Examining the history of Beech Grove while highlighting businesses that are seemingly "Invisible" by others

Beech Grove, Indiana

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Beech Grove Based Bollywood Beats Hosts Workshops

Beech Grove, IN (September 19, 2019) — Garba folk dance of India has made its mark in Indianapolis. A Grade-1 course was conducted by world's largest authentic Garba Dance School, known as the Soni's School of Garba Dance. SSGD director Suhard Soni said it was "our maiden appearance in Indianapolis and other cities of Indiana. It was on the invitation of Bollywood Beats (owned by Jenny Bhupatkar Chakrabarti)." Beech Grove based Bollywood Beats is hosting a number of workshops in Indianapolis, Carmel and Columbus to promote authentic Garba Dance among juniors as well as other groups. Jenny and Suhard Soni had worked together in Mumbai. This led to the visit of Suhard and party in Indianapolis for the first time.

SSG Dance re-establishes the genuine Garba folk dance in fusion with a touch of modern dance, to make this dance form even more delightful to perform and enchanting to watch. SSGD director Suhard Soni imparted basic as well as fine foot steps and body movements which dancing. The participants found Garba "interesting, entertailing and energetic." As it was 'energy consuming' sufficient water breaks were given to the participants."

Ravinder Singh was the oldest participant. Her daughter Jasmine Singh also attended the workshop. The mother-daughter pair can be seen participating a cultural activities. All participants were awarded certificates on completion of the course. Encouraged by the response, Jenny Bhupatkar Chakrabarti said "we are having workshops on Tuesday, Wednesday,Saturday and Sunday in Beech Groove. On Friday and Saturday workdshops will be organized in Carmel and Sunday in Columbus.

If anyone wish to register they can contact Bollywood Beats / Jenny Bhupatkar on 812-603-0177 or bollywoodbeats.indy@gmail.com SSGD director Suhard Soni said " I, along with my brother Jigar Soni, is the co - founder of the world's largest Authentic Garba School, known as the Soni's School of Garba Dance. SSGD have a presence in 25 cities in nine countries worldwide, including India, the USA, the United Kingdom and Ireland , Switzerland, the UAE, Oman and Singapore.

As members of the UNESCO - World Dance Council - the school now offers a graded course which is taught according to a structured syllabus. In Septmber 2017, Suhrad Soni along with his brother Jigar were awarded in the UK House of Commons ( Parliament House ) London, for their significant contribution towards promoting Authentic Garba globally.

Suhrad and Jigar have taught Garba to some of the biggest names, Including the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan! They have not only taught but performed Garba for the richest family in India, the Ambani's for the recent wedding of Akash Ambani. Just few days ago, on September 12, their music video, the Garba Raas Anthem, "Radha Ne Shyam", with the one and only Dandiya Queen - Falguni Pathak was released. The video has been produced and choregraphed by Soni's School of Garba Dance with Suhrad and Jigar as the Lead dancers, along with Falguni Pathak. The music is composed by Shail Hada, who is known for his work in Bollywood."

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Haunted Theme Park Hiring Actors For Season

Beech Grove, IN (September 5, 2019) — A Southeast Indianapolis theme park is seeking actors, makeup artists, tractor drivers, combine drivers and parking lot attendants for Hanna Haunted Acres. Every October, they get to scare thousands of people as they face their fears at Indianapolis’ largest Haunted Theme Park throughout the month of October.

What to Expect:
While being a haunted house actor is a lot of work, it is also a fantastic stress reliever and incredibly fun. Most of their actors find a community and social group made up of more than 150 actors and actresses, and many go on to form lasting friendships. You’ll need to plan on being on your feet and moving quickly to get your scares throughout the night.

All their positions are paid at $9.00/hour after working 10 days, plus bonuses. Payroll is paid twice; once at the midpoint of the season and the last check is sent out two weeks after they close. Any bonuses earned during the season are sent out in November.

Event Dates:
Their events run from Sept. 27 through Nov. 2nd and are open from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm on the first and last Friday and Saturday and Sundays through Thursdays. All other Friday and Saturday nights are from 7:00 pm until 12:00 pm. They stay until there are no lines for any of their haunts, so hours will vary throughout the season. They also require training prior to the start of the season.
Check out their complete schedule here: HannaHauntedAcres.com/hours

Job Fair:
Their upcoming job fairs are Friday Sept. 6th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturday Sept. 7th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. If you are interested in joining them for the upcoming 2019 season, please plan to attend on one of these nights. (You only have to attend one job fair). Please wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes or boots and casual attire. Please no high heels or sandals. You must be 16 or older to work at Hanna Haunted Acres. Please submit your application at: Jobs.HannaHauntedAcres.com/jobs

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SOURCE: Hanna Haunted Acres

Friday, August 30, 2019

Dome car from the 50's could be in Beech Grove

Beech Grove, IN (August 30, 2019) — Amtrak's Great Dome car, a regular feature during fall foliage season on the Adirondack between Albany and Montreal, has been retired. The two-level passenger car with a glassed-in upper level stretching the length of the car was the last of a fleet of six originally built for the Great Northern Railway's Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle in the mid-1950's.

The exterior of the Amtrak dome car that gives a panoramic view of the Adirondack fall foliage.

The Milwaukee Road operated its own fleet of 10 "Super Dome" cars that were similar in appearance, with the glassed-in upper level also stretching the full length of the railroad car. They were used on the railroad's Hiawatha passenger trains and later on such trains as the City of Denver. Those dome cars ended up with cruise lines or scenic railroads.

Interior of the Amtrak dome car which operated on the Adirondack during the autumn foliage season in Troy ,New York 10/01/2009. Michael P. Farrell / Times Union 

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said "due to the age and expense of maintaining this vintage car, the Great Dome Car will no longer operate as part of Amtrak's fleet."

The car is believed to be in storage at Amtrak's Beech Grove repair shop

Amtrak now operates two-level Superliner lounge cars with windows that stretch from just above the floor to wrap around part of the ceiling. Because of the cars' height, they operate mainly between Chicago and destinations in the south and west. Lower clearances on eastern routes prevent them from operating into New York City. That's why the Great Dome car operated on the Adirondack only between Albany and Montreal.

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SOURCE: My San Antonio

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Local non-profit joins forces with several churches

Beech Grove, IN (August 29, 2019) — Volunteers of all ages gathered at Mt. Comfort Church to pack small bags of rice, vegetables and vitamin supplements. While the food was packed into compact bundles, it’s intended to have a big impact: The packaged meals, 30,000 of them in total, will be transported to Haiti.

The event, held Saturday, was sponsored by four area churches — Mt. Comfort Church, New Palestine United Methodist Church, McCordsville United Methodist Church and Gateway Community Church — in partnership with the nonprofit organization Pack Away Hunger.

Volunteers with Pack Away Hunger at Mt. Comfort Church pause for a photo suitable for social media as they work. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Ethan Maple, a pastor at Mt. Comfort Church, was one of the event’s organizers. “We’ve had probably about 150 volunteers participate, between all four churches and the community. We had some organizations hear about what we were doing and wanted to participate, so we’ve welcomed them as part of the team,” Maple said.

Maple said the components for the packed meals cost about $10,000. He said this was the largest project the four area United Methodist churches had worked on together, and they hoped to continue collaborating in the future.

“We’ve pooled our resources to come up with that $10,000, we’ve pooled our volunteers to do the packing, and we’re going to make a big splash, hopefully,” Maple said.

