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zionsvillemonthlymagazine.com Zionsville_2020March_Cover.indd 1

MARCH 2020

His Life Before, During and After the Bench

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Judge John Baker: His Life Before, During and After the Bench This month’s cover story highlights the career of Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker who after over 40 years on the bench will be retiring soon. Judge Baker and his wife Peggy have been long time residents of Zionsville. Judge Baker was kind enough to spend some time with us to discuss his life before assuming the bench, the changes he has seen in the Indiana judiciary over the years and his plans for life after retiring. Writer // Janelle Morrison • Cover photo // Laura Arick

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Local, Scenic Half Marathon and 5Ks You’ll Love Running

PUBLISHER / Neil Lucas neil@collectivepub.com / 317-460-0803

Indiana Regenerative Medicine Institute Offers Effective Solutions for Knee, Back and Neck Pain

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

Selling Real Estate Is More Than Just a Transaction

PUBLISHER / Lena Lucas lena@collectivepub.com / 317-501-0418

Indy Soft Water: Delivering Great tasting Water in an Environmentally Friendly Way

DIRECTOR OF SALES / Lena Lucas lena@collectivepub.com / 317-501-0418

Don’t Get Caught With Your Power Down: RG Electrical

HEAD WRITER / Janelle Morrison janelle@collectivepub.com / 317-250-7298

Cruising in Zionsville in Your Golf Carts: 101

MARCH WRITERS / Janelle Morrison, John Cinnamon

The Town of Zionsville Is Still Open for Business

Business Spotlight is sponsored content.

Stay informed on news and events in Zionsville by following us on Twitter and Facebook ZIONSVILLEMONTHLYMAGAZINE




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MARCH 2020

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re you looking for a health care provider who offers innovative alternatives and a customized approach to your health issues? Indiana Regenerative Medicine Institute (IRMI) believes in offering specialized alternatives to health care. Its medical team, headed by Doctor of Chiropractic Preston Peachee, utilizes the latest developments in regenerative medicine, hormone replacement and pain management.

Regenerative Medicine: Treatment for Knee Pain We treat knee pain conservatively with several options including Hyaluronic Acid

(H.A.) injections to lubricate and heal the joint, mechanical decompression/traction, Class 4 Laser therapy along with traditional therapies. Many people have used cortisone, steroid, synvisc, supartz and other knee injections to varying degrees of success and often they work great. We are now using a recently approved new product, we believe, gets superior results. This product, combined with our IRMI knee protocol, can help most people to get the results much sooner than surgical options without the down time of recovery or physical therapy. We can get many insurance carriers, including Medicare, to cover the costs of a lot of our ZIONSVILLE MONTHLY

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regenerative medicine procedures, such as stem cell/tissue transplant procedures for the knee, when eligible for the treatment. Not everyone will qualify for coverage but many who were excluded before are now covered for these procedures eliminating the financial barrier to seek care.

Back & Neck Pain Causing Sciatica, Neuropathy, Numbness and Tingling are Usually from Degenerated Discs, Disc Bulges or Disc Herniations Since opening in Indianapolis last summer, the reaction to what IRMI has been great! People often seek care for back and neck pain with chiropractic and physical


therapy only to give up after failing traditional treatments or not allowing enough time for a full recovery. At IRMI our combined approach to disc degeneration, disc herniations, disc bulges, stenosis, facet degeneration, and arthritis will often succeed when other treatments have failed to provide lasting relief. Class 4 Lasers have been shown in many studies to promote healing, reduce spasm and inflammation, and decrease pain. Our team uses traditional medicine, chiropractic care, class 4 Laser, non-surgical decompression and other proprietary methods to get a great outcome for difficult cases such as neuropathy, sciatica, headaches, and severe neck or low back pain. This combined approach offers a better cumulative outcome than any one treatment would have alone. To see how the IRMI team can help you when other treatments have failed or not lasted, call to schedule your FREE consultation with one of our providers. We will give you the professional care and personalized attention you deserve and will even see if your insurance can cover stem cell/regenerative medicine procedures. Due to Corona Virus concerns IRMI currently has a very limited availability for new patient exams and will NOT be treating more than 2 patients at a time to minimize risk of exposure. We understand there are a lot of people in pain and they are remaining open with limited availability to help those in need. Visit Zionville monthly https:// zionsvillemonthly.regenmedicine. co/ or Call (317) 342-8634.

MARCH 2020

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He purposely designed the Zionsville Half Marathon course to showcase the community and take runners through “the best sides of Zionsville.”

