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Thank you for your continued support of our local businesses. As we begin to reconnect with our community in person, please remember to follow the current safety guidelines for the county as well as safety protocols for each business. Vivante French Eatery


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Paul Estridge Jr.: On a New Chapter in the Estridge Legacy Our cover story this month recognizes the contributions to this community of long time Carmel resident Paul Estridge, Jr. He, along with his family, has over the past 50 years significantly changed the face of Carmel. As one drives around the city of Carmel and the surrounding communities in Hamilton County, one would be hard-pressed not to see some of the definitive influences that the Estridge family has made on several of the area’s neighborhood developments. Estridge recently announced that he is stepping down from the day-to-day rigors of his homebuilding/development business. However, as you will see from the story, Estridge, who recently had a lung transplant, wanted to make it clear that he was planning on continuing to live a very active life. According to Estridge, “I’m not retiring—I’m rewiring”. Cover Story Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photo // Dauss Miller


The Carmel Clay Public Library Announces New Programs and Sponsorship Opportunities

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CARMEL MONTHLY PUBLISHER / Neil Lucas neil@collectivepub.com / 317-460-0803 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF / Neil Lucas neil@collectivepub.com / 317-460-0803

The Center Presents: KAR Front Seat With Adam Ollendorff: Country Music Musician and Composer

15 Paige Oliver: Zionsville Resident Leads Food Security Efforts at Home and Abroad

PUBLISHER / Lena Lucas lena@collectivepub.com / 317-501-0418 DIRECTOR OF SALES / Lena Lucas lena@collectivepub.com / 317-501-0418 HEAD WRITER / Janelle Morrison janelle@collectivepub.com / 317-250-7298

25 Carmel Youth Assistance Program Needs Our Support!

MARCH WRITERS / Janelle Morrison

28 Carmel Clay Schools On Moving Forward In 2021

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T h e

C a r m e l

L i b r a r y

C l a y

P u b l i c

A n n o u n c e s

New Programs and Sponsorship Opportunities Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Courtesy of CCPL

If you’re like my family, you have been more reliant on community amenities— libraries, farmers markets, etc.—this past year than perhaps ever before. The Carmel Clay Public Library (CCPL) and the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation found innovative ways to navigate through a pandemic and a move to a temporary location while the library undergoes major renovations. And the remarkable CCPL and foundation staff and volunteers pivoted ever so seamlessly—without ever having to completely shut down its services to its cardholders.


spoke with the CCPL Foundation Director Elizabeth Hamilton and CCPL Communications Manager Christy Walker about some of the many workarounds that the library and foundation exercised throughout the last year, what they are planning for this spring and summer and ways that the community can give back to the library’s efforts.

MAINTAINING ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS AND SERVICES “During the pandemic, the library listened to the community and has offered it what it needed during this difficult time,” Hamilton shared. “From expanded online (e-book, audiobook, movie and magazine) offerings, to monthly ‘Take and Make’ activities for all ages, and we have increased our monthly home-bound


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delivery service. We now offer opportunities for patrons to request a book bundle or talk directly with a librarian for book suggestions.” Hamilton also mentioned that the library has instituted a family movie night package (which includes some microwave popcorn) sponsored by Carmel Travel Company. “In light of these program expansions, we are always in need of additional funding outside of the property tax support the library receives,” Hamilton expressed. “A list of support [sponsorship] opportunities includes • Little Free Libraries—we have 10 scattered around the city, mostly in parks. • Summer Reading Program—will begin in May and reaches the entire community. We typically have around 10,000 participants. • Visiting Author Series—we hold two virtual events per month with New York Times bestselling authors from around the world. • Coming up in the fall will be the Writers at the Pavilion event on Oct. 6 and the Guilded Leaf Luncheon on Oct. 7. Both will be held at the Ritz Charles, and we are hoping for in person this year but of course will be closely monitoring the COVID numbers. • When the new building opens in 2022, there will be multiple opportunities for sponsorship: pavers outside, a donor wall inside, multiple program rooms, our Digital Media Lab, study rooms, etc.”

Another wonderful sponsorship opportunity is to sponsor a StoryWalk installation by the library. A StoryWalk is an innovative and delightful way for children—and adults—to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Pages from a children’s book are installed along an outdoor path. As readers stroll down the trail, they discover the next page in the story. Walker added, “The StoryWalk program has been a blessing. I can tell you it was heartbreaking to have to close the doors of the Joyce Winner West Branch within months of its opening. And for the staff

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to pivot and create these wonderful story walks there in Harrison Park in the Village of WestClay has just been terrific. That’s one of the programs that we will be continuing and expanding. We will be doing a StoryWalk in River Road Park out on the east side of Carmel. And another one at Harrison Park in April.”