Pack Away Hunger, which is based in Beech Grove, works with both local food pantries and shelters in Indiana and with organizations around the world. Because the four churches had such a large pool of volunteers, they decided to focus on packing meals for Haiti, where the need is currently one of the world’s greatest, Pack Away Hunger staffer Lisa Patton said.

With each one among dozens of volunteers making individual contributions, the group assembled 30,000 meals to go to Haiti. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

The meals packed by the organization are called “Nutri-Plenty” meals and contain a mixture of rice, soy, vegetables and flavoring as well as “a scientifically proven blend of 21 vitamins and minerals shown to help alleviate and also reverse the effects of micronutrient malnutrition in young children,” according to Pack Away Hunger’s website. They are intended to contain the maximum possible nutritional benefit while still being easy to transport across the globe.

Once the meals are packed, they are distributed by Pack Away Hunger via partnerships with local organizations in Haiti. The organization also distributes meals in Guatemala. Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has experienced both political crises and natural disasters leading to widespread food insecurity. According to the nonprofit World Food program, 50 percent of Haitians are undernourished.

Nutri-Plenty packets away assembly into meal kits bound for Haiti. The packets contain a mixture of ingredients designed to address malnutrition in children. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Patton said the Pack Away Hunger model allows everyone, including young children, to contribute something concrete to a charitable cause. Nine-year-old Bryn Spruenger helped pack vegetables and spice packets at the event and said it felt good to do something for those in need.

“It’s an opportunity for the whole family to give back to those in need,” Patton said.

“Even if they don’t have houses, they could at least have stuff to eat and they could stay healthy,” Spruenger said.

Korey Collier, who attends New Palestine Methodist Church, volunteered at the event along with his wife and children. He said it was inspiring to see people from the four congregations come together for a common cause. “As a family, we’re trying to instill thankfulness in our kids for what they have. For them to realize that there are kids in other parts of the world that don’t have food to eat everyday, we try to open their eyes to that reality,” Collier said.

Once the meals are packed, Pack Away Hunger distributes them to children in need via a partnership with Nehemiah Vision Ministries, which is also based in Indiana and operates schools and healthcare services in Haiti.

Volunteers add ingredients to food packets that will be sent to Haiti, where malnutrition affects as much as half of the population. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Maple said he thought the event was a powerful demonstration of what churches and communities can accomplish when they come together to work as one.

“It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, this is an event that everybody can get involved in, and it’s an opportunity to serve,” Maple said. “All these people who are serving, they may just have a little small part in putting part of the meal pack together. But the impact they have, what we’re doing together, is huge.”

Patton said Pack Away Hunger is always looking for people to get involved and sponsor events. “The need here in Indiana is great, unfortunately,” Patton said. For more information on sponsoring or joining an event, visit PackAwayHunger.org Monetary donations can also be made online.

SOURCE: Daily Reporter

Friday, August 23, 2019

Too late for Refined Metals cost recovery suit

Beech Grove, IN (August 23, 2019) — U.S. Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood, writing for a unanimous panel on Thursday, said the 19 years that elapsed between Refined’s settlement, which was reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators, and its suit against NL Industries Inc. was too long. The decision hung in part on which provision of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act was available to Refined to pursue cleanup costs — a contribution action or a cost recovery action, which has a longer statute of limitations.

“If it were the latter, we would need to conduct a searching examination of what actions to clean up the site anyone has taken, and when. But we can skip that inquiry, because we agree with the district court that this is a … contribution action, and the limitations period had expired by the time Refined filed suit,” the panel said.

The case involves a contaminated site in Beech Grove, Indiana. Refined has owned the site for nearly four decades and agreed in 1998 to pay $210,000 and work to remove the contamination. The agreement also included a provision that the EPA and the state wouldn’t sue “on at least some of their potential claims.” In 2017, Refined sued NL, the prior owner, seeking some of its cleanup costs.

Companies can try to recover their cleanup costs under CERCLA in two ways. Companies often prefer cost recovery under section 107(a), which blocks the defendant from making certain arguments and carries a longer statute of limitations. This method is usually for “costs incurred during a self-initiated environmental clean-up.” Refined believes that under a cost recovery claim, the clock didn’t start until 2014, when the EPA agreed to "final corrective measures” after considerable work had already been done, the opinion said.

NL, however, said Refined is limited to the other section of CERCLA, 113(f), which allows for a suit seeking contribution for a party that has handled its liability through a settlement. If this provision is triggered, 113(f) is the only means for a company to pursue recovery.

The court disagreed with Refined’s argument that because it never admitted liability in the 1998 agreement, it didn’t have to face a contribution claim, and found that 113(f) applied .

Refined also argued that the agreement did not resolve its CERCLA liability but pertained to other statutes, meaning that it wasn’t forced into a contribution claim. But NL told the court that a settlement only needs to resolve some portion of a responsible party’s liability under any law.

“We agree with the latter point: a settlement need not resolve CERCLA-specific liability in order to start the clock on a contribution action,” the panel said.

Circuit Judges Diane P. Wood, Joel M. Flaum and Diane S. Sykes sat on the panel for the Seventh Circuit.

A representative for NL Industries declined to comment.

A representative for Refined did not immediately return a request for comment late Friday.

Refined is represented by Robert L. Collings of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP.

NL Industries is represented by Joel L. Herz of the Law Offices of Joel L. Herz.

The case is Refined Metals Corp. v. NL Industries Corp., case number 18-3235, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

SOURCE: Law360

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Remembering the Hoosier State

Beech Grove, IN (August 10, 2019) — Amtrak’s Hoosier State train, Nos. 850 and 851, died on Sunday, June 30 at Indianapolis, after a long illness. She was 38. The immediate cause of death was removal from life support by Indiana state officials. During her lifetime, she ran between Chicago and Indianapolis, but her later life was difficult and plagued by ever-increasing weakness, except during one brief period in 2015-17. She is survived by Amtrak’s Cardinal, which traverses the same route on its journey between Chicago and New York, but only three days per week.

Among the mourners were 153 customers (one less than the train’s entire seating capacity) and the crew who rode eastward on the last run from Chicago, according to Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari. He also told Railway Age that there were 130 westbound customers on the final day, excluding private car customers. Dave Bangert reported in the Lafayette Journal & Courier that two vintage cars built by Pullman-Standard ran behind the Amtrak consist, one sporting the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Tuscan Red livery. Also among the mourners was Dr. Helen Hudson, a retired high-school teacher who had won awards for sprucing up the grounds of the Crawfordsville station.

The Hoosier State was born on Oct. 1, 1980, at a time when there were no passenger trains between the Indiana capital and the Windy City. She had a difficult childhood, with the one bright period from 1987 until 1995, running as a daily train to and from Chicago, on a schedule separate from the Cardinal. She was discontinued at that time, but came back from the grave in 1998, operating on the days when the Cardinal did not run. From Dec. 17, 1999 until July 4, 2003, she had grown to become the daily Kentucky Cardinal, serving Louisville either as a section of the Cardinal or as a stand-alone train, depending on the day. She was cut back to the four-times-weekly schedule between Chicago and Indianapolis on that date, a schedule she maintained until her death.

Related | Hoosier State Train will cease operations
Related | Amtrak: Dead train rolling 
Related | Legislators fighting for Hoosier State Line 
Related | Amtrak suspends Hoosier State line 
Related | Hoosier State train could derail without state cash

The long illness to which the Hoosier State succumbed began in 2008 with the passage of Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), which required the states through which they run to absorb the full cost of trains traveling less than 750 miles. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) later sought a non-Amtrak operator to run her, but a deal with Chicago-based Corridor Rail Development fell through in 2014.