L o c a l , S c e n i c H a l f M a r at h o n a n d 5 K s

You’ll Love Running Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Submitted

As registrants already know, the 2020 Zionsville Half Marathon and 5K has been rescheduled to September 20, 2020 at 7:30 a.m. by its organizer—Mike Cole— due to COVID-19 related concerns and health/safety protocols.


egistration is open for the Zionsville Half Marathon and 5K, which is proud to be celebrating its fifth anniversary. The race runs through several scenic Zionsville neighborhoods, over country roads and then back into the village. The races’ unique and scenic courses, as well as the organizers’ and volunteers’

reputation for Midwest hospitality, has attracted runners from as many as 11 states over its five-year history. Keep running and register now for the new September date!

DEVELOPING A RACING COMMUNITY Mike Cole, founder and race director of Zionsville Half Marathon and 5K,


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Big Boom 4th of July 5K and the Five and Dime, is pleased with the increased registration figures he is seeing for this years’ races. Cole, who competed in track and cross country while he attended Ball State University, is also a running coach and personal trainer who works with people at all levels of experience, from beginners to those who are competing in marathons. He purposely designed the Zionsville Half Marathon course to showcase the community and take runners through “the best sides of Zionsville.” “Every year there’s been an increase in registration,” Cole shared. “My goal has always been to get the Zionsville Half and 5K to 600 [participants], and last year we had around 460.” When asked how many of the participants Cole thought are locals versus outof-state runners, he replied, “I would say about 40% are either Zionsville residents or live close to town.” Although there are course completion medals and awards for age group and overall—for all three races—Cole stressed that for many runners, running is about the experiences and getting to

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IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO ORGANIZE A RACE For anyone who enjoys the energy produced by a local race and would like to volunteer at a water station or at the finish line passing out medals, Cole is always looking for volunteers to assist at any of his local races. “It’s been difficult the last couple of years because of inclement weather to get volunteers,” Cole shared. “The volunteers that do come out leave an impression on the runners. They [the runners] tell me after the race about how friendly our volunteers are while handing out water and talking with them for a minute or two before they head back onto the course, which is neat to hear.”

These people are trying to complete as many different [half marathons] as they can and experience something different every year.” see towns and cities in states and countries that they might not otherwise visit. “For most people [running] these races, it isn’t about awards,” Cole said. “These people are trying to complete as many different [half marathons] as they can and experience something different every year.”

GROWING THE CIRCUIT In addition to the growing popularity of the Zionsville Half and 5K, Cole’s other two established races, Big Boom 4th of July 5K and the Five and Dime—that takes place in the fall—are also growing

Registration is open for both the Big Boom 4th of July 5K and Zionsville Half Marathon and 5K. Register now at run2race.com.

in numbers as word of mouth continues to get out. “We’re starting to promote our Fourth of July race now as well,” Cole said. “That particular race grew about another 50 runners last year with a total of about 400 runners. Running a 5K on the Fourth [of July] is a pretty all-American activity that you can do with your family and/or friends.” Registration is currently open for the annual Fourth of July Big Boom 5K run that will start and finish on the bricks in downtown Zionsville in front of Greek’s Pizzeria and will step off at 7:30 a.m.


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Cole also mentioned how grateful he is for the Zionsville Police Department’s assistance throughout the event as well as all the sponsors’ support. “Orangetheory Fitness has been a great supporter since we began this quest five years ago,” Cole said. “They’ve been great with passing out medals and handing out little [American] flags in our Fourth of July 5K. That’s a cool thing to see.” Zionsville Monthly is proud to be the media sponsor for these great races in downtown Zionsville.


MARCH 2020

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Selling Real Estate Is More Than Just a Transaction NATASHA RADOVICH IS THE ONLY REAL ESTATE AGENT YOU WILL EVER NEED Writer // John Cinnamon Photography // Laura Arick

When you choose Natasha Radovich of RE/MAX Ability Plus in Carmel to sell your home, you get more than just her 16 years of real estate experience. You get more than her expertise in the Carmel, Fishers and Indianapolis north side real estate market. You get more than her unwavering loyalty to her clients. And you get more than the excitement and enthusiasm she brings to each home sale. What else do you get from Natasha? Genuine honesty.

EARLY LIFE IN MINSK, BELARUS Where does she get her forthright honesty and tenacious work ethic? Perhaps it was her brave and unlikely journey to America. Originally from Minsk, Belarus, Radovich came to the United States when she was only 18 years old, settling in Indianapolis. It was two tragic events while she was still a child that would change her life forever and put her on the path to America.

Her father was killed in a car accident when Radovich was 4 years old. Then, 12 years later, her mother succumbed to breast cancer.

at RE/MAX Ability Plus. Her office staff handles many of the day-to-day aspects so she can focus her attention on her clients.


