse menu of street tacos that pack bold flavors. With its festive umbrellas and charming string lights, the Rusty Taco patio gives off the mellow vibe of a place where you want to kick back, relax and forget about your worries for a while. Rusty says, “Tacos are the most important meal of the day,” and we can’t disagree.
rustytaco.com

Teays River Brewing and Public House | 3000 S. Ninth St.
This comfortable outdoor patio bedecked with picnic tables maintains a communal feeling even with sufficient social distancing. An extension of the laid-back scene that permeates inside, outdoor dining at Teays River features the same unique pub fare and tasty local brews. Bring Fido along; the patio is pooch friendly.
teaysriverbrewing.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette, Indiana at Walt's Other Pub

Walt’s Other Pub | 3001 S. Ninth St.
Not only does Walt’s Other Pub have a patio, you might even be lucky enough to score a seat on the balcony. Its immense menu with family-friendly options is sure to please. With 12 beers on tap, a robust wine list and a full bar, you have plenty of choices to accompany your meal. And if you go for lunch you might get served by the friendliest, most outgoing waitress in town. Everyone’s welcome at Walt’s patio, even the dog.
waltsotherpub.com

West Lafayette
Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at The Bryant

The Bryant | 1820 Sagamore Pkwy W
When The Bryant first opened its doors in November 2018, it already sounded familiar to longtime residents. The restaurant’s name harkens back to the much-beloved Morris Bryant Smorgasbord, which occupied the site from 1951 to 1994. After only a few years, the Bryant has quickly gained a place in our hearts, too. Its upscale, contemporary atmosphere and ever-evolving menu are enticing enough. Throw in one of the most inventive cocktail menus around? We’re sold.
thebryantwl.com

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana

Town and Gown Bistro | 119 N. River Road
Don’t overlook this gem of a place. Although located on a busy thoroughfare, the landscaped patio has been outfitted with numerous pots and planters filled with lush greenery that transform this cozy patio into a delightful oasis. Billed as “unfussy American eats” the chef-driven menu features familiar fare exquisitely executed. In addition to lunch and dinner, Town and Gown also is open for brunch and features a variety of vegetarian options. As if we needed another reason to love it.
facebook.com/townandgownbistro

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at Whittaker Inn

Whittaker Inn | 702 W 500 N
The Whittaker Inn’s picturesque country setting is the ideal location to enjoy a relaxing meal artfully crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Not just for out-of-towners, the Whittaker Kitchen is the heart of this inviting B&B just minutes from Purdue. The ever-changing menu offers new delights with each season, though we’re glad to see the scrumptious butterhorn bread rolls have become a mainstay. We could fill up on those alone. Reservations required.
thewhittakerinn.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

While much of life slowed or was outright canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city improvement and development projects continued, and many will come to fruition in 2021. From penguins to new planned neighborhoods, here’s a peek at what’s coming for our communities.

Columbian Park
Lafayette’s Columbian Park continues to be a beehive of activity with new attractions slated to open this spring and summer.

The recently constructed $20 million Loeb Stadium, located at the corner of Main and Wallace streets, will be dedicated at the end of January, says Lafayette Parks and Recreation Marketing Manager Samantha Haville. Some COVID-related delays pushed the project’s completion back a bit, but everything should be ready for Lafayette Jefferson High School’s baseball home opener in the spring.

The original Loeb Stadium, built in the 1940s of concrete, was long the site for Lafayette Jeff’s home games, the Colt World Series, and more recently the summer collegiate baseball team, the Lafayette Aviators, part of the West Division of the Prospect League. The new brick stadium, which will seat 2,600 people when suites and lawn seating opens later this year, is also designed as a multi-use space where concerts and family movie nights will be planned.

“We hope to make a big splash for the first Jeff home game and for the Aviators’ opener in early summer,” says Haville. “And we’re opening it up to community partnerships for a wide variety of events.”

The newest additions to the Columbian Park Zoo are scheduled to arrive before the zoo opens this spring. Nine African penguins will be shipped from California to inhabit the penguin house constructed in 2020. Their arrival was delayed because of travel restrictions, but the hope is that these warm-weather birds will feel at home and be ready for visitors by late April.

Another exciting addition, an updated blast from the past, will be a new carousel. Construction on a permanent building to house this family favorite has begun, located between the zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park. The carousel will feature hand-carved and painted wooden animals that represent some of those found in the zoo, along with exotic species and traditional horses. Haville says no date has been set for the opening of this much-loved ride.

While some of these new projects will not be fully used until the pandemic is under control, several planned features in Columbian Park will be open for individual use this summer.

Phase three of the Memorial Island project is proceeding apace. A new amphitheater with upgraded sound system is planned. The lagoon was drained last year, and sea walls are being rebuilt. Lots of new elements are being added to make the area accessible for folks with disabilities including boardwalks, new bridges, and ADA fishing nodes that jut out into the lagoon and accommodate a wheelchair, Haville says. The parks department is working with Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to choose fish that will be stocked in the refilled lagoon this summer.

“We are most excited about the fact that paddle boats are coming back!” Haville says. “The boats will be located on the south side of the lagoon near the train depot. We hope to have them available
in July.”

Cason Family Park
Keeping with the theme of public parks and outdoor spaces, West Lafayette has several projects in the works, says Erin Easter, director of development for the city.

Cason Family Park is a planned 14-acre prairie-style space being developed in two phases. The park, located on acreage donated by local farmer Lynn Cason at Cumberland Avenue and U.S. 231, is already home to the historic, one-room Morris Schoolhouse. Built in 1879, the school was moved to the property in 2017 and restored so it can be used for educational programs.

Construction on other park elements is slated to begin this year with completion set for 2022. Surrounding the schoolhouse will be outdoor play places, lawns and waterways. There will be picnic pavilions, public restrooms and several trails throughout the acreage.

“This will be a really fun, whimsical place to play that won’t feel forced,” Easter says. “There will be natural playgrounds with climbing rocks, wooden elements and rest areas.”

For bikers and walkers in West Lafayette, a planned 10-foot-wide pathway project will roll out this year. The path will run along Salisbury Street from Kalberer Road to Grant Street and end at Northwestern Avenue. The project will include shifting some traffic lanes and burying utilities, says Easter. Lighting and other amenities will be added during this two-year project, which will provide a safer way for pedestrians to move from the northern side of the city to the Purdue campus.

And the pathway will lead directly to the new Wellness Center just completed in Cumberland Park. This 73,000-square-foot facility houses a pool, gym, walking track, weight equipment and spaces for health classes, Easter says.

“A lot of our parks programming was put on pause in 2020,” she says. “It was difficult not to do those things last year, but we’ll have a beautiful new home (for those programs) when the time is right.” (See story on Page 22)

A New City Hall in West Lafayette

While anticipating summer activities, Easter and other city employees are spending these colder months settling into newly renovated office space at the Sonya L. Marjerum City Hall, formerly the Morton Community Center. Remodeling of the historic building began in 2019 and was largely completed in December when city workers began moving in.

The city offices have moved around for several years, but the more than $15 million renovations should allow the building on Chauncey Avenue to be a permanent home, says Easter. The name of the building was changed to honor the late Sonya Marjerum who served as West Lafayette mayor for 24 years.

“We moved into the building exactly two years to the date that construction began,” she says. “There are so many advantages to this space now. It’s ADA compliant and accessible. Four-fifths of the building space will be focused on parks or city programming and available to the community. And the new City Council chambers will serve as a true home for (the council’s) work. Before there was a sense of impermanence, but we hope this will be our final and forever home.”

City Hall’s first floor now has community space including two dance studios that can also host art programming and other activities. The first floor also houses the City Council chambers and other meeting space. The second floor is home to city staff including the mayor’s office, parks department, clerk’s office and other departments. A customer service desk is centrally located so visitors can easily get the help they need, Easter notes.

And additional community projects are planned between City Hall and the West Lafayette Public Library. Three public spaces will be added that include art pieces that also can serve as road barriers to temporarily block streets for festivals and large gatherings.

Lafayette projects

Lafayette also is completing some downtown projects and making plans for a new 70,000-square-foot public safety building and parking garage. The first public hearing concerning the facility design was held December 16, and the city hopes to begin construction this year with completion planned in 2023, says Lafayette Economic Development Director Dennis Carson.

The facility, which will be on property just east of City Hall at Sixth and Columbia streets, will house the police department and provide parking for city employees plus extra public parking spaces. The multi-story building will include open plazas for public use and be an asset to downtown living, Carson says.

Several Lafayette streetscape projects wrapped up in 2020 that have made downtown more pedestrian friendly and encouraged both investors and shoppers to see the businesses along Main Street as desired destinations. Paying attention to historic preservation and making the area more consumer friendly has paid off.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and people say being downtown is now a better experience, in a safer environment that is more interactive,” says Carson. “We’ve encouraged outdoor dining, which has been so important during the pandemic, and we have more retail than we’ve had in decades.”

While the growth of brick and mortar stores is a surprise in this age of on-line shopping, Carson says there are more clothing and other retail stores downtown than have been seen in years. That trend shows that the investment in improving sidewalks, installing public art, and focusing on local businesses has paid off as people feel more comfortable lingering and shopping downtown.

“We’re very excited about it,” he says. “It’s a testament that people like to experience things (in person). We know it’s been challenging for some of these shops but we think they’ll hold up and do really well when things open up again.”

Provenance

Perhaps the biggest project coming to Tippecanoe County is back across the river on the west side of the Purdue campus. As part of the Discovery Park District, the city of West Lafayette, Purdue Research Foundation and Old Town Design Group from Indianapolis have launched a planned housing development called Provenance.

Work has begun on apartments at the southwest corner of State Street and Airport Road to be followed by condominiums, town homes and single family homes, says West Lafayette’s Easter, adding that commercial and retail spaces are also part of the mix.

According to information from Old Town Design Group, this multiphase project will eventually include walking paths that connect to nearby parks, golf courses, shops and restaurants. The development includes lots for 56 single-family homes and 30 townhomes.

So grab your mask and take a drive around our communities to see the changes coming. While it feels as if our lives are shrinking, there are brighter days ahead with much to celebrate. ★

BY HANNAH HARPER
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Follow the leader. Lead by example. Take the lead. It’s safe to say that the concept of leadership has left an unmistakable imprint on the American vernacular, and rightly so, as it determines the course of everything from our countries to our businesses. Cultivating this vital skill in younger generations is an important part of ensuring our mutual success, and it is something in which Greater Lafayette continues to invest and value in the community.

TC Young Professionals

Tippy Connect Young Professionals provides young professionals ages 21-39 in Greater Lafayette an opportunity to discover their community and build lasting relationships with their peers and neighbors. With 151 members and several programs focused on the values of engagement, development, opportunity and service, the Greater Lafayette Commerce leadership program strives to be a connecting force within the community.

As a young professional, David Teter, a member of the Tippy Connect Young Professionals Steering Committee, has enjoyed the behind-the-scenes process of helping to organize opportunities for his peers.

“Knowing the community is the first step to making a difference, and I’m thrilled to know so many people with a passion for the community and developing new leaders and cultivating talent,” Teter says.

Programs such as Adulting 101 and Taproom Takeover are two such opportunities for young professionals to get to know the community.
Adulting 101 partners with local organizations to help young professionals learn or brush up on important life skills such as financial planning or changing a tire. Taproom Takeover allows Tippy Connect members to learn about the local restaurant scene through discussions with the business owners who operate them.

“Adulting 101 helps create those roots in Greater Lafayette because once you know [the community], you feel more at home, less out of place,” says Rebecca Jones, Quality of Life Coordinator and Tippy Connect Liaison for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “[Taproom Takeover] is another way for these individuals to grow roots.”

For Lafayette transplant Tyler Knochel, creating that sense of community for all young professionals is an important part of his involvement with the organization.

“Through my work at Tippy Connect, I want other people like me, young professionals and emerging leaders, to see Greater Lafayette the way I do,” he says. “I want to see more of us rally around our community and continue to make it great.”

In addition to community events, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also offers leadership training through its Success in 60 program and leadership conference. Success in 60 is delivered as a workshop where Tippy Connect members can learn personal and professional development skills that will equip them to become better leaders. Examples of past workshop topics include confidence and StrengthsFinder.

New to the programs offered through Tippy Connect is a leadership conference. The conference is tailored to young professionals and includes opportunities for networking, professional development tracks and keynote speakers.

“As long as you want to professionally develop yourself and personally grow with your peers, we have programming for you,” Jones says.

Although Tippy Connect Young Professionals caters the majority of its programming to a subset of the community, anyone who believes he or she may benefit from the organization’s programming is invited to reach out to attend an event. As a result of partnerships and connections to community organizations, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also gives members an opportunity to continue to serve the community through volunteerism and board representation even after they no longer fall into the designated young professional age range.

“We can talk about our community as a whole as it all relates to Greater Lafayette,” says Jones. “The end point for someone’s professional development isn’t when they’re 39 and aging out of Tippy Connect. It should be never.”

For more information or to join, please visit tippyconnect.com.


Leadership Lafayette

Since 1982, Leadership Lafayette has cultivated leadership potential in the citizens of Greater Lafayette to enrich the community in government, business and nonprofit sectors. The organization is an application-based leadership development program that prepares its cohorts through experiential learning and community engagement.

“Beginning with our Opening Retreat, we focus on identifying personal strengths as well as skills, abilities and passions that make each individual uniquely positioned to give back to our community,” says Kitty Campbell, executive director of Leadership Lafayette.

Each session focuses on a different area of the community to teach them about opportunities available in sectors such as civics, education and youth advocacy, human services, the arts and nonprofits. Participants also learn valuable leadership skills such as conflict resolution and team development.

For Knochel, who was a member of Class 46, several of the sessions gave him a greater understanding of challenges, talents and systems that exist within the community.

“My favorite session was all about building systematic support in our communities – how does the mission and reach of one organization or program connect and build into the mission and reach of another?”
he says.

The organization takes a unique approach to leadership training, focusing on servant leadership to provide exposure to opportunities where alumni can serve the community after completing the program. Through the Leadership Lafayette Volunteer Expo, the organization provides resources for alumni to get involved.

Knochel learned about leadership opportunities from his Leadership Lafayette experience in which he continues to take part.

“I serve on a committee for United Way and Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF), I serve on the steering committee for Tippy Connect Young Professionals, and I’m on the board of directors for an X-District and The American Advertising Federation in Lafayette,” he says.

“Leadership Lafayette was the first step I took in really getting involved in our community and helping build a greater Lafayette.”

Although the program is open to people of all ages, the organization has created partnerships to reach young professionals in the community.

“We collaborate with community partners, including Tippy Connect Young Professionals, to encourage businesses and nonprofit organizations to invest in the personal and professional development of their emerging talent, and to encourage young professionals to learn how they can get involved in our community and better our shared quality of life,” says Campbell.

Teter, a member of Class 49, gained insight into how community leaders work together to contribute to the overall success of Greater Lafayette.

“Leaders from various organizations collaborate and think of new events and activities that benefit the community, which is incredible,” he says. “I saw the start of some new ideas and collaborations during Class 49, and I’m sure Leadership Lafayette will continue to be an accelerator for the development of the community and leaders to move our community forward.”

For more information or to apply, visit leadershiplafayette.org.


The People Business 2.0

Providing a new and personalized twist for young professionals to build leadership skills, The People Business 2.0 is a personal and professional development organization owned by Sharlee Lyons. Certified as a Gallup Strengths Coach, Growing Leaders Master Trainer, and Fascinate Certified Advisor, among other qualifications, Lyons began the People Business 2.0 in 2020 after a career in multiple leadership and training roles.

“The People Business 2.0 is the collection of the personal and professional development best practices I’ve experienced in my professional career, and now I am blessed to share them with others,” Lyons says.

The leadership coaching provided by Lyons is customized to each individual client, making the leadership development experience personalized to the client’s unique needs and challenges. However, leadership coaching follows the same seven steps: (1) relationship development, (2) leadership competencies overview and assessment, (3) curiosity and learning about leadership competencies, (4) client setting goals for development, (5) assessments that lead to self-discovery, (6) coaching that leads to goal setting, and (7) client-driven action planning.

“I consider myself a ‘guide on the side’ as the client works through self-discovery, development, action planning and goal attainment,” says Lyons.

While leadership coaching is available to clients of all ages, Lyons offers coaching for young leaders through use of the Growing Leaders Habitudes curriculum, which was developed to teach leadership habits and attitudes to youth and young professionals through images.

“Our hope for the future depends on how well we train our young leaders, and it doesn’t happen by chance, it must be intentional,” she says.

Also intentional is Lyons’ choice to use The People Business 2.0 to bring leadership coaching to the Greater Lafayette community.

“My husband and I have lived in Greater Lafayette for 20 years,” she says. “It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere, and that is intentional. I love this
community.” ★

Additional leadership opportunities for young professionals:

• Evergreen Leadership: evergreenleadership.com

• United Way Emerging Leaders United: uwlafayette.org

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

This year marks the 95th anniversary of Kirby Risk Corporation, founded in 1926 when J. Kirby Risk borrowed $500 from his father and joined Otto Keiffer to open the Keiffer-Risk Battery Company in a small, abandoned blacksmith shop in Lafayette. Keiffer left the company within the year and was replaced by George Tweedie. The company became Risk-Tweedie Electric Service, and Risk was able to repay his father that $500 loan.

After Tweedie’s departure in 1934, the company was renamed Kirby Risk Electric Company, expanded into wholesale distributions of electric supplies and moved to a new downtown location in 1941. Through it all, Risk remained committed to a concept the company now refers to as sacrificial service.

Risk’s son, company CEO James Risk III, describes sacrificial service to mean placing the highest value on customers, employees, vendors and community relations.

“My father felt strongly that your life’s activities and your business should be based on integrity, respect for people and valuing others,” Risk says. “My mother and father were an amazing team. I learned by watching them that true happiness comes from serving others or enriching the lives of other people.”


The second-generation leader recalls accompanying his father to the company warehouse on evenings and weekends as a child.

“I was fascinated walking down the aisles with all of the different products, parts and equipment,” Risk says. “I didn’t necessarily know their purpose or understand how they worked.

Risk first started working at the company during summers while he was in school. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in management, he began his career at the sales counter and worked his way up to vice president of sales before he was named company president in 1972 at the age of 30. No stranger to leadership, Risk had already served as president of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

A commitment to community service is another value Risk learned from his father. According to Risk, his parents “left us a legacy of valuing others and having a sincere concern for your fellow man.” Among his many contributions to the community, the elder Risk championed bringing Junior Achievement to Lafayette and the younger Risk participated in the program in high school.

“The cornerstone to our company’s success is a commitment to long-term relationships with our employees and their families, with our customers, and with our vendors,” Risk says. “Equally important is having a presence in our communities. Our employees are encouraged to get involved in their communities, value other people and simply do more than what is expected. My parents lived their lives that way and I just tagged along for the ride.”