Amtrak continued to operate her on a short-term basis, and she survived on one reprieve after another, often under threat of impending sudden death.

The Hoosier State rallied in 2015, when Iowa Pacific Holdings contracted to operate her, under the leadership of Ed Ellis. During the period of almost 18 months when Iowa Pacific supplied her equipment and on-board services, she was the most luxurious train in the Amtrak system. She ran with 1950s-vintage coaches and a dome car that originally ran on the Santa Fe, and she sported the historic orange and brown livery of the Illinois Central Railroad. 1960s-vintage GP40FH-2 locomotives that had originally operated on the Central Railroad of New Jersey, and acquired from New Jersey Transit, provided motive power. Business class passengers sat and ate on the upper level of the dome car, and breakfast or dinner was included in the price of their tickets. Coach passengers ate at tables on the lower level of the dome car.

During that period, the Hoosier State served the last freshly prepared meals on any Amtrak train on a regularly scheduled basis. This writer’s only experience riding the train during that period included a dinner of chicken piccata prepared by the train’s chef, lemon pudding cake from a local supplier, and coffee served in a china cup. Nothing approaching that sort of meal had been available on Amtrak since 2005.

Amtrak re-assumed the Hoosier State’s operation on March 1, 2017, but Indiana officials balked at paying for it. Last February, Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed a budget that eliminated funding for the train, and the legislature passed it. The funding ended on June 30, so the train made her last trip from Indianapolis to Chicago and back that day.

The Hoosier State consist was denied the honor of lying in state in its ancestral home, Indianapolis Union Station, which has become a conference center owned by the Crown Plaza hotel chain and used for special events. The station building is not normally open to the public, but many of the architectural features from its debut in 1888 survive. The “Union Station” concept began in the Indiana capital in 1853, and a series of historic sign displays in the station building tells its story. The display is collectively entitled: “Take a Walk Through History. It will stop you in your tracks!”

For this writer, it did, but that was because of the severe downfall of rail passenger service in the city. There were more than 200 trains in each direction that stopped at the station in 1920, a number reduced to 59 by 1936. That number went down to three by 1971, of which only one survived until 1979. Then there were none, until the late Hoosier State was born. The station was restored as a hotel in 1986, but without trains. Concierge Richard Yarborough gave this writer a tour of the facility, and said that more than 500,000 people per month passed through the station in its heyday. He added that “Indianapolis could have been a major city for transportation” if events had happened differently.

Anyone who rides passenger trains is sad to see one removed from the rails. The loss means that a travel opportunity, or even some mobility or convenience, is no longer available. Still, questions persist about whether and for how long the ill-fated Hoosier State could have avoided becoming The Little Train That Couldn’t Any Longer, and about the best way to serve a city pair like “Indy” and Chicago.

The Hoosier State was not a mighty long-distance train that ate up one scenic mile after another. Neither was she part of a strong corridor that served the traveling public frequently and conveniently. Even her own boosters did not always realize her full potential. During the Iowa Pacific era, that railroad established a website for the train. It promoted the train, her business class and her destinations, and bore a copyright date of 2019—long after Iowa Pacific abandoned her and Amtrak took her back. While the site also contained some strange promotional copy for a vape shop for smokers, the original copy from there also presented her as a four-day-per-week operation. While that was technically correct, the point of the Hoosier State train was to provide service between Indianapolis and Chicago and intermediate stops on the days the Cardinal does not run, thereby providing daily service for those communities.

That was the reason why the service ran, but her own promoters presented her in a false light by implying that there was no train running on the other three days of the week. Indianapolis and Lafayette (the home of Purdue University) have bus service to and from Chicago. The other three stops, Dyer, Rensselaer and Crawfordsville (home of Wabash College), have no such service. Until the Hoosier State train died, residents of those communities could visit Chicago any day they wished. Now they can only do it on Thursdays or Saturdays, because of the Cardinal’s tri-weekly schedule.

Philip Streby is one of Indiana’s most active advocates. He is Treasurer of the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA) and serves on the Boards of Directors of two national passenger-rail-advocacy organizations, the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) and the Rail Passengers’ Association (RPA). He is also an Amtrak retiree and worked as a conductor on the Hoosier State and the Cardinal. He detailed his campaign to save the train in the April 2019 issue of IPRA’s newsletter, All Aboard Indiana in an article entitled: “Growing the Vitality in the Midwest is reason enough to Save the Hoosier State Train.” He stressed the “business case” for keeping the train, writing: “The Midwest is one of the economic regions in this country, and needs a vital and balanced system of roads, airports, waterways and railroads (including passenger trains) if it is to grow and prosper. Younger generations are moving to where good public transportation exists, and right now, Indiana is not attracting that talent.” He continued with an example: “A huge portion of Purdue University graduates look outside Indiana for job opportunities.”

Streby campaigned hard to save the Hoosier State, but he believes that the state of freight railroading today could doom trains like it. He told Railway Age: “I worked that train when it was part of the Cardinal service. The disastrous 90s should fairly well illustrate what happens when service is reduced. People left Amtrak in droves when 7 and 8 [the Empire Builder] went to four days a week.

Other trains faced a similar fate.” Many of Amtrak’s long-distance trains were cut to three or four days per week as part of the infamous Mercer Management-recommended cuts of the mid-1990s. Some of those trains were restored to daily operation in 1997, while others died completely. Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson has threatened recently to impose similar cuts to long-haul trains again, which has made riders and advocates nervous.

Moving forward more than two decades, Streby continued: “Worse now is Precision Scheduled Railroading, which is neither precise nor scheduled. It has been set up by the beancounters who know nothing of railroading, only the bottom line. Trouble is, that bottom line is eroding because the shippers are being short-changed and they know it. The service is going out of the [freight railroad] shipping industry, just like the service went out of the passenger railroad industry.” He also expressed that the key word is “scheduled,” and that neither freight nor passenger trains keep schedules very well any more.

Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari told Railway Age that “We [at Amtrak] were really saddened by the outcome” that the Hoosier State has been discontinued, and he also placed the blame squarely on the Indiana officials who commissioned two engineering firms to make recommendations on how to make the route driving-time competitive. He said, “We’ve been very public in saying the status quo was not sustainable. But the state has chosen, for whatever reason, not to invest in the service.” Magliari also cited PRIIA Section 209 and said that more decisions about train service will be made in the state capitals in the future. In the past, the Hoosier State was used to bring equipment needing repair to Amtrak’s shops at Beech Grove, and to take repaired equipment from there to Chicago to be placed back into service. He added it was hard to understand why the state “made a decision to make it harder to keep and attract work for more than 500 high-value employees.” Magliari said that the Cardinal will continue to perform that function, but the time required for it could affect that train’s on-time performance.

F.K. Plous, Railway Age contributor and longtime Chicago advocate, refuses to mourn for the recently deceased Hoosier State. Plous works for Corridor Capital LLC, the company that made the unsuccessful attempt to get the contract to operate the train in 2014, but now he is not convinced that it was worth saving. He told this writer: “I refuse to ‘grieve’ the Hoosier State. It was such an anomalous and irrelevant little gesture of a train that even the tiniest regret amounts to overkill. I often characterize pathetic and irrelevant trains like the Hoosier State as ‘rolling museums,’ but in the case of the Hoosier Stat,e that appellation is not fitting because a museum usually makes an effort to recreate as faithfully as possible something that existed in the past while the Hoosier State represented nothing that existed in the past.” Plous mentioned the James Whitcomb Riley, which began running between the two cities in 1941 on the New York Central (Big Four) route and made the trip in 3½ hours: “By taking five hours for the same trip, the Hoosier State ‘revived’ something that had never existed, a pokey, lurching unreliable streamliner between those two cities.”