PREPARING YOUR HOUSE FOR SALE Natasha stresses the importance of having your house prepared to list so that it makes the best impression possible for potential buyers. An important aspect of Radovich’s commitment to professionalism when it comes to preparing a house for sale is the use of a professional photographer to artfully capture the beauty of a home, inside and out. Radovich spends a good amount of time ensuring that her clients are ready for the home’s photo session. Natasha has developed great relationships with many contractors and home builders that are ready to help buyers and sellers when the needs arises.

Natasha started her career in real estate in 2004. Since then she’s built a successful real estate business helping her clients to buy and sell everything from small starter homes to multimillion-dollar estates. Just recently, Radovich received a RE/MAX Ability Plus award by increasing her sales from 2018 to 2019 by 94%. What does Radovich do that makes her such a successful real estate agent and engenders such devotion from her clients on Indy’s north side? Natasha asserts that staying in touch with clients throughout the process, being easy to reach and being very responsive are among her highest priorities. Radovich has the benefit of an outstanding support team

family. In many cases, my clients and I have become great friends through the real estate transaction,” Natasha said. “As a result, I have found myself representing multiple members of the same families over the years.” As an immigrant herself, Radovich has also gained a loyal following with customers in the local Russian-speaking community, as well as with clients from Vietnam, Turkey, Ukraine and many of the other former Soviet republics. Natasha’s passion and integrity aren’t limited to just her real estate business, however. She also supports the community. With each home sale, Radovich contributes to Children’s Miracle Network. So, that’s what you get when you choose Natasha Radovich of RE/MAX Ability Plus: More than a decade and a half of real estate experience, unmatched loyalty to her clients, which in turn becomes loyalty from her clients, a commitment to open communication and maybe even a new friend. Oh, and that genuine honesty too. When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, call Natasha at RE/MAX Ability Plus, (317) 507-6878

or drop her an email at RadovichNatasha@gmail.com

A REAL ESTATE AGENT AND A FRIEND “I approach each client as if they are a member of my


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MARCH 2020

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For more than two decades, Indy Soft Water has been delivering award-winning service and affordable prices throughout the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area. A family-owned, woman-operated company, Indy Soft Water offers eco-friendly, high-efficiency water systems. They offer both rental and repair, for commercial and residential customers. Because it utilizes the latest efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, Indy Soft Water is a leader in the industry. As a result, Indy Soft Water has been selected to sell its water systems at Costco Wholesale stores.

Delivering Great Tasting Water in an Environmentally Friendly Way

ECOWater Reigns Supreme “We chose to become ECOWater dealers, and that [decision] has differentiated us tremendously,” said Jessica Larson, owner of Indy Soft Water. “Nobody else [locally]

offers that specific line of American-made softeners.” ECOWater technology pushes environmentalism and efficiency, two things that align with Larson’s core values. Larson shared that


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ECOWater systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are carbon neutral. “They [ECOWater] use a third of the salt that a normal system uses—1.6 pounds versus 7 pounds,” Larson explained. “ECOWater systems also uses 38 gallons of water versus 75 [gallons], so they are definitely pushing the envelope from a technology and environmental standpoint.”

No Hassle Sales and Service Experience “My core value is to be helpful,” Larson emphasized. “Honesty, helpfulness, and a well-educated staff; those three things put together really makes the difference.” Larson explained that she and her team strive to give people all the information they need to make an informed decision and a wise investment for their home and/or business. “Our mantra is ‘Things that can be serviced and stay in service—should be,’” Larson said. “‘And things that could pose a problem in the near future should be removed and/ or replaced.’ We will provide options for them to think about, and they ultimately come back when it’s time to replace their system.”

Technology Driven Operations Indy Soft Water has kept apprised of the latest and greatest technology in water quality systems’ and has also improved its internal operations and communications by going “green” and paperless.

“We’ve moved from paperwork orders to digital devices,” Larson shared. “Every one of our technicians has an iPad. Our customers will be able to watch the technician travel to their home in ‘real time,’ much like an Uber app. All of the payments will be handled via the device, there in the customer’s home or place of business. Keeping up with what our customers want and how they would like to communicate with us is important to us as well.” When asked about their systems’ warranties, Larson replied, “The warranties are one of our strong points. Each system comes with a five-year parts and labor warranty that is backed by us here—in-house.”