COMING OUT OF HIBERNATION AND RE-ENGAGING WITH CCPL Walker shared some of the many engaging and FREE programs that will continue to be offered and/or are launching this summer. “In the short term, we are continuing to do different live, online events and programs that we had to shift to early last year,” Walker said. “We’ve been able to experiment with doing story times on YouTube so that families can watch anytime they want to. And we’ve been able to do live Zoom events for all ages. The foundation is continuing its Visiting Authors events on Facebook Live.” Walker shared that by offering livestreaming and recorded programs has been

wildly popular with its cardholders as they can enjoy educational and engaging programs from where they are and when it’s convenient for them. “We are continuing to offer ways for people to be connected to the library, safely and conveniently,” Walker emphasized. “Looking ahead, I can tell you that we’re starting to gear up for the Summer Reading Program that has shifted to a lot of online participation opportunities over the years, and this year, there’s a fun spin—we are partnering with the Hamilton County Humane Society! The program is for kids, teens and adults, and the reading that they do will count towards different donations of different things for the humane society.” Additionally, CCPL is partnering with the City of Carmel to present three different animal-themed movies that will be featured in Midtown Plaza in Carmel. “We’re looking for some outdoor opportunities for activities and programs,” Walker said. “We will be doing outside activities in local parks, and we’re looking at ways to expand what we’re offering but

providing opportunities that are safe in the coming months.” Walker concluded, “April is Citizen Science Month, and we’ve got online programs with great activities. We are putting together exploration kits that kids will be able to come check out and do Citizen Science Activities at home and outdoors. It’s hard for our library staff to not be face-to-face with our community as much as we want to be. But we want to continue to engage our community and serve them in a way that is safe and convenient.” For more information about CCPL’s upcoming programs and how to become a sponsor or make donations to the CCPL Foundation, visit carmelclaylibrary.org.



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THE KING’S CASTLE Many of you probably know Stephen King as the owner of the King’s Image men’s store which has been in the Castleton area for many years providing custom men’s clothing. King, who has an immense love of art, built a unique home located near 161st and Gray Road 28 years ago, which at the time King claims was the hinterland of north Carmel. According to King, when he designed and built the house there was little development around his property. Now a development with million-dollar homes sits just to the north of his property. Moreover, there certainly were few, if any, homes with such a modern design in the Carmel area to look to for inspiration and design ideas. King actually toured a home in Florida and got some of the design ideas he incorporated into this home. Designed as a work of art itself, the home over the years has become for King and Melonee Merann, his wife who is an interior designer, their own

personal Museum of Modern Art. The design is not the only thing unique about this house. Amazingly, this house provides a level of privacy not found in many homes in Carmel today. The home sits on 4 acres of land and has a 1/8 of a mile private drive directly off Gray Road. As you can see from the photos, the design is open and filled with light. King’s design at the time the home was built may have been a bit unconventional, but now it’s just spectacular. In addition to the acreage and privacy, the home is also large enough for a family with its nearly 6,000 sq. feet and a car collector’s dream with a 6-car attached garage. King intends to place the home on the market in the very near future with a close friend as their agent. A unique property like this does not hit the market in Carmel very often. If you want to reach out to the King’s to inquire about the property call 317 629 5358.


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COUNTRY MUSIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

KAR FRONT SEAT GOES VIRTUAL AS STUDENTS CHAT WITH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS. INTERESTED IN TUNING IN? REGISTER FOR FREE AT THECENTERPRESENTS.ORG AND YOU WILL RECEIVE A ZOOM LINK PRIOR TO MARCH 29. About the Presenter Adam Ollendorff is a Nashville-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has toured and recorded with Kacey Musgraves, Will Hoge and John Oates and appeared on recordings by J.D. McPherson and Carrie Underwood. Playing guitar, Dobro and pedal steel guitar, he has shared stages with Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Katy Perry and appeared on the CMA Awards, the Grammy Awards, “Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” As a songwriter, he has collaborated with Natalie Hemby, Jim Lauderdale and Maren Morris and co-wrote the title cut of Keb’ Mo’s 2019 holiday album “Moonlight, Mistletoe & You,” which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard blues chart. Ollendorff also serves as community outreach and music programs manager at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. For more information on the programs available visit countrymusichalloffame.org. extension of the museum’s Janelle Morrison: The Center flagship music education profor the Performing Arts gram, Words & Music. There are is a special place for me PERFORMER resources located where families personally, and it’s important SPOTLIGHT can learn how to write their own to me to advocate for its original song lyrics and get tips performances and outreach on putting those ideas to music. programs. The fact that And we started doing things you’re willing to take time for like KAR Front Seat with the Center for the this upcoming presentation is incredible. Performing Arts and a lot of Songwriting 101— These programs make a huge impact on virtually. Whereas before [COVID-19], it had the youth in our Hoosier community, so been in person at the Taylor Swift Education thank you. Center on Saturday mornings. There was defiAdam: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Julia [Shildmynitely a learning curve for all of us, but I feel we er-Heighway] invited us to do a “Songwriting got there pretty quickly. 101” program last year, and that was a blast. We had a great time and wrote a great song. One JM: What has been the most important of the nice things about this moment [in time] outcome of going virtual with the has been getting to connect with and make museum’s youth outreach programs? some new friends in other places and doing Adam: I think we figured out how to more virtual programs/virtual songwriting engage people—virtually—and encourage with groups. I get a lot out of it too. them. There was a lot to write about during COVID-19, and everybody’s going through JM: How big of a challenge has it been something. Kids, as you know, couldn’t go not being able to experience the into school and couldn’t hang out with their person collaboration and instruction? friends. They were feeling really isolated, And have you been able to work around stressed out, sad and scared. I think the need that and make it happen regardless of for self-expression shot through the roof. the pandemic? They were looking for a way to connect and to Adam: I think so. Early on in the pandemic continue making music, which I’m really proud we started this program called Words & Music that the museum has been able to offer that. at Home. Words & Music at Home is an online