Plous did not criticize Indiana for running a train per se, but for running a train that appeared to have so little going for it. He speculated about what a better operation would be like: “If we could just go back to a reliable, daily, James Whitcomb Riley-like schedule, we could probably carry 300 passengers a day. If we could invest in infrastructure as Michigan and Illinois are doing and run 110-mph trains that make the trip in three hours, we could probably fill two or three frequencies a day. And if we could extend the improved infrastructure to Louisville and Cincinnati, we could fill ten daily trains between Chicago and Indy with five going to Louisville and five to Cincinnati.”

Plous is not the only advocate who has called for a “Hoosier Corridor” instead of the single train that ran until recently. Streby and others, including this writer, have recommended such a service. Some have also said that Louisville is not far enough, that trains should continue through Kentucky and go to Nashville. In the meantime, though, it is more difficult to generate enthusiasm among politicians and their constituents for frequent service on a corridor when the only train still running on that mileage only operates a few times each week, and not even once a day.

The demise of the Hoosier State may be a harbinger of things to come. Plous explored the history of the train and its imminent termination in a feature article in the April issue of All Aboard Indiana, the same issue that included Streby’s article quoted above. He blamed the State: “The more knowledgeable rail advocates, of course, understand that the State of Indiana actually sentenced the Hoosier State to death many years earlier when it repeatedly refused to invest the money needed to make intercity passenger trains successful. The news accounts rarely mention it, but the Hoosier State farrago is simply a private shame of the State of Indiana, which will not fund passenger trains even though it has a rail map with the potential to support a very strong and functional corridor service with a high potential to enhance the state’s business growth.” Plous particularly praised Indianapolis as a destination, with its station surrounded by a compact and active downtown, and with government facilities, sports and entertainment venues within walking distance.

Although Amtrak trains are part of America’s interstate commerce, it appears that decisions about where Americans can go by train will increasingly be made in state houses, as Magliari mentioned. There are only a few long-distance trains whose routes extend 750 miles or more. Much of the rest of the Amtrak network consists of state-supported trains. Under PRIIA Section 209, the states must pay the full cost of enhancing and operating these trains within their borders. States like Illinois, Michigan and California are investing in their corridors, and those corridors are popular. States like Oklahoma with the Heartland Flyer and Vermont with the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express only operate a train or two, without the commitment of investing in a corridor or running multiple frequencies on a line. The trains in those states depend more on the fortuity of local politics than the trains running along strong corridors. The Hoosier State may have been the worst example of such a train, but it may end up setting the standard for a grim future for shorter-distance Amtrak trains from now on.

Plous concluded his statement for Railway Age by placing the blame directly on Indiana officials: “Sorry to be so rough on Indiana, but they deserve it, even if they’re not the only one. New York DOT doesn’t understand the wealth-generating potential of the Water Level Route [the historic New York Central main, where Empire Service trains run today]. Pennsylvania does not understand the potential of the former Pennsylvania Railroad (now Norfolk Southern) main line. Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are totally clueless about the economic potential of their rail routes. But Indiana should be particularly ashamed, because it’s got Michigan and Illinois right next door to serve as exemplars.”

This writer will miss the Hoosier State, because it is always sad when a train dies. She was too slow, was not marketed properly, and the Indiana politicians appeared particularly clueless about passenger trains. But this writer’s ride from Chicago to Indianapolis in 2016 was a wonderful blast from the past. The ex-Santa Fe dining car provided a taste of rail travel as it once was. The chicken piccata and lemon pudding cake were delicious, and the coffee even tasted particularly good, probably because it was served in a china cup.

Written by David Peter Alan
SOURCE: Railway Age

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Ice cream trucks still banned in Beech Grove

Beech Grove, IN (August 1, 2019) — As the month of August kicks off, we revisit a topic that went National this time last year, the city's ban on mobile ice cream trucks. Almost everyone loves ice cream and with local elections gearing up, a few folks wonder if anything will change.

Banned Ice Cream Truck

Below is the reprint of the August 24, 2018 news story from along with a video  

BEECH GROVE, Ind. -- If you live in Beech Grove you won't be hearing the ice cream truck music anytime soon, but you may still have politicians knocking on your door.

For Blake Chaney, driving an ice cream truck is a family business.

“What’s the harm in having an ice cream truck coming down the street,” said Chaney. “It really doesn’t make sense to me. I wish they could change that.”

Beech Grove does not permit ice cream trucks or door to door salesmen to sell their products in neighborhoods. Although not for profits and politicians face no limitations when knocking on doors.

Mayor Buckley says credits the city’s aggressive stance with keeping its residents safe.

“Unfortunately, politicians are allowed,” said Mayor Buckley. “I wish we could do away with them as well, but a lot of people don’t want someone knocking on their door.”

He says licensed food trucks and ice cream vendors can park and sell their items, they just can’t be mobile.

“Everybody wants what’s best for their community and in order to have a good morally sound community you have to take a stand on certain matters,” said Mayor Buckley.

Mayor Buckley says Chaney does have a right to petition city council members to change the ordinance.

The Nationally syndicated Hammer and Nigel Show conducted an interview on August 27, 2018. 

Sorry Beech Grove, No Mobile Ice Cream for You!

There are few pleasures of a childhood that can compare with the quaint and charming experience of hearing the slightly off-pitch music of the ice cream man, running into traffic after his rusted-out van, and paying exorbitant prices for half-melted generic-brand treats.

Yes, with the wisdom of adulthood, you realize the ice cream man was likely a convicted felon who made the decision upon release to paint and convert his existing windowless van and go into business for himself. It's a double victory for a recently paroled pedophile gone legit: make some money and still be around kids.

But the ice cream man best stay out of Beech Grove, Indiana, according to Mayor Dennis Buckley, who told WIBC hosts Hammer and Nigel that the city does not permit ice cream trucks or door to door salesmen to sell their products in neighborhoods.

Mayor Buckley:

“Unfortunately, politicians are allowed. I wish we could do away with them as well; a lot of people don’t want someone knocking on their door.”

Mayor Buckley explained that licensed food trucks and ice cream vendors can park and sell their items, they just can’t be mobile.

"If you come into the city and sell food, who is to say that food was prepared in the right way? There has to be some provisions along with the Marion County health department that protects the people wanting to buy the food.

So if you want to have a food truck, that's no problem. You get a permit through the city, you show proof of insurance, you show your latest health department certificate, and then you can set up your shop in a stationary position."

Hammer and Nigel Show - 8/28/18
Invisible Beech Grove: The Mayor of Beech Grove on the Hammer and Nigel show on August 28, 2018 discussing the Ice Cream truck ordinance and the snake handler issue. - InvisibleBeechGrove.com -
Posted by Invisible Beech Grove on Monday, August 27, 2018


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Beech Grove man drowns in New York

Massena, NY (July 30, 2019) — A 19-year-old man from Beech Grove, Indiana had been identified as the victim of a drowning that occurred July 29 off Barnhart Island.

State police said Aiden C. Thacker’s body was found by the Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department Marine Unit down river from the Long Sault Dam at 7:01 p.m. June 29. St. Lawrence County Coroner James Sienkiewycz pronounced Mr. Thacker dead at 8:20 p.m. and ordered the body removed to Massena Memorial Hospital, pending an autopsy.

State police said Mr. Thacker and a friend were swimming in the St. Lawrence River, in the vicinity of the Long Sault Dam, when both were swept toward the dam by a strong current. Mr. Thacker’s friend was able to swim to shore, but ultimately lose sight of Mr. Thacker. Several bystanders search the shoreline unsuccessfully for Mr. Thacker.