Water filtration systems Indy Soft water offers quite a few filtration systems such as fountains and bottle fillers, reverse osmosis systems, and high efficiency drinking water systems for residential and commercial use. “The importance of having filtered water systems is twofold,” Larson said. “Anyone who lives in central Indiana is very familiar with the common problems we deal with caused by hard water. From scaling on glasses and appliances to having to use more

soap and shortened life spans on water heaters, homeowners need to be protecting their home by investing in a filtered water system.” Larson continued, “On the other side of water quality— that for drinking—we have refiners that remove chlorine from the water. Our drinking water is normally very heavily treated with chlorine, and we [as people] drink more water when it tastes better. We [in central Indiana] have some of the safest municipalities in the country. But all the same, the removing of the chlorine and making the water taste better is a really good idea.”

the arrival of our technician(s) in real time. When the technicians arrive at their home or place of business, they will wear booties or will remove their shoes,” Larson explained. “Our technicians know how to treat peoples’ homes and places of business. We have everything down to the science of sanitation. When people ask me what one of the greatest differentiators is that separates us from other companies and/or big-box stores, I think it’s the way we treat the sanitation process. Everything that we touch and that is exposed to air gets sanitized.”

What Indy Soft Water Customers Can Expect With Each Visit

Before investing in a water filter system, visit Indy Soft Water’s website at indysoftwater.com for more information about its services and systems.

The Indy Soft Water team works internally much like a family. Respect, accountability and reliability are key principles within the team and are practiced both internally and externally. “Once a technician hits the dispatch button on the app, they’ll be able to watch


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service panel installs, electrical troubleshooting, upgrades of lighting systems and working directly with general contractors for business and home renovation/remodels of all types. R & G also provides electrical installations on new construction homes and commercial buildings, and the company coordinates all work with the utility companies, home owners and business owners. R & G has did electrical lighting upgrades in places like Keystone at the Crossing and multiple storefronts in Carmel.


R & G Electrical provides emergency standby generators and electrical services for residential and commercial properties.


Writer // John Cinnamon • Photography // Laura Arick

In 2012, R & G expanded its services by becoming an authorized generator dealer for Cummins, Briggs & Stratton Fortress and Generac generators—the leaders in emergency standby generators and automatic transfer switches. The standby emergency generators installed by R & G Electrical are all high-quality, top-of-the-line brands. The generators they sell are direct from the manufacturer and tested prior to arriving to your home or business. “As a factory-authorized generator dealer, R & G has access to manufacturer direct technical support and provides five-year service contracts to all our customers, so you receive the manufacturers’ required annual service. We are also trained to support warranty repairs on both the mechanical and electrical systems for your generator and automatic transfer switch. Parts are usually received from the manufacturers within 24 to 72 hours of request, so you are not down with a fault within your generator system,” said Ellis.

R & G Electrical follows a comprehensive checklist for the installation, start-up and programming of your emergency standby generator. And if there is ever a problem, R & G provides warranty repairs by technicians trained to quickly troubleshoot and resolve the issue. So, the next time your area is hit by a power outage, don’t get caught with your power down. Call today to get a quote for an emergency standby generator from R & G Electrical LLC. Remember that R & G also provides quality residential and commercial electrical services, so feel free to contact them for a quote on your next project requiring electrical work.


Don’t Get Caught with Your Power Down”


magine you are at home one evening and the power goes out. Perhaps a storm caused the power outage, or maybe the reason is not immediately obvious. Either way, what is immediately obvious is that you have no electricity. And without electricity, the comforts and security your family have come to rely on are interrupted. Suddenly you find yourself without lights, TV or internet. No operational home security system, heat or air conditioning, and the power to your refrigerator and that extra freezer in the garage has abruptly turned off. These are only a few of the many problems that may result from power outages. For many people in Hamilton County, this is not a hypothetical situation. In 2019, nearly 50,000 homes and businesses were without electricity for some length of time due to storms or power outages. And if your home or business was among those im-

pacted, you know the feeling of frustration and helplessness. Those feelings could have been avoided with an emergency standby generator from R & G Electrical. R & G Electrical LLC is an authorized dealer/ technician of generators manufacturers by Cummins, Briggs & Stratton Fortress and Generac. Romney Ellis, company owner and certified generator dealer/technician, recently discussed the various types of generator installations the company specializes in and the benefits to homeowners and businesses of investing in quality generators. He also shared the various electrical services the company provides.

ALL-PURPOSE ELECTRICAL SERVICES R & G Electrical has proudly provided expert electrical services for homes and businesses in the Carmel, Indiana, and surrounding areas since 2011. R & G specializes in a wide variety of electrical services, including running new electrical circuits,

“What a whole home or business generator does is provide a back-up power source. Once a power outage occurs, lights and everything are dead. Your automatic transfer switch senses the loss of utility power and communicates this loss to the generator. The generator starts within three seconds of your power shutting off, and immediately your lights are restored,” said Ellis.


You can reach R & G Electrical by calling (317) 824-9335 or by visiting rgelectricalllc.com.