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JM: Taking a step back, when did your personal journey in the music industry begin? Adam: I remember being very little and being very moved by music. I remember being in a carpool with some friends, and one of my friend’s mom had some Beatles tapes. She had “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver,” and we would request songs. I remember being very excited about music, and as much as I loved hearing music, I used to wish that I would be the person making the music and being up on the stage. But I really didn’t know how exactly to get up there [on stage] for a long time. JM: When did you realize that a career in music was what you wanted to dedicate your life to pursuing? Adam: I didn’t realize until I was older that I really wanted to play music. I was 16 when I got into playing the guitar. My parents wanted me to pursue a more “traditional” career like law or medicine. I went to Princeton for undergrad and ended up getting a degree in literature, which I realize now has served me well in songwriting. I was off and on with [playing] guitar through my early 20s. But, when I was 25, I was living in Chicago and was working in politics for the Illinois Attorney General in communications. I had started playing the pedal steel guitar, and that’s when I really wanted to pursue music professionally. I figured this was my last shot and left a really good gig as a communications coordinator for the Illinois AG to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

big and find mentors, including their peers, JM: Has there been a moment in this role from whom they can learn and grow. During as the museum’s community outreach the KAR Front Seat, I’m going to play a song for and music programs manager that has them so they can get a sense of what I sound impacted you the most? like as a songwriter, but I want to talk with Adam: One of our students, who started them about the importance of dreaming big with us at 10 and is now 13, has been coming and to follow their dreams. I was to our Summer Songwriting told frequently as a kid that a caCamp. We couldn’t offer it last reer in the arts was not available. year because of the pandemic, That you have to be “so lucky” or but she continues to work with “so talented” or have to be born us and has participated in our MARCH 29 into it. If you have a dream of Songwriting Tune Up program, working in the arts—I’m here to 7 P.M. virtually. I’ve seen her mature tell you that it IS available. and grow as a musician, and I want to encourage the kids she’s taking lessons from a to express themselves and to communicate. I prominent bass player here in town—doing it feel that communication is just a key to life in all virtually from the East Coast. relationships, work, being on stage or in the She came in a few weeks ago and said that recording studio. We’re all trying to communiher mother’s best friend’s husband had been cate with each other, and being vulnerable and killed in a car accident and that she had writbeing ourselves is another important message ten a song for the couple’s 2-year-old daughter that I intend to share. Be yourself and be open about all these milestones in this little girl’s to others as well. life that have yet to occur. And how the little girl’s father will be present and absent from all these important moments in her life. She had processed this tragedy and written about it so poignantly in this really beautiful, artistic way. It was kind of gobsmacking to me, and I realized that the museum creates these opportunities for kids to deal with life’s issues and gives them the tools to express themselves whenever they need to.



JM: What is your best advice to young people exploring the idea of becoming a musician and/or songwriter? Adam: I want to encourage kids to dream

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Z i o n s v i l l e

R e s i d e n t

Leads Food Security Efforts at Home and Abroad Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Submitted

Last summer, Zionsville resident M. Paige Oliver, her husband and two sons repatriated from Singapore and have been reacclimating to their Zionsville community. Oliver is the integrated field science innovation and operations global leader at Corteva Agriscience. She has been with the company for 20 years in multiple roles across R&D, including discovery chemistry, formulation chemistry and integrated field science.


spoke with Oliver about her work in China and Asia-Pacific (APAC) and asked what knowledge and insights has she brought back to implement in her work in the U.S. as well as her Hoosier community as it relates to food security and sustainability.