Initially, two boats from the Massena Rescue Squad were scouring the water near the Long Sault Dam, while other rescue personnel observed from shore. The rescue squad’s Zodiac inflatable boat was used, in part, to gauge how the current was flowing from the Cabin 5 area, where the swimmers had entered the water.

Officials said they were initially in search mode rather than rescue mode, and because the dam was open, divers were unable to enter the water. St. Lawrence County 911 received the call about the missing swimmer at about 4:02 p.m. July 29. Dive teams were called to Barnhart Island campground at about 4:15 p.m. to search for Mr. Thacker.

Multiple assets and agencies responded to assist in the search. They included the New York State Park Police, New York State Environmental Conservation Police, State Police Underwater Recovery Team (URT), Massena Volunteer Fire Department, Massena Rescue Squad, and numerous volunteer fire department dive team members.


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Friday, July 19, 2019

Hammer and Nigel on ratings roll

Indianapolis, IN (July 19, 2019) — In two short years, Jason Hammer and Nigel Laskowski have made a big name for themselves in news-talk radio.

While “The Hammer and Nigel Show” is flourishing now, WIBC-FM 93.1 took a big risk in 2016 putting the two former rock ’n’ roll disc jockeys at the helm of a news-talk program, the station’s bread and butter.

The station took an even bigger risk when it moved the show to WIBC’s key afternoon-drive time slot. Today, with audience growing and ad sales booming, the move is paying off.

Hammer and Laskowski, both Hoosier natives, host a show that is so popular, the Emmis Communications Corp.-owned station is moving an hour of the popular syndicated Dana Loesch show to expand the local show.

“This has nothing to do with the Dana show not doing well,” said David Wood, WIBC’s program director. “This has everything to do with expanding a local show that is doing really well and that is still growing its audience. We think by starting an hour earlier, we’ll get an even bigger bump.”

The move has as much to do with expanding ad inventory as audience size.

“The Hammer and Nigel Show”—which currently runs 4-7 p.m.—has become one of WIBC’s highest revenue generators, sometimes selling out its ad inventory. The show runs 15 to 16 ads an hour, or 48 total for a sellout. So Emmis officials decided to start the show at 3 p.m. beginning July 29.

“Right now, ‘The Hammer and Nigel Show’ is a must-buy if I’m buying for an advertiser seeking the male audience. They own the male 25 to 54 [demographic] during their time slot,” said Bruce Bryant, president of locally based Promotus Advertising. “The fact that they’re selling out their show to the extent the station wants to expand it by an hour is a real strong statement about the strength of the show.”

The reason advertisers love the show is simple: It’s hitting its target audience like a sharpshooter at close range.

In the last six months, it ranked No. 1 in the market in four months and No. 2 in two months in the sought-after audience of 25- to 54-year-old men. In that demographic, it battles with classic rock stalwart WFBQ-FM 94.7 for the top spot. “That’s an important demo because it’s been proven to be one with a lot of expendable income,” Bryant said.

The show also has done better than many news-talk programs with women. In June, it scored a 5.5 share among all listeners in the 25 to 54 demographic in that time slot, which ranks it No. 7.

“‘The Hammer and Nigel Show’ is a bit different from your traditional news-talk show,” said Kristine Warski, media director for MKR, a local full-service advertising agency. “They’ve fused news and entertainment and, by doing so, are attracting a younger audience than news-talk has traditionally.”

News-talk boom

The news-talk audience has seen an uptick in size nationwide in the last three to five years as radio stations have successfully mixed entertainment and commentary with news and politics. The format’s biggest audience has traditionally been older men.

The intense political environment—juiced by the Donald Trump presidency—has also fueled radio’s news-talk format. And while the growth of the internet has hurt some formats, not so with news-talk, experts say.

“The growth of digital platforms and social media have gotten a lot of people fired up about news, current events and politics. As a result, you’ve got a lot more young people opting in to news-talk these days,” said Scott Uecker, a University of Indianapolis communications instructor and general manager of WICR-FM 88.7. “The news-talk format, if done right, is very strong right now.”

And with presidential, gubernatorial and mayoral elections looming in 2020, “The Hammer and Nigel Show” is positioned to grow even more. “There’s going to be a lot of political ad dollars flowing into this market and candidates are going to want to reach engaged voters,” Uecker said. “And listeners of a show like ‘Hammer and Nigel’ are likely to be more engaged.”

Most ad buyers say this market will see millions of dollars in political advertising in 2020—spread across radio, television, print, digital and outdoor.

But Uecker said there’s more to the growth of the show than just its position to snag political ad revenue. “Radio is about connecting with an audience, and Hammer and Nigel are really good at connecting with an audience,” he said. “They’re talented individuals and good communicators who know how to relate to their audience, so I’m not surprised at the success they’re having.”

Hammer, 41 and Laskowski, 43, attribute their show’s success to its conversational and unique style. “There’s nothing else like it on local radio,” Laskowski said. “There’s no yelling and no finger-pointing,” Hammer added. “After a long day at work, that’s the last thing anyone wants—more yelling and finger-pointing. And that’s what you get with a lot of [news-talk] shows.”

While politics is certainly a big part of the show, Hammer and Laskowski said they spend only about half the time covering politics and the other half talking about pop culture, sports and other news.

Not so right?

WIBC has long been known for conservative—some would say right-wing—content. And while “Hammer and Nigel” might not be as right-leaning as another popular WIBC show, “Chicks on the Right,” there’s little doubt it falls into that category.

Still, neither Hammer nor Laskowski would consider themselves strong conservatives. Hammer said he leans slightly right, while Laskowski calls himself “a moderate.” “We hate everybody,” Hammer said. “I tend to vote against people more than I vote for people.”

There’s no doubt Hammer and Laskowski push the edge. The show recently got a cease-and-desist order from lawyers representing Morgan Freeman, after someone on the show impersonated the actor reading Trump’s tweets. And the duo admits they have no shortage of left-leaning folks who tweet or email their complaints. “We love it when liberals tweet or email us,” Hammer said. “We always tell them, ‘Thanks for listening.’”

There was some initial skepticism the duo would make good news-talk hosts.

The duo approached Wood in 2016 when on-air host Greg Garrison was nearing retirement and WIBC officials were contemplating what to do with the station’s lineup.

Hammer and Laskowski had been rock ’n’ roll DJs early in their careers. By 2016, Hammer was working as a promotions director at Emmis and Laskowski was doing on-air work for one of Emmis’ Terre Haute stations. They also were co-hosting their own interview-heavy entertainment-oriented podcast.

“We had the best fake radio show in the city,” Hammer said with a laugh. But on a serious note, he noted: “We were trying to find a station to put us on. We knew we could attract a strong audience. It was just a matter of finding someone to believe in us.”

Their current show requires a skill set much different from spinning records. Hammer and Laskowski say they do a minimum of four hours’ preparation for each show. “We’re in constant communication with each other, even when we’re off the air, discussing potential content for the show,” Hammer said.

Hosting a music shift on radio requires minimal talk between songs. “It got to the point I could step in the studio a minute before the show started with no preparation,” Laskowski said. “It was really just a matter of doing short intros and exits. What we do now requires a lot more thought and analysis. Of course, we’re not afraid to share our opinions, but we want to have an informed opinion.”

Laskowski, who started his broadcasting career at 18, had become well-known during a four-year stint ending in 2002 as the nighttime DJ on alternative rock station WOLT-FM 103.3. Hammer made his mark spinning tunes on Top 40 station WZPL-FM 99.5 from 2001 to 2010, where he also did some news and sports.