Family Business

Eddy Del Real was 4 years old when his father, Jose, opened Del Real Auto Sales. Jose still worked at Alcoa at the time. He’d wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the car auction, report to the plant at 3 p.m. and get off shift at 11 p.m. His three sons, Alonzo, Eddy and Tony, began helping out at the lot as kids, washing cars and performing other odd jobs on weekends or after school. Now all three sons — and their brother-in-law — work for the family business. 

“It wasn’t ever expected of us. We were raised to do what we love,” Eddy Del Real says. “For me, it’s an awesome opportunity. We’ve always been family oriented. We were all brought into the business. We each have investment in it. Dad showed us the ropes and we took it from there to broaden the business and expand it.” 

Since its founding in 1987, Del Real has expanded into three locations. Eddy manages the flagship Del Real Auto Sales in Lafayette; Alonzo runs Del Real Auto Connection on Sagamore Parkway, Lafayette; and Tony opened Del Real Automotive Group in Frankfort.
In terms of his father’s leadership style, Eddy Del Real says Jose’s
approach has always been firm,
but egalitarian. 

“There isn’t really a hierarchy of titles,” he says. “We were all raised as equals. We’ve never really had a boss. My dad has the knowledge, so we would ask him for advice and roll with it. He’s shown us that if you put your time and your investments into the business, you’ll reap the benefits. He’s done well for himself, and we want to continue that legacy.”

Eddy Del Real said one thing that sets the family business apart from other auto dealerships is the way they do business. Because their business carries the family name, the Del Reals are invested in every single sale. The company values stem from Jose’s strong work ethic and belief in transparency of the deal — no gimmicks, everything is sold with a warranty and deal the way you want to be treated. Though his sons manage the day-to-day operations, Jose is still involved in the business. 

“We still go to the auction together,” Eddy Del Real says. “Sometimes we’ll talk business at the dinner table when we’re all together. It’s something that will always unite us. My mom and our wives are the ones that keep us grounded.”

Counter philosophy

Basim Hussain started hanging out at his dad’s place of work when he was still too young to be on the payroll. What kid wouldn’t want to spend all day in an ice cream shop? Sabir Hussain operates three Coldstone Creamery locations throughout Greater Lafayette. Once Basim was old enough, he sought employment at one of his father’s stores.

“He considered applying for other jobs, even interviewed for a few. But they just weren’t for him,” Sabir Hussain says. “The way we provide flexibility to young people in school and sports and other activities, we go above and beyond in recruiting and keeping young employees.”

Basim’s only concern about working for his dad? He was worried he’d be missing out on a real work experience.

“At the end of the day, your dad probably won’t fire you,” Sabir Hussain says. “But Basim gets admonished just like anyone else, and to be honest, a little bit more than others. There’s extra pressure if the owner’s son isn’t in proper uniform.”

Hussain takes a long-term approach in developing his young workers. He looks for opportunities to challenge them to see alternate perspectives. He encourages them to be problem solvers. He guides them in cultivating strong customer relations skills that could be applied to dealing with clients in almost any future career path. Basim, now a freshman at Cornell University, remained at home during the fall
semester due to the pandemic. While enrolled in online courses,
he still worked part-time in his father’s store.

“For all my young employees, I hope there is something they pick up from this job that stays with them for the rest of their life,”
Sabir Hussain says. “I truly believe
it takes a village to raise a young person. My role may not be
counselor or teacher or pastor, but at the same time, it’s not nothing. I’m not just a person who signs
their check.” ★

BY JANE MCLAUGHLIN ANDERSON
MELISSA MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY

As we happily flip over the calendar to 2021, discover a new place to pursue wellness for mind, body and spirit in Greater Lafayette. The West Lafayette Wellness Center opened in early January, just in time to pursue your New Year’s resolutions. Located in Cumberland Park on the north side of West Lafayette, it is open to everyone, regardless of residence. A recreation and indoor aquatic facility has been on the city’s bucket list for more than 30 years; the timing couldn’t be better to build a holistic center for health. The Wellness Center has something
for everybody.

Wellness Center Director Kevin Noe says, “This is much more than a gym or a fitness center; we are growing a community and building relationships with a wholesome family atmosphere. You can bring your kids in and drop them off at the Clubhouse while you take a class. You can work out while your kids are at basketball practice.” Having the space to create new programs and room to grow is exciting for the West Lafayette Parks Department, which most recently operated out of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School building.

The 7,300-square-foot fitness floor includes a full line-up of strength training and cardio equipment with a view. Wrap-around windows overlook the park, outdoor playground, pond and the adjacent Michaud-Sinninger Nature Preserve, teeming with wildlife. Inviting nature to indoor and outdoor activities sparks energy and wellness, reduces stress and gives people a place to connect with others the old-fashioned way – in person.

The large hybrid pool can accommodate swimmers of all abilities. There are three different ways to enter the pool: zero depth with water features for children, traditional stairs, and a wheelchair lift. The indoor aquatic facility features four lap lanes and areas for swim lessons and group exercise. There’s even a vortex section to walk with or against the current. Dive-In Movies in the pool area are just one of the fun programs in store. Parks Superintendent Kathy Lozano says, “Swimming is a lifelong exercise and something you can do well into your 80s or 90s.”

Like to play games? Great! There are plenty of opportunities to play sports in the two wooden floor basketball-sized gyms or the multi-purpose gym striped for pickleball. A four-lane running/walking track overlooks the gymnasium and is a great way to keep moving in the winter. If you like exercising in a group atmosphere, the Wellness Center has three studios for classes. The Wellness Center will hold youth and adult sports programs and summer camps in this space, but they are not included in the membership fee.

Membership includes unlimited use of the pool, open gym, strength and cardio equipment, indoor walking track, group exercise and wellness classes, and childcare while you work out. Members receive discounts on swim lessons and personal training, along with special member-only activities. Membership is open to everyone; however, households who pay West Lafayette property taxes and active military are exempt from the joiner’s fee.

Non-residents pay the one-time fee in addition to their membership package. No contracts are required, and members may put their accounts on hold for three months a year if needed. A variety of individual and family memberships are available, as well as daily passes. See the website for details, wl.in.gov/parks, or stop by the Wellness Center at 1101 Kalberer Rd., West Lafayette.
Integrating the Wellness Center within Cumberland Park provides opportunities to commune with nature and increase well-being. A marked 5K trail weaves around the grounds of the building and through the park. Eventually, the trail will lead to the new Margerum Government and Community Center.
In its very definition, recreation is the refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through an activity that amuses or stimulates; play. The Well-

ness Center is a prescription for attaining that refreshment.
“The Wellness Center has something for every health seeker,” says Wellness Coordinator Rachel MacDougall. “It’s no secret that exercise has many benefits. The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
Community rooms can be rented for meetings or gatherings with a nearby warming kitchen available. There’s even a party room by the pool to host children’s birthday parties. DogStudio is commissioned to create an interactive motion-sensing art piece in the lobby guaranteed to captivate and emotionally engage visitors. Check out West Lafayette Parks’ Facebook page for dynamic news, photos and videos of the Wellness Center and all parks and recreation activities. ★

“The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

On a cold winter’s day, or even a warm summer evening, a bowl of soup can be a meal or a side dish to a grilled cheese sandwich.

A good bowl of soup can bring customers into a restaurant, and there are several Greater Lafayette establishments that offer a variety of homemade soups.

“Soups are comfort food,” says Jody Bahler, founder and owner of The Homestead, which has locations in West Lafayette and Remington. “It’s like balm to the soul to enjoy a delicious steamy bowl of homemade soup.”
The Homestead believes in offering a wide variety of soups each month. Including its tomato basil, which is available daily, The Homestead usually has nearly a dozen soups on its monthly menu.

“There is enough to satisfy everyone’s taste buds,” Bahler says. “Everyone enjoys a steamy bowl of soup, especially during these cold wintry months.”

The Homestead’s website, homesteadbuttery.com, has a daily lunch calendar that allows patrons to see what soups are available on a daily basis. The Homestead also packages its soups frozen for customers to heat up at home, a popular business strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked which is the most popular soup among her customers, Bahler couldn’t stop at just one. There are five on her list: tomato basil, baked potato, Boilermaker stew, chicken noodle and cheesy broccoli noodle.

“We have several that rank up at the tip top in sales. Those five are in constant demand, which thrills us that our soups are enjoyed by so many,” Bahler says. Bahler’s personal favorite is tomato basil in combination with The Homestead’s grilled cheese sandwich. She also recommends getting the Boilermaker stew topped with sour cream, crushed cheesy Doritos and extra shredded cheddar cheese.

“Our soups are hearty and do not contain preservatives or fillers,” Bahler says. “They are made completely from scratch in our Homestead production kitchen in Remington, Indiana.”

In case you were wondering, The Homestead offers several gluten-free soups: chicken and rice, chicken tortilla, Homestead chili, tomato basil and white chicken chili.

The Homestead’s West Lafayette location, which is tucked inside Bell Plaza next to Wolf’s Chocolates and Boutique & Gifts by Michele, boasts 22 different varieties of frozen entrees along with pies, cookies, breads and sweet rolls. If the food isn’t enough, The Homestead sells candles, chocolates, jams, Amish noodles, deli meats and cheeses and locally raised freezer beef.

At Trish’s Red Bird Café in Dayton, chicken corn chowder has the honor of being the most popular soup. Not far behind, though, is the breakfast soup.

“I believe that these are so popular because they are so fresh tasting and just warm you up on the inside,” says Red Bird Café owner Trish Brown, whose personal favorite is her tomato basil soup.

“It’s not a traditional tomato soup,” Brown says. “It is very chunky.”

Brown believes the secret to her soups’ popularity is simple.

“I would say our soups are so special because we make them completely from scratch and I can tell you every ingredient in every one,” she says. “Our soups are not the ‘normal’ soups you see in other restaurants. We offer several that were created just for us.”

Trish’s Red Bird Café sells homemade soups by the quart, hot or cold, for $10. The current list includes stuffed bell pepper, loaded potato, broccoli cheese, chili, chicken tortilla, chicken corn chowder, tomato basil bisque and the breakfast soup. All are gluten-free.

“I feel that the Greater Lafayette area likes soups and chili because it is a good way to fill up, and it just makes you think of family,” Brown says. “Growing up in this area most of us ate a lot of soup, so at least for me personally it brings back happy memories. It’s just good comfort, feel-good food.”

Partially for space reasons, Great Harvest Bread Co. doesn’t offer a variety of soups like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café. However, Great Harvest owner Jerry Lecy says a great deal of care goes into each batch coming out of Great Harvest’s kitchen.

“We make these soups from scratch, so it’s not easy to perfect so many options,” Lecy says. Those options include butternut squash, cheesy broccoli, cream of mushroom, cheesy potato ham, and chili.

Like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café, Great Harvest customers list tomato basil as a favorite along with velvet chicken.

“The popularity contest between the tomato basil and the velvet chicken is a toss-up,” Lecy says. “Both are desired just as much. My personal
favorite is velvet chicken. I just love the creamy taste and shreds of chicken. The seasoning tops it off.”

For customers who desire to have Great Harvest soups at home, there are dry soup mixes for sale.

“We offer over 20 varieties of these soups that are easy to make and tasty,” Lecy says. “They can be tweaked to a person’s liking with additional ingredients, or it’s simple to just add water and heat up.”

Just as easy is Lecy’s explanation for why he believes soups are a staple of Greater Lafayette dining.

“I believe soup is so desirous in our area for two reasons,” he says. “First, it is a simple meal – don’t need to figure out which main course you want or which sides you want with that. It’s one easy decision: which delicious soup do I want?

“Second, it’s a comfort food (which) warms the soul and body.” ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The original idea behind Art with a Happy Heart Gallery and Studio was simple: find a way to share art and support the community at the same time. After quickly outgrowing her barn studio, owner and artist Sarah Czajkowski purchased the building previously occupied by Samson and Delilah Salon and Spa at 2139 Ferry St. in Lafayette. She set about transforming the space and opened to the public on July 1.

The gallery showcases artwork from local, regional and international artists while the studio provides an area for private art instruction, classes taught by visiting artists, seasonal craft workshops and paint parties, which is where Czajkowski got her start.

“Paint parties lend themselves to creativity and connection,” she says. “The experience fosters a real sense of self-confidence and pride. Guests are surprised and amazed that they created the artwork themselves.”
Czajkowski also offers a mobile paint party studio where she brings all the supplies to any location up to an hour away. The parties have been popular with girls’ night out groups, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, corporate events, bridal parties, church groups and fundraisers. Paint party kits are also available for purchase in the gallery. During the pandemic, Czajkowski has focused primarily on private group parties. Future plans for the venue include serving wine, beer and a small food menu on the outdoor patio and hosting live music once a week in addition to building out a full calendar of courses in fine art, pottery and jewelry making.

“To be able to do this for a living brings me so much joy,” Czajkowski says. “All I want is for people to be happy while they are here. It’s truly a magical place.”

Adapting art

The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was founded in 1909 with a three-part mission to collect art, exhibit art and provide educational opportunities for individuals in the community to learn about art and experience art hands on. The museum has remained true to its mission over the years, but COVID-19 presented challenges for traditional in-person instruction. Instead, the museum quickly pivoted to a virtual environment.

“Many of our faculty members created online learning experiences,” says Kendall Smith, executive director and CEO. “We’re trying a lot of new things.”

Last fall, the museum offered virtual classes in painting and drawing for kids and adults through Zoom and Facebook Live. Additionally, watercolor kits are available for purchase through the museum shop for students to use at home while watching a series of watercolor technique videos recorded by a member of the museum faculty. The pottery studio remains open to advanced students with limited occupancy.

“The reaction from the community has been very positive,” Smith says. “Several of our online children’s art classes have sold out right after they were announced. We plan to continue to offer virtual education and create video productions to enhance what we offer in the future. We’re all learning a lot.”

Art Classes Around Town

» All Fired Up
In addition to its paint-your-own pottery studio, All Fired Up offers off-site parties and pottery-to-go kits with everything you need to complete a masterpiece. Items painted with pottery paints can be returned to the store for firing to make them food safe. Decorative items that do not need to be food safe can be finished in acrylic paints. Learn more at allfiredupwestlafayette.com.

» Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Find online art activities and tutorials as well as information about virtual art classes for youth and adults at the Art Museum’s website, artlafayette.org.

» Art with a Happy Heart
In addition to private paint parties, artist-led workshops and even yoga classes, this recently opened studio and gallery holds open studio events where you’ll walk away with your own seasonal craft. Find out more at artwithahappyheart.com.

» Inspired Fire
Owned and operated by glass artist Sharon Owens, this glass studio and gallery located in Shadeland offers a range of classes for ages 6 and up with no experience required. See a complete list of class offerings at inspiredfire.com.

» Lafayette Atelier
Modeled after private art studio schools that emerged in 19th century Europe, this nonprofit art education studio was founded by artist James C. Werner. Focused on classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture, the studio offers weekly demonstration and life
drawing nights. Find them on Facebook @classicalfinearttraining.

» LaLa Gallery & Studio
Owner Angela Taylor teaches lessons, classes, parties, groups and students with special needs starting with children (3+) to adults in her private pottery studio located in the Bindery Artist Studios. Each class offering can be customized according to the student’s interest and level of experience. For more information, visit lalagallery.com.

» West Lafayette Parks and Recreation
Everything from basket weaving to watercolor to photography is on offer through West Lafayette Parks and Recreation. All programs take place at 1200 N. Salisbury St. (site of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School). View the entire recreation brochure at westlafayette.in.gov/parks.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GREATER LAFAYETTE COMMERCE

When you think of Greater Lafayette, what comes to mind?
A growing startup culture and world-class manufacturing?
Accessible arts and recreation for varied interests? Friendly
neighbors and excellent public schools?

For the members of the Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition (GLMC), these qualities and more boil down to this core message, which marketing professionals call a brand promise:
“Greater Lafayette is where progress, creativity and community thrive, so you can live expansively.”

More than two years in the making, the unmasking of the brand — unveiled in the Long Center in October to dispersed guests sporting an assortment of understated and glittered masks — includes new social media accounts, a video, a set of Greater Lafayette logos and a fresh website in a saturated palette of purple, green, orange, blue and teal. The stories that the visuals and the text tell are all designed to send the message that Greater Lafayette is not just a place that we come to; it’s a place where we want to stay.

Roots in the GE deal

Greater Lafayette’s brand is rooted in part in lessons learned from a major business development deal.
“We continue to hear stories of people who came here and thought they would stay for a while, but they never left,” says Cindy Murray, Lafayette city clerk. “When we were going through the process to bring in GE, what they used to choose our community, it really began to hit home that we needed to market ourselves to compete in a global economy for global talent.”
When the GE plant was built, she says, corporate officials stayed at the Holiday Inn Lafayette-City Centre and participated in a community scavenger hunt. Afterwards, the visitors met with Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and remarked that they didn’t know the region had so much to offer. Murray says that the mayor and his staff realized that they needed to tell the Greater Lafayette story in an entirely new way. “It’s all about people, the quality of life for people that makes them give Greater Lafayette a chance,” she explains.

A phased process

In May 2018, Greater Lafayette officials invited firms to bid on developing a comprehensive strategy. Ultimately, they chose Ologie, a firm that has worked with Purdue University in the past.

“They are a true branding agency who helps companies with clear, compelling and consistent strategy,” says Emily Blue, senior manager of brand, advertising and sponsorships at Purdue, who has been intimately involved in Greater Lafayette’s branding process.

The firm completed a deep dive with both qualitative and quantitative research, including an audit of economic development plans and communications materials, discussion groups and interviews with key stakeholders, and an online survey of the community. Among the constituents queried: corporations, businesses, K-12 schools and higher education, community and nonprofit organizations and government organizations.

Strategy and creative

The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition formed in February 2019, bringing together representatives from the City of Lafayette, the City of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, Purdue University, the Purdue Research Foundation and Greater Lafayette Commerce. One of the group’s first decisions was to ask member organization Greater Lafayette Commerce to coordinate the project and brand management for the coalition. Greater Lafayette Commerce promoted its marketing director, Michelle Brantley, to the role of project leader and brand manager.

Once the discovery process was complete, it was time for phase two, strategy. Against the backdrop of its research report, and with GLMC in a collaborative role, the firm identified key audiences, outlined key messages and defined a brand personality — how that messaging should look, feel and sound.

As phase three, the creative, began, GLMC again engaged in a competitive process, choosing Toledo, Ohio-based Madhouse Creative for the video, and homegrown advertising firm Dearing Group for website development. Officials also began training a small group of Lafayette business professionals, executive directors and community leaders — “An ambassador group to generate excitement,” says David Byers, Tippecanoe County commissioner.

A community on the rise

Collectively, the identity is designed to meet three main goals: increasing the talent pool by retaining and attracting a citizen workforce; spurring economic growth by attracting business investments and elevating quality of life; and increasing positive perceptions of the Greater Lafayette region. All of that can be summed up in the nearly five-minute video, starring a former NBA dancer and her husband.

“We were challenged to tell our story as a community on the rise in an exciting way,” says Brantley. “We’re focused on prospective employees, businesses and others that we are seeking to attract to our area.” That required several messages, borne out of the constituent research: what kinds of value-addeds transplants get when they relocate here, how Greater Lafayette often exceeds newcomers’ expectations, and why the region is a great place to do business.