HELPING TO LEAD EFFORTS TO SUPPORT FOOD SECURITY AND SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES In her role, Oliver partners with teams within Corteva and external collaborators across the globe to advance agricultural research with a focus on sustainable practices, partnering with farmers and under-

standing their needs. Oliver shared that there is a particular interest in supporting the small landholder and women farmers. Oliver is a passionate advocate for the development and advancement of business scientists and actively leads efforts to support food security in local communities. With Corteva’s support, Oliver shared that she has initiated food security efforts in China and APAC while in her regional role. She is currently serving as the Indy Global Business Center food security lead. A recipient of the 2005 Dow AgroSciences Young Scientist of the Year Award, Oliver’s background also includes a master’s degree in organic chemistry at

Purdue University, a Six Sigma Green Belt and being honored as the 2015 Women’s Innovation Network Champion. “My husband is a professional chef, so from a food perspective—it’s personal to us,” Oliver shared. “I work on one side with the farmers, and he’s working on the other side with the consumers. So, our discussions around the dinner table are usually pretty interesting. With my background in chemistry, I’ve seen how we are inventing crop protection products to help enable their crops and improve productivity. And through formulations, understanding how we’re partnering with farmers from an application perspective so that it’s easy


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and safe for them to do. Then, from the field science or field biology, really seeing how those products are being used in a way that is beneficial for the environment but also for the people using that technology and, eventually, for the people eating the food.” Oliver added, “From a global perspective, I would say not everywhere are they caring so much about the land, and in some cases, they don’t own the land. So, what drives their decisions is their own profitability. Typically, you have passionate farmers who are passing it on to their kids and their grandchildren, so it’s extremely personal to them. From a company perspective, we try to partner with them, and no matter what context they are using, we also care deeply about the environment and about people. So, whatever we’re going to produce, whether it’s the seed, crop protection or digital solutions, how we bring that all together, we’re going to be fanatically focused on the farmer to ensure that their operation is as effective and profitable as we can help enable it to be. We’re also ensuring that any of those products are going to help them from a sustainability aspect.”


Over the next nine years, Oliver shared that as part of their 2030 goals, they are looking at how they provide training to 25 million farmers. “There is a specific emphasis on our small landholder farmers because there’s about 500 million small landholder farmers in Asia, Africa and South America,” Oliver stated. “And they are producing about 80% of the food in those areas. The impact that has here [in the U.S.] is huge when you think about the exports. When we think about rice, the U.S. does produce rice, but the majority of our rice is coming from Asia. The average size of a farm in China is about the size of a conference room, and how they farm is so different then we commercialize farming in other areas and for other crops.”

INNOVATIVE IDEAS WITH ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS Corteva puts a strong emphasis on developing and implementing farming practices that benefit not only the farmers and the end-users but the environment as well. “When looking at cropping systems, for example, in the U.S. when you’ve harvested corn or soybeans, you can plant peas—yellow peas, for instance—as a winter cover crop,” Oliver said. “It is a legume, and it does nitrogen fixation in

the soil, which helps anchor that soil, so you won’t have as much erosion. Another benefit is that it can be harvested. It’s one of the fastest-growing plant proteins right now, and it creates another revenue stream for the farmers.” Oliver further explained that nitrogen fixation allows more nitrogen in the soil, which means you don’t need as much fertilizer. The effects of climate change are evident in the areas the Oliver and her team had been working in, especially in parts of India. “Globally, we have another situation where climate change is happening,” Oliver said. “In India, the water table is starting to go down in certain regions. A flooded rice paddy is very common for weed control. So, without enough water, the farmers have to switch to dry direct seeded rice, and they are hand planting. They’ve never planted this way before, and they are using a different hybrid [of rice] that doesn’t need as much water. We’re supporting them and have done testing to see what the hybrids are for this situation. We can provide mechanization that allows them to plant without having to do it by hand, and we looked at different herbicides that are needed because [absent water] they have different weeds. We keep the farmer in the center of all that we do, and we feel that it’s good businesses to do good.”

ARE SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE FOOD PRACTICES TRENDING? I asked Oliver if she is seeing these practices trending throughout the U.S. now that she’s returned to her country of origin.


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We keep the farmer in the center of all that we do, and we feel that it’s good businesses to do good”

“Maybe because I’m just re-entering the U.S., I feel it was really encouraging to see ‘Imperfect Foods,’” Oliver stated. “I like to people watch in the grocery store and see them ‘hunt’ through the apples to find the most appealing ones. I’ll tell you that other countries aren’t going to focus on that so much. It’s almost presence absence—they just go into the grocery and grab what they need. They’re not hunting through the stack. I think when you have an upper class and a significant middle class, people get choosey. When you’re looking for sustenance, you’re just looking for ‘healthy.’”

pounds of produce to different food security networks within the Indianapolis area. We partner with Meals on Wheels, Gleaners, The Hunger Solutions Network and different local area organizations.” When asked how it felt to be back in Zionsville—back in the home they had rented out while they were abroad—Oliver replied, “We had originally moved to Zionsville a year after I started with Corteva. We are so grateful to be back in the community and thankful for the small-town life.”

