Lunch Concerts Coming to Downtown Fishers

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The green area behind Fishers City Hall will be the center of music on Wednesdays at lunchtime this spring.  With all the restaurants now in place around the downtown area, local residents and downtown workers can enjoy a series of concerts at midweek fron noon to 1pm.

The city has just announced this lineup of musical acts:

  • May 4 – Jon Barnard
  • May 11 – Kelly Isenhower
  • May 18 – Zach Day
  • May 25 – Fishers Music Works Mudsock Jazz Combo
  • June 1 – Jon Barnard
  • Jun 8 – Kelly Isenhower
  • June 15 – Zach Day
  • June 22 – Jesse Lacy
  • June 29 – Fishers Music Words Mudsock Jazz Combo

The Nickel Plat mobile phone app will feature lunch specials just on the concert days.

Help Third Graders Battle Local Hunger April 29th With a Food Donation

 

Never underestimate the power of third-graders.  I learned that lesson recently when Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath told me, in a Podcast interview, about a group of local third-grade students’ involvement in formulating a city comprehensive plan.

You would think students in third grade would have little interest in something like land use policy.  But McGrath explained how those youngsters quickly picked up the concept and had some real, substantial discussions about how the city should establish rules on how people are allowed to use land.

Another group of third-graders is taking on the problem of hunger.  Although Fishers is known as a generally wealthy suburb of Indianapolis, the Brooks School Road Elementary students decided to take on the issue of local hunger.

This is the second year in a row that third-graders in Mrs. Kelly Stewart’s class have taken on the hunger issue.  Last year, the students helped 11,000 families.

This year, you can help out.  There will be an Open House and Food Donation center set up at the United Methodist Church,  9691 East 116th Street (just east of I-69), 5-7pm, Friday, April 29th.

The top five needs are:

Peanut Butter

Jelly

Pop Tarts

Mac & Cheese/Pasta

Crackers

You can view the third-graders video above.  After all, in this day and age, how can you run any program without a good YouTube video?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City to Gain $350,000 on Refinancing Debt for Fishers YMCA

 

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The Fishers Redevelopment Commission Wednesday took the first step toward refinancing city bonds utilized to build the local YMCA.  The interest rate on that debt is currently set at 4%.  The Commission Members were told by staff that a refinanced rate would be between 1.6% & 1.7%.  That would save the city about $350,000 over the remaining life of the bond payback period.

City Controller Oscar Gutierrez said the city could glean an up-front benefit of $175,000 based on the details of the debt restructuring.  Gutierrez said the savings would go into the city’s general fund and could be used for software updates for many outdated city systems, but emphasized no final decision has been made by the mayor on how to use the refinancing funds.

When the Fishers YMCA was constructed, the city issued the bonds and the YMCA pays the city a monthly rental fee.  That rental fee will not change under this debt restructuring, according to Gutierrez.

The Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved the refinancing plan, but the process is just beginning, with more actions to be taken before the refinancing is complete.

HSE Superintendent – Its Crunch Time for School Funding Referendum

2016 Science Fair Award Winners from HSE Schools
2016 State Science Fair Award Winners from HSE Schools (L-R) Zahra Baloch, Aryan Desai, Muntasur Munaf, Noor Abdullah and John Ryu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) School Superintendent Allen Bourff told the school board Wednesday night that it’s “crunch time” with less than one week to go before the May 3rd primary election, which will include a school funding referendum.  Bourff said even though election day is drawing closer, he and his staff will continue to speak with groups up until election day.

Early voting is available at the Hamilton County Government Building in Downtown Noblesville.  The hours are:

8:00am-4:30pm April 28 & 29

9:00am-4:00pm Saturday, April 30th

8:00am-12noon on Monday, May 2nd

“I encourage everyone to go out and vote,” Bourff said.

You can listen to my Podcast featuring Sneha Shah, Chairperson of the Advance HSE Political Action Committee, advocating a yes vote on the referendum, at this link.

My Podcast interview with HSE Superintendent Allen Bourff is also available at this link.