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Cruising Zionsville in Your Golf Carts: 101 Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Submitted

As we hope to emerge from our social distancing status yet this spring and make our way to downtown Zionsville to enjoy the shops and good eats or to support local restaurants by picking up some carry out, we may feel inclined to cruise down in our golf cart, should we be in possession of one. But before you do, let’s go over the town’s ordinance and make sure that everyone knows the rules so that everyone has a safe inaugural cart season, whether you’re driving a golf cart, riding on one or sharing the road with one.



Zionsville Town Councilor Jason Plunkett first proposed the ordinance to his fellow councilors and to the Zionsville Chief of Police Rob Knox, prior to its passing and going into effect this year. Plunkett shared some of the back story on why the ordinance was proposed in the first place. “With Holiday Farms–a golfing community—coming online, I thought it was important to make sure that the town eliminated any confusion on urban versus rural districts in Zionsville as it re-

lates to the rules on golf carts,” Plunkett emphasized. “The [golf cart] ordinance also ensures that ZPD officers have all the tools available to them to enforce the rules for the safety of golf cart owners as well as for the motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who are sharing the roads.” Plunkett added, “I think it’s important for people to think about how the ordinance can help alleviate the parking issue in downtown Zionsville. If you put your neighbors on the back of your golf cart—transporting no more than the number of occupants your golf cart was designed for—and drive over to frequent


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a restaurant, you’re only taking one [parking] spot instead of two. And honestly, I think having to share the roads with golf carts will slow people down, especially on the brick and side streets.” The town council used part of neighboring Whitestown’s golf cart ordinance when drafting Zionsville’s, along with parts of Carmel’s and other golf cart ordinances from around the state of Indiana. “We didn’t reinvent anything,” Plunkett stated. “It was important, from my perspective, to keep it simple and to approach [the ordinance] with common sense so that people understand the rules and expectations. I think most people understand that you shouldn’t be traveling [on a golf cart] on state highways or areas where other vehicles are going 40-plus miles per hour.”

HOW WILL THE ORDINANCE BE ENFORCED? It is important to note that the use of a golf cart on any pathways, trails and/or sidewalks is not permitted. Any infractions of the golf cart ordinance are subject to citations issued by ZPD and monetary fines as defined in the ordinance. Registered golf carts are allowed to operate and park on Main Street and any of the approved adjoining streets. Golf carts may be parked in any of the designated public parking spaces—including on Main Street. Sorry, Mom and Dad; if your 15-yearold jumps on the golf cart for a joyride anywhere in urban Zionsville, you will be subject to a fine. Per the town’s golf cart ordinance: The first violation is subject to a $150 fine and $250 for the second. A third and every offense after that is subject to a $500 fine and/or revocation of your permit.

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INFO: In the interest of public safety, golf carts are prohibited on certain streets, including major thoroughfares such as 106th Street, 116th Street, County Road 300 South, West 96th Street, County Road 975 East, Zionsville Road, Whitestown Road, Willow Road, Willow Street and Ford Road, in addition to other streets.

What Does the Town’s Golf Cart Ordinance Say? The Zionsville Town Council voted 5-0 and passed an ordinance permitting and regulating golf carts on approved streets within the urban district of Zionsville last September that became

Yellow represents urban Zionsville and red the restricted streets.

effective Jan. 1, 2020. (See map of urban versus rural Zionsville)

Chief Knox explained that as the warm weather returns and ZPD begins to see more golf carts on the streets, the department will likely give a bit of a grace period before writing citations as people become familiar with the requirements and restrictions. “It will be at the officer’s discretion as to whether or not he/she issues a citation or a warning,” Knox said. “It is my hope that the ordinance will be strictly enforced because the message needs to get out there that this [topic] is very serious. A golf cart is not like a regular vehicle, and people can get hurt.”

HOW TO APPLY FOR A GOLF CART PERMIT “The registration process is very simple,” Knox stated. “You’ll have to come into the [police] station to pick up the permit. And you’ll need to fill out a registration form with a description of the golf cart along with the VIN in order to complete the registration.” Knox emphasized, “As motorists, we should be watching out for the kids running in between cars, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, etc. Now we need to add golf carts to that list as we practice being cautious drivers.”