All that, and they were shooting during a pandemic.

True fiction

After crafting a narrative, the Madhouse Creative team decided to cast a couple living in the same household so that they could shoot up close and still adhere to infection control protocols. Strategic camera angles allowed the two main characters to be shot in view of others while socially distanced from them. Filmed in August, many of the scenes take place outside.

The main character, an advanced manufacturing professional from a big city, interviews with several local companies before joining the crew at Subaru. While out running one day at the Celery Bog, she meets an agricultural tech entrepreneur. From dates at the Bryant, to bike rides, to a city hall wedding and walks with a baby stroller, we see the couple meet, fall in love — with each other and the community — and set down roots here.

Even in its fiction, the story should ring true to those who are familiar with Greater Lafayette, from the many familiar sights and sounds to the feelings that it evokes. As the protagonist muses, “When I moved here, I was looking for change. But what I found was home. This is the rich, full life I’ve always wanted. Each of us, every single person in our community, is what makes this place… greater.”

The Greater Lafayette Brand Launch Event

Un-Masking the Greater Lafayette Brand

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

The Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition held a scaled back brand launch event on Monday, Oct. 26, hosting a group of elected officials, corporate,
university and civic leaders, and brand ambassadors.

The event was planned in two parts to disperse guests and maintain COVID-19 protocol. GLMC partnered with restaurants and The Long Center for Performing Arts to provide a safe and entertaining brand premier event. Guests were asked to select their restaurant of choice and enjoy a four-course meal before the premier. Mixing and mingling at the restaurants was discouraged. Each venue was unique, providing guests with live entertainment and surprise swag bag deliveries during the dinner party experience.

After dinner, guests made their way to the Long Center for the brand premier, where they were treated to a red-carpet experience complete with a Greater Lafayette Walk of Fame. Again, mixing and mingling was minimized and guests were directed to their socially distanced seats. The program began with a dazzling performance of the Greater Lafayette brand narrative by Dance Dynamics. It was followed by short segments that revealed the elements of the new brand, including brand colors and logos, Greater Lafayette Magazine, the website and brand video.

We encourage readers to view the video at www.greaterlafayetteind.com,
the home page of the Greater Lafayette website.

Long Center for the Performing Arts
A quiet Long Center for the Performing Arts prior to guests arrival.

BY CINDY GERLACH

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY VISIT LAFAYETTE – WEST LAFAYETTE

If someone had suggested 15 or 20 years ago that you take a drive down Wabash Avenue, that suggestion may have been met with hesitation — apprehension, even. 

And a suggestion to view the art? Laughable. 

Today, what was formerly a hidden neighborhood, a sort of secret enclave of life along the Wabash River, is now a bright spot. And much of the credit goes to Wabash Walls. 

This public art installation, a series of murals painted on the sides of buildings both residential and commercial, has breathed new life into this decades-old neighborhood, often considered on the fringe of Lafayette society. 

The project got started back in 2016 and 2017, says Tetia Lee, executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and one of the curators of Wabash Walls. 

“At the time, as an artist myself, I’m always looking around,” Lee says. “When I see a beautiful wall, I think a mural would look great there.”

Lee was struck by a retaining wall along Second Avenue; the wheels of inspiration started turning. She ran into Margy Deverall with the City of Lafayette at a Neighborhood Beautification Coalition meeting. She threw the idea at Deverall: Let’s do a mural festival.

“It was all very organic,” says Lee. “We were both ready to take a bigger next step.”

And, as they say, from small things, big things come. The conversation began to draw in others — Stephanie Bible with Habitat for Humanity, artist Cameron Moberg, and Dennis Carson with the City of Lafayette. A proposal was put together, and initial funding provided $50,000 for a project that would be transformative, uplifting and engaging.

The result is a project that has indeed reinvigorated and re-branded the neighborhood. Lee has seen buy-in from not just the artists, but from local businesses – Cargill Inc. came on early as a sponsor — and neighbors. Everyone has delighted in watching the neighborhood come alive with color. 

Wabash Avenue has long been considered a marginalized area. The working-class neighborhood, often referred to as the “lower part” of town, is a stronghold of a bygone era. And its reputation has suffered over the past several decades.

It’s a bad rap that seems undeserved, as a current drive through the area reveals tidy houses with well-kept lawns and a diverse population, with younger people gravitating there to live and work. Not to mention a neighborhood spirit that is evident.

“The most important part is that we established a trust with a neighborhood that is marginalized and over promised,” Lee says.

The Wabash Avenue residents were quick to get on board with the project. Early on, Lee says, they opened their doors, inviting her in as the early stages of the feasibility study kicked off. 

“They became the vital and most-important part of informing the neighborhood study,” Lee says. “That really demonstrates trust between the city and the neighborhood.”

People who live there can see the charm that others might not. And the murals helped highlight the beauty hovering at the surface.

“They got excited about having artwork in their neighborhood,” Lee says. And about the influx of visitors, as the artists and those who want to view the art descended on their once hidden part of town. 

“That’s the real reason it’s been so successful,” Lee says. 

Trent O’Brien and his wife, April, run Sacred Ground Coffee House. Like most of the neighborhood, they have seen nothing but positives come out of Wabash Walls. 

“It was definitely a really good thing,” O’Brien says. “The whole area has changed.”

O’Brien has seen people getting more involved in the neighborhood, becoming more welcoming. Last year, Sacred Grounds helped host a neighborhood Harvest Festival. Years ago, maybe a handful of people would have shown up, but this 2019 festival brought out hundreds of people.

“This never would have happened 15 years ago,” O’Brien says. “I do believe the art has helped.”

This opening up of the neighborhood, this newfound sense of community is a credit to the art and the artists, he says. 

“It brought people here who were out to see the art,” O’Brien says. “It has been very positive.”

In 2018, 10 murals were painted in the neighborhood; 2019 saw 11 more added. Artists featured were from all over — not just the United States, but from as far away as Australia. The onset of COVID-19 delayed the progress for 2020, but the project will expand to areas around the avenue, including crosswalk art to encourage more pedestrian-friendly zones. 

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Indiana Department of Health have helped the project continue for a third year. 

The fun and funky murals are a boon for the neighborhood, providing beauty, conversation and a real sense of shared identity. Visitors have come from all over the city, the county, even the state, anxious to check out the project. 

But the real benefits are more far-reaching. Lee says they’ve seen property values increase as the art has helped improve the area, making it a better, healthier place for residents to live and interact with one another. Once-abandoned buildings have been reclaimed and now feature murals. The micro-economy in the neighborhood has improved as the area has rebranded. It’s a huge improvement in the quality of life. 

Working with the neighbors, watching the project come to life has been an amazing process, says Lee.

“Wabash Walls continues to be a highlight to my career,” she says. “I could not have asked for a better neighborhood to work in. They treat me like family. I’m an honorary resident — I love it.”

Because at the end of the day, it’s truly about people.

It’s about the artists who have spent time in the neighborhood, sharing their stories with folks who would stop to watch the work and visit for a bit. It’s about the residents who have opened their arms, welcoming and embracing both the artists and the patrons who come to see the art. It’s about businesses that have come alive and welcomed the partnership of the artists, encouraging the camaraderie among all involved.

It’s the story, Lee says, of the transformative power of art.

“More than ever, we are turning to the arts to remind us that we’re human.”

BY CINDY GERLACH

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE MEMORIAL UNION

From the outside, the Purdue Memorial Union stands unchanged, a testament to the past hundred years. The stately brick structure, a mainstay of the Purdue University campus for the better part of a century, welcomes students and visitors alike, as a place to gather and commune. 

Yet the once-familiar interior is undergoing a transformation. In some ways, it will look much as it always has, with its architectural themes remaining strong and constant. Yet in so many other ways — some obvious, some more subtle — the Union is recreating itself, thanks to a massive renovation project.

And all in the name of Purdue.

The Union, as so many students have experienced it over the past century, is much like its counterparts around the country. There was a wave of student union construction following World War I; these gothic-inspired buildings opened on campuses in the early 1920s as a monument to men and women from these universities who had fought and died in that war.

Pond and Pond, the architectural firm commissioned to build the Purdue Memorial Union, also built student unions in the 1920s at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of Kansas.

The Purdue Memorial Union opened its doors in 1924. Shops, restaurants and even a bowling alley, along with offices for student services, are all housed in the Union; the Union Club Hotel opened in 1929 when the building was completed.

The basic function of the Union has not, and will not change, says Zane Reif, senior director of the Purdue Memorial Union. But some intentional rebranding has been worked into the renovations.

“We didn’t have any kind of homage to Purdue,” Reif says. “You didn’t walk in and feel like you were at Purdue.”

The $47 million project was funded in part by a gift from Bruce White, an alumnus and founder of White Lodging, a hotel property management group. An additional gift comes from the Dean and Barbara White Foundation.

The first phase of the project, which includes a renovation of the Union Club Hotel, wrapped up in August. The hotel, whose rooms had felt a little tired and dated, has reopened and now sports an updated, more boutique feel. With 182 rooms, it’s still the largest hotel in Tippecanoe County, says Reif, despite losing about 10 rooms as the space was reconfigured.

The lobby, with its new skylight, has a more open and airy feel about it. With select Purdue-themed memorabilia on the walls, the connection to Purdue is much more evident. All guest rooms have been updated; the fitness center was enlarged and reconfigured. A new lobby bar and a hidden patio add to the amenities guests will enjoy.

And, of course, the hotel is a learning lab, as students in the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program take advantage of the real-life experience of seeing an actual hotel in operation.

Epicureans will delight in the new restaurant, 8Eleven Modern Bistro — the name is yet another Purdue reference, paying tribute to two of NASA’s programs, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. The upscale menu features an eclectic mix of American dishes with French touches, along with farm-inspired cocktails and local craft beers. And the chef’s kitchen is on display, with large windows allowing visitors to watch food preparation in a space that doubles as a training ground for students.

Bundled with the Boiler Up Bar, which features a bourbon room and signature cocktails, guests will not have far to go to relax at the end of the day.

Inside the rest of the Union, changes are in store. Pappy’s Sweet Shop and the 1869 Tap Room are closed and will not return in those locations, though parts of Pappy’s will return in a different configuration in the Union. 

Some shops and restaurants are moving around. When the food court reopens, it will not feature your typical student union fast food, says Reif. Instead, 11 new concepts are coming, with Asian, Latin and European influences. Included is Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, co-owned by Drew Brees, the first appearance of that eatery in a student union, as well as a dining option operated by Scott Trzaskus, Purdue graduate and owner of East End Grill in downtown Lafayette. 

The main floor of the Union will be updated and restored. But the building will retain its original character and remain true to the architecture, Reif says. 

“It will have a traditional feel, but a modern traditional feel,” he says. “We’re returning as much original stuff as we can.”

The Purdue branding will continue, he says, and the historic arch motif, visible in the windows and also incorporated into the design of much original furniture — some of it still in use — will also remain. 

Terraces are being built along State Street, on the south side of the Union; doors will open from inside, giving the area a trendy yet traditional feel. This will increase space for outdoor activities, making the Union much more of a destination for locals, Reif says. 

Inside, the space will be modernized. Technology will be updated; there will be better restroom placement, including family and gender inclusive restrooms. 

“We will maintain the best traditions of the building while including modern technology,” says Reif.

The project is slated to be complete by January of 2022, Reif says. When the building reopens, visitors will see the same Memorial Union they have come to know and love. But they will see it slightly updated and modernized. It will be more user-friendly to all visitors — more accessible, more welcoming. It will be the perfect space for students and the community alike. And above all, it will have its own identity, Reif says.

BY KEN THOMPSON

Decades after his parents lived in Married Student Housing while attending Purdue University, Rich Michal is playing a role in a “once in a century” project that will turn the complex into a memory.

Michal, vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation, is excited to talk about Provenance, part of the $1.2 billion, long-term Discovery Park District project that will transform the west side of campus with the creation of a walkable urban neighborhood. 

Provenance is the latest offshoot of the State Street Project, a combined effort of Purdue and the city of West Lafayette. The $120 million project has, during the past four years, changed traffic patterns from the Wabash River, through downtown West Lafayette and Purdue University out to U.S. 231. Purdue President Mitch Daniels saw an opportunity for the Discovery Park District to take advantage of the State Street work to find industry that would be a good fit with the university’s strengths and then 

build housing and amenities for those workers.

“The original genesis was to help finance and help pay for that State Street investment but the bigger picture is this is an opportunity to attract the best student minds and faculty and to retain some of those,” Michal says. ”We’ve got 40,000 students a year, and the majority of those are gradually moving elsewhere. We want to give them a reason to stay in West Lafayette. It’s about providing that live, work, learn, play opportunity.

“Saab and Schweitzer (Engineering Laboratory) love the fact we’re going to have those homes right there where folks can ride their bikes to work in addition to all the educational, cultural and athletic opportunities the university provides.”

Old Town Design Group of Carmel has come up with a plan that will feature a combination of 500 single-family detached homes, townhomes and apartments. Justin Moffett, a partner of Old Town, says the design will hearken back to early 1900s homes with the majority of home lots having garage access through alleys. That eliminates front driveways and enhances the walkability of the neighborhood.

“They’ve done similar projects in midtown Carmel and we loved their product,” Michal says. “They are more of a traditional looking craftsman-style home. They do the front porches and the alley-loaded garages. We felt like their semi-custom product was more appealing and more original.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Old Town’s construction plans remain on schedule to begin this summer according to Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette. Old Town hopes to have a model home ready by February and begin selling lots this fall.

“This is the first new neighborhood in the city limits in quite some time,” Easter says. “PRF, the city and the university worked closely on the design aesthetic for the neighborhood.”

Provenance is targeting an upscale clientele with single-family homes starting in the low $400,000 range, and townhomes starting at $350,000. By spring 2021, the first families will be able to move into two- and three-story townhomes that will have a private outdoor living area and a two-car garage.

Single family detached homes will be available this spring as well, ranging in size from 1,600 to 3,536 square feet. These semi-custom homes will have the option of master bedrooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as ranch design.

By summer 2021, Old Town anticipates the completion of 142 apartments spread out over four buildings. The following year, 108 more units will be available over five buildings. Studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be available.

That won’t be all of the change coming to the west side of campus.

“Between the Aerospace District and Discovery Park District, we anticipate a lot of growth in the southwest side of the city,” Easter says. “Businesses typically follow residents, so once we have a residential base, you will start to see other amenities popping up in the area,” Easter says. 

Michal hopes those amenities include health care and a large grocery store, which could lead to the end of another long-standing complex.

“What I’m hoping is two things: one, work with the university to put in a micro-hospital or health care facility,” he says. “The other thing … we’d love to get a 20-30,000-square-foot grocery right there off the corner of State and McCormick. With Purdue and access to students, plus 500 rooftops, we think our chances of landing a grocery will increase substantially.

“Purdue West has been a great facility. It was a great complex and it’s helped us generate a lot of revenue over its lifetime. But it’s old, tired and there may be a better use of the land there. We’d love to have a health care facility there and right across the street, just south of Hort Park, have a grocery and some retail. And all of that will help us attract more students, staff, faculty and corporations.”

Saab, which will be manufacturing military training aircraft, is the latest corporation to buy into the long-term vision. It won’t be the last in Purdue’s effort to retain its best and brightest.

“There are folks working right now with the PRF and the university to try to attract similar businesses to Saab, aerospace and aviation companies,” Michal says. “We’ve got a great partnership with Rolls Royce. We’re also trying to re-establish a commercial service with the airport. We’re hopeful on that.

“We’re trying to help promote and support the university as it changes the world through its faculty, students and technology. We’re attracting corporations here to help them in recruiting our students and tapping into our research institutions. We want them to come here, establish roots and plant a flag on campus.”

Years from now, Michal envisions Provenance being a desirable place to live like another West Lafayette neighborhood.

“Look at Hills and Dales and how beautiful a neighborhood that is,” Michal says. “Something like that.” 

BY CINDY GERLACH

If you think downtown Lafayette is looking picturesque these days, then you’ve been watching its evolution. Over the past decades, while the downtown had its share of charm, sidewalks were looking as if they needed an update, a little tweaking to enhance the ambience. 

Rejuvenating Main Street, a streetscaping program that has been underway for more than 15 years, continues this summer, improving sidewalks, adding gathering places downtown and planting trees.

It’s a beautification project that not only makes the downtown scene more attractive, but it is a boon to business as well. 

Plans for this project date back as far as the late 1970s, says Dennis Carson, economic development director for the City of Lafayette. Funding was made available in the mid-2000s; the first phase of the plan was rolled out in 2005.

So why the need to change the look of downtown? For decades, when people lived and worked near the downtown, it was the major shopping and business center, with retail shops lining the streets, anchored by the Courthouse, with restaurants and movie theaters. It was the shopping and business district. 

The feel of downtown Lafayette began to shift and change in the 1960s and ’70s, as it did in downtowns throughout the United States. With widespread use of the automobile and people moving farther away from the city center into more suburban neighborhoods, a shift occurred. By the 1980s, many businesses had fled to Market Square or the Tippecanoe Mall; single-screen movie theaters — places like the Long Center and the old Mars Theatre — had been abandoned in favor of larger multiplexes. 

Downtowns were in danger. 

But, Carson says, Lafayette’s downtown fared much better than those of other, similar-sized cities.

“Fortunately, even in that time, there was a lot of interest in downtown,” he says. Along with the Courthouse, many law firms and banks remained, as well as the newspaper and other government offices.

So the city took the lead, focusing on historic preservation. Much of the downtown consisted of buildings dating back to the first half of the 20th century, and the city wanted to preserve that architecture, knowing its value. 

“One of the early efforts was historic preservation, to establish the historic district,” says Carson. “They really tried to preserve the architecture we have. We lost some, too, but we’ve been able to preserve a lot.”

But the need went beyond historic preservation and into safety. The sidewalks were so old that many had the WPA stamps, dating them back to the 1930s.

“It got to a point where not only did we need to do it for aesthetics, but there were several safety and ADA issues,” Carson says. 

Thus the streetscape plan for downtown was meant to enhance the district on several fronts.  Clearly, part of the goal was simply to beautify downtown. Sidewalks have been widened, and the corners are larger, with benches added, making it easier for people to gather. 

And with wider sidewalks, downtown restaurants were able to take advantage and add more outdoor dining space. 

Bike racks encourage people to use other methods of transportation. And public art installations add visual interest.

If you’ve walked through downtown, you’ve seen the improvements. These all make downtown more accessible to people with a specific destination or those who just want to walk and browse, soaking up the small-town yet big-city aesthetic. 

“One thing we really want to improve on is the pedestrian experience,” Carson says. “So they don’t park, go into the shop, then get in their car and leave. We want to encourage people to walk the downtown as much as possible.” 

For summer 2020, the project expands to upper Main Street, between 10th and 11th streets. Both sides of 10th Street, from Main north to Ferry, will see the widened sidewalks, striping and tree installation. The next phase will see the same improvements on the south side of Main Street between 10th and 11th, as well as 11th Street between Main and Ferry. The final phase, wrapping up at the end of September, will take the project south on both sides of 10th Street to Columbia. 