The two joined forces in 2012 when “The Hammer and Nigel Show” debuted on WOLT, where it gained a cult following. That iteration of the show, however, lasted only a little more than a year before it was cut for budgetary reasons.

Next-generation news-talk

Despite being intrigued by the idea of putting the duo on WIBC, Wood told Hammer and Laskowski that Indianapolis-based Emmis wasn’t interested in a replication of their podcast. He wanted something more news-driven, and agreed to give “Hammer and Nigel” a tryout of sorts in June 2016 with a weekend show.

“We heard there was skepticism” from Emmis higher-ups, Laskowski said. “But pretty early on, David Wood had complete faith in us.”

With many radio station owners trying to find the next-generation news-talk format, WIBC executives quickly realized they had found theirs.

“It became very obvious [during 2016] that these guys needed to be a part of the WIBC lineup,” Wood said. “They weren’t the traditional high-brow news-talk-show hosts. They were the guys next door, the guys you want to get your information from because you trust them. And by adding an element of entertainment, Hammer and Nigel have proven that news doesn’t have to be boring.”

That element has brought the show an audience much younger than the traditional news-talk format, which normally ranks higher with audiences over age 45 and stronger yet with audiences over 55. Advertisers are looking for an affluent-yet-active consumer, and that means listeners in their 20s to 50s, media buyers said.

In addition, Wood said, Hammer, who grew up in Beech Grove, and Laskowski, who hails from Lizton, “are very plugged into the community. They’ve been a part of this community their whole lives, so they’re dialed into it.”

“Hammer and Nigel” got off to such a good start that a national syndicator contacted Emmis about using the pair as fill-ins on national shows when those shows’ hosts were on vacation or hiatus.

Wood opted to rearrange WIBC’s lineup and slot “Hammer and Nigel” into afternoon-drive time in June 2017.

“That’s obviously an important time slot for any radio station, so it was a big decision,” Wood said. “Those guys haven’t let us down in any way.” There’s no thought currently to syndicating the show, he said, because it’s simply too local.

In central Indiana, it has attracted a variety of advertisers, including financial services firms, travel agencies, home improvement companies and others, Wood said.

Ad buyers most often buy bundles of 30-second radio advertisements. Buyers told IBJ that spots on “Hammer and Nigel” run $100 to $300 apiece, based on how big a package an advertiser buys. One buyer called that pricing “strong.” “The demand for advertising has been outstanding,” Wood said. “That’s a big part of the reason why we’re expanding the show.”

While Wood would like to see “Hammer and Nigel” continue to expand its audience, station executives are being careful not to broaden the appeal too much. “If we focus on the core, we’ll likely draw in people on the fringe,” Wood said. “If you try to attract everyone, you end up attracting no one.”

Hammer and Laskowski have no intention of altering their show’s formula. Hammer called Trump “the gift that keeps on giving.” “Because there’s been a four-year buildup of vitriol, the 2020 election is going to be 2016 times 100,” Laskowski said.

It’s “going to be a circus,” Hammer added. “And we’re ready to roll.”

Hammer and Nigel On Facebook


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Masonic Lodge hopes to save historic items

Beech Grove, IN (July 17, 2019) — The Beech Grove Masonic Lodge is hoping to salvage a big piece of presidential history after a large fire destroyed a substantial portion of their building. Fire broke out at about 3:00 AM, July 8th at Beech Grove Lodge 694 on the south side of Indianapolis.

The fire damaged most of the second floor, including the roof and attic. “The first floor has severe water damage and will probably need to be completely gutted,” said Kevin Upshaw, Master of Beech Grove Masonic Lodge.

A few valuable pieces of history got caught in the flames, including remnants of a visit by U.S. President Harry Truman.

“October 15th 1948, president Harry Truman visited Beech Grove lodge — We still use that chair that Harry Truman sat in, and it's really special to us,” Worshipful Master Kevin Upshaw said.

Beech Grove Lodge is noteworthy in Indiana’s Masonic history, as well as to the cultural heritage of the fraternity. In 1948, President Harry S Truman famously snuck away from the press during a campaign stopover in Indianapolis to attend the Master Mason degree of Donald Bauermeister, a young sailor from Indiana who was his physical therapist on board the Presidential Yacht back in Washington.

The President was crisscrossing the Midwest on a whistle stop campaign tour, and was traveling through Indiana at the time. Don and his father had attended Truman’s stump speech in Kokomo earlier in the day, and were invited by the President to ride in his private railroad car the rest of the way into the city. While underway, Truman suddenly informed his staff that he wished to visit the Beech Grove Masonic lodge that evening.

Harry Truman was an enthusiastic Freemason. Before becoming President in 1945, Truman had served as Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Missouri, and remained an active supporter of the fraternity all his life.

Rumors of the President’s ‘secret’ trip to Beech Grove that night spread like wildfire, especially among the railroad community. The Secret Service had taken pains to convince the press that Truman had gone to bed early aboard his train at Union Station, and even used a body double decoy to convince them. Nevertheless, over a thousand people gathered in the streets outside of the lodge to try to catch a glimpse of the President entering the Masonic Hall at 7th and Main Streets.

Truman was famously on a campaign stop when he snuck away from the press to attend the Master Mason degree ceremony of a young sailor from Indiana who was his physical therapist on board the Presidential Yacht. Eventually, many of the items he touched and used during the ceremony would become part of the lodge’s history and lore.

Plaque outside the lodge

"By the time the president showed up here, there were 1,000 people in the streets surrounding this wanting to catch a glimpse of the president. It is an example of national history, because even today, it's very unusual for a president to suddenly say, 'Hold it, I want to go and do this,'" associate director for the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana Chris Hodapp said.

Everything from the “master’s chair” Truman sat in to items he used instantly became invaluable to the lodge. Now, many of those items are charred or covered in smoke and ash. Members of the lodge haven’t had the chance to evaluate all of the damage due to the building being unsafe.

He arrived just before the second section of the degree began, and nearly three hundred Masons packed into the lodge room, the social areas, and even lined the staircase. Because Masonic degree rituals are considered secret, Truman’s non-Mason security agents were not permitted to actually enter the lodge room during the ceremony. Forced to wait nervously outside, the President assured them he was in the safest possible place on Earth.

Inside, Truman was invited to preside over the ceremony, and sat in the Master’s chair. When asked how he wanted to be formally introduced to the gathered members and visitors, he humbly declined the presidential title and instead asked to be identified simply as a Past Grand Master of Missouri.

Monday's blaze started on the second floor near the East in the lodge room, and authorities have determined the fire was caused by an electrical problem. Thankfully, there were no injuries. The lodge room and about a third of the roof and attic area are a total loss, but the flames were confined to those areas by the closed Tyler's and Preparation room doors.

The present hall of Beech Grove Lodge was dedicated in 1942. Because of the major structural loss and tremendous water and smoke damage, it is expected that the building will be gutted and rebuilt, but the exterior facade will be retained. Charters of the lodge and the Eastern Star chapter were both consumed by the fire. On Wednesday members and work crews were hurriedly attempting to remove all surviving paper records and any other salvageable items, as the building is now unstable.

Papers and Records. Photo: Free Mason For Dummies 

Members of the lodge report that the famous meeting’s 1948 register book with the President’s signature suffered smoke damage from the fire, along with original photographs from the event. The Master's chair that President Truman sat in is currently buried under the collapsed portion of the roof beams, but a preliminary look holds out the possibility that it can be salvaged.