WHAT KIND OF INSURANCE DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR GOLF CART? I asked Keith Pemberton at Pemberton Insurance Group in Zionsville about how one goes about insuring a golf cart. “Once your golf cart leaves your property, I would recommend liability limits on its own policy,” Pemberton explained. “The liability limit options can vary. Usually, a policy for a golf cart is around $110 to $150 a year to insure and mimics an auto policy. You can add comprehensive and collision on the policy as well.” Pemberton recommended contacting your insurance agent for specific details about coverage and discuss selecting the liability limits in coordination with local laws. “Each company has different underwriting requirements,” Pemberton said. “Your agent will be able to go over the policy details with you, but the important thing is to understand what you are covered for and what you are not.” If you would like to contact Keith Pemberton, visit his website at pembertongrp.com

permit. • You must have proof of financial responsibility (insurance on the cart). • You may only operate the golf cart on approved streets (see map of approved urban streets). • All carts must have the minimum safety equipment: headlights and brake lights, rearview mirror, slow-moving vehicle sign and horn. • Driver must obey all driver’s licensing requirements and Indiana traffic laws and yield to the right of way of pedestrians and bicycles. • Driver must have a valid registration permit issued by ZPD ($100 annual fee per cart). The permit must be visible on the left side of the cart’s window.

To read the Town of Zionsville’s Golf Cart Ordinance in its entirety, visit zionsville-in.gov/533/ Golf-Cart-Registration.


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• You must have a valid operator’s


MARCH 2020

2020-03-23 5:13 PM

HON. JUDGE JOHN BAKER: His Life Before, During and After the Bench

Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Laura Arick and submitted

Representing Indiana’s 1st District as a member of the Court of Appeals, Judge John G. Baker—at present—is the longest-serving judge in the state of Indiana. Judge Baker—a Zionsville resident—recently announced that he will be retiring from the Court of Appeals at the end of this coming July. It has been said that Judge Baker “retires as the most prolific opinion writer in the history of the state’s appellate courts.”


o that end, we decided to take a look back upon Judge Baker’s career that spans over four decades and celebrate the work of this extraordinary man. We sat down with Judge Baker to discuss his remarkable career and how he and his wife, Peggy, plan on spending their time going forward.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ICONIC JUDGE A southern Indiana native, Judge Baker grew up in Aurora, Indiana, along the Ohio

River. He graduated from Culver Military Academy and attended Indiana University, where he earned a B.A. in history in 1968 and his Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from Indiana University School of Law in 1971. Judge Baker received his LLM from the University of Virginia in 1995 and is a member of the American, Indiana State, Monroe County, Boone County and Indianapolis Bar associations. He served on the Indiana Judges’ Association Board of Managers from 1979 through 2011 and was its president from January 1987 through June 1989.


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Judge Baker was also a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. “I went to college during the Vietnam War and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps [ROTC],” Baker shared. “I had gone to military school for high school [Culver Military Academy], so I knew how to march and all the other stuff, so I was very comfortable with that and did very well. I ended up being the brigade commander of the ROTC units in Bloomington.” After fulfilling his required military service, he practiced law in Bloomington as a partner in Baker, Barnhart and Andrews, and later served for 13.5 years as judge of Monroe County and Monroe Superior Courts. In that time, he disposed of more than 15,000 cases and developed a reputation for being a highly respected judge throughout his community. “When I joined the judiciary in Monroe County in 1976, I was the fourth judge,” Judge Baker said. “Today, they have

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nine [judges]. That’s how busy they are, and we were that busy then. We [my colleagues and I] were young, and we worked literally day and night.” Judge Baker paused and then with a knowing smile, he said, “I couldn’t possibly do it today. It makes me tired thinking about it. We had to do all the traffic court and all the misdemeanors. And since it was Bloomington, we had the world’s greatest college weekend along with the world’s greatest arraignment [period] known as the ‘Little 500.’”

were just judicial silos, and there wasn’t a lot of conversation, but today, there’s much more communication and courts are not only adjudicating matters but serving as a kind of ‘emergency room’ of society and are trying to be therapeutic. We have drug courts, family courts, mental health courts and veterans’ courts; problem-solving courts that didn’t exist when I began as one of the first small claims judges in Indiana.”

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE JUDICIARY OVER THE LAST 40-PLUS YEARS When asked to share what changes Judge Baker has witnessed over his career, he replied, “Two of my colleagues retired last year. One of them had been on the bench for 40 years and the other for 38 [years]. I’m leaving with 44 plus behind me, and there has been a lot of change.” Judge Baker continued, “When I started as a judge in 1976, I got to meet the first woman who ever sat as judge in Indiana as general jurisdiction court, and when I joined the Court of Appeals, she was also serving on the Court of Appeals, as was another woman who was the first woman Circuit Court judge in Indiana. Today, two out of five of my court are women. I served on the Court of Appeals when the first woman was selected on the Supreme Court of Indiana, when the first African American was selected on the Supreme Court and when the first African American joined our court. And when I first the joined the court here, opinions were typed with [IBM] Selectric typewriters.” According to Judge Baker, the government was rather slow in bringing computers to the judiciary. “I used to say Don Marsh would find out within 15 seconds what kind of peas I bought, but I couldn’t find out what was going on in the courtroom next to me or in the county next to me,” Judge Baker quipped. “The professionalism of the judiciary is something that happened during my time frame. The judgeships