The project is paid for through Tax Increment Financing, or TIF districts. Business owners have been asked to contribute to a portion of the project in front of their buildings. 

“There was a little apprehension at first,” Carson says. “But once it was done, everyone was really pleased.”

The energy and enthusiasm associated with downtown has increased over the past few years, with urban living opportunities and more retail and restaurants than ever, says Carson. 

Over time, that value will continue to increase. With the variety of arts and culture opportunities, the festivals, and more shopping and dining 

options, people will continue to see and enjoy the revitalization of the streetscape project. 

“It’s really transformed Main Street,” Carson says. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments; it’s been pretty well received. Over time we’ll see increased property values. It helps, helps maintain these historic structures. It’s been a fun thing and it’s been well received.”

For details on the project, visit lafayettedowntownisopen.com.

While there are about 20 dog grooming businesses in the area, some newer ones focus on strengthening the human/animal bond or providing services such as doggy day care and spa experiences. 

Paul Whitehurst, owner of Pooch Palace Resort, had an epiphany in 2016 when his beloved German shepherd Zoey passed away.

“She was my kid. She was everything to me,” says Whitehurst. “When she passed away … I was at a crossroads. For a long time I’d had this idea in my head to provide an upscale pet resort. I wanted to target other owners who are true pet parents.”

After 18 years in the corporate world, Whitehurst decided to pursue his dream,  and in 2017 on the first anniversary of Zoey’s passing, he opened the first Pooch Palace Resort on Beck Lane in Lafayette. The business was so successful that in February he opened a second location on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette. While ruefully acknowledging that opening a new business during a pandemic is not the best idea, Whitehurst says many customers are grateful that the waiting lists for grooming and boarding are shorter. 

Pooch Palace offers grooming, boarding, daycare and training. Dogs boarded there stay in private “hotel” rooms equipped with toddler beds and a television tuned to DogTV. The dogs get five potty breaks each day and absent owners can check in on, and even talk to, their pets through a private Webcam accessed through their phones. 

The business also offers grooming and full or half-day care where dogs play in groups either indoors or out. The outdoor play park features a synthetic turf called Pup-Grass specifically designed for dogs. That means your pet will never come home muddy, Whitehurst says.

The business closed for a while as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, but it reopened with limited hours and services in April, and then more fully in May. Whitehurst hopes to be back to full capacity by August.

He affirms that one of the reasons his business has been so successful is pet owners are more invested in their furry friends than ever before. But a disruptive family member can bring chaos and tension into a home, so training and understanding is key to living harmoniously with a pet.

That’s where Julie Shaw and her business, Stepping Stone Animal Training, comes in. Shaw has spent her professional career focusing on animal behavior and is one of only 16 board-certified veterinary behavior technicians in the country. After spending many years in private practice and teaching Purdue vet students, Shaw became convinced that dog owners needed help understanding their pet’s behavior and learning how to work with the animal.

“Animal behavior is very complex,” Shaw says. “If owners get the information (they need) early on, it makes a big difference. We are not just treating the dog, but helping the owner understand the world through the dog’s eyes.”

Stepping Stone, located on Teal Road in Lafayette, is dedicated to strengthening and protecting the human-animal bond. To that end, the business offers programs lasting between four and  eight weeks for puppies and older dogs. Puppy classes focus on training the littlest fur balls to be calm, happy and emotionally healthy pets. Small class sizes and academy-educated trainers also help older dogs that need to learn socialization skills and manners.

“All dogs have their own quirkiness and individual challenges,” says Shaw. “We encourage what is positive in them and help identify what behaviors they need to work on.”

Shaw emphasizes that the programs are not daycare, but provide a very structured environment in which the dogs are always learning, while still being allowed to be dogs. 

Lafayette resident Diana Cavanaugh took her Bernese mountain dog, Jojo, to Stepping Stone in 2017, when the puppy was about three months old. The experience was a good one for the entire family and helped them work together and be consistent with Jojo’s training.

“It was great because we were able to get the entire family involved and everyone was on the same page when it came to training,” Cavanaugh says. “The team that worked with us was very knowledgeable and patient.”

While some of Stepping Stone’s services have been curtailed because of the pandemic, the company’s virtual services have taken off, Shaw says. She offers group, puppy and adult classes online that include videos, reading assignments and virtual check-ins each week. 

Shaw is concerned about the many families that have adopted dogs during the pandemic and been home with little structure or opportunity for the pet to be in different situations.  When school and regular work schedules resume and the house is empty, those dogs will likely have problems, she says, adding that puppies need to be socialized in their first eight to 14 weeks. In the spring, Stepping Stone began hosting pandemic puppy parties for dogs 16-weeks and younger. Once a week, the pups come to Stepping Stone for supervised play and interaction with new people and other puppies. Owners can watch the fun on their phones.

Shaw takes an holistic approach to each dog’s welfare, assessing both the animal’s physical and mental health. Some dogs have chemical imbalances in their brains and need medication, so understanding each dog’s behavior is critical, she says.

That holistic approach also informs grooming at Stepping Stone. Shaw calls the service fear-free grooming, and dogs are trained to cooperate with the groomer so that the experience is less stressful. For example, dogs are allowed to jump off the grooming table and come back when they’re ready. Each one receives a report card with suggestions for the owner of behaviors to work on.

“We are the first in the country to offer this,” she says. “You pay more because we are using behavior modification. Pain can be a factor in grooming so we are constantly grading them on their emotional and physical health.”

And another local business is training groomers in Shaw’s methods. Kerri Wagner, owner of Bark Avenue Day Spa on Britt Farm Road in Lafayette, and her staff of five worked with Stepping Stone to better understand animal behavior.

“(All dogs) teach us something,” Wagner says. “I believe all of the dogs that are scared and unable to be groomed … have taught us that dogs really do learn and react to everything so differently than us. Stepping Stone Animal Training has really helped us learn this and is teaching us how to help all the animals with their behavior.”

Bark Avenue groomers don’t usually cage dogs coming in for a bath and a haircut. Open-top kennels are used if necessary; otherwise dogs are together in the grooming room. And if Bark Avenue can’t effectively help a dog that comes in, Wagner sends that dog to a Stepping Stone groomer who helps with behavior modification.

And the word “spa” in the company name is not hyperbole. Pet parents can choose for their furry family member a variety of luxury experiences, including mud baths, blueberry facials with a mini face massage and hot oil treatments. If you live in Lafayette or West Lafayette, a groomer also will pick up your pooch from home and bring the freshly coiffed critter back at the end of the work day.

Good training and behavior bring many positives to dogs and owners alike, but some dog owners face the additional challenge of not having a fenced yard or much time for long walks. For those with high-energy animals, a trip to a dog park may be a real treat.

Dog parks give owners the chance to exercise their dogs and provide socialization with other pets and their humans, says Tracy Walder, director of operations for the Dog Park Association of Greater Lafayette. The non-profit oversees Shamrock Dog Park on Sanford Street near Lafayette’s Wabash River. The facility is supported by the Lafayette Parks Department.

“Shamrock Dog Park provides a secure off-leash area for dogs to interact and release energy,” says Walder.  “Poor dog behavior is often a result of poor socialization and pent-up energy. The dog park helps owners satisfy the needs of their dogs. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.”

The facility requires a paid membership and has an extensive list of regulations designed to keep dogs and their owners safe and happy. Dogs must be healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations. Members receive a key fob that allows them into the park.

Shamrock Dog Park enjoys good support from some local veterinarians, who help with fund-raising events and provide information about vaccinations and health issues. Two vets write monthly articles for the member Facebook page and volunteer during special events, Walder says. The volunteer board also appreciates the working relationship they have with Buckles Feed Depot and Pet Supplies Plus, Lafayette companies that support the park’s work.

Walder, who owns CritterSitters (an in-home pet care service) and is a founding member of the park, says overall the members are a close-knit community, working to make their relationships with their dogs a healthy part of their lives. 

“Most people are a little apprehensive about the first time letting their dog off leash in the park, and it is rewarding to see other members assure them that it will be just fine,” she says. “Our members find that their dogs are aware when they are headed to the park and are happy to interact with other dogs. People can socialize over a shared interest and also have a sounding board when there are questions about behavior, health, veterinarian or daycare choices.”

Sarah Huber has been going to the park since she moved to Lafayette in 2016 with her dog Hazel. Hazel has since passed away, but now Sarah goes almost every day with her goldendoodles, Juniper and Ike. 

“I look forward to going to the dog park as much as my dogs!” Huber says. “Walking them on leashes, even long walks, doesn’t tire them out. They are running and playing the entire time (at the park) and it brings me such joy to see them both run in big circles across the field and play with other dogs. They just seem the happiest and their best selves at the park. Both can barely contain themselves as we pull up to the park each day.”

And there are other perks. Huber wanted her pets to be comfortable around other dogs and people, so the park gives opportunities for Ike and Juniper to have new experiences. She’s made friends there and says going is a great way to either start the day or decompress after work. 

“I am as happy as the dogs,” she says. “The members are great. When you go, there’s no pressure to talk to people. You can do your own thing, but if you want to chat, it’s a great group of people.”

Huber’s advice to a pet parent who has never used a dog park is to evaluate your own pet’s behavior and take it slow. If you don’t know how your dog might react to other dogs off leash, first try one of the fields that don’t have many dogs. There are fenced areas for big and small dogs, and the park offers a day pass and occasional free play days. Those dates and other information about rules and requirements can be found on the park’s website.

The park closed for more than eight weeks when the pandemic hit, but it opened again toward the end of May. To help ensure safety, communal toys and water containers have been removed and soap has been added at the water stations. Members are asked to abide by social distancing rules, wear masks and bring their own hand sanitizer.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

Street food in the United States dates back to the late 17th century, when vendors in East Coast cities began selling meals from carts and street kitchens. In the ensuing 300-plus years, food-truck offerings have grown from 19th century chuckwagons to 20th century ice cream trucks and hot dog carts and now to 21st century gourmet restaurants on wheels. 

Today, in towns like Greater Lafayette, a growing number of food trucks can satisfy all but the pickiest of eaters. Here, we feature six vendors along with a more comprehensive list for your culinary journey. Check each website for details.

EMT Food Truck

emtfoodtruck.com

Amber Davis grew up during what she calls the “quick food era, where most of what we consumed involved cans of cream of … boxes or jars of … frozen microwaveable things … powdery mixes of who knows what.” Thankfully, she learned where food really came from by picking vegetables and collecting eggs at her grandmother’s rural home. Now, since 2012, Davis’ EMT (Emergency Munchie Technicians) Food Truck has tended to locals’ homegrown food needs with gourmet vegetarian and vegan menu items, including salads, waffle sandwiches and lemonades crafted from homemade simple syrup and fresh pureed fruit. If you want to kick it up a notch, try the Mac Nugget Poppers, dusted in panko crumbs and fried. “I think mac and cheese is something everyone can get down with,” Davis says. Some menu items are gluten-free. Visit the truck at the West Lafayette Farmers Market, Brokerage Brewing Company and various Greater Lafayette neighborhoods.

Famous Frank’s

facebook.com/famousfranksPU

On most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during Purdue University’s academic year, around the corner from the line at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, you’ll find hungry college students waiting to feast on triple-layered grilled cheese, wonton wraps and other fried goodies that pair well with beer. Begun in 1995 as a push-cart business, Famous Frank’s first sold hot dogs, Polish sausages and Bratwurst outside the original Von’s Comic Book Shop. By 2005, owner Frank Farmer had acquired his first food truck, equipped with a fryer for expanding his offerings. Later, while cooking for hungry college men at a local fraternity, Farmer created his own version of Fat Sandwiches, which he describes as “some sort of concoction of mozzarella sticks, fries, steak and sauces all on a hoagie.” For people wanting a gluten-free and vegan option, Frank’s sells falafel wraps from a local restaurant.

The Guac Box

facebook.com/guacbox765  |  wherestheguac.com

Avocadoes seem to be one of those foods that you either love or hate. But even if you’re firmly entrenched in the latter group, you should find plenty to savor at the Guac Box. It’s owned by chef Matt Bestich, who tested his recipes at a Purdue fraternity before purchasing a truck “fully loaded and ready to go” in 2018. Bestich’s truck specializes in modern Tex-Mex tacos named after friends and family, including the Kelly, a taco with creamy queso and crispy shoestring potatoes, and the Nick, with street corn, cotija cheese and guac. All tacos can be made gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan; the chips – which you can get with hand-smashed guacamole – are made from gluten-free corn tortillas. Currently, the truck parks regularly at Brokerage Brewing Company and has been visiting local neighborhoods during the pandemic. “Food trucks are the original curbside service,” Bestich says. 

Gypsy Joe Coffee Shop

facebook.com/gypsyjoecoffeeshop  |  instagram.com/gypsyjoecoffeeshop

Working in a coffee shop years ago, Ashley Huff dreamed of opening up her own place where she could serve brewed drinks with a side of positivity. In 2019, when a deal fell through on a building she had her eye on, Huff decided to take her idea mobile. The aptly named Gypsy Joe Coffee Shop sells brewed coffee, lattes, chai tea, lemonade and freshly brewed iced tea. Sugar-free syrups and non-dairy milks such as soy and almond also are available. Unlike most coffeehouse social media accounts, Huff doesn’t post much about coffee at all, preferring instead to infuse her followers’ feeds with words and photos of affirmation. “You will find daily posts from my heart, so if I can’t reach you with coffee, I hope at least that starts your day off right,” she says. For some joe to go, visit her regularly on State Road 43 just outside Battle Ground.

Puritan Coney Island Express 

facebook.com/puritanconeyislandexpress

Gary Dowell has loved coney dogs since he was a child. Back then, while riding shotgun in his dad’s fuel truck, Dowell would disembark downtown at Lou’s Puritan Coney Island to pick up lunch while his father drove around the block. Later, when he was working at a local gravel pit, Dowell spent his winter months helping out at Main Street Coney, which had acquired the Puritan recipe. When that establishment closed, the owner gave Dowell the recipe for the savory sauce made of hamburger and several spices, which he used to open a food truck business in 2019. A café at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana followed in 2020. While coney dogs made with the 75-year-old recipe are still a specialty, nacho supremes are the number one seller. Customers needing a gluten-friendly option can ask for a hot dog without the bun. 

RTB Chefs

facebook.com/rtbfoodtruck  |  rtbchefs.com

Mac and cheese with pulled pork or brisket? Why not. For smoked-meat foodies – especially those who like to wash down their meals with a pint of local beer – RTB Chefs routinely parks next to Brokerage Brewing Company, selling sandwiches, wraps and salads, most with smoked meat. Owned and operated by Jordan and Krissy Mirick, the business, which launched three years ago, grew out of a catering company in Illinois. “Chef Jordan has worked in a variety of restaurants from high-end fine dining to a local bar and grill,” the couple says. “We always enjoyed creating food to bring people together.” The truck, which also can be found at Murphy’s USA gas station on Veterans Memorial Parkway, has some vegan and vegetarian options. The meats are gluten-free without barbeque sauce. 

Looking for more variety?

Here are some other food trucks in the area:

WoJo’s & MoJo’s Grilled Cheese & More, LLC: facebook.com/WoJo-MoJos-Grilled-Cheese-More

By ANGELA K. ROBERTS 

STADIUM PHOTO PROVIDED BY PURDUE MARKETING & MEDIA

OTHER PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE ARCHIVES

In 1922, David Edward Ross, engineer, businessman and noted Purdue University alumnus, asked Tippecanoe County Judge Henry Vinton to introduce him to another Purdue graduate of note —playwright and syndicated newspaper columnist George Ade, five years his senior. 

After meeting in the judge’s chambers, Ross asked Ade to take a short drive with him. Parking at an old dairy farm northwest of Purdue’s tiny campus, they climbed uphill, then peered down into a vast natural bowl carved into the landscape. 

Then, as Robert Kriebel writes in “Ross-Ade: Their Purdue Stories, Stadium and Legacies,” the engineer gave a pitch something like this:

“’Here is where we [Trustees] will put our recreational field and stadium. You’ll notice that much of the work of grading and providing a hillside of just the right slope for a stadium grandstand has already been done [by Nature]. It’s about the same size as the ancient stadium of Athens. I had a man look up the dimensions. There isn’t much difference.’”

Ade nodded in agreement, Kriebel notes, saying it did indeed seem to be about the same size as the Panathenaic Stadium, which Ade had visited in 1898. But, he wondered, what did this have to do with him? 

Ross said that he hoped Ade would help him finance a stadium for the university, to which Ade responded that he’d tried to promote several projects at Purdue, but had never had much luck. He concluded, “‘To help someone else would be a great relief. So my answer is yes.’”

Ade’s words were his stock in trade, and yet it was the soft-spoken engineer who persuaded him that day. And it was Ross who convinced alumni to give half a million dollars to build the Purdue Memorial Union, who purchased land for an airport and an engineering survey camp, and who pushed for the creation of the Purdue Research Foundation to spur innovation and discovery at the university. 

Of course, money talks, too, and the contributions that Ross made to the university and the community before and after his death, along with the businesses that he created, have left a lasting legacy at Purdue and Greater Lafayette. 

“David Ross helped lay the groundwork that made Purdue a modern university. Almost everything about Purdue in the first 40 years of the 20th century directly involved Ross,” says Adriana Harmeyer, archivist for university history with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. “We remember him for Ross-Ade Stadium, which itself is a wonderful legacy, but his actions as a trustee and advocate for the university created some of our most important resources, especially the Purdue Research Foundation that continues to enable groundbreaking research that changes the world.”

A visionary with mechanical aptitude

Born in 1871, Ross had been a tinkerer throughout childhood and wanted to study engineering at Purdue. But he almost didn’t make it to college. His father, a farmer who expected Ross to pursue an agrarian career, thought that college would be a waste of time. Thankfully, the young man’s Uncle Will intervened, offering to house Ross in his Lafayette home and pay for his tuition and books.

Ross led a quiet college life, biographers note, and he reportedly received so-so grades for most of his coursework. His graduation, however, coincided with the birth of the automobile, presenting a golden opportunity for the visionary with mechanical aptitude. Returning to his family homestead, he began creating devices in the farm shop based on ideas from technical journals.

“He applied for patents on three working parts — a differential gear mechanism, a gear-shifting device and a rear-axle differential — and got them,” writes Jay Cooperider in a biographical document published by Tippecanoe County. “About the same time, he came up with the first of a number of patentable steering gears.”

In 1906, Ross founded the Ross Gear and Tool Company with his uncles Will and Linn, both seasoned salesmen. In 1914, Ross joined the City Council, a seat he held for four years. While World War I raged overseas, Ross’ plant contributed to the effort by manufacturing steering gears for military trucks. 

The year after the war ended, in 1918, the Ross family spun out a new company, Fairfield Manufacturing. In 1927, they founded yet another business, Rostone Corporation, to manufacture artificial stone from waste products such as fly ash, limestone and shale. While the company’s original product never took off, Rostone eventually reinvented itself into a manufacturer of electrical insulators.

