Pitch In: Notes from Hamilton County

Notes from all over the county

The Pitch In by Mike Corbett
 February - March 2018

Bren Simon, widow of the late Mel Simon, donated the Asherwood estate in Carmel to the Great American Songbook Foundation. The gift includes all the real estate and personal property, with a total value appraised at more than $30 million.

The 107-acre estate includes a fully furnished 50,000-square-foot main house, an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, a 6,000-square-foot guesthouse, several other structures and two golf courses. It’s the former home of philanthropist Simon and her late husband Mel Simon, cofounder of Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest shopping mall owner and real estate investment trust, who died in 2009.

The Songbook Foundation will leverage the donation toward its goal of creating a freestanding Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum, dedicated to the music of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood. Founded in 2007 by performer and preservationist Michael Feinstein, the Foundation is based at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

The Foundation staff and board will evaluate the possibilities for the use of the donated property, starting with a comprehensive feasibility study.

In response to the recently passed federal legislation affecting corporate tax, Gene Miles, President and CEO of First Farmers Bank & Trust announced a new corporate wage and community support program that commits to four points of emphasis.

  • Raise the minimum hourly starting wage by $2.50 for all new FFBT employees.
  • Provide a minimum year-end bonus of $750 annually to all full time FFBT employees.
  • Invest a minimum of $250,000 annually to community development and support of local branch markets.
  • Invest a minimum of $150,000 annually to FFBT employee development and education.

The company says the fiscal benefits of the corporate tax changes allow it to reallocate that revenue towards strengthening its team.

Legacy Fund of Hamilton County awarded $170,770 to ten not-for-profit organizations and two Hamilton County leadership projects.

This grant round includes continued support of two community leadership projects: Reaching Resources, a program of Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County, will receive up to $50,000 annually for four years as Legacy Fund’s new community leadership initiative. The new program ensures that seniors can access the countywide services they need with one call to one place. The board also approved $15,000 for the regional master plan to activate the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties.

Other grants included $15,000 for a Hamilton County housing needs assessment conducted by Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND), $20,000 for programs at Prevail, Inc. that support victims of crime and abuse, and $10,000 for Southside Youth Council’s mental health counseling for Hamilton County youth.

Other grantees include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Hamilton County Leadership Academy, Heart and Soul Clinic, Inc., Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry, Museum of Miniature Houses & Other Collections, Inc., Second Helpings, and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.

Grants are made possible by the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County and supplemented by two field of interest funds at Legacy Fund: City of Noblesville Fund and Sheridan Fund.

Mitsch Design and Meyer Najem shared the honor of being named OneZone’s Business of the Year.

Other winners include:

Chuck Lazzara, President of Ritz Charles, received The Harold Kaiser Lifetime Achievement Award in Carmel. Ron and Michele Archer, former owners of recently-closed Archers Meat & Catering in Fishers, were presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for Fishers.

Look Award for New Construction – Carmel was presented to Liberty Fund, 11301 N. Meridian Street, with a LEED-designed building set on eight acres and featuring a glass-clad library.

Look Award for New Construction – Fishers was given to Braden Business Systems, 8700 North Street, for their new Nickel Plate District building complete with balconies and an open-air rooftop terrace.

Look Award for Renovation – Carmel was presented to Delta Faucet Company, 55 East 111th Street, which increased square-footage by 70% with modern architecture that compliments the existing structure.

Look Award for Renovation – Fishers went to DeVeau’s School of Gymnastics, 9032 Technology Drive, for renovation of their original 24,000 square-foot building and the addition of 6,000 more.

The Green Award was presented to The Bridges at Carmel Market District for their commitment to sustainability through materials, lighting, water, recycling, air quality and local sourcing

Young Professional of the Year is Dan O’Brien, Kucic Associates Realty

The Most Valuable Volunteer Award went to John DeLucia, Citizens State Bank.

Pacers Sports & Entertainment acquired the naming rights to the former Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse in Westfield’s Grand Park. The $10 million facility, which has eight hardwood courts for basketball and volleyball, will be called the Pacers Athletic Center.

John Robbins is the new Executive Director of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy, replacing Jill Doyle


Christine Dejoy CP

Bruce Kettler, formerly of Beck’s Hybrids, was appointed Director of the Indiana State Department Agriculture.


Christine Dejoy was named communications and social media specialist at Conner Prairie.