Two of my colleagues retired last year. One of them had been on the bench for 40 years and the other for 38 [years]. I’m leaving with 44 plus behind me, and there has been a lot of change.” THE MOST SENIOR MEMBER OF THE STATE’S JUDICIARY Judge Baker was named to the Court of Appeals in 1989 and is the longest-serving member on the current court. He was retained on the Court of Appeals by election in 1992, 2002 and 2012 and served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from 2007–2010. Judge Baker has authored approximately 5,500 written opinions. “The Court of Appeals is made up of 15 judges,” Judge Baker explained. “Many


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of us were trial judges before, and some came straight from the practice of law. We represent different law schools, different [political parties], backgrounds and faiths, but we agree more often than you could ever imagine. We’re all different, but we’re all Hoosiers.”

APPEALS ON WHEELS Judge Baker spearheaded an initiative—Appeals on Wheels program— which has taken the court to every county in Indiana to conduct live oral arguments before high schools, colleges and civic groups. “We [Court of Appeals] initiated the program in 2001,” Judge Baker said. “We got to the 92nd county last year, so we’ve been to every county in the state in the last 20 years. Appeals on Wheels has given us an opportunity to go out and for kids to see what we do and what we don’t do. I really enjoy the outreach idea of it. I came to realize that it’s not enough just to decide cases. It is also important to serve as a mentor to so many and in many different capacities. Quite frankly, that’s going to be my legacy.”

BEYOND THE BENCH AND GAVEL Judge Baker and his wife of nearly 22 years, Peggy, have six children and 11 grandchildren, all of which are excited to spend more time with him. He is active in his church—St. Luke’s United Methodist Church—and the Boy Scouts of America, where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a youth. In 2011, he joined the Board of Trustees of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where he serves on the Academic Affairs Committee. Judge Baker is also an avid reader, rower and Nordic walker. When asked who will fill his vacancy and what he will miss the most about being a judge, he said, “My vacancy will be filled from one of the 53 counties within the 1st District,” Judge Baker explained. “I am going to miss the people the most, my colleagues, my staff, the lawyers, and interacting with students, but it’s a different time, and, frankly, it’s somebody else’s turn.”

MARCH 2020

2020-03-23 3:20 PM

The Town of Zionsville

Is Still Open for Business Writer // Janelle Morrison • Photography // Julie Curry Photography

You know the old adage, “It takes a village”? Well, the Town of Zionsville is taking that adage to heart. As the weeks unfurl in these precarious times and while many surrounding communities are operating on skeleton crews and minimal city/town services, Zionsville’s municipality is proud to say, “We are open for business.”


nd though the doors to town hall were formally closed to the public on March 12, 2020, in a joint video announcement with ZCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Robison, the town’s department heads and members of their staffs are working earnestly on our behalf.

A Word from Mayor Emily Styron

Mayor Styron and her management team have been collaborating and communicating at unprecedented levels with the intent to keep the essential functions of local government operating smoothly as well as looking at opportunities to help keep Zionsville’s local business community thriving.

“The town created an internal emergency management team focused on the coronavirus COVID-19 situation on March 10,” Styron stated. “On March 12 at 5 p.m., Zionsville closed Town Hall and all nonpublic safety Town facilities. At this time, we will be closed through April 6, but we are continuing to evaluate the situation and will adjust as needed to meet the needs of our community.” Styron continued, “We partnered with our school system [ZCS] on this decision who moved instruction to exclusively online for the duration of [this situation]. We were able to move our permitting and planning operation to an online submission and review process. We are holding online Nature Center classes as well. We


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have encouraged the public to get out into nature but not through organized sport activities and to maintain the recommended social distancing protocols. We have a majority of our personnel working remotely and some essential staff onsite—still working to maintain social distancing protocols. We are taking all of this one step at a time and working to keep as much moving forward as possible.” Director of Communications and Community Relations Amanda Vela added, “Right away, IT coordinated with department heads to ensure staff had what they needed in terms of technology to work remotely. IT ensured staff were adequately connected to the server and/ or their documents, ensured main telephone lines were routed and shared with the public and ensured essential staff had laptops and/or cell phones—among other things.” Vela continued, “Internally, IT and all departments immediately began taking steps to ensure the Town can continue to provide the highest quality of service during these extraordinary circumstances. As circumstances evolve, we continue to evaluate our plans, processes and services while keeping the safety and health of the community and our employees a priority.” Planning on Adding On or Building That Deck?

