Carmel in brief — April 19, 2022


Correction – A story in the April 12 edition of Current in Carmel incorrectly stated the height for taking the measurement of trees in the City of Carmel’s Big Tree Contest. Measurements should be taken 4 feet 6 inches from the ground. ​

O’Connor House donation – Shepherd Insurance, Indiana’s largest independent insurance provider, recently announced a donation, in partnership with West Bend Mutual Insurance, to support the advocacy of The O’Connor House. Representatives from Shepherd and West Bend presented a grant in the amount of $10,000 to the Carmel-based nonprofit organization that provides a Christian home to help single, pregnant, homeless women improve life for themselves and their children.

500 Festival seeks volunteers – The 500 Festival is seeking thousands of volunteers to fill positions as part of the 2022 500 Festival Volunteer Program. Volunteer roles include handing out participant packets at the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Expo, ushering at the parade and hosting fourth grade class study trips at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Volunteers receive a T-shirt, an invitation to Volunteer Appreciation Day, two tickets to Indianapolis 500 qualifications, a virtual goodie bag and more. Learn more and sign up at

Author, columnist Borgman to speak – Syndicated columnist and author Lori Borgman will speak at a tea sponsored by Orchard Park Presbyterian Women at 3 p.m. May 1. Borgman’s column is distributed to more than 400 newspapers and media outlets throughout the U.S. and Canada. The event is open to the public and will take place at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 1605 E. 106th St. RSVP at

Breakfast at the Brickyard – Former IndyCar driver and current IndyCar analyst for NBC Sports James Hinchcliffe will be the featured guest at the 2022 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, to be held at 9:30 a.m. May 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Individual tickets cost $85. Learn more and purchase tickets at

Summer service program – The Kiwanis Club of Carmel is presenting a summer service program for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade to have a meaningful impact in the community. The program runs from June 5 to Aug. 7 and includes activities designed to be completed at home. Service themes include food insecurity and nutrition, elder care, and animals and nature. Cost is $40 with a T-shirt, $30 without a T-shirt. Scholarships are available. Learn more at

Weed Wrangles clear invasive species – The organizations of the Hamilton County Invasives Partnership are inviting volunteers to help clear local parks of invasive species by participating in Weed Wrangles. During the Weed Wrangle, teams of volunteers, supervised by guides, will locate and uproot unwelcome plants such as bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, autumn olive, English ivy and winter creeper. Learn more and sign up to volunteer at

Intercollegiate band selection – Manchester University student Mason Kniola of Carmel participated in the 2022 College Band Director’s National Association Intercollegiate Band from April 7 to 9 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Kniola is a vocal performance major who played the tuba in the band event.

Assistance League auction – The Assistance League of Indianapolis will host an online silent auction May 1 to 6 to support its Operation School Bell, ALI Bears and ALI Friends programs. Learn more at

Over the Edge participants sought – This summer, adventurous philanthropists will rappel down a 23-story building in downtown Indianapolis – in the name of fundraising for Hoosiers in need. Registration is open for those who want to participate in United Way of Central Indiana’s third “Over the Edge” event, scheduled for Aug. 12 at Keystone Group’s 220 N. Meridian St. Space is limited to the first 80 people over age 13 who register. Participants commit to raising at least $1,000 for United Way’s Basic Needs initiatives, which help provide access to food, housing, transportation and health services. Last year, 73 people rappelled during the event, raising more than $196,000.  For more or to sign up, visit

Coloring contest – The Kickoff to May Coloring Contest, presented by the 500 Festival and STAR Financial Bank, is open to Hoosiers age 12 and younger. Winning entries will be selected on creativity and originality, and two grand prize winners will receive a scholarship of $500 and a free one-year membership to the INDYCAR Nation Rookie Program. Download the coloring sheet and entry form at Entries must be received by noon on April 28.

River Heritage Park closed – River Heritage Park has closed for planned improvements as part of Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation’s Reimagining Parks initiative. Upgrades include wheelchair-accessible playground features, sensory-friendly interpretive signage, ADA-accessible trails and boardwalks with overlooks on the White River and more. The park is anticipated to reopen after construction is completed in the winter of 2022.

Artificial turf coming to Midtown Plaza – The City of Carmel will install new artificial turf at Midtown Plaza and along Elm Street, just east of the Monon Greenway. The new turf will be durable, drainable and easy to clean. Construction began March 21 so it can be set and ready to use for the busy summer months at the plaza. Midtown Plaza opened in May 2019, and attempts to foster the growth of natural grass have not been successful. The new turf, once installed, will have a natural grass appearance, be cushioned for delicate joints and will greatly reduce labor and maintenance costs versus the expense of actual grass. In addition to placing turf in the plaza area, contractors will also replace the gravel in the areas along West Elm Street.