Upshaw says they’re still waiting on damage totals, but estimates are well within the tens of thousands of dollars. He says they plan to rebuild, but first must take stock of everything. Until then, they’re relying on the help of other lodges to get them through.

“We’ll keep going, and we’ll be back in there. It’s not the furniture that makes the lodge, it’s the brothers,” Upshaw said

SOURCE: FreeMasonForDummies

Beech Grove High School Graduate Paints Mural

Noblesville, IN (July 17, 2019) — Sunday afternoon, Betsy Reason, the editor of The Times in Noblesville, Indiana received a news tip that an artist was painting a mural of a train under the railroad bridge, on the underpass wall, near the Forest Park boat launch in Noblesville.

So she grabbed her camera and headed that way.

After parking her car in the Son Shine Service lot on the south side of the bridge, she nervously walked north alongside the busy Indiana 19 and under the bridge until she was in sight of an artist painting the underpass wall.

His blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he wore a do-rag and headphones. She assumed he was listening to his favorite music.

The mural that he was painting -- of the Leviathan steam locomotive No. 63, in red, black and gold, exiting from a block railroad tunnel -- was beautiful.

He caught a glimpse of the journalist before she climbed over the guard rail, but he kept painting. She walked up closer to admire his work. By that time, he had removed his headphones.

She introduced herself, then he.

The 46-year-old mural artist was Travis Neal of Broad Ripple, and he was selected from applicants who responded to a Noblesville Parks & Recreation and Hamilton County Tourism/Nickel Plate Arts open callout for a commissioned mural artist.

The original concept started as a “White River monster,” he said, “a tall tale from the 1800s of a Loch Ness-style sea serpent” lurking in White River. The City wasn’t thrilled with the concept, so decided to change the theme. “So we went with the train,” Neal said, describing the Leviathan, a re-creation of the Lincoln Funeral Train, which stopped in Noblesville five years ago.

He started painting the mural Saturday morning, doing all of the blocking in and shading. The color work started Sunday. He was hoping to finish it up over the weekend. However, the sun became too intense on the mural before he could finish. So he’ll return again soon to complete the project.

“The detail work is taking a little longer than I anticipated,” Neal said of the 16-by-10-foot wall mural that may be a little wider.

The prep work included a masonry primer and pressure washing the wall. Darren Peterson, president of Nickel Plate Arts, an architect, artist and member of Noblesville City Council, volunteered his time to help prep the wall and gridded out the blockwork, to make it look like blocks, around the opening of the mural’s railroad tunnel. Peterson worked the early part of Saturday and Sunday with the mural artist.

‘The train’s all me,” Neal said proudly.

He answered interview questions between the sound of passing traffic under the railroad bridge. “Trucks are a nuisance,” he said, shaking his head. A few minutes later, he said, “The canoe buses are a nuisance. They go too fast, and they are really, really loud,” as one of the buses passed.

But he likes the spot. “I’m pretty thankful that I’ve been able to work in the shade. The traffic is kind of a pain in the neck, but it does provide a breeze.”

Neal said he’s enjoyed painting the mural. “It’s a labor of love. If I could do this full time, I would be a very happy boy. Every project is a new adventure, new challenges. I really enjoy that,” said the artist, who researched the train to figure out how to best portray the locomotive, which the City approved before starting on the wall.

“With shade like this, it will practically last forever, especially with the extra UV coat on it,” he said.

In total, he expects to put in 20-24 hours painting the mural.

While there has been a lot of traffic passing by, he said, some drivers have stopped. “Lots of people. People are very gracious.”

Mural artist Travis Neal of Broad Ripple has painted a steam locomotive train mural under the railroad bridge that crosses Indiana 19, between downtown Noblesville and Forest Park.

Neal has been an artist all of his life. “The mural thing kind of took off when I moved into my house in 2000 and painted my dining room wall kind of a tribute to my mom, a 12-foot-wide reproduction of (Vincent van Gogh’s) ‘Starry Night.’ Ever since my first taste of working large scale, that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

In summer 2018, he painted “Aquarium Surprise,” a cat looking in an aquarium, a wrap-around mural on the traffic control box at 116th Street and the pocket park in Fishers. He has painted murals all over the state, including Sailor Jerry murals, for bars and restaurants, all unique to each establishment, including the Free Spirit Lounge in Indianapolis. He does a lot of commercial work, particularly reproductions of logos.

The mural business is mainly weekend work. During the week he manages a Signarama sign shop in Carmel. Neal, an Indianapolis native, graduated from Beech Grove High School. He’s a member of One Zone Chamber of Commerce that serves Carmel and Fishers, spends a lot of time on Geist Reservoir and golfs often in Hamilton County. He has a wife, Carole, of 25 years in September, and they have three cats.

The project carried a commission and materials fee of $1,000 for completion and installation of the artwork on the wall. Noblesville Parks & Recreation and Nickel Plate Arts made the final selection from artists who submitted their applications by May 16.

This “art installation” of the Leviathan steam locomotive would “help drive local engagement,” “beautify the boat launch area” and “serve as a local landmark,” the callout said on the Nickel Plate website.

Neal agreed to collaborate with the Noblesville parks staff to confirm a design that would be “community friendly” and “ideally ties into Noblesville history, Indiana history and/or the local community.”

“I think Travis was the perfect fit to this project. It’s a project that is physically really challenging because of its location,” said Aili McGill, executive director for Nickel Plate Arts in Noblesville. Being that there were a few entities involved, and the design changed from the first mural mockup, and it became a little trickier to implement, she said, “Travis has just the right personality to balance all of that, and he also has all of the skills we wanted. He’s incredibly talented.” She’s hoping that other artists who applied can be worked into future projects.

Over the weekend, social media was abuzz with comments on the Nickel Plate Arts’ Facebook post, picturing Neal and Peterson working on the mural together.

The majority of the Facebook comments were positive about the art.

But there were some who asked why the Leviathan reproduction was chosen over a locomotive that might have been more relevant to Noblesville and Hamilton County history.

That is a legitimate question.

So she asked McGill, who elaborated more about how the mural was originally going to be the river monster, “since that spot is so close to the river. Connecting the boat launch to Forest Park, that could be fun.” But the monster didn’t embody what the City wanted to say in that spot on the wall and asked for another mural proposal. “Because a river monster is a leviathan, we started playing with the idea of commemorating the Lincoln train that happened a couple of years ago.”

McGill said, “Looking at all of the locomotives that we could that depicts the history of the Nickel Plate Railroad, it was just going to be endless. We were a little concerned that we weren’t going to get all of the details right to make everybody happy. So we decided to do a train that’s been on those tracks, just not one that is specifically connected to the Nickel Plate Rail.”

The City has an ordinance that murals cannot be advertisements.

While the Leviathan mural may “not make those (Facebook) commentators happy,” she said, “We didn’t want this to appear to be a sign advertising actual train rides in the park.”

McGill said, “I am fairly certain that we’ll have other pieces that we’ll connect to the history of the railroad in Noblesville. We just don’t have them solidified yet.”

A dedication and celebration of the mural will be announced by the City of Noblesville soon after the mural is completed.

Visit Travis Neal on Facebook below:

SOURCE: The Times

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Brownfield property group purchases site

Beech Grove, IN (July 9, 2019) — Working closely with the City of Beech Grove and CSX Transportation, Indianapolis-based Real Estate Recovery Capital (RERC) has acquired a 115- acre former Brownfield site on Emerson Avenue in Beech Grove, Indiana.

The property is situated in an industrial/commercial area of the city and has a rare combination of size, industrial zoning, and significant railroad access. The property has been vacant for decades and was most recently used to hold rail cars.