Now that we all have some extra time on our hands, you may be thinking about initiating a project that necessitates a permit or interaction with the town’s Planning and Economic Development Department. Wayne DeLong, director of planning and economic development, confirmed that his department is operating and functional by way of modern technology as well as by implementing rather unorthodox solutions to ensure that its customers are being served in these most challenging times. “To get a baseline understanding of what we are doing, you can look at the FAQs that we have on the [town’s] website,” DeLong shared. “Everything we are doing has gone remote and virtual. You can simply scan and send us a copy of your [signed] permit application and you can mail us your fees associated with that

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permit or you can also drop the funds in the utility drop box at town hall.” While there is no “real-time” system to accept an application at this time, DeLong emphasized that the department’s staff is rotating throughout the week— no more than two people in their office at a time, per COVID-19-related protocols. “We’ve issued several permits already [since the formal closing of town hall offices], and we continue to receive permit applications,” DeLong said. “We’ve even had Planning Commission filings occur— virtually—so we’re still moving those forward. And while there’s nobody sitting in the parking lot at town hall waiting to be handed things on a random schedule, if an application requires large plans that can’t be mailed or it’s impossible to email us the materials, we do have a drop location in our parking lot—a designated pickup truck—where people can arrange to drop off their things during the day, and our staff will retrieve those from the truck. We don’t have a regular schedule, so you will have to contact our office to make these arrangements ahead of time.” Additionally, DeLong mentioned that the town’s building inspectors are still out in the field every day. “We are still facilitating inspections,” DeLong said. “Our staff members are working remotely out of their vehicles with independent technology that we’ve provided them. The data feeds back to a database that we built several years ago. The inspectors can move freely about the community—doing their jobs—and have access to all the code books and resources. This moves the ball forward for our customers and constituents this way.”

Zionsville Fire Department (ZFD) Remains Fully Operational

Zionsville Fire Chief James VanGorder assured us that the town’s fire department is still operational, even if it’s operating behind closed bay doors. “Typically, one would see the firehouse bay doors open, and we would have people walking by and visiting with the firefighters,” VanGorder said. “It is a different day, so the doors may be closed, and we are—currently—not allowing tours of the fire stations, but that’s out of an abundance of caution to make sure that the emergency responders are healthy, are taken care of and are safe and ready to respond when they are truly needed.” According to VanGorder, the department has changed several internal protocols in adaptation of today’s current climate, and its public educator, Vincent Randolph, has been working on some social media and public interactions with our community’s youth and families. “Our town is still operating,” VanGorder emphasized. “We [ZFD] are still conducting routine fire inspections, making sure that fire hydrants are being tested appropriately, etc., to ensure that we have the safest community possible.” VanGorder expressed his deep appreciation for the overwhelming support his department and all of the fire stations have been receiving since the COVID-19 public health and safety measures were implemented. “I’ve had dozens of people reach out and ask what we need,” VanGorder shared. “We’re fine at this point, and we are humbled beyond belief by the outpouring of support. That’s what makes

[Zionsville] great. We just need to make sure that we’re doing that for all of our neighbors—especially at this time.” The Parks Department Aims to Entertain and Educate—Virtually

The town’s park naturalist, Mindy Murdock, shared some ways that the Parks Department is serving the residents in accordance with the suggested social distancing restrictions. “While the nature center—as a facility—is closed, we have this huge range of programs that we had set up through spring break, and so I’ve been figuring out ways to set up these programs and create new programs online,” Murdock shared. “I’ve been offering programming online and on Facebook Live. The first one we featured was a snake program, and we had such great feedback from it. So, as it stands, my goal is to offer these online/Facebook Live programs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays up until April and possibly continuing beyond that. I’m looking at programs that I can do inside as well as outside in the parks and will try to do a few hands-on things that people can do at home as well.” When asked if venturing out in the parks is permitted and encouraged, Murdock stressed, “The parks and trails are open, and so as long as you are practicing social distancing, get outside and see what’s going on around you.” For updates from the Town of Zionsville, department information and COVID-19 updates, visit the town’s website at zionsville-in.gov. Follow Zion Nature Center on Facebook for live programs.

Robbin Edwards

F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.

Edwards Realty Group robbin.edwards@talktotucker.com 317.508.1806


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Zionsville Monthly - March 2020  

Judge John Baker: His Life Before, During and After the Bench This month’s cover story highlights the career of Indiana Court of Appeals Jud...

Zionsville Monthly - March 2020  

Judge John Baker: His Life Before, During and After the Bench This month’s cover story highlights the career of Indiana Court of Appeals Jud...