BACK HOME AND PURPOSE-DRIVEN Having extensively traveled throughout China and APAC, Oliver has brought with her countless experiences and a depth of knowledge that continues to fuel her sense of purpose both professionally and personally. “We have a ‘Hunger Garden’ on site at Corteva,” Oliver said. “We are producing vegetables and have donated over 20,000






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Paul Estridge Jr.:

On a New Chapter in the Estridge Legacy Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Dauss Miller and submitted

As one drives around the city of Carmel and the surrounding communities in Hamilton County, one would be hard-pressed not to see some of the definitive influences that the Estridge family has made on several of the area’s neighborhood developments. As the area’s “Hometown Builder” of more than 50 years, Estridge companies have built 8,000-plus homes and developed more than 30 neighborhoods in central Indiana—including Harmony and Serenade.


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Paul Estridge Sr.


Paul Estridge Jr.


recent announcement from Estridge Homes LLC details the passing of the reigns of the Carmel-based homebuilding company from Paul Estridge Jr. to his leadership team. Estridge will remain an owner and emphasized that he is not “retiring” but will be stepping away from the day-to-day operations of Carmel-based Estridge Homes LLC. He will continue to assist the leadership team with strategic planning on current and future projects. Estridge, 63, received a single-lung transplant earlier this year to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and looks at his experience like an “extension of life.” “I’m going to live a very active life, and I’m not retiring—I’m rewiring,” Estridge expressed. “I’m stepping back out of the day-to-day operations, and that’s going to enable me to focus on my health and fitness, and there’s some other things that I’d like to do.” Stepping up as CEO is Carmel resident Clint Mitchell. Mitchell joined Estridge Homes in 2015, and Westfield resident and COO Rob McGraw has been with the company since 1995.

Estridge Jr. shared that he was only a kid—10 years old—when his late father, Paul Estridge Sr., established Paul E. Estridge Homes. “In the early days, I was 10 years old when Dad [Paul Estridge Sr.] decided to open up his own homebuilding company,” Estridge shared. “I started with him holding the tape measure, sweeping and scrapping out drywall. It is difficult working for your parents—my mother was every bit as involved with bookkeeping and design, but it was what it was. There was a family work ethic—you worked when you weren’t doing something else you had to do.” Estridge recalled the endless hours in which he would sit listening to his father’s phone conversations and meetings and sitting in homes on the weekends holding open houses, trying to emulate what his father did when he greeted and spoke with potential clients. Estridge shared that his father was the first homebuilder to introduce zero-lot-line products and communities to the Indianapolis area. In 1983, Estridge started his own company, The Estridge Group, and he bought out his father’s business in 1992. “Building whole neighborhoods of homes became our passion and what we really focused on over the years,” Estridge said. “What we find when we build the entire neighborhood is that we’re able to create an experience and lifestyle for people that goes beyond just the house. Otherwise, we’d just be building a subdivision with houses.”

Clint Mitchell

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE OF ESTRIDGE HOMES When asked how much Mitchell and McGraw will be relying on the sage wisdom and experience of Estridge, Mitchell replied, “Very much—Paul certainly has a lot of wisdom and knows this area as well as anyone and has much experience as a builder in the Indianapolis market. As we look at growth, we’re looking for Paul’s insight. We’d like to look outside of the Carmel and Westfield areas where we can make some pretty big investments with a community and create the kind of neighborhood design that brings in the home design to complement the neighborhood layouts, amenities and landscaping.” Mitchell added that in many of their communities, they appeal to multiple demographics and often to multigenerational buyers. “We look at who our buyer is, and we look at multiple demographics,” Mitchell said. “We are not just focusing on one type of buyer and have different price points and different sizes of homes within the same neighborhood. For example, within Harmony, we have young couples, singles,


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families and empty nesters and sometimes within the same family. We have people with parents and kids living in the same community, and it’s pretty cool.” Mitchell shared that by the end of this year, Estridge Homes expects to begin construction of a new 550-home development in Westfield—name to be announced—and the company’s first luxury townhome developments, Park West in Westfield and 16 Gateway in downtown Indianapolis, will be additional projects with the new CEO and COO at the helm.

Estridge added, “What is true of everything that I’ve ever started is that it’s always been about getting the right people together and the right team of people.” Monterey Coastal Cuisine, co-owned by Estridge and Thomas, is expected to open on April 3 and will feature a selection of sushi, seafood and steaks in a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere at 110 West Main Street, just east of the Monon Greenway. Visit montereycuisine.com for updates and more information.