 

The school board honored HSE students winning awards at the 2016 Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair.  Below are the students recognized:

 

John Ryu – 11th grade, Fishers High School

  • Project: A Theoretical Examination of the Instability of the Space Elevator
  • Teacher – Dan Mach
  • Awards: Ivy Tech Biotechnology Award – Senior Division Physical Science; US Air Force Award for Excellence; and Most Outstanding Engineering Project by an 11th Grade Exhibitor

 

Noor Abdullah – 10th grade, Hamilton Southeastern High School

  • Project: The Impact of Rhamnus Frangula and Emodin on the Embryonic Development of Zebrafish
  • Teacher:  Ken Link
  • Awards: Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Muntasur Munaf – 7th grade, Fall Creek Junior High School

  • Project: Graphene Super Capacitors – Future of Energy
  • Teacher: Rachel Hiatt
  • Awards: Second place overall for all of 7th grade across the State ; Most Outstanding Exhibit in Materials Science; The Ivy Tech Biotechnology Award; and the Pete Kissinger Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit.

 

Aryan Desai – 7th grade, Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate Junior High School

  • Project:  May the Vitamin C Be With You
  • Teacher: Greg McCord
  • Awards: Best Use of Statistics

 

Zahra Baloch – 4th grade, Geist Elementary School

  • Project: Spinning Attraction:  Effects on Speed of Homopolar Motor when Battery Type is Changed.
  • Teacher: Jeannie Scott
  • Awards: 3rd place

 

The Science Fair is one of the signature programs of the Science Education Foundation of Indiana.

 

Take the Pledge: Be Stigma-Free

The City of Fishers has been working on a mental health initiative for well over a year, and the latest piece of that campaign was unveiled today (Wednesday), encouraging local citizens to take the stigma-free pledge.

One major goal of the initiative is to remove the stigma often associated with those suffering from mental illness.  Many being treated for mental issues feel that stigma, and it often results in those with these diseases not seeking needed medical treatment.  As a result, too many suffer in silence.

“Working to reduce the societal stigma associated with mental health challenges in our community is one of the recurring themes that the Mental Health Task Force identified over the last year,” said Mayor Scott Fadness through a city news release. “We know that if we can get the community talking about mental health, we can reach some of those in our community that are living in quiet despair.”

When you take the stigma-free pledge, here’s what you are agreeing to do:

The StimgaFreeFishers pledge challenges residents to:

·         Learn more about mental health

·         See the person, not the illness

·         Take action by sharing their pledge to be stigma-free

Those living in Fishers will have a chance to take the pledge at various community events in the coming months, including the downtown Farmers Markets, set to be held every Saturday during the summer, beginning May 9th.

You can also take the pledge at a new Web page devoted to the Stigma-Free Fishers by accessing this link:

www.stigmafreefishers.com

Campaign for HSE Referendum Enters Its Final Week

HSE Superintendent Allen Bourff talks to the crowd about the funding referendum
HSE Superintendent Allen Bourff talks to the crowd about the funding referendum at the Delaware Township Community Building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the countdown to election day enters its final week, Hamilton Southeastern (HSE) school officials made their case one more time Tuesday night for the funding referendum on the May 3rd ballot.  If passed, the measure would continue a 10 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation referendum rate that’s been in place for nearly 7 years and increase the operations referendum tax rate by 12.75 cents over the current operations referendum rate.

There were a number of questions posed to HSE administrators from the crowd of about 25 people.

One person in the crowd questioned why the school corporation is proposing to use some of the referendum revenue to fund assistant principal positions in the elementary buildings, in light of the fact that several more teachers could be hired with that money. HSE School Superintendent Allen Bourff replied that with the large enrollments in these elementary buildings, the teachers cannot be properly evaluated with only one administrator, the principal, handling that duty along with many other administrative tasks.

Several questions were asked about the number of referendums in place now, both for operating expenses and building projects.

One person in attendance reminded everyone that some state legislators are up for election this year and the school funding system is controlled by state lawmakers.  Bourff praised local State Representative Todd Huston for his work at the Statehouse advocating for HSE school funding, but added that Huston says more than half of the state’s school districts are losing enrollment.  That means most elected officials at the state level are working to keep their local schools funded in light of declining student populations, which makes it much more difficult to make the case at the General Assembly for growing school systems like HSE.

According to information from the Advance HSE Political Action Committee, which is advocating a yes vote on the referendum, a home in the HSE School District valued at $100,000 would pay an additional $41.76 per year in property taxes if the referendum is approved.  For a home valued at $250,000 would pay  an extra $166.07 in property tax each year.  A half-million dollar home would pay $373.26 in extra property tax per year.

 

Fishers Gets Certified Tech Park Designation

Coworking space with chairs & whiteboards,.  the office suites are placed around the comment areas.
Coworking space with chairs & whiteboards. The office suites are placed around the comment areas at the new Launch Fishers location

(Updated 9:08am 4.26.16)

Ever since Launch Fishers began the process of moving out of its long-time home in the Fishers library basement to the new location, the city has been aggressively seeking state designation as a Certified Tech Park.  That’s important because the state will provide a funding mechanism, allowing the city to recover costs incurred in acquiring and renovating the new Launch location.