"This property fits our investment criteria for Brownfield-related properties, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with the City of Beech Grove and CSX on the future of the site," said Dwight Stenseth, President of Real Estate Recovery Capital.

"We are pleased to support the City of Beech Grove in attracting industry to meet its transportation needs through rail," said Shantel Davis, CSX, VP Real Estate and Facilities.

Redevelopment of the site is currently in the planning stages.

SOURCE: PR Newswire
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Beech Grove man arrested on felony charges

Beech Grove, IN (July 9, 2019) — A woman was grazed by a bullet during a botched drug deal in a Greenwood apartment last week. The marijuana-sale-turned-robbery was arranged via social media app Snapchat and happened on Thursday, police said. The suspect was arrested on Saturday after a woman who set up the drug deal came forward. Greenwood police released information about the incident on Tuesday.

Brandon D. Saloane, 27, a convicted felon who lives in Beech Grove, was arrested on felony charges of robbery and battery causing moderate injury to another person. The robbery happened about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday in the 900 block of Coventry Court, which is in an apartment complex west of U.S. 31, between Fry Road and County Line Road.

The resident of the apartment told police that he had received a message from a woman on Snapchat who was wanting to buy marijuana, according to a probable cause affidavit. Snapchat is a messaging cell phone application, where the messages are only available to users for short periods of time.

A man was going to come to the Greenwood apartment to pay for the marijuana. Saloane arrived and paid the resident $180 in cash and, in return, was given marijuana, the affidavit said. Saloane used the restroom, then shoved a gun into the resident’s side and told him to give him “everything,” the affidavit said.

A female resident of the apartment was hit in the face with the gun, then Saloane fired the gun at the ceiling, or it went off while he was hitting her. The bullet grazed her cheek, and she and the male resident fled the apartment and called 911, the report said.

While they were waiting for police outside, they saw the robber, later identified as Saloane, leave the apartment with items shoved up his shirt, the report said. They later determined he had taken $2,000 and about one-fourth of a pound of marijuana, police said.

The victim was taken to Community Hospital South, where she received eight stitches in her cheek. She has since been released, said Doug Roller, deputy chief of the Greenwood Police Department.

The next day, police learned about a possible suspect when a woman reported to police that she had set up the drug deal and that Saloane had stolen her gun.

The woman who set up the drug deal had met Saloane about a month earlier, and the two smoked weed together, she told police. She told police that she arranged for Saloane to buy the marijuana, but he then took her handgun and robbed the people he was supposed to be purchasing marijuana from, she told police.

Saloane was arrested on Saturday at an apartment in Beech Grove, and police found marijuana and digital scales in the apartment and his vehicle, the report said. He told detectives he had thrown the gun in the river because he did not want his parole officer to find it, the affidavit said.

Saloane has been on parole for two attempted robbery convictions in Hendricks County and a drug possession conviction in Marion County in 2014. He was sentenced to more than five years for those convictions. Saloane, of 100 N. 5th Ave., was taken to the Johnson County Jail, where he was held on $34,400 bond. No one else was arrested.

SOURCE: Daily Journal

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Josh Fryar commits to Ohio State

Beech Grove, IN (July 4, 2019) — Indiana three-star offensive lineman Josh Fryar has committed to Ohio State, he announced via Twitter on Thursday.

Fryar, who is listed as a center but can play other positions on the offensive line, chose the Buckeyes over Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Oregon. He is the No. 2 prospect out of Indiana.

While Fryar had offers from big programs like Alabama, Florida State, Oklahoma and others, Fryar essentially narrowed his recruiting focus to Indiana and Ohio State. His father, Jeff, was a legendary offensive lineman under former head coach Bill Mallory at Indiana, and the opportunity to stay close to home was there for the center.

Ben Davis graduate Dawand Jones, an Indiana All-Star basketball player, is an incoming freshman at Ohio State. Fryar said he talked with Jones on the first day of his official visit.

Listen to Josh Fryar commit to Ohio State

“It was funny because me and Dawand and three other players played basketball at a park the first night I was there,” Fryar said. “He basically told me if you want a great education, want to work your butt off and have a chance to play in the NFL, Ohio State is where you want to be.”

While there are plenty of football-related reasons to pick Ohio State, Fryar said he was also looking beyond his playing career. He plans to get into communications with an eye on broadcasting.
“Education wise, there are so many connections for broadcasting with Ohio State,” Fryar said. “If you look at ESPN or NFL Network, there are a lot of Ohio State graduates there. And in football, I feel like they are going to push me to the maximum.”

The atmosphere he felt at Ohio State's spring game in April juxtaposed with the intimate and genuine feeling he had during Ohio State's Buckeye Bash & Barbecue on June 21 provided a place where he felt home away from home though. Fryar also made a visit to Ohio State spring practice.

The Indiana center becomes the No. 19 commitment of Ohio State's 2020 class and the sixth offensive line commitment. He is one of four offensive line commits that are rated outside of the top-300 and will likely need to redshirt a year. While he is classified as a center, he can play guard or tackle in Columbus.

SOURCE: 24/7 Sports

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Beech Grove Celebrates

Beech Grove, IN (June 30, 2019) — Spend the first week in July celebrating events from July 2nd to July 5th in Beech Grove, Indiana. From Craft Beer to Art & Craft Shows, Food Trucks and more, these events will have you singing like Lee Greenwood before the week is done.
NOTE: All links go to their respective Facebook Pages.

Eagle mural behind the old meat market. Photo: Hannah Lee

Let us not forget tons of Fireworks at Sarah T. Bolton Park put on every year by the Beech Grove Promoters Club. Folks might also like the first Friday in July with live music.

All American Day in the Park & Fireworks
The All American Day in the Park and Fireworks on July 3rd at the Sarah T. Bolton Park starts at 4:00 PM . This year's National Anthem will be sung by the talented Breanna Faith at 9:00 PM. Enjoy food, music, games and fun with friends and family. Come early and grab a great seat for the fireworks, which will begin at dusk. Please note that vehicular traffic will not be permitted in the park, except for vehicles with a disabled parking permit entering to park for the duration of the event. Also, Yum Noms will be selling their cotton candy and light up cones during this event.

Yum Noms making Cotton Candy

There will be limited first come, first served disabled parking and once parked in those spaces, vehicles will not be able to leave until after the event is over and most pedestrians have left the park, so please plan accordingly.

More Info: All American Day in the Park & Fireworks

First Friday July
Many Main Street businesses will be open later so you can stop by and see what they have to offer. Organized by the Beech Grove Artist Collective, they will have over 15 artists showing and selling their artwork throughout the evening. They also will be hosting a Chalk Art Contest on the corner of 5th and Main from 3:00-7:00 PM. Food and drinks will be available and judging will take place at 7:00 PM. Participating businesses are: Beech Bank BrewingScarlet Grove Public HouseBeech Grove Clay WorksThe Y-shop Vintage and MoreRelics Redesigned, and Treasure Trove in the Grove.

MORE Info: First Friday July 5th

Food and Eats
If you start to get hungry after walking the Main Street stretch, stop by Street Chef food truck outside of Beech Bank Brewing. They sell delicious Italian style sandwiches that are sure to satisfy. Also, Mr. & Mrs. Food Services will have their gourmet hot dog trailer in front of Accurate PC at the corner of 7th and Main. They also sell walking tacos and cold drinks. Ball Park Pizza & Eatery II at 6th and Main serves up great pizza and is open till around 10:00 PM.

Hot Dog Menu

Well there you have it, have a great week Beech Grove!

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