When asked out of all the projects and businesses that Estridge has built and had interest in, which one has meant the most to him and had the biggest impact on his career, he replied, “For sure it’s Centennial. And Harmony is a very close second. All the things we learned with Centennial, we’ve built them into Harmony. We were able to do some really big ideas like the sledding hill. I think it’s the most used sledding hill in the county. People send me pictures of the kids when it snows, and there’s like 100 kids on top of that hill.” In addition to his favorite project, Estridge was gracious enough to share a favored moment related to Centennial. “As far as special moments, I love the wintertime—driving into Centennial,” Es-

Estridge shared that he had always been interested in the restaurant industry but that it was never the right time or fit for him. “I had never had time for it, nor did I have what I thought was the knowledge and expertise to get involved in it,” Estridge stated. “Then the moons aligned about a year and half ago when I approached Chris Thomas, who was the general manager at Kona Grill. He had approached me about doing something together about 15 years ago, but when we spoke again a year and a half ago, it seemed like an interesting time to do it. He’s a tremendous operator, and I wouldn’t be doing this without him.”


We’re designing homes that emphasize more of the front porch, where people can live and sit out there, waving at their neighbors, as opposed to everybody being in the backyard”

-Paul Estridge Jr.

tridge expressed. “Seeing the church lit up and the trees along the street all lit up—if I could be buried there, that’s where I would be buried.” Estridge believes that one of the responsibilities of builders is to create spaces for people to connect and to build memories. “We’re designing homes that emphasize more of the front porch, where people can live and sit out there, waving at their neighbors, as opposed to everybody being in the backyard,” Estridge said. “It’s those little things that really have an impact on people’s connectivity with their neighbors and how well they know them.” For more information on Estridge Homes and its communities, visit estridge.com.


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C a r m e l Y o u t h A s s i s t a n c e P r o g r a m

Needs Our Support! Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Courtesy of CYAP

After a year’s worth of virtual meetings, birthdays, celebrations and events, I could understand why people’s interest in these may be waning. Having said that, virtual fundraisers continue to be the only viable platform for our community’s essential nonprofits to effectively fundraise until a time when we can safely resume large-scale in-person events. In that spirit and as the gala’s media sponsor, Carmel Monthly is asking our readers to join us in supporting the Carmel Youth Assistance Program (CYAP) by “virtually” attending the 2021 Carmel Gala, Design Bright Futures on April 24, 2021. This year’s platinum sponsors are the City of Carmel and United Consulting.


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ormed in the fall of 2015, CYAP’s mission is to help strengthen youth and families through community involvement, access to services and support of volunteers through mentoring and tutoring. Like other peer Youth Assistance Programs throughout Hamilton County, local volunteers develop and provide access to programs and services that promote positive growth experiences and enhance home and community relationships. CYAP works in collaboration with the Carmel Clay School District, the City of Carmel and the Hamilton County Superior Court. Since its inception, CYAP has raised money to provide camps and recreational activities for students, food for the Carmel Summer Meals Program, basic necessities and shelter for families who would otherwise be food insecure and impoverished. Yes—there are families in need throughout our community, and the pandemic has only exacerbated many of their vulnerabilities. Since 2015, CYAP’s metrics show significant improvement in the behavior, academics and social skills of the youth in its program.

A POWERFUL STORY ABOUT A CYAP MENTOR AND MENTEE I spoke with a CYAP parent, Shannon, and mentor, Susan Shelley, about the impact the mentorship program has had on their lives and the lives of Shannon’s two daughters who are in the program and have their own mentors. “I am a single mom of five and have two daughters that have [CYAP] mentors,” Shannon shared. “I entered this program because I was leaving the house every

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Monday and Thursday night to do counseling sessions with two of my daughters.” Shannon explained that one of her daughters is a sexual abuse survivor— abused by an extended family member. Needless to say, Shannon reached out to CYAP for resources and for help. That call led to two of her daughters developing life-changing relationships with their respective mentors. “The mentors and Maggie [Figge] are phenomenal,” Shannon expressed. “I started out with baby steps because I was so worried, and we were just coming out of what had happened with the family. The mentors respected [our situation]. This is just a great program, and my kids really enjoy it. They’ve gotten so much self-esteem and confidence in spending time with their mentors. It’s also built my confidence that there are still good people out there. I had to set my fear aside, and I thought about my kids. And the kids have really grown so much. We’ve come together better as a family as a whole because [the kids] know that they are safe.” Susan Shelley is a CYAP mentor for one of Shannon’s daughters. “I saw a listing for a mentor, I think in ‘Good Day Carmel,’ and thought it sounded like a perfect fit,” Shelley said. “I was super excited to be accepted into the program. I met my mentee in January of 2019, and she is just the light of my life. Typically, we’re together three to three and a half hours [a week].” Shelley shared that she and her mentee spend time reading, painting and cooking, and they enjoyed going out to eat [pre-COVID-19], going to different events in the Village of WestClay, swimming and learning life skills such as budgeting and expanding their respective comfort zones—together. “My mentee expects me to keep pace with anything that I ask of her,” Shelley stated. “I’ve seen her mature in a good way, but I also see her struggling with stress. When you talk about mental health, I don’t know how a 13–14-year-old gets through all this without a tremendous amount of stress. I’m hoping that as a mentor, I can somewhat alleviate that. I am a trusted adviser and someone that