Ross, in fact, seemed to have much more success than failure over his lifetime. All told, he patented 88 devices and made millions through his business ventures, much of that money going back to Purdue University. 

A passion for university-based research

“Ross’ reappearance at Purdue can be traced to 1920, when he was asked to serve on an alumni committee that since 1911 had been trying to raise money for a student union,” writes Cooperider. “When Ross joined the committee, $50,000 had been collected. Largely through his efforts, more than $500,000 was raised by the time the first part of the Memorial Union was completed in 1922.”

While soliciting alumni donations, Ross had heard grumbles that they wanted their alma mater to have a grand stadium like other universities. The newly minted board trustee got to work, and in 1924, two years after that hilltop negotiation with Ade, the Boilermakers played their first game in the new 13,000-person stadium.

Then Ross turned his attention to his true passion: university-based research and development. In 1930, several years after he began lobbying for the university to forge closer bonds with industry, the Purdue Research Foundation was incorporated. Ross seeded the venture with $25,000 in Ross Gear stock. 

Later, he purchased land west of campus for an airport and another tract overlooking the Wabash River for a surveying camp and football practice field (now the home of the county-owned Ross Camp). He also spearheaded development of the university’s first long-range master plan, a process that continues today. 

“His contributions touched every aspect of the university: athletics through Ross-Ade Stadium, student life through the Purdue Memorial Union, and education and research through the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue Airport,” Harmeyer says. “This was the lasting mark he was able to leave on the world.”

When Ross arrived at Purdue as a freshman in 1889, she notes, the university had fewer than 500 students. By the time of his death, more than 8,000 students were enrolled, and the footprint of the university had more than quadrupled. “In addition to his own substantial contributions, he got to watch Purdue grow from a small, newly established university to a world-class research institution,” she says. 

Forever tied to the university

Ross died in 1943 after suffering a debilitating stroke the year before that left him unable to speak. His closest surviving family member was a sister. 

While Ross remained a bachelor until his death, local author Angie Klink has uncovered evidence of a long-term relationship between Ross and a Purdue staffer. Klink has written several Purdue-related books, including “Divided Paths, Common Ground: The Story of Mary Matthews and Lella Gaddis, Pioneering Purdue Women Who Introduced Science into the Home.”

Klink says that Gaddis, Indiana’s first state leader of home demonstration agents in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Extension, lived her entire life with her sister, Kate, who kept line-a-day diaries from 1906 until 1946. Diary notations throughout the years mention Lella Gaddis having dinner with Ross, going on rides with him and visiting his country home, in what is now Ross Hills Park. 

“From evidence in Kate’s diaries of the amount of time Ross and Gaddis spent together, I say yes, it was serious,” she says. That evidence was backed up by information gleaned from a family member still living when Klink wrote her book. 

Unfortunately, the diaries from 1938 to 1944 are missing, so it’s unclear what transpired between the two in the last few years of Ross’ life. And there’s no evidence of why they never married, if they were indeed in love. Klink wonders if it was simply because they both led high-profile lives at Purdue. “Maybe they liked their independence and wanted to keep it that way,” she says. 

Ross was not a churchgoer, but the Gaddis sisters and many other Purdue folks belonged to Central Presbyterian Church, and that’s where his funeral was held. Afterwards, the university closed campus for two hours so that faculty, staff and students could attend a memorial service by Purdue Research Foundation. 

Ross, who at his request was buried on a knoll where Slayter Hill is now located, left most of his estate to Purdue, Home Hospital and several relatives. 

“In many ways, Purdue was his family and his home,” Harmeyer says. “I don’t think he would have chosen to be buried on Purdue’s campus if he hadn’t felt that his legacy was forever tied to the university and its success.”

BY KEN THOMPSON
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY

With the calendar pointing to spring, there are plenty of opportunities in Greater Lafayette for people who’ve had enough of being cooped up indoors and are ready to get out and exercise.

Whether it’s running, cycling or playing a newer sport – pickleball anyone? – there’s no excuse to not get into shape. Three local groups welcome beginners as well as long-time participants and those with experience somewhere in between.

Wabash River Cycle Club

The Wabash River Cycle Club was founded in 1978, and it continues to prosper more than 40 years later because there are rides available for just about every level of cyclist. For the advanced rider, there are mountain bike trails and gravel roads. For the beginner and intermediate cyclists, there are rides featuring bike paths and roads.

Long-time club member Gary Brouillard, a member of the group’s executive board, offers these reasons for joining the Wabash River Cycle Club:

• Having a group to ride with for safety, companionship, encouragement and improving your biking skills;

• Access to the list serve for changes to calendar rides and for rides not listed on the calendar;

• Learning various safe bicycle routes; and

• The knowledge available within the membership.

As of January, there were 217 club members, a number that does not break down family memberships. To Brouillard’s knowledge, 90-year-old Gilbert Satterly is the only founding member who still belongs to the club.

Board member Molly Cripe Birt says in the past year, 280 riders logged more than 161,522 miles. 

The club boasts that it provides a great social scene not just for the cyclists but for their families and friends as well. The 501c non-profit group offers annual memberships for families ($40), individuals ($30) and students ($15). To join, go to wrcc-in.org/page/join#join. 

The club’s big annual event is the Wabash River Ride, set this year for Aug. 29 starting at Fort Ouiatenon, on South River Road in West Lafayette. Cyclists have a variety of routes to choose from, covering Tippecanoe, Fountain and Warren counties. Routes cover distances of 33, 47, 66 or 100 miles. In addition to scenic views of the Wabash River, riders could see area landmarks such as the Rob Roy Covered Bridge, historic Williamsport Bridge and the Fountain County Church.

Cumberland Park will host the club’s New Rider Callout in May. Cripe says the callout will include a 1- to 2-hour ride as well as a donut social and a fun lunch. Information will be available about other club activities and membership signup.

May is a busy month for the club. A weekly Wabash River Cycling Club Women’s Ride will offer rides based upon skill and speed. Within the weekly rides will be an educational feature called Stand Nights. Here, women can learn bike skills, maintenance and female-related cycling issues. 

The Wabash River Cycling Club also will support Bike to Work Week activities in Greater Lafayette.

Wabash River Runners Club

If you prefer two feet to two-wheeled transportation, the Wabash River Runners Club welcomes runners of all levels, from recreational jogger to the competitive road racer. The group was formed in the mid-1980s and in four decades membership has reached nearly 250.

Weekly group runs take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tapawingo Park is the starting point for Wednesday’s group runs, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday’s run begins at 8 a.m. from the West Lafayette Panera Bread location in Wabash Landing. An early start from Café Literato on Sunday, 7 a.m., caps the week. 

When warmer weather arrives in Greater Lafayette, the Wabash River Runners Club holds two race series: a Farmers Market 5K out of the Cumberland Park farmers market and a trail race series of varying distances out of Battle Ground Memorial Park, according to club president Natalia Sanchez.

Annual membership fees are $15 for individuals, $25 for couples and $35 for families. Those who register online at runlafin.org will incur an additional $1 processing fee. Membership is not necessary to participate in a run, but club members do gather for additional workouts to improve speed, weight training and hill climbing.

The club’s website offers valuable tips for training for a 5K race, half or full marathons and trail runs.

Sponsored races include The Purdue Challenge 5K Run/Walk. The race begins and ends at Ross-Ade Stadium and all the money raised goes to support cancer research at the Purdue Center for Cancer Research. The event’s website, raceroster.com, boasts that in the previous 12 years, the Purdue Challenge has raised more than $1 million for cancer research.

Another event is the ninth annual Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon/5K, set for Oct. 17, with the start/finish at Ross-Ade Stadium. Register at purduehalf.com.

Lafayette Pickleball Association

Despite the name, pickleball has nothing to do with the condiment you might find on your hamburger. Instead it’s a game that’s been around since the 1960s when it began as a children’s backyard activity.

It’s a paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Like those sports, two or four players can participate in a match. Holding solid paddles, the players attempt to hit a perforated ball that might remind some of a Wiffle Ball, over a net.

The wife of one of the game’s founders, Joel Pritchard, called it pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from leftovers of the other boats.”

Another of the founders, Barney McCallum, claims the game was named after the Pritchard’s dog, Pickles. The dog would chase the ball and run off with it, McCallum said.

The Lafayette Indiana Pickleball Association’s roots trace back to May 2011, according to membership official Cheryl Parker. Tom Plummer and friends Joe Yuill, Dick Wiegand, Max Fitzgerald, Vern Mayrose and Jim Ciccarelli met at Armstrong Park. They played pickleball with homemade paddles composed of cutoff old tennis racket handles and pieces of plywood.

Others saw the group playing and by winter, the roster of players reached 18. That winter, the group petitioned the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department to paint permanent pickleball lines on the tennis courts at McCaw Park.

Today, the Lafayette Pickleball Association boasts more than 250 members and says that the sport is the nation’s fastest growing. Some proof of that can be seen at McCaw Park, which hosts a 12-court complex for pickleball that was dedicated in the summer of 2018 in partnership with the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department. 

Five sites are available for indoor play. The Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club, 1529 N. 10th St., Lafayette, has three tiled courts available during the public school year. Cost is $2 per session or $20 a month. Portable nets and balls are provided to association members.

The YWCA, 605 N. Sixth St., Lafayette, is open to association members. Cost is $3 per session. Portable nets and balls are provided to association members. Three courts on a wood gym floor are available.

Five striped pickleball courts on a wood gym floor are available at the Lafayette YMCA, 3001 Creasy Lane. A single court can be reserved for one hour but YMCA membership is required. Guest passes are available. Also, players must provide their own pickleballs. 

Faith East Community Center has two tiled courts available for play. Cost is $2. Nets and balls will be provided for association members.

Also, Purdue’s Cordova Recreational Sports Center offers multiple wood courts and nets are available, but players are asked to bring their own pickleballs. The facility is open to members but non-members are welcome to purchase a one-day pass for $7.

Annual membership fees are $30 for individuals and $50 for families. The Lafayette Pickleball Association offers lessons for beginners and supports all levels of play from recreational to highly competitive.

Lafayette Boxing Club

For decades now, local youths and young adults have learned the skill of boxing and developing into Golden Gloves participants.

Club president Terry Christian, a former Golden Gloves state champion under the guidance of club founder Sherman Depew, takes pride in the club’s history, which began as the Twin Cities Boxing Club. In addition to 1993 National Golden Gloves light middleweight champion Darnell Wilson, the Lafayette Boxing Club has produced multiple state individual and team champions while providing facilities and training at no charge to its members. 

Its current home is 2423 Poland Hill Road in Lafayette.

Lafayette Bike Polo

A game that has been a part of the Olympics (a demonstration sport in 1908), the Lafayette Bike Polo club is based at Shamrock Park.

The game is just like it sounds, polo on bicycles instead of horses, with teams of three or five. The only other equipment needed is a mallet and a polo ball. 

For more information, including how to participate, email lafayettehardcourt@gmail.com.

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Chic. Hip. Trendy.

These are the words that come to mind when one pictures living in an urban downtown. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, eclectic architecture and nightlife — it’s a young sophisticate’s dream. 

And it’s available right here in River City. 

Downtown, right on the riverfront, a short walk to the courthouse, with stunning views — it’s the hip and happening place to live in Lafayette. 

And if you want to be part of it, brace yourself: There may be a wait.

Destination of choice

When Ben McCartney and Cathleen Campbell moved to town in 2018, downtown was their preference on where to live. McCartney actually grew up in West Lafayette. But after being away for several years living near the East Coast, he and his new wife decided they wanted that urban feel.

“When moving to Lafayette, Cathleen and I were hoping to embrace what small-town life has to offer,” says McCartney. “For us that meant walking to work, walking to church and walking to our favorite restaurants and hang-out spots.” 

It’s been a perfect fit for the two of them; McCartney walks to work at Purdue University, and they’ve found their niche with places to eat downtown. They wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Convenience and charm 

Proximity to bars and restaurants plus the ability to walk places are all reasons given for opting to live downtown, says relocation specialist Faye Cole of Lafayette Relocation Services.

“Part of it is just the charm of living downtown,” Cole says, “A lot of my clients are younger people. They love to be able to walk to bars and restaurants, and they don’t want to risk getting a DUI.”

Downtown culture is a big draw, says Kelsey Talbot, property manager with W.H. Long. Adding to that, the allure of the uniqueness of the architecture makes it a desirable place for young professionals to get their start. 

“The downtown market is hot,” she says. “The proximity to campus without being on it, that’s a really big draw.”

Plus, she says, people are attracted to the historic buildings. 

“The exposed brick, the character of these buildings,” she says. “You don’t get that everywhere. The corner units with downtown views — people really like that aesthetic, being in the heart of things.”  

Yet it’s not just young people who opt for life downtown. 

“We see all walks of life in terms of ages and lifestyle,” Talbot says. She sees graduate students who want to be near campus, but not right in the heart of the undergraduate party scene, which can be a little loud and rambunctious. She also sees Purdue faculty and professionals who travel frequently, thus they don’t want the upkeep of a house and a lawn. 

“Downtown draws a lot of different people in; so many people are here for different reasons.” 

Arts and culture at your fingertips

Part of the attraction of living in downtown Lafayette is the proximity to entertainment, arts and culture. 

For some people, it’s the convenience of being able to walk to so many restaurants and bars. And the options don’t disappoint — downtown Lafayette is home to more than 20 eateries, with food options from hamburgers and pizza, Italian, sushi, pub fare and high-end dining with fine wines. Plenty of these restaurants offer patio seating for warm weather dining. And for people who live just up the block, these all come without the hassle of searching for parking.

And for others, it’s access to performances and nightlife. Downtown Lafayette is home to multiple art galleries, which open their doors several times each year to host downtown Gallery Walks. Many bars offer live musical performances by local bands. And regular performances by local performing arts groups are featured downtown, including Civic Theatre, the Lafayette Master Chorale, the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra and the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society — all of which perform in downtown theaters and churches. 

The Long Center for the Performing Arts and the Lafayette Theater both bring in outside programming, an eclectic variety of shows geared toward audiences of all ages. 

There are multiple houses of worship downtown that also are easily accessible. Fun and funky gift shops, antique stores and bookstores — locally owned — offer fun for both buyers and browsers alike. The county library is convenient. And from May to October, the downtown farmers market offers shopping for high-quality food items from local vendors. 

Downtown festivals are another big draw. The aforementioned Gallery Walks keep downtown alive on Friday evenings throughout the warmer months. Mosey Down Main Street, designed to highlight upper Main Street, also draws crowds, as it features local musical performances and eateries. The annual Taste of Tippecanoe features multiple stages with live performances and dozens of local restaurants. Lafayette’s giant Independence Day celebration also is downtown, with fireworks being lit from the pedestrian bridge over the river. And come December, the Christmas parade and Dickens of a Christmas bring a fun and festive holiday air — again, right downtown. 

Downtown residents get to take part in all of these celebrations and activities — again, minus the frustration of looking for parking. It’s a perfect mix, says Talbot.

“You’re a part of downtown but not right in the middle of it,” she says. “You still have some quiet and serenity when you want it.”

For some young people, being right in the midst of things is a lifestyle choice. Talbot finds that a lot of her younger clients are committed to living more sustainably, to buying local and living in a community they know well. For them, downtown living means they drive less and frequent businesses with whom they have a relationship.

“Buying local, supporting small businesses,” she says. “You see that familiar face — it makes you want to go back and be a part of it.”

Options for living

Just like the people who live downtown, the downtown residences are not all the same. From quirky lofts to high-end luxury apartments, downtown dwellings come in all shapes and sizes. 

Many apartments are part of buildings that are around a century old. For example, the historic Schultz Building, 216 N. Fourth St., is a mixed-use building with businesses on the main floors and apartments above. An older building, the units feature high ceilings with an urban loft feel, some with exposed brick and vents and tall windows, giving a panoramic view of downtown. The apartments vary, from studio to two bedrooms, anywhere from 460 square feet to nearly 900. They all come with renovated kitchens with a dishwasher, garbage disposal and microwave. Plus, each unit comes with in-unit laundry facilities. 

Contrast the older architecture with the Marq apartments, just a few blocks away on Second Street. The Marq is brand-new construction with more of a luxury high-rise ambience. The apartments have private balconies, walk-in closets, in-unit laundry and garage parking. Upper floors have stunning views of the Wabash River.  

Multiple other complexes are scattered throughout downtown, from the Lahr Apartments — a former hotel — to Renaissance Place, across from Riehle Plaza. And all over downtown are various apartments hidden above shops and storefronts, all with a variety of floorplans and amenities. 

Drawbacks

For some people, worrying about parking might make living downtown a bit intimidating. Talbot says there are places to rent a space that are affordable. And Cole, whose office is downtown, says the lack of parking downtown is exaggerated. 

“The perception is there’s no downtown parking,” she says. “In my experience, I can always find a parking space within one block of where I’m going,” 

Plus, with the Connector Bus, which runs between downtown and Purdue University every 20 minutes, it’s easy to get from one place to another. 

Safety might be a concern for some, with downtown areas generally having a reputation as being a bit more gritty and edgy. Also not true, says Cole.

“There is no place in Lafayette/West Lafayette I wouldn’t park my car and still get out and walk,” she says. “We’re still a better community than most of them.”

And for people who might rent in a building that does not offer standard amenities such as laundry and workout facilities, those places are all available downtown, just a short walk. 

If living downtown sounds like the perfect fit for you, be prepared: Vacancies are few. Talbot says there is a waiting list, with most places near capacity. 

“In the last two years, prices have shot up,” Cole says. “There’s beautiful new construction, but it’s executive housing. Affordable housing will soon be lacking.”

For McCartney and Campbell, living downtown has proven to be exactly what they were looking for.

“Downtown Lafayette has so much going for it that it’s been super easy to live mostly on foot,” McCartney says. “And with new restaurants — and the spring — just around the corner, we’re excited to continue to live downtown!”

BY KARIS PRESSLER

The United States Census, the once every 10-year count of those living in the U.S. and its territories, was first taken in 1790.  Now, 230 years later, local leaders are working feverishly to help Greater Lafayette understand that the Census can impact everything from what buildings will be built, to what roads will be repaired, and what resources could be made available to our community over the next 10 years and beyond.

“The things that come out of those 10 questions is amazing,” says Cindy Murray, Lafayette city clerk.  Murray has been meeting with civic groups, organizations and businesses for months helping community members realize how simple and painless participating in the Census can be.

The goal of the 2020 Census according to the U.S. Census Bureau is “to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.”  Starting this spring, the 2020 Census questionnaire will ask who was living in a home, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, along with the age, sex, ethnicity, and race of everyone identified.  This demographic information will then be used to determine how much federal funding can be allocated to help build and maintain infrastructure and is also used to calculate the number of Congressional seats for each state.

“When a new manufacturer or industry wants to come to our community, they definitely look at the Census to see the demographics, and what our economy is, and the type of folks that are here.  And so, the Census plays a huge role.  It develops our community,” Murray says.