The State Budget Committee approved the the Fishers Nickel Plate District and the adjacent North East Commerce Park together as a Certified Technology Park (CTP) on April 25th.  State Senator Luke Kenley called the action “a huge step forward for the City of Fishers.”

“CTPs allow communities to harness the innovation, drive and entrepreneurship of their citizens and invest in economic growth” Kenley said in a news release.  “The funds coming from the CTP program will help Fishers continue to develop the Nickel Plate District as a high-technology, entrepreneurial epicenter and expand the space, providing more opportunity for growth.”

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness praised the action and Kenley’s “leadership and support” in getting this done.  The mayor also praised Governor Mike Pence and Budget Chairman Tim Brown for their support.

“A certified tech park designation will provide essential resources for our city to continue to develop not only integral local infrastructure, but also further the development of state wide initiatives” the mayor said in his own news release.  “Fishers continues to build momentum in organic job creation through the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

The designation allows state and local tax revenue generated within the designated area to be recaptured and  invested in the same area.  Fishers invested $3.1 million of city money into the new Launch Fishers location on Visionary Way, in the Northeast Commerce Park, east of Lantern Road and behind the Target shopping complex.  The city also committed to spending about $400,000 in renovating the structure, once the home of debt collection agency DECA.

The founder of Launch Fishers, John Wechsler, called the state’s action “a huge win for our entrepreneurial movement.”  Wecshler is now working on a state-wide program called Launch Indiana.

“We are continuing the important work of spurring innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the state and we are grateful for the support that was demonstrated (April 25th),” Weshsler said in a news release.

 

 

Hamilton County’s Election is Getting Plenty of Media Attention

When I started this local news blog in January of 2012, my aim was to fill the gap in news coverage about Fishers.  The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) and local TV stations would parachute in occasionally, but there was not a regular presence at meetings and events around Fishers.

Lindsey Erdody covers the northern suburbs for IBJ, but that includes a lot of territory.  She is at Fishers events along with all the other communities in the area, when possible.

The weekly newspaper Current in Fishers does cover local news as best it can, being a weekly print publication.  But that doesn’t lend itself to what is happening now.

My goal then, as it is now, is to provide the best information I can assemble into this news blog about what is happening in Fishers.  I adhere to this saying from Woody Allen – “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

This is the first time I have covered any county-wide politics or elections.  In 2016, we have two Hamilton County Council candidates with strong Fishers ties.  George Kehl is the long-time police chief in Fishers, set to retire in September.  Jeff Hern is the Fall Creek Township Trustee (Fall Creek Township takes up a large portion of the city of Fishers).

Incumbent Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt is being challenged in the Republican primary by local Fishers business owner Bill Smythe.

Fishers City Councilman Pete Peterson was first elected to succeed Pete Emigh as Hamilton County Republican County Chairman, only to have that vote overturned by the state GOP.  Laura Campbell is now the party chair.

I make no commentary on any of this, it’s just that many of the people involved have Fishers connections, therefore I am paying more attention to all this than normal in my local-centric news blog that normally focuses on Fishers news.

What I find fascinating is how the larger media outlets are paying attention to the election in this year’s Republican primary in Hamilton County.  The Star, IBJ and the television media are paying attention to the local election campaigns.

Even the public television weekly program on state politics, Indiana Week in Review, weighed-in on the county council race recently.  What will all this media attention mean?

It’s my view that Hamilton County will see a much higher voter turnout than normal for a primary election.  The presidential race in still alive in both parties.  The added attention to the county elections will likely lead to more ballots being cast.

There is also a school funding referendum in Fishers, asking for property taxpayers to kick-in additional money over the next 7 years for operating expenses, aimed at lowering class size, better compensating staff and enhancing educational programs.  Approval of the referendum could reduce or abolish recently instituted “pay to play” fees for athletics and some extra-curricular activities.

A higher than normal voter turnout could have an impact on the outcome of the Hamilton Southeastern Schools referendum vote.  What impact that would be, no one knows.

As a reporter, this has been a lively election cycle to cover.  And, as I write this, we still have a few more days to go.

On the Indiana Week in Review segment first aired on WFYI April 22nd, Democrat Ann Delaney explained how she views what is happening in Hamilton County.  There are two parties here, she says, within the Republican Party, and those two factions don’t like each other.  The campaigns we are seeing this year verify that observation.