teer activity—two times a week for 20 minutes—in person or virtual. We will give the tutor all the materials they need. It’s our way of trying to mitigate that summer learning loss.”


she can have fun with without judgement. Within five minutes of being with my mentee, I’m in a different world. I’m in her world, and that is a really beautiful place to be.”

THE NEEDS IN CARMEL ARE REAL AND GROWING IN NUMBER Maggie Figge, early intervention advocate at CYAP, shared how the pandemic and the economic downturn have increased the number of case referrals and the amount of funding needed to support the vital programs offered by CYAP. “The need has just grown immensely throughout 2020,” Figge explained. “We have families that have never needed help that all of a sudden find themselves in a precarious position and need anything from just a little boost of something to needing full-blown supports—financial and mental health related.” Figge shared that 40% of CYAP’s referrals have been for mental health support for kids as a result of the pandemic. She expressed that CYAP’s greatest needs at this time are for mentors for the many kids that they have on a waiting list as well as donations that help fund the Carmel Summer Meals program and other programs that help families with transportation, rent, tutoring, counseling and so much more. Figge added, “We are getting ready to launch a tutoring program that will start this summer. It will be a simple volun-


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Register … register … register! And then organize a small and safe viewing party for the Virtual Carmel Gala – Design Bright Futures, Saturday, April 24 at 7 p.m. LIVE on Facebook or Carmel TV. Order your charcuterie board or floral arrangement on the Carmel Gala website for you and your viewing party guests to enjoy while supporting CYAP. Also, don’t forget to purchase tickets for the Bourbon & Bling raffle!! Raffle tickets, “Buy It Now” purchases and donations opened on March 15, so register NOW through April 24 at 7 p.m. Silent auction bidding will officially open on Friday, April 9 and close Saturday, April 24 at 9 p.m. Register or sign in at CarmelGala.org or text CarmelGala21 to 243725. Join us virtually on the Carmel Youth Assistance Facebook page or Camel TV for a live, interactive evening that will include Mayor Jim Brainard and Dr. Beresford with special guest appearances by other local celebrities and partners. There are many raffle prizes to be won in the Bourbon & Bling raffle, including a Coach handbag, Kate Spade tote, $500 MetalMark Fine Jewelry gift card, bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon and MORE! The raffle drawings will be held during the live event at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. The official attire for this year’s virtual gala is what I’ve coined as pandemic posh, meaning whatever you are comfortable wearing—loungewear to formal attire. The world is your oyster! You can also follow the event on Facebook for special videos, announcements and surprises along the way: https://www. facebook.com/carmelyouthassistanceprogram. For more information on CYAP or on how to become a mentor or a volunteer tutor, to request assistance or to donate, visit youthassistance.org/carmel.

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Join us VIRTUALLY for the annual Carmel Gala to benefit the Carmel Youth Assistance Program

Saturday, April 24 at 7 p.m. LIVE on the Carmel Youth Assistance Program Facebook Page & Carmel TV

BID on Disney, golf or wine tasting vacations; authentic sports memorabilia; bourbon bundles and more through the Silent Auction WIN a Coach Handbag, Kate Spade Tote, $500 MetalMark Fine Jewelry Gift Card or a bottle of Blanton’s in the Bourbon & Bling Raffle LIVE appearances by Honorary Chair Mayor Jim Brainard, Carmel Clay Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Beresford and MORE REGISTER NOW Text CarmelGala21 to 243725 OR Scan the QR code to sign in

We appreciate our 2021 Carmel Gala sponsors! American Structurepoint, Inc. Anthem BlueCross BlueShield Carmel City Council Church Church Hittle + Antrim City of Carmel Duke Energy DWA Healthcare Communications Group

Platinum Sponsors

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FirstMile Security Kirsh & Kirsh, P.C. Dr. Bob Youkilis, Northside ENT Somerset CPAs and Advisors United Consulting Wallack, Somers & Haas, P.C. Zotec Partners

In-Kind Adam Grubb Productions Carmel Monthly Carmel TV Promote Carmel, Inc. Wilkinson Brothers


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Moving Forward in 2021 C a r m e l

C l a y

S c h o o l s

o n

Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Courtesy of CCS

As Carmel Clay Schools (CCS) is wrapping up the 2020–21 school year, I spoke with Dr. Beresford, Carmel High School (CHS) Principal Dr. Tom Harmas and CHS Assistant Principal Amy Skeens-Benton about how the district is planning out the rest of the year as the COVID-19 metrics are trending downward and immunizations upward and as the state begins to relax some of the pandemic restrictions with regards to public gatherings.


