Community News Archives for 2020-10

2021 state park passes and permits now available

The 2021 Indiana state park passes, lake permits, off-road cycling permits, and horse tags are now available at property offices and front gates, and online at

A resident annual entrance pass costs $50. A non-resident annual entrance pass for visitors who live outside the state costs $70. Annual entrance passes are not valid for entrance to the Indiana State Museum, State Historic Sites, or Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center. 

Golden Hoosier Passports cost $25 and are available to all Hoosier residents 65 and older. There’s also a Golden Hoosier Passport for disabled Hoosier veterans (DHV) who qualify to purchase a DHV license plate. To quality, the veteran must be 50% service-connected disabled as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Anyone who has been issued a Prisoner of War license plate may receive a passport for free. SSDI Golden Hoosier Passports may be used by an Indiana resident receiving or eligible to receive Social Security Disability Income under 42 U.S. code 423 as described by the Social Security Administration.

Lake permits are available for motorized watercraft for $25 and non-motorized watercraft for $5. These permits are required for all private watercraft using state park, reservoir, and state forest lakes, and all watercraft moored at marinas, private docks, or bank ties on those lakes. The 2020 lake permits also remain available for the rest of this year.

Off-road cycling permits are available for $20 and are required for each bicycle user for off-road bicycle access and use of DNR properties where off-road cycling is allowed. These permits are not an entrance permit and do not cover special user charges for services and facilities within the property. These permits are required only for trails identified as Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert. They are not required for trails identified as Beginner.

Horse tags cost $20 and are required for each horse brought to designated DNR properties where horse use is allowed. A horse tag is not an entrance permit and does not cover special user charges for services and facilities within the property. This year’s 2020 horse tags and lake permits remain available to purchase for use for the rest of 2020.

None of the 2021 permits will be valid until Jan. 1, 2021.

State park annual permits are also available as part of Holiday Gift Packs. Gift packs also include a one-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana and a gift card for state park inns or campgrounds. Holiday gift packs are available for $100, or $150 for a higher gift card amount, at

BRCF offers Fundraising Gap mini-grant

In recognition of National Community Foundation Week celebrated from November 12 - 18, Blue River Community Foundation is opening a mini-grant cycle to Shelby County nonprofits. 


As nonprofits continue to work their way through Covid-19 effects, BRCF has recognized that there is an ongoing need for relief funding to our local organizations.  This mini-grant is intended to help those organizations who continued on with fundraising efforts through the pandemic, but still fell short of budgeted goals. 


Awarded grants will be announced by the end of Community Foundation Week.  


Fundraising Gap Mini-Grant DEADLINE: November 9, 2020

Apply Here:

For additional information contact:  Jordan England or 317.392.7955

USDA approves Indiana hemp plan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the Indiana State Hemp Plan for commercially growing and processing hemp. In Indiana, hemp processing and production are regulated through the Office of the Indiana State Chemist (OISC).


The approved hemp plan takes OISC’s pilot hemp program and transitions it to a commercial hemp production program. Previously, hemp growers needed a research proposal and to be associated with a university researcher to apply for a license. Under this newly approved plan, farmers will not need a research component to be licensed.


For the 2021 growing season, applications will open in November 2020. Applications will be available online utilizing the OISC’s new licensing application software.


“This plan approval is a huge accomplishment for both farmers and our team,” said Don Robison, seed administrator for the Office of the Indiana State Chemist. “We are looking forward to growing this program and offering more efficient licensing for Hoosier farmers and processing companies.”


Indiana is one of 29 states with approved hemp plans, 12 states are currently negotiating with USDA on their plans and nine states are continuing with the USDA hemp production rules.


The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is responsible for helping promote hemp growers and processors in Indiana and ISDA Director Bruce Kettler co-chairs the Hemp Advisory Committee.


“We are very appreciative of USDA for acting on our request and approving our Indiana State Hemp Plan,” Kettler said. “The approval of the plan will allow the Office of the Indiana State Chemist regulatory authority and clearly define the rules and regulations around hemp production and processing in Indiana.”


Kettler and Robert Waltz, former Indiana state chemist and seed commissioner, were the co-signers of the submitted plan in December 2019. 