Jeff Zeh, chief operating officer for IU Health Arnett, says that accurate Census data are essential in providing quality healthcare throughout the region since “the Census is the best way for us to have an understanding of the population we serve.”

Zeh explains that knowing demographics related to age, race and ethnicity is important so healthcare professionals can, for instance, actively work to decrease the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths among black women, and effectively treat lupus, a chronic condition that is more common among Asian and Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic white women.

Census data are also linked to a community’s emergency response resources, as Murray learned when a local Census representative told her that while visiting a rural fire station, a resident shared, “You know, if it weren’t for the Census, we wouldn’t have gotten the federal money to build this firehouse.”

Murray sees the Census’s impact everywhere, even when driving around town.  “People don’t know that they’re actually driving on roads that the Census helped us get the money for,” she says, citing the current construction on Twyckenham Boulevard as an example.  “There’s $675 billion out there that can go to communities, and that can be spent on schools, fire trucks, infrastructure, transportation … And so it is important for people to be counted.”

Jos Holman, the librarian for the Tippecanoe County Public Library, appreciates the Census’s long reach over the past, present and future.  As a librarian, he values the Census for its ability to paint an accurate portrait of America over time but also knows the immediate impact that federal funding can have on a library’s resources, specifically within rural communities.

“Were it not for the Census, smaller rural libraries would not be able to do some of the things that they want to do by way of technology, and technological resources, and services to their community,” he says.

“The hardest part is getting folks to not be afraid,” says Murray, when reflecting on people’s reluctance to participate in the Census.  Although information reported to the Census must by law remain confidential, it remains difficult to convince everyone to participate.

“It’s not unusual for people who are poorer, people of color, and children to be undercounted,” explains Holman.  He continues, “People of color who are in lower economic situations, they’re reluctant to share information … If I’m living in poverty, (taking the Census) is not high on my priority list.  It’s not.  It’s about my next meal, it’s about taking care of my kids, it’s about keeping my job, it’s about paying my rent.”

For this reason, Holman and Murray are collaborating with area organizations such as the YWCA and Greater Lafayette Commerce (GLC) to organize and sponsor events that can teach the public why participating in the Census is vital to the community’s success and its future.  At these events Census workers will also be present to help attendees fill out and submit their household’s Census form.

“It’s not a difficult process,” explains Sana Booker, West Lafayette city clerk.  “It’s not hard to do if we can get people to see the meaning of it … I think one of the things that the Census has not been very good at in the past is explaining why they are important.”

Murray agrees, and she has noticed a shift in how the Census has engaged with the public.  In 2010, Census marketing materials – cups, pens, and bags emblazoned with the Census logo – inundated Murray’s office.  But this time around, Murray appreciates how the Census has focused on making print and online materials available that clearly explain the Census’s purpose and impact.  The Census Bureau also has invested in making the questionnaire more accessible.  This year, for the first time, Census forms can be submitted either online, by mail or by phone.  The questionnaire also will be available in 13 languages.

Murray is passionate about the Census’s direct connection to Greater Lafayette’s future.  “It’s important that everybody participates no matter your age, your race, or ethnicity, your financial status … Because those numbers do count.”

When Booker, a woman of color, holds up a 2020 Census pamphlet and looks at it, she breaks into a wide smile then declares with a hint of awe, “I see me … for the first time.”  On its cover, the pamphlet showcases a kaleidoscope of skin color.  “This feels personal,” she says.

The addition of various skin tones on the Census’s promotional materials is one indicator of how far inclusion in this country has come.

“African Americans were often uncounted because they were not considered human.  And so, when I think about the Census today, and in my lifetime, I should say, it was important to know who was present.  And we were, but we were treated as invisible people.  So, it is important on a very personal level to me that all people are counted.  All people.”  Booker pauses before continuing.  “Everybody counts, every person has a story, and we all have a message.”

The GLC Diversity Roundtable has selected the motto “We all count” for its upcoming community-wide event that will aim to raise awareness and boost Census 2020 responses.  Holman, who’s been a member of the Diversity Roundtable for 17 years, says that this event will celebrate the connection we all have to each other by living in the same geographic region.  “We believe that if we can bring people together based on a Census event … where we do some hands-on things, but we also do some basic education, that is an opportunity to…allow people to join together, to bond,” he says.

“We are not counting things,” Booker shares with conviction when anticipating the impact that the 2020 Census will have on the community.  “We are counting human lives that matter, who are the reason why education matters, the reason why hospitals matter, these are things that serve people.”  And for this reason Booker hopes that everyone will participate in the 2020 Census and celebrate their role in making Greater Lafayette a thriving community that will continue to flourish for decades to come.

Whether you prefer sourdough bread or frosting-stuffed cupcakes, vegan cheesecake or flourless chocolate tortes, Greater Lafayette bakeries offer something for nearly every taste and dietary restriction. After contacting shop owners and asking locals for recommendations — and trying some on our own — we compiled a list of some of the best baked goods around.

Flour Mill Bakery, Rossville

facebook.com/flourmillbakery

Sandra Hufford and her sister, Sheryl, started the Flour Mill Bakery in 1996 in Hufford’s house, “literally in the middle of the cornfield,” she says. While the sisters had not intended to sell donuts, word had gotten around town that a donut shop was opening, and so they added them to the menu. “Donuts have always been our biggest seller,” Hufford says. “We sell approximately 450 dozen per week.” After Hufford’s sister moved on to other ventures, Hufford sold the business in 2016, only to repurchase it three years later. At its current location on State Road 26 in Rossville, the bakery sells donuts, pies, cookies and angel food cakes, along with homemade salads, soups, espresso drinks and deli meats and cheeses. 

Gigi’s Cupcakes, Lafayette

gigiscupcakesusa.com

As a young girl in Wolcott, Indiana, Brittany Gerber loved watching her mom decorate wedding cakes and began dabbling in the art as soon as she was old enough. After attending Purdue University and working in customer service for several years, Gerber purchased the Lafayette Gigi’s franchise in 2019, where she serves up cupcakes, cakes, cookies stuffed with frosting, macarons, cheesecakes, cake truffles and miniature cupcakes. Three gluten-friendly options are on the menu every day, including the GF Triple Chocolate Torte. Custom cakes and vegan options are also available by special order. An annual sponsor of the Cupcake Run/Walk for the Public Schools Foundation of Tippecanoe County, Gigi’s donated 1,248 cupcakes for race participants in 2019. 

Great Harvest Bread Company

greatharvestlafayette.com

Thirteen years ago, Jerry and Janet Lecy were working in a Christian non-profit organization when they decided to buy the local Great Harvest franchise. Within two years, the bakery’s sales had doubled, and the business has continued growing since then. Great Harvest specializes in made-from-scratch breads using flour that is ground in-house with a stone mill. The bakery also offers cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, cookies and bars, along with fresh granola and sandwiches. “Most of our breads are vegan, the basic bread having five basic ingredients — fresh-milled flour, water, yeast, honey and salt,” Jerry Lecy says. All six of the couple’s children have worked at Great Harvest over the years. 

Mary Lou Donuts, Lafayette

maryloudonuts.com

Started in 1961 by Mary Lou and Steward Graves, Mary Lou Donuts changed hands several times before being purchased in 2017 by Jeff Waldon, who has seen a growth in sales and is considering expansion. The bakery specializes in donuts, cream horns, apple fritters and cookies, and also serves danishes, brownies and cupcakes. The cream horns are vegan. Mary Lou produces several thousand dozen donuts weekly, providing all the donuts for Purdue’s Universiy’s dining halls and retail locations on campus. This fall, the bakery — and its Donut Truck, which regularly visits campus — will be featured on the Big Ten Network’s program “Campus Eats.” 

Scones and Doilies, Lafayette

sconesanddoilies.com

After immigrating to the United States, Sergei Dhe and Natasha Vasili worked in the food service industry while crafting pastries and cakes on the side. In 2014, with their daughters’ encouragement, the couple launched their own business. They currently share a space with City Foods Co-op on Main Street in Lafayette. Scones and Doilies specializes in European-style baked goods using original recipes, including seasonal items such as decorated Easter cookies and Greek Easter bread. “Our goal is to share the same excitement and creativity we have for food with our community,” says Vasili. Signature items include scones, rugelach, biscotti, galettes and specialty cakes. Several gluten-free pastries are regularly available, and gluten-free cakes and vegan items can be made to order. The couple supports the International Center at Purdue University, participating in such events as 2019’s Summer Supper series. 

Smittybread, Lafayette

smittybread.com

If the name of this newish bakery sounds familiar to you, that’s on purpose: This artisanal bread shop pays homage to the old Smitty’s Foodliner, which served customers for five decades at the corner of Northwestern and Lindberg in West Lafayette before closing in 2005. As the story goes, when veteran Journal & Courier editor and reporter Dave Smith decided to turn his breadmaking hobby into a business, he received permission to use an updated version of the grocery’s logo. Ever the wordsmith, Smith gives his bread creations one-of-a-kind names like Amber Wave and Kalamata Olive Pain au Levain, and occasionally blogs on topics like friendship, travel and farmers markets. Along with breads, the shop offers a rotating selection of cinnamon rolls, croissants, Danishes and morning buns, noted on the daily schedule online. If you have your heart set on a particular goodie, however, the shop advises that you call ahead. Smittybread also serves up soups and sandwiches, including the B.E.S.T. (bacon, egg, spinach and tomato) and Farmers Market (ham, salami, provolone and veggies), all made on house-made bread.

Stone House Restaurant and Bakery, Delphi

facebook.com/stonehouserestaurantandbakerydelphi

Bacon-wrapped pastries, anyone? For the Stone House Restaurant and Bakery in Delphi, last year’s Indiana Bacon Festival was the perfect occasion for dispensing more than 800 crème-filled, maple-iced long johns covered in bacon — and that was despite the blistering hot weather. “We don’t let the heat stop us,” says owner Lisa Delaney, who opened the shop nearly 20 years ago after purchasing an existing bakery in town. On regular days, Stone House serves up more traditional offerings, such as cookies, pies and specialty brownies, many based on recipes from Delaney’s grandmother. Sugar- or dairy-free options are available with 24 hours notice. The bakery, which also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, crafts all of its own sandwich buns, bread and rolls onsite, including its newest addition, dill pickle bread. 

Sweet Revolution Bake Shop, Lafayette

sweetrevolutionbakeshop.com

Passionate about baking since she was a child, culinary school graduate Sarah McGregor-Ray worked in the industry for more than a decade before joining forces with her brother, Jonathan, and her mom, Debbie, to launch a bakery of her own. After selling at local farmers markets and festivals, McGregor-Ray opened a brick-and-mortar bake shop in 2017 next door to the Knickerbocker Saloon. Sweet Revolution offers daily seasonal pastries, quiches and pies, baked fresh with all-natural ingredients. Gluten-free, keto and vegan options are available, including keto vanilla cheesecake, vegan and gluten-free apple cinnamon muffins and flourless chocolate torte. Customers can wash down their treats with cold brew coffee and chai tea, among other specialty drinks. 

Two Guys Catering and Bakery, Brookston and Lafayette

twoguyscateringandbakery.com

Randy Griffin and Chad McFally began their catering business by tailgating for Purdue football games, which eventually led to graduation parties and weddings and then to selling their goods at local farmers markets. When a commercial kitchen became necessary, “those two guys,” as their customers called them, began using the YWCA’s facilities. In late 2019, Griffin and McFally purchased the Klein Brot Haus Bakery in Brookston, where renovations are currently underway. Once reopened, the bakery will serve cinnamon rolls, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies and cakes along with pies and specialty breads made from original Klein Brot Haus recipes. Their specialty item is the Big Daddy, a peanut butter cookie stuffed with a brownie and a peanut butter cup and drizzled with chocolate. If you’re not so hungry, you can get the Little Mama, a smaller version of the same concoction.

BY CINDY GERLACH

For some, a visit to an international grocery store is about acquiring the proper ingredients to create authentic ethnic cuisine. Yet for others, it’s a way to feel at home. 

Jenny Hwang, manager of Hana Market in West Lafayette, says shopping at Hana Market evokes fond memories, where shoppers can be surrounded by the familiar sights and smells that remind them of home. 

“We try to carry lots of food for students,” she says. “They’re far away from home.”

The presence of Purdue University, and its population of international students – one of the highest for a major university in the country – means that grocery stores that cater to that population are plentiful. Yet the stores are also popular for people with an epicurean streak, as it’s possible to get the best possible ingredients for one’s culinary endeavors. The stores feature authentic items – some fresh, some frozen, some ready to eat – and right in your own backyard. 

ALDI

210 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, WEST LAFAYETTE
957 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, LAFAYETTE

Maybe you don’t know that shopping at Aldi is actually a German supermarket experience. This explains why you must pay a deposit, or pfand, when you pick up your shopping cart, which is refunded upon its return. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own bags; Aldi does have plastic bags, but customers are charged for them – another German practice. 

Aldi, a no-frills supermarket, carries standard grocery items, but many of them are European brands. Its housewares are a hit, but as regulars at Aldi know, you can’t depend on finding items from one week to the next. At Christmastime, Aldi is the best place in town to find traditional German holiday treats, such as mulled wine, or Gluhwein, and chocolate advent calendars. 

ASIA MARKET

2400 YEAGER ROAD, WEST LAFAYETTE

Asia Market caters to multiple ethnic palates. Aisles are clearly labeled, noting food items from Africa, India, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Taiwan. Fresh and frozen meats, rice in bulk, and frozen items are all available, as are spices, sauces and easy-to-prepare foods. Dishes and housewares are also available. 

BETTER WORLD MARKET

402 BROWN ST., WEST LAFAYETTE

Better World Market is hidden just off the West Lafayette levee, tucked in behind Tapawingo Park and Wabash Landing. A fairly large supermarket, it carries a variety of items that cater to its Asian clientele. The store carries a variety of vegetables, from lotus root to Japanese yams. Customers can find everything they need to cook their dishes, such as bulk rice, fresh meat and spices, or they can find easy-to-prepare ramen noodles and frozen items. 

Some toiletries also are available, with translated labels, making it friendly for those unfamiliar with English. 

The store also offers local delivery and free pick-up.  

As a bonus, there is a small restaurant hidden in the back of the store, offering authentic Chinese cuisine. 

HANA MARKET

3457 BETHEL DRIVE, WEST LAFAYETTE

From its inauspicious frontage in a strip mall, Hana Market appears to be tiny. But upon entering, it’s a large space, filled with rows of items that cater to its audience. The store is about 80 percent Korean items, says Hwang, with some Japanese and Chinese items.

It’s a haven for those far from home, Hwang says, a place where they can find familiar items – especially for students, who long for the comforts of home.

“It’s a hangout for them,” Hwang says.

The store offers a variety of grocery items – from staples for cooking to quick items, easy to heat up and prepare, which are popular with students. People can pick up snack items or their daily supplies, such as rice and kimchi. 

The market also tries to keep up with what is trendy, Hwang says, which appeals to both students and U.S. customers, who, thanks to the Internet and social media, have often heard of particular items and are anxious to try them. Currently, very spicy items are en vogue – and Hana is sure to have them. 

People often come in and ask Hwang about particular items that are trending. And she is happy to lend assistance.

“If I’m not busy and someone asks about the recipe, I can explain how to make it,” she says. 

KHYBER SUPERMARKET

237 E. STATE ST., WEST LAFAYETTE

Khyber Supermarket offers a selection of Middle Eastern items. Located near the Purdue University campus, it’s convenient for students and faculty alike. Spices are readily available, as are ingredients for many beloved Middle Eastern dishes. 

OASIS MEXICAN GROCERY

2338 SAGAMORE PARKWAY, WEST LAFAYETTE

This store, on the edge of West Lafayette, offers everything one needs to make authentic Mexican food. From beans and rice to pre-made tortillas, Mexican food lovers can find everything they need. Beverages and specialty sweets are favorites.

Other international groceries:

INDIAN AND INTERNATIONAL GROCERY: 1070 SAGAMORE PARKWAY WEST, WEST LAFAYETTE

JALISCO GROCERY: 3315 MCCARTY LANE, LAFAYETTE

LA CHIQUITA: 1440 SAGAMORE PARKWAY NORTH, LAFAYETTE

LA PLAZA: 2100 VETERANS MEMORIAL PARKWAY, LAFAYETTE

LA VILLAGE FOOD MART: 208 SOUTH ST., LAFAYETTE

By Angela K. Roberts.

More than a century and a half ago, when people rode their horses to town and brought baskets to hold their purchases, Greater Lafayette residents began gathering in downtown Lafayette to buy products such as cured meat and fresh fruit directly from farmers. Today, this historic downtown Lafayette Farmers Market, which has been in continuous operation since 1839, is one of our four seasonal retail marketplaces in Greater Lafayette. From bath salts to barbecue and from mushrooms to marigolds, local markets – just like the ones of the 19th century – offer farm-fresh and small-batch goodies along with the chance to meet the people who create them.

Lafayette Farmers Market

lafayettefarmersmarket.com

Fifth Street between Main & Columbia. Runs May through October, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Organized by Greater Lafayette Commerce, the historic Lafayette Farmers Market is known primarily for its abundance of fresh produce, as well as flowers, plants, baked goods and to-go meals, along with specialty items such as wildflower honey, beer jelly, botanical bath salts, handcrafted jewelry, herbal medicinals and hand-sewn baby clothes. Bring your reusable bags and shop to the tunes of local artists playing folk, rock, country, blues and jazz. A vendor list can be found on the website, which also features a chart showing produce currently in season and a fruit-and-vegetables quiz for kids.

Purdue Farmers Market

lafayettefarmersmarket.com

Memorial Mall on the Purdue University Campus. Opens July 2.

Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features around 25 vendors each week, including the Purdue Student Farm, operated by the College of Agriculture. Pick up local fresh produce, herbs, plants, fresh-cut flowers, meat and baked items as well as prepared foods, and pick a comfortable spot to have your lunch. Through the market’s passport program, you can collect stamps when you visit market vendors and return to the Campus Planning and Sustainability booth to spin a wheel for zero-waste prizes. Email sustainability@purdue.edu or visit the market to sign up for a weekly newsletter.

West Lafayette Farmers Market

facebook.com/westlafayettefarmersmarket

Cumberland Park, 3001 N. Salisbury Street. Runs May through Octoboer, Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Nestled among the ball courts of Cumberland Park, the dog-friendly West Lafayette Farmers Market is organized by the City of West Lafayette. It features around 50 vendors each week with fresh produce, baked goods, handmade items such as soap and jewelry, food trucks and wine from two local wineries. As you shop, sip and eat, listen to live music and visit information booths, where you can learn about community happenings.

Carnahan Hall Winter Market

lafayettefarmersmarket.com

Market Square Shopping Center, 2200 Elmwood Ave., A6, Lafayette. Runs November to April.