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Dr. Michael Beresford Superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools

Amy Skeens-Benton Carmel High School (CHS) Assistant Principal



ecently, CCS released a statement, “Our administrative team in cooperation with the Carmel Teachers Association has gone through a very detailed evaluation of how we might return grades 6-12 to every day learning. Through this evaluation, we have determined that it is in the best interests of our students to remain in the hybrid model for the remaining 8 weeks of the school year.” “It has been a long haul, that’s for sure,”

Beresford said. “I heard a term, ‘chronic uncertainty,’ and that’s what we’ve been dealing with for over a year now. Never quite having definitive information and a lot of changes to the guidance that we’re given— so at least that has been consistent.” Beresford further expressed how frequently the administration, staff and entire student population and their families have had to “pivot” throughout the pandemic and how thankful and proud he is for their fortitude and dedication to


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Dr. Tom Harmas Carmel High School (CHS) Principal

making the best of a situation that was less than ideal. “The thing that I will always remember about the pandemic is how everybody pulled together—it was all hands on deck,” Beresford stated. “The staff, the administration, the teachers, students and families were all involved. The parents have taken on a heavy load in helping their kids at home. We decided, here in Carmel, that we were all going to pull together because we want our kids to have a good school experience and that we’re going to make it as good as we can make it under the circumstances that we are in.” Echoing Beresford’s sentiments, Harmas added, “The teamwork between our staff [and] parents, and all the adults at CCS have really just come together to make great things happen for the kids, but we couldn’t do that without the teamwork of the kids. They have risen to the occasion and have worked so well under the circumstances. I’ve been so pleased with the way that this entire [Carmel] community has wrapped around not only CHS but CCS. We believe that education is very important in this community, and luckily, our kids believe that too.”

HONORING LONG-STANDING GREYHOUND TRADITIONS—SAFELY Emphasizing that CCS spring events— including commencement—hinge

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entirely on the trajectory of the number of positive COVID-19 cases, Harmas and Skeens-Benton spoke about the importance of carrying on Greyhound traditions and celebrating the Class of 2021. “We talked about how important it is to have those kids march across the stage with their caps and gowns on and receive their diplomas with their parents in the audience,” Harmas said. “Our seniors have been missing so many great opportunities to gather, so the ‘Senior Celebration’ is an absolutely perfect event and way for us to tell them [the senior class] that we love them and how much we thank them for their leadership throughout the year.” After endless hours of planning and creating a plan to submit to the Hamilton County Health Department,

CHS has decided it will host a “Senior Celebration” on Friday, May 28, at Murray Stadium, following commencement, which will be held at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Thursday, May 27. “We’re going to be at the Coliseum [for graduation], and we’re very excited,” Skeens-Benton expressed. “Because of its 1,600-person capacity, we will have four ceremonies [that day] and will be split up in four groups by alphabet. So, we will have about 340 graduates for each ceremony, and only parents and stepparents will be in attendance this year, but we will be livestreaming the event. The ceremony times will be at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and will last approximately an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, per ceremony. That will give us time for people to exit


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and for us to sanitize before the next group comes in.”

ANNOUNCING A CHS “SENIOR CELEBRATION” The following night, May 28, the Class of 2021 is invited to the “Senior Celebration” at Murray Stadium in Carmel. The event is open to CHS seniors only, as per the plan that has been submitted to the health department. “We are having a ‘Senior Celebration’—it will be prom and Grad Fest combined,” Skeens-Benton explained. “We will be doing it outside at Murray Stadium and will have a DJ, dancing and games/ activities—AND it is going to be free to our seniors!” Additionally, Skeens-Benton shared that CHS will have formal dresses and suits available for students for both graduation and Senior Cele-


bration for those who need that assistance. “The PTO moms are going to help as well, and the kids will be able to make appointments to come in and try on dresses/suits and pick the one that they want,” Skeens-Benton said. “And as much as we would love to have a junior/senior prom this year, but with the [pandemic] numbers and protocols being what they are right now, we just want to ensure the safety of those who will attend. Next year, we’re going to have a huge prom, and I’ve already booked the facility for next year!” Be sure to follow CCS on social media and check the CHS website at ccs. k12.in.us/chs for updates on this year’s commencement ceremony and Senior Celebration.

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Carmel Monthly magazine March 2021  

Carmel Monthly magazine March 2021