FBI offers reward – The FBI in Atlanta is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of Ciera (Locklair) Breland, who has been missing since Feb. 24. Breland, a Carmel resident, was last known to be visiting her family in John’s Creek, Ga., the week of Feb. 20 with her husband, Xavier Breland, their 5-month old son and their white labradoodle. Breland’s husband reported her missing on Feb. 26 to the Carmel Police Dept., however, there is no evidence Breland ever returned home. Breland’s last known location was at 10545 Highgate Manor Ct. in John’s Creek at 7:17 p.m. on Feb. 24. She was driving a white 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan with Georgia tag RMB 5869. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Johns Creek Police Tip Line at 678-474-1610, CPD at 317-571-2500.

Monthly beekeepers meeting – The North Central Beekeepers Club meets the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Cool Creek Nature Center, 2000 E. 151st St. in Westfield. Meetings are free to attend by all levels of beekeepers located centrally north of Indianapolis. Those interested in becoming beekeepers are welcome. For more information, visit

Rookie Run registration – Registration is open for the 500 Festival’s 2022 Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Rookie Run, which will take place from noon to 4 p.m. May 15 in downtown Indianapolis. The noncompetitive run for kids ages 3 to 10 ranges from two blocks to ⅓ mile. Pre-register for $10 through May 11 at to receive a commemorative shirt and finisher medal. Registration at the event is $5 and only includes the medal.

Summer Food Service Program – The Indiana Dept. of Education encourages schools and qualified community organizations to participate in the 2022 Summer Food Service Program. The program reimburses local sponsors that serve healthy free meals and snacks to children 18 years old and younger. Sponsorship is open to public and private nonprofit groups, including local governments, summer camps, religious organizations and recreation centers. In 2021, more than 280 Indiana sponsors served nearly 22 million meals during the summer months. The application deadline for new sponsors is April 15. Learn more at

United Way looking for volunteers – United Way of Central Indiana is looking for volunteers and projects for Go All IN Day, an organized day of volunteering and community service across the region. This year’s event will take place June 24 across United Way’s service area of Hamilton, Boone, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties. Opportunities – including indoor, outdoor and virtual options – will be available for individual volunteers, families and groups. Those interested in volunteering can learn more and sign up at

Military Veterans Hall of Fame — The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for the Class of 2022 through Aug. 1. To be eligible, the nominee must have been born in Indiana, entered military service from Indiana, lived in Indiana for a minimum of five years and have no felony convictions. A nomination form can be found at To learn more about the organization or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit

City Center shops to expand – Two Carmel City Center businesses have announced plans to expand this spring. Addendum, a luxury lifestyle concept store, will add a second location with a standalone MacKenzie-Childs shop at 751 Hanover Pl., Suite 159. The shop will also feature the Indiana debut of the Stoney Clover Lane line. Hey Little Diddle, a baby and child boutique, will add a second location focusing on baby gifts and accessories at 736 Hanover Pl., Suite 100F.

Home prices rise – Carmel’s residential real estate market continued to flourish in March 2022. Homes spent less time on the market, and sale prices increased. According to F.C. Tucker Company, homes in Carmel left the market seven days, or 33.3 percent, faster than this time last year. Average home sale prices for Carmel homes increased 14.3 percent to $553,278, and the average price per square foot also increased to $200.02, an 11.8 percent increase compared to March 2021.

Ben’s Ranch appoints executive director – Carmel-based Ben’s Ranch Foundation has appointed Tina Rhoden-Lewellyn as its first full-time executive director. Rhoden-Lewellyn, a Fairland resident, brings more than 30 years of experience serving Central Indiana’s most vulnerable young people. Most recently, she served as program manager for Community Health Network, where she was responsible for overseeing staff and programs at Lutherwood, a residential treatment center for youth with behavioral and mental health challenges. Ben’s Ranch Foundation connects teens struggling with mental health challenges to paid internships with farms, stables and equine therapy facilities.

MJ Insurance hire – Carmel-based MJ Insurance, a risk management and employee benefits agency, has hired Chazney Gates as IT project manager, a new role for the company. As IT project manager, Gates will be responsible for managing all aspects of MJ’s technical project portfolio and oversee successful project completion to ensure an exceptional client and employee experience. Gates comes to MJ Insurance from IU Health, where she served as associate project manager and provided support to ensure technology requirements were met for the new IU Health Bloomington replacement hospital.

IMCU appoints next CEO – Indiana Members Credit Union has appointed John Newett as chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2023. He will succeed Ron Collier, who will retire after 37 years with the company. Newett currently serves as senior vice president of operations at IMCU. He joined IMCU in 2011 as director of planning and administration. He is a graduate of Scecina Memorial High School and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Byrider Hall of Fame inductees – Carmel-based Byrider, a used car dealership and franchise systems, made public the induction of Winston Sleeth and Steve Petersen into the company’s hall of fame, which recognizes contributions to the growth and culture of Byrider. Sleeth owns and operates three Byrider locations in Columbia, Joplin, and Springfield, Mo. Petersen, originally hired by company founder, James DeVoe, Sr., has served in a variety of positions, including regional managing partner, franchise consultant – team leader, director of real estate and director of procurement.