The new indoor market, which debuted in January and is sponsored by Carnahan Hall, Greater Lafayette Commerce and Market Square Shopping Center, brings together local shopping enthusiasts with merchants in chillier months. Some vendors are scheduled for the entire season, while others are only there on select days. Collectively, they offer faux leather earrings, barbecued meat, local honey and maple syrup, herbal medicinals, custom woodworking, natural skin care products, homemade dog treats, fresh bread, organic produce, art, jewelry, cosmetics, handmade baby items and vegan cheese.

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY TIPPECANOE ARTS FEDERATION

“Grow the arts”

It’s a simple motto — and one the Tippecanoe Arts Federation undertakes with the utmost gusto.

The Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF) serves as a regional arts partner, one of 11 in the state. As the center of a 14-county district, TAF is the umbrella organization and helps advocate for these 14 counties, many of which are rural, providing educational opportunities in visual, literary and performing arts, outreach programs for underserved communities and underserved youth, and funding for operational expenses for fellow arts organizations in the region.

TAF dates back to 1976, when it was determined broader support for the arts locally was needed, says Tetia Lee, TAF’s executive director. In its nascent period, TAF was actually just an arts calendar, a way to list everything that was happening in one place. 

“It was a way to support other arts organizations,” Lee says. 

As its mission and vision grew, the organization changed accordingly, supporting various types of programming. TAF found its home at the Wells Memorial Library, just north of downtown on North Street; at the time, the library was transitioning out of the building. 

The current board has adopted the simple mission statement — “It’s something short and sweet that the board members can remember,” says Lee. 

“We work within that mission,” she says. “We’re allowed to be creative, to think outside the box.”

“We can play to the resources in the community really well,” says Ann Fields Monical, TAF’s chief operating officer. 

The Regional Arts Partnership is a network of 11 regions throughout the state. Under the purview of the Indiana Arts Commission, the regional partners work to enhance the delivery of arts services and to move the decision-making closer to the community and its arts consumers. Region 4, the largest geographically, serves a population of more than 525,000 and has served in this capacity since 1997. 

And it’s a huge undertaking. With such a large geographic area, needs are widely variant, Lee says. 

“Rural counties’ needs are so much different than organizations in Tippecanoe County,” she says. 

The work focuses on engagement, education and sustainability. TAF helps groups assess their needs. But how those are addressed changes. 

Because, says Lee, every community benefits from the vitality of the arts. Whether it’s arts education, public art displays or performances that draw in tourism, the arts are vital to the survival of a community. 

TAF has more than 200 arts partners. These member organizations use TAF as their hub, as these are often small groups with no physical home — or the resources to have one — so TAF provides them with meeting space, a mailing address and help with marketing and publicity. 

“The majority of our organizations are smaller, with budgets less than $25,000 who are looking to expand,” Lee says.

Member organizations range from large groups such as the Lafayette Symphony, Carnahan Hall or the Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering, to much smaller, more obscure groups and many individuals. Even a group of fly fishermen.

“That doesn’t sound like the arts,” says Monical. “But they make these beautiful lures.

“That tells you how much stuff is going on. So many different groups.”

One of the ways TAF is looking to the future is by the remodeling and expansion of its physical space. The nearly century-old Wells Community Cultural Center had been showing signs of age. So TAF undertook a major restoration project — a project that was handled very deliberately and thoughtfully. The timing had to be right in terms of financing the project and finding public support. It was a process that took nearly a dozen years.

The result is a stunning interior renovation of the old library. The stacks were removed to reveal an entire back wall of windows, opening up the space, allowing for a much-needed smaller performance venue, as well as updated gallery space and staff offices. 

The building’s footprint remains unchanged. But every inch of the building has been renovated, with the lower-level rooms being given the same treatment, with a full overhaul. Each of the four rooms has been redesigned with a distinct purpose — a dance studio, arts studio, recording studio, meeting room — yet each can be used for multiple purposes, to create, interact and learn. The smallest meeting room was given a wall of glass to make it feel less claustrophobic.

The state-of-the-art recording studio is a major coup. Funded by a grant issued to the Songwriters Association of Mid-North Indiana, the studio will serve as a teaching tool for both recording artists and engineers; it also will be a space for people to record projects, from interviews to podcasts to spoken word performances. It will open up opportunities for education and collaboration within the songwriting and recording community. 

The final touch to the building was when the stolen outdoor lights were returned. The bronze lights, stolen last summer and sold for scrap, were reconstructed, Monical says. A mold was  found to recreate a missing part, and the lights were completed and returned to their rightful home in front of the building, albeit with tighter security, in December.

Having more space is key to the future of TAF, Lee says. As the renovations progress — this was Phase I of a three-phase project — it will live in the space and evaluate how it works before progressing to the next steps. 

“We hope to expand,” says Lee. “What that looks like is changing.” 

Each year, TAF hosts its annual fundraiser, The Taste of Tippecanoe, which brings arts together with tastings from area restaurants. It shows off the best of the area, from food to visual art to performances of all kinds. 

TAF is instrumental in getting art to the people in the communities it serves. Currently, it oversees a variety of programs, including: 

As the umbrella organization, TAF has a broad mission and goals, as they help advocate for the benefit of public arts, for education. Every day, Lee says, they live that motto of “Grow the Arts” — in all the glorious ambiguity that wording allows.

BY KARIS PRESSLER

Just inside the Northend Community Center, to the right of the main entrance, is a bulletin board with a spray-painted title that reads “Community @ Work.”  Guests and volunteers brush past the corkboard peppered with job announcements while heading toward meetings, the pool, the indoor PlaySpace, or any of the nonprofit organizations housed inside the building. The space around the board seems to inhale and exhale every time the automatic front doors swish open and front desk volunteers greet guests.

Several steps from the front desk Rod Hutton works in his office.  As director of Northend, Hutton sees the comings and goings of almost everyone who passes through the community center.

“If you want to see a happening place, you need to visit the Senior Center,” says Hutton, while pointing to a set of doors just around the corner.

On this morning at the Tippecanoe Senior Center, more than 25 seniors play bid euchre, where cards feverishly flutter toward the center of tables, and the sound of knuckles knocking on wood echoes as players signal their wish to pass.  While the groups play, several Meals on Wheels volunteers buzz about, preparing to serve the day’s lunch.

Meanwhile, tucked into a quiet corner, the Senior Center’s Art Expressions group creates.  Here, Barbara German paints a landscape of a rowboat resting on calm water, while Kay Pickett puts the finishing touches on a painted replica of the quilt square that hangs from her family’s barn in Michigan.

There’s life and light, color and sound in this space, and throughout many community centers in Greater Lafayette.

This is a community at work.

Faith East, Faith West and Northend community centers

“It’s one continual history,” explains Hutton, when considering the organic spread of Faith’s community centers throughout Greater Lafayette that started when Faith East opened in 2007, followed by Faith West in 2013, and the Northend Community Center in 2018.

Sharing a common connection through Faith Church, each Faith community center works to meet the unique needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Faith East caters to the recreational and childcare needs of those living on the east side of town, while Faith West offers housing and programs for Purdue’s students, faculty and international community.

Northend, the largest community center in Faith’s network, nurtures partnerships with 13 area organizations that have dedicated space either inside or next to the community center.

Hutton explains that being able to collaborate with established organizations that serve the community well — such as Bauer Family Resources, Hanna Community Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lafayette — is “a big piece of what makes the Northend tick,” because it allows everyone to connect.

At Northend, a dedicated team of volunteers known as The Care Team spends more than 50 hours a week addressing the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of community members.  

“What they do is sit down and listen, hear the story, understand and build a relationship,” explains Hutton.  He continues, “We need to be able to understand where people are coming from.  The attitude of empathy and understanding is one of the best things we can do to actually help.”  Although the Care Team may not be able to fix needs immediately, team members work to connect individuals to resources, including the organizations inside of Northend that are equipped to help.

Hutton shares that there are no current plans to build additional Faith community centers.  “We want to grow what we have right now. … We will always continue to dream, but right now what we’ve been dreaming about is how can we grow and love the community with the facilities that God has blessed us with.”

River City Community Center

River City Community Center, located on Old U.S. 231, is the newest community center to open in Greater Lafayette.

“The question that I’ve gotten from many community members is, ‘Can I use this space?’  And the answer is, ‘Absolutely!’” says Terry Gilbert, director of the community center.

“This center is about reaching out to the community, it’s about engaging in partnerships both with individuals, nonprofits and businesses.  We hope that it will be like an intersection between those that are of faith, and the business and commerce world,” he explains.  

The center is currently collaborating with Purdue’s School of Nursing in a service grant that aims to assess healthcare needs, and also works with Food Finders to host a bi-monthly River City Market Food Pantry.  “We have the pleasure of serving 300 to 400 people out of this food pantry every month,” Gilbert says.

Whenever Gilbert needs a reminder of River City Community Center’s purpose, he recalls this story.

“This was maybe two years ago, it was summer,” he begins.  

“I was here with a group of Purdue students; they’re connected through (River City Church’s) program called Chi Alpha. They were here doing some landscaping work for us, pulling up weeds and stuff like that.” 

The building, a former grocery store that sat abandoned since 2005, had just been donated to River City Church, and Gilbert brought the students inside the cavernous space to share his vision for the future community center. Suddenly, a woman entered and exclaimed, “Who’s in charge of all this?”

Gilbert recalls introducing himself and gently asking the woman if there was anything he could help her with, as the 20 college students watched.

Then the woman began to cry.

She said, “I just want you to know that I’ve been living in this neighborhood for almost 20 years. And this place has been an absolute eyesore. And every time I look at it I was like, ‘This would be a great place for kids to come play.’… ‘I cannot thank God enough for you guys and what you’re doing in this community because this community really needs something like this.’” She then retrieved $1.26 from her pocket, handed it to Gilbert and said, “This is all I have right now. Can you use this?”

“That’s who we owe it to,” says Gilbert – the citizens of Lafayette’s south side who want to invest and see their corner of the city continue to develop and grow.

Lafayette Family YMCA

Walking into the Lafayette Family YMCA feels a little like walking into a town nestled within a town.  

The sprawling 120,000-square-foot space located on South Creasy Lane hosts a steady stream of people en route to exercise classes, the gym, the pool, IU Health and Franciscan healthcare appointments, child care and more.  More than 3,700 individuals enter the facility every day.

As Paul Cramer, president and CEO of Lafayette YMCA, gives a guided tour of the facility he opens a set of secure doors and enters Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown.  Here, storefronts of familiar local businesses such as PEFCU, Caterpillar, and Kirby Risk line a miniaturized main street.  Then, it suddenly becomes clear.  This really is a town inside a town.

“You may want to move off the grass there, you could get a citation from the city,” jokes Cramer.  He points to a painted patch of grass covering the cement floor and then motions toward the Lafayette City Government office several steps away.  “There’s city council, there’s the mayors, there’s the CEOs, they’re here for the whole day,” he says of the 12,000 students who will visit this JA BizTown space throughout the school year to learn in this virtual setting.

Cramer’s energy crescendos as he explains.  “So, they’re going to learn financial literacy in the preschool programs (at the YMCA), here they can learn it in the elementary, middle and high school.  Then Ivy Tech takes them through the college level.”   

This is the heartbeat of the YMCA – connecting people of all ages to positive programming whose long-reaching effects can spill over into successive generations.  Cramer explains that the mindset at Greater Lafayette YMCA is “Infants to infinity … we want to be multigenerational in reaching and experiencing.”

After opening in December 2018, this facility has become a shining example for YMCAs across the country.  “So, everything in this building was designed about partnerships and collaborations.  That’s why this is a new model for the country,” explains Cramer, who says that planning for this facility began over a decade ago when leaders from Ivy Tech approached the organization hoping to form a partnership.  

Building the new YMCA on a plot of land just steps from Ivy Tech’s Lafayette campus now gives Ivy Tech students everything from affordable childcare, access to the fitness center, and an invitation to join classmates in the gym when the school hosts athletic events with other Ivy Tech campuses.

In addition to working closely with Ivy Tech, the YMCA also partnered with Franciscan Health and IU Health to create space within the facility for healthcare services.  More than 300 patients a day visit the facility to receive physical and occupational rehabilitation, then are encouraged to continue exercising at the YMCA once their rehabilitation goals are met.

Collaboration is key, according to Cramer.  “Really I think what helped this move along so well was the wonderful relationship between the county and the city and how they work together in a collaborative way.  And that’s what this is.  Our theme here is, ‘We complete one another.  We don’t compete with one another’… It’s really a community that works together.”

Greater Lafayette YWCA

Greater Lafayette YWCA had a lot to celebrate as 2019 marked the 90th year of the organization’s presence in Lafayette, the 50th year of the YWCA Foundation, 40th year of the Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (DVIPP), and 25th year of the Women’s Cancer Program.  

The organization started at a critical point in history when the first meeting was held at the Community House Association, now Duncan Hall, just months before the stock market crashed in 1929. “When the YWCA was started by this fearless group of women, this was in one of our country’s most dire times… this was a period of time when our country was in a chaos and people weren’t starting new organizations,” explains director Allison Beggs.

Through it all, the YWCA has remained a steadfast force in the local community by working to empower women and eliminate racism.

“While women are the (primary) market we serve, there are male victims of domestic violence and those who identify as transgender or other.  We serve all of those populations.  It really doesn’t matter where you live, who you love, what you believe; we serve everyone,” says Beggs.

The organization’s impact has extended well beyond Tippecanoe County.  In 2018, the YWCA’s Women’s Cancer Program staffed by seven employees provided nearly 4,000 free breast and cervical cancer screening services to women in 41 Indiana counties.  That same year, DVIPP assisted in filing nearly 450 domestic violence protective orders and provided more than 9,000 nights of safe shelter in the 30-bed facility located in the historic Rachel and Levi Oppenheimer house on Sixth Street.

Beggs praises her staff for serving with heart.  “You can’t come to work every day in our domestic violence program and hear the stories, the horrible stories that these families have gone through.  Or be with a family if they’re diagnosed with Stage IV cancer… our staff has to internalize that each and every day as they’re working through our client needs.  It is tough work, and it takes a special kind of person to truly live out our mission.”

In addition to providing consistent comfort, shelter and support, the YWCA also provides opportunities for growth through its Culinary Incubator program, where food and catering businesses use the facility’s commercial kitchen to prep and cook.  Beggs hopes that the Culinary Incubator along with a new Dress for Success program will evolve to empower domestic violence victims with training and employment opportunities.

“Ultimately… when you help one family be able to overcome an obstacle, you’ve just created another healthy family in our community that will hopefully go out and pay it forward,” Beggs says.

When considering how the YWCA fulfills its mission, Beggs praises the local agencies who work with the YWCA, such as Food Finders, Mental Health America, Willowstone, Bauer Community Center and The United Way, along with support from the local community.  “In other places that I’ve been, while they were good communities, you just don’t see this kind of engagement and involvement from so many different areas of our community as you do in Lafayette…. We have a generous community.”

What spurs this generosity?  In Beggs’ opinion it’s Hoosier heritage.  “It’s hard working people who care about others and follow the Golden Rule, and I think they truly understand that they’ve been blessed, and they want to bless others.  It’s just that simple.” 

Fun Awaits

Below is a sampling of the events, programs and amenities offered within the community centers. For a complete list of services, as well as partnerships, please visit the following websites.

Faith East Community Center 
faithlafayette.org

Faith West Community Center

Northend Community Center

River City Community Center
cc.rivercity.info

Lafayette Family YMCA
lafayettefamilyymca.org

Greater Lafayette YWCA 
ywcalafayette.org

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

Lana Beck, a bright, inquisitive second-grader at Mintonye Elementary in Lafayette, was born into a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) family. Her parents are university administrators with degrees in science, and a grandfather and an uncle are biomedical engineers.

Between visits to family members’ research buildings and bedtime readings of books such as “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” Lana’s parents make a point of exposing her to all things STEM during her off-school hours. When it came time to schedule Lana for summer camp in 2019, it was only logical to mix in stints at Straight Arrow and Boiler Kids Camp with a week at Super Summer, sponsored by Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute. 

As Lana and her classmates explored the theme of “Discovery through History,” examining the role of ancient civilizations on the modern world, they employed their STEM skills to develop a Mayan calendar, discover how a solar oven works, and create an aqueduct out of cardboard.

The verdict? Lana loved it. “I have wondered if it was the novelty of it, but it was certainly her favorite [of the three camps]. And she liked the other two,” says her mother, Kaethe Beck, operations director for the Purdue University Life Sciences Initiative. “She came home one day looking for us to translate her message that she wrote using hieroglyphs after they learned how to make their own paper. She was just thrilled to have a secret language and to know how paper is made.”

For several decades, the GERI program, part of Purdue’s College of Education, has provided enrichment activities for academically, creatively and artistically talented youth. Super Summer offers programming for kindergarten through fourth grade in not only STEM subjects but also social studies, art and language arts. The Summer Residential Camp has similar offerings for students in fifth through 12th grades. GERI is one of many programs in the Greater Lafayette area designed to open local students’ minds to the possibilities of STEM education, and ultimately, careers. 

A STEM-based economy

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics play a key role in our nation’s economy. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, employment in STEM occupations — which Pew broadly defines as including not only computer science and engineering, but also healthcare — grew from 9.7 million in 1990 to 17.3 million in 2016, outpacing the nation’s overall job growth. Those statistics are especially relevant in areas such as Greater Lafayette, where industry and healthcare reign. 

While Purdue University may be the top employer in Tippecanoe County, seven others on the top-10 list — including Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Wabash National Corp. — are manufacturers. The other two are IU Health Arnett Hospital and Franciscan St. Elizabeth East. Search the online want ads for the area, and you’ll find postings for engineers, factory technicians, registered nurses and certified nursing assistants, all of which require various levels of STEM skills.

“The local economy here is heavily manufacturing based, and we’re trying to address that,” says Miranda Hutcheson, director of the new Greater Lafayette Career Academy (GLCA), which opened in August in the old Lafayette Life building on 18th Street across from Lafayette Jefferson High School. “Almost every industry right now needs employees; we hear that almost every day.”

Pathways to success

GLCA, a cooperative effort that includes Lafayette School Corp., Tippecanoe School Corp. and the West Lafayette Community School Corp., is designed to prepare students for both college and careers. Students attend their home schools for a half-day either in the morning or the afternoon and spend the rest of their time at the academy. Credits at the academy count toward a diploma from their home schools. 

Local schools offer some beginning career and technical education courses, says Laurie Rinehart, director of guidance and assistant principal at Lafayette Jeff. However, GLCA is providing “more advanced courses and more advanced experiences to connect them with the next step, whether it’s the workforce or going to trade school or college,” she says. Through such programs as advanced manufacturing, computer science and nursing, academy students can earn industry certifications, dual credits or both. 

Coursework aligns with the new Graduation Pathways program, approved by the Indiana State Board of Education in 2017, in which Hoosier students create their own roadmaps to preparing for life after high school. Those pathways took effect last fall for incoming high school freshmen.

Hutcheson describes the pathways as on- and off-ramps on an interstate. “Whatever your educational attainment goal is or career goal, you can get off the ramp if needed and then get right back on if that’s what you choose,” she says. Students with industry certifications can enter the workforce immediately or spend two or four years in college before using that certification on the job. Others may work for a while, then attend college. Those who earn dual credits can go right on to college or delay their postsecondary education for a while. 

All GLCA classes are designed to be as hands-on as possible, both on- and off-campus. Aspiring medical assistants, for example, will attend labs where they learn skills such as checking vital signs, giving injections and charting patient progress. After graduation, they will complete an externship at a local healthcare facility.

Some students may discover that they don’t enjoy what they’re studying. That’s actually a valuable learning experience, Hutcheson says: “It’s a win for us if a student says, ‘This is not for me.’ We’ve eliminated that from a student’s future career options.”

STEM competence and confidence

Beyond the career academy, many other local initiatives are designed to build STEM competence and confidence. Greater Lafayette Commerce, for instance, sponsors CoderDojo, a free computer science club in which kids aged 7 to 17 learn programming from computer science professionals. Programs average 30 students at each of the two locations, says Kara Webb, workforce development director. Last fall, GLC planned to add two more locations to the monthly lineup.

GLC’s annual Manufacturing Week showcases STEM career possibilities available here in the Greater Lafayette region. More than 3,34o students signed up for last year’s event, which ran Sept. 30-Oct. 4. High school students toured manufacturers, seeing the workforce in action and learning what type of training would prepare them for industry careers. Middle schoolers attended a daylong expo, exploring stations focused on design, production, distribution and support services, such as nursing and cybersecurity.

“We highlight that manufacturing has numerous career pathways, not just production,” Webb says. Elementary students attended a half-day manufacturing awareness workshop, learning about lean manufacturing, quality, teamwork and the effect of manufacturing on people’s lives. 

Across the river at Purdue University, K-12 STEM programs abound. Purdue’s Women in Engineering offerings, for example, include after-school programs such as Imagination, Innovation, Discovery and Design (I2D2) for kindergarteners through fifth graders and Innovation to Reality (I2R) for sixth to eighth graders.

“Children are being exposed to STEM education in their formal school settings already, so what we do is really intended to be a reinforcement of that exposure,” says Beth M. Holloway, assistant dean for diversity and engagement in the College of Engineering and the Leah H. Jamieson Director of Women in Engineering. A fundamental part of WIEP’s programming is engaging current engineering students, particularly women, to serve as role models to youngsters.

Starting early

“For our programs that are targeted to seventh to 10th grades, we also do sessions for parents that address ways to encourage their child’s interest in engineering in particular, and STEM in general,” Holloway says. “Course expectations are covered there as well.”

Middle school is an ideal time to begin planning for high school, Rinehart says. In fact, she and her colleagues at Jeff are talking to eighth grade parents about the career academy so that interested students can plan their schedules accordingly. 

“They’re over there a whole half day. Not all students can do that,” Rinehart says of the GLCA students. “These conversations have to start with our kids in middle school, in eighth grade and freshman year; we have many students who want to go but can’t fit it in their schedule.”

For parents like Kaethe Beck, it’s never too early to start preparing her children for the future. “I can expose her to many different things and let her choose what interests her, reinforcing that she can explore any one of these disciplines in a capable, confident way,” she says of her daughter Lana.

And regardless of whether Lana pursues a career in STEM or in another discipline, lessons like those at Super Summer are equipping her with important life skills, Beck says. 

“I think children are inherently curious,” she explains. “It’s the what, why, how that kids always want to ask about anyway. In my mind, STEM fields address those questions in a number of ways, but most importantly, give you the tools to think critically about any type of problem you’ll encounter in life.”

BY CINDY GERLACH

That’s the message made loud and clear by the many cultural and welcome centers in the Greater Lafayette-West Lafayette community. You are welcome, and your culture is celebrated. One thing that every group makes known: These centers are not limited to the group whose name is used in the title. Each is open and inclusive — anyone is welcome to drop by and take part in activities. 

Asian American and Asian Resource & Cultural Center
905 Fifth St., West Lafayette
Purdue.edu/aaarcc

The Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center opened in 2015, with the goal of providing educational and cultural resources for Purdue, as well as for the Lafayette-West Lafayette community.

Programs are in place to help provide academic support to students, with academic outreach being one of the core goals of the center. A number of courses and minors are available to students who want to pursue further study.

The center partners with other organizations across campus to sponsor programming, including speakers, movies, cultural events and panel discussions. 

A number of organizations are open to students, with academic, cultural or social missions, all related to Asian cultures. 

Black Cultural Center
100 Third St., West Lafayette
purdue.edu/BCC

Born during the tumult of the late 1960s, Purdue’s Black Cultural Center provides a place where the entire community can be educated and enlightened about the African-American experience.

The building is designed to reflect much of that experience. Many of the design elements reflect parts of African-American culture, from the portal entrance — symbolizing the entrance to African villages — to the layout of the building, which incorporates metaphors related to these same villages. The lobby is open, encouraging community rather than exclusion. And an upper wrought-iron balcony railing represents enslaved Africans of the 1700s, who often worked in metal trades and blacksmithing, says Director Renee Thomas.

The center provides a community for all Purdue and community members who have an interest in this culture. Of particular note are the performing arts groups that are part of the BCC, including:

The BCC features a library, a computer room and space for students to gather and be social. And its location between the academic center of campus and the residence halls makes it a convenient stop for students.

“Students who have a greater sense of belonging have stronger retention rates,” Thomas says. “We try to engage them through our programming and our performing arts ensembles.”

The BCC has two very distinct personalities. There’s the standard workday atmosphere between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., when it feels like an academic department. But in the evenings, the place comes alive with a vibrant, social vibe as students take over. 

“Lots of students take advantage,” says Thomas. “They really see it as their space as well.”

International Center of West Lafayette
523 N. Russell St., West Lafayette
Intlctr.org

The International Center focuses on education about various cultures. It offers a variety of foreign language classes and conversation groups in English, which is helpful for newcomers to the United States, says Executive Director Soo Shin.

“They love coming here so they can practice English with people with so many different accents,” she says. 

People come to attend language classes for a variety of reasons, from faculty planning to spend time overseas to people planning travel for leisure. The classes also focus on the cultural component and travel essentials. 

English as a Second Language classes also are offered, a popular option for newcomers to the area. 

Throughout the year, various social activities are held at the center. On Fridays, the Global Café is a free program featuring a speaker on a particular location. Sometimes they focus on life in the United States — how to foster pets, the rules on gun ownership — and other speakers focus on life and the culture in another country. 

“People want to hear the other side of the news they never hear about,” Shin says. “It’s so good to break those stereotypes.”

The International Center is proud to host the food bazaar at Global Fest each year, featuring cuisine from nearly 25 different countries. 

“When you enter this building, you get rid of the stereotypes and get to see what the real person is like,” Shin says. “This place has been a safe space regardless of where they are from. It’s amazing how word of mouth works; students go back to their home countries and spread the word.”

Latino Center for Wellness & Education
Northend Community Center, Lafayette
Latinocenter.orgspring.org

The Latino Center for Wellness and Education was organized to help integrate the Latino culture into the community. 

“We’re promoting our culture and want to highlight our culture,” says board president Cassandra Salazar. “We want to integrate cultures. That’s part of our mission.”

The group’s largest activity of the year is the Tippecanoe Latino Festival each fall. It also features a community resource fair, whose participants include schools, churches, businesses, arts and culture, groups like Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies and the Mexican consulate. 

The event is the group’s largest fundraiser as well, providing support for its other outreach throughout the year.

But Salazar is quick to point out that the organization is not Mexican-centric — all Latino cultures are represented, with board members from all over Latin America.

The center provides resources and assistance to people, including academic scholarships, translation services (including providing translators at school events), referrals for those new to the community (doctors, lawyers, mortgage lenders), and other need-based services.

In December, a large holiday celebration is held, with activities, crafts and gifts for children. In April, Día de Niño is celebrated, a national holiday in many Latin American countries. Literacy is often a focus, with all children going home with a book. 

“All of our events are 100 percent free to the community,” Salazar says. “That’s something we strongly believe in. We just want to serve as a resource.”

Latino Cultural Center
426 Waldron St., West Lafayette
purdue.edu/LCC

A welcoming and inclusive community can be found at the Latino Cultural Center, which fosters meaningful dialogue and cultural understanding of all Latinx communities. 

Director Carina Olaru feels strongly about inclusion. 

“One of our founding mottos is ‘All are welcome,’” she says. Which is why the center has adopted the use of the Latinx, which, while somewhat controversial, is inclusive in ways “Latino” and “Latina” are not.

“We use it here because we want to show that it’s an inclusive space.”

The center offers study space and a computer lab, a place where students can drop in. The building itself is filled with artwork and color, a visual link that clearly illustrates a tie to Latin America. 

And not just Mexico, Olaru points out — the center is open to all, the campus community and the community beyond Purdue as well. 

The center has a library, which is a great resource for students who are just beginning to learn about their culture and want to explore. 

They have a pop-up food bank as a way to help combat food insecurity. And in back of the center is a garden, which can be a teaching tool as well as a place for relaxation. 

“It allows for us to think about being mindful,” Olaru says. “Through gardening or just reading.” 

The center sponsors speakers and discussions that will benefit students. Last year, for example, it partnered with the LGBTQ center on adoption of the term Latinx and all that entailed. 

“What happens at the center comes from what our students and faculty needs are,” Olaru says. “We support them in how creative they want to be.”

Each fall, an open house and research fair, El Puente, welcomes students to campus. A student retreat, Conexiones, invites students to come and build community, with a variety of workshops offered. 

“When people think of Latin culture they think of food, fun and fiesta,” Olaru says, “But really, we are the Latino Cultural Center, creating cultural understanding, creating a sense of belonging and creating a dialogue.”

LGBTQ Center
230 Schleman Hall, Purdue University
purdue.edu/lgbtq

Purdue’s LGBTQ center was organized in 2012 to help support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, faculty and staff at Purdue University. Director Lowell Kane is the center’s inaugural director. 

Because the center serves the LGBTQ community, it crosses over into all disciplines, all cultures and all walks of life, Kane says. 

“We try to show the intersectionality of the community, which is a very diverse group,” Kane says. “Our community is every community. We really are this incredibly diverse population.”

The center is open during the day, offering study space, a computer lab and tutoring for students. There also is a lounge where students can just hang out. 

Kane emphasizes the center’s opening and welcoming atmosphere. There is a collection of artifacts on display, illustrating the history and struggles of the LGBTQ community. 

The ultimate goal of the center is to help students be successful. The center works toward educating the university on how to create an inclusive campus environment, offering training to faculty and staff. This has created a “safe zone” network across campus, so students can find allies who will offer support. 

And because students can confidentially identify as part of the LGBTQ community with their enrollment — and can change that designation at any time — the center has access to a database of grades and demographic trends, seeing where their students most need academic support. 

Each fall, the Rainbow Callout is a resource fair for students; it has grown from nine tables in a room at the Stewart Center the first year to filling the Union ballrooms, with more than 1,300 attendees.  

And each spring the center offers a Lavender Graduation, which includes about 60 graduates, from undergraduate all the way up through doctoral students. 

“It’s very nice, coming together to celebrate the achievements of the community,” Kane says. 

The center partners with various groups across campus to sponsor educational programming throughout the year. Last year, it partnered with Convos in bringing the Tony-award winning musical “Rent” to campus. And through a partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Women and Gender studies, it brought a visiting scholar to campus, Sasha Velour from “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” She uses her platform to advocate for social justice causes, particularly for LGBTQ women’s rights, race/ethnicity and international issues. 

Native American Education & Cultural Center
903 Fifth St., West Lafayette
purdue.edu/naecc

The Native American Cultural Center is home to Native American, Alaskan Native and Hawaiian students, faculty and staff, with more than 60 tribal nations represented. 

The center is focused on providing academic support in order to foster student success. It also provides educational outreach about the United States’ indigenous cultures. 

Throughout the year, a variety of programs are sponsored by the center. An open house kicks off the year, with tours of the center and a preview of the fall’s events. Students also are   introduced to the various student organizations they can join that relate to their culture. 

Various programs are scheduled throughout the year, including film screenings and discussions, visiting artists and historical discussions.

Aloha Fridays are a popular event; on the Hawaiian Islands, it’s a farewell to the work week, and here, programming varies, from food to discussion to arts and crafts. 

Throughout November, Native American Heritage Month, the center sponsors a number of speakers on history, culture and education. 

Pride Lafayette
640 Main St., Lafayette
Pridelafayette.org

Pride Lafayette was organized 16 years ago to serve members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community and its allies. The oldest advocacy group in the state of Indiana, says board president Ashley Smith, it hosts a variety of activities and speakers to help support its constituency. 

At its downtown Lafayette location, it hosts a variety of different activities, from support groups for teens or family members, to game and movie nights. 

The center is designed to provide flexibility: screens can be moved and arranged to provide privacy to support groups meeting inside; a back door is available for those who want to drop in but need or want to protect their identity as they enter — “Some people just aren’t ready to be out,” says Smith. “We respect their privacy.” 

Pride’s biggest and best-known event is its annual OUTfest, a festival that takes over downtown Lafayette each August. It started in 2008 as OUT-oberfest, but over the last 10 years, the event has grown and now features food, music, resources, more than 70 vendors and family-friendly activities. Several local churches and area politicians can be counted as supporters, including the mayors of both Lafayette and West Lafayette. The event always ends in a spectacular drag show; last year’s event included a Freddie Mercury tribute. 

Each November, Pride hosts a family weekend, coinciding with other Family Equality events. Families come from all the state to attend.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY GREATER LAFAYETTE COMMERCE AND TIPPECANOE ARTS FEDERATION

When Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, the first United States Patent Commissioner, published a booklet in 1838 touting the agricultural advantages of a new town in Indiana’s upper Wabash River valley, his efforts likely constituted the first-ever marketing campaign for Lafayette, Indiana, population 3,000.

“The county of Tippecanoe, in which Lafayette is situated … embodies and is immediately surrounded by some of the most beautiful prairies and plains of Indiana,” the Connecticut native wrote. “The rapid increase of the town of Lafayette, from a settlement of scarce ten years ago, is truly astonishing, and can be accounted for only by the extreme felicity of its position.”

In the 182 ensuing years, the combined population of Lafayette and its twin city across the river to the west — which began with the settlement of Chauncey in 1860 — has swelled to more than 194,000 residents, by latest estimates. Back then, agriculture was king; now the key industries are education, manufacturing and healthcare. And while both towns began with only a few streets and a handful of homes and businesses, today Greater Lafayette encompasses a vast area containing historic and brand-new neighborhoods, high-quality school corporations, parks and trail systems, two hospitals, a world-class university and a regional community college campus.

Now, a new coalition seeks to make Greater Lafayette even greater by bringing a unified approach to marketing efforts aimed at increasing the talent pool, spurring new business development and enhancing community pride.

Creating prospects

Seven local entities — the City of Lafayette, the City of West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, Purdue University, the Purdue Research Foundation and Greater Lafayette Commerce — have come together to form the Greater Lafayette Marketing Coalition (GLMC). Its aim is to promote the area as an ideal place to live, play and work.

 “We work very well as a community here, with the cities and the county and Purdue and Ivy Tech. Overall, we have a strong economic climate,” says Tony Roswarski, Lafayette’s mayor. “But we understood that to continue to be globally competitive, we needed to look at how do we market ourselves in a new way? How do we look at the world for attracting new businesses here, to keep existing businesses competitive, to finding skilled labor?”

The ultimate goal of the campaign is twofold, says Scott Walker, CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce: one, attracting more residents to the community, and two, attracting more businesses.

“We’re not necessarily trying to create more visitors,” he explains. Instead, coalition members want to convert visitors to prospects. “How do we get them to think, ‘How do I bring my business here, because I see how businesses are growing and thriving here?  Or how can I move myself and my family here, because I’ve really enjoyed my time in the community?’” 

Work-live-play strengths

To lay the groundwork for a cooperative marketing effort, GLMC partnered with Ologie, a Columbus, Ohio, agency that spearheaded Purdue University’s “Makers, All” campaign several years ago. The agency conducted face-to-face meetings with more than 125 residents, business leaders, hiring managers, Purdue University faculty, administrators and students, area non-profits and city and county employees.  It also developed an online community survey that yielded responses from more than 1,500 individuals.   Local hiring managers and business owners also participated in online discussion boards. 

Among the key insights: A connection to family is often what draws residents to the area and what keeps Purdue University graduates here. Additionally, Lafayette and West Lafayette may have distinct personalities, but thanks to their collaborative spirit, the two cities are often seen as one. Finally, despite its challenges, Greater Lafayette has a variety of work-live-play strengths, including employment opportunities, shared public spaces and high-quality public schools. 

Where community thrives

All of this adds up to the core message that Ologie developed: “Greater Lafayette is where progress, creativity and community thrive, so that you can live expansively.” 

For job seekers, Greater Lafayette is a hub for diverse and state-of-the-art industries, which translates to unlimited professional opportunities, according to Ologie’s messaging guide. For visitors and residents looking for entertainment, the area offers a variety of arts, culture and tech opportunities, which provide memorable experiences. For people seeking a sense of belonging, Greater Lafayette is a close-knit and prosperous community, the Ologie team notes, which leads to greater personal fulfillment for its citizens.

The campaign’s optimistic messages resonate with officials like Tom Murtaugh, Tippecanoe County commissioner. Born and raised here, he’s been delighted with changes in recent years, particularly the revitalization of downtown areas.

“When I was in college, downtown was desolate. There was an adult bookstore on the courthouse square. At night there was nobody downtown. To think that in 30-some years, that has completely turned around: investment in the downtown corridor, the MARQ project and the project by City Hall,” he says of the renovation of the Morton Community Center for West Lafayette city offices. “There’s a great history and a great future for this community.”

Working well together

As the campaign progresses, coalition officials will track progress. They’ll be looking for positive changes in audiences’ perceptions of Greater Lafayette as well as positive economic outcomes, such as new residents and businesses. 

“A growing economy is a thriving economy. Property and tax values depreciate, so you’re constantly having to create new investment,” says Walker. “There’s no such thing as status quo. Alternatives to growth are decline.” 

Demand for new houses drives new residential development, Walker adds: “We know what happens when the capacity expands over demand. That’s what the Great Recession was. Fostering that demand is really important; it provides assurance for developers.”

As West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis notes, Greater Lafayette is already seeing a housing boom. “We just approved the Provenance development on State and Airport Road in August. These will have wonderful housing options including apartments, condos and single-family houses. West Lafayette and Greater Lafayette as a whole is clearly a popular place to live because houses don’t stay on the market for long, but more are being added and will continue,” Dennis says. 

Several new businesses have also announced moves to or expansion in Greater Lafayette in the past year, including Saab, SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories), Inari and Zeblok. 

“The reason this is a great place to do business is because it is a great place to live. Our schools from kindergarten through Ph.D. are some of the finest in the country, our arts scene is robust and innovative, we have a growing culinary culture, our housing stock is wide-ranging and within reach for our residents,” Dennis says. 

“And finally, one of the main reasons Greater Lafayette is so great is that we all work together. It sounds cliché, but it’s what makes us, on both sides of the river, such a great success.”