Indiana Grand provides donation to kickstart Festival of Lights with Shelby Parks and Recreation

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino recognizes the vast amount of activities either canceled or postponed for the community this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, the company has made a $10,000 donation to Shelby Parks and Recreation to kickstart a new holiday tradition. “Festival of Lights” will soon be coming to Shelbyville’s Blue River Memorial Park in cooperation with the City of Shelbyville, who also matched the funds for the light display.


A total of 17 light fixtures will be on display on the inner circle of Blue River Memorial Park beginning with the kick-off of the annual Holiday Parade at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. The parade will extend from Walmart to Blue River Memorial Park, featuring the new “Holiday of Lights” near the end of the route. The light display will then be available nightly from 5 until 9:30 p.m. through Christmas Eve. The light display will be free to those driving through, and those wishing to make a donation may do so at the end of the display.


“We are really excited, and the Mayor is really excited too about this donation,” said Karen Martin, Parks Department Director. “Because of COVID-19, people haven’t been able to get out and our programs are just now starting up. We’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time, we just couldn’t get the buy-in to get it started. Hopefully, it will grow each year.”


The donation is part of the ongoing operational plan from Indiana Grand Racing & Casino’s Community Outreach program for 2020. The committee was searching for a way to support an event in the community when the “Festival of Lights” concept came into focus.


“It’s been a very tough year for a lot of folks, and we wanted to do something special for the community,” said Mike Rich, senior vice president and general manager at Indiana Grand. “We believe supporting an event such as the light display will provide the entire area with a new way to celebrate the holiday season. We are always proud to partner with the City of Shelbyville on events such as this one.”


Along with the Parks Department and the City of Shelbyville, the Shelby County Tourism and Visitor’s Bureau is also getting involved to enhance the holiday parade and “Festival of Lights” experience.


“It should be a great way to kick off our holiday season here in Shelby County,” added Martin. “We hope those driving through will consider a donation so we can expand and add to the display in the future.”


Racing is held Monday through Thursday until Thursday, Nov. 19. All-Quarter Horse racing is set for Saturday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Oct. 24. For more information, go to

Blue River Community Foundation announces Community Leadership Grant thru Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Blue River Community Foundation (BRCF) has received a Community Leadership Grant of $100,000 as part of the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFTVII) initiative. With the grant, BRCF will continue in their mission to attract new residents and retain current residents who contribute positively to the community through engagement, skills, talent, and commonly held desires for educational excellence, opportunities and a better quality of life. 


Through recent data analysis, visioning meetings and community engagement work, BRCF focused on realizing Shelby County’s greatest growth opportunities that are also factors thatthe organization has the capability of influencing. Issues rising to the top of the list that the Foundation will tackle with this opportunity are: negative perceptions; lack of arts, culture and recreational opportunities; social connections; and diversity.


BRCF is one of 84 foundations in Indiana receiving grants through this round of GIFT VII grantmaking. Lilly Endowment created GIFT in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify local needs and challenges. It launched GIFT VII in 2018 and made available a total of $125 million to helpfoundations strengthen their leadership capacities in the towns, cities and counties they serve. Lilly Endowment expects to make additional GIFT VII grants in the coming months.


“During a time when so many organizations have been forced to put exciting, innovative plans on hold, Lilly Endowment is allowing our community to continue with our plans to improve the quality of life in Shelby County.  Because of this opportunity, our community will be able to not only survive these unprecedented times but to thrive.”- Jennifer Jones, Executive Director.


As part of GIFT VII, the Foundationwas awarded a planning grant of $50,000 in 2019 to convene local stakeholders to identify, prioritize and assessopportunities and challenges in Shelby County.  In March 2020, the Blue River Community Foundationwas invited to apply for a GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant to implement strategies and activities identified during the planning period.


“Prior to the GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant opportunity, BRCF was in the process of addressing the role that our organization could play in bringing new residents to Shelby County.  The GIFT VII opportunity allowed us the means to dig deeper into this undertaking and to bring other local leaders, stakeholders and community partners to the table in order to be certain we had community consensus.  Our planning work resulted in a new mission statement for our foundation, a direction and plan to achieve our goals, and a closer relationship with our community allowing us to address their wants and needs.”-Jennifer Jones, Executive Director. 


Based on the information we received from our community conversations, the Foundation will be taking on several initiatives over the next 4 years to help make our community more desirable for new residents and to improve the quality of life for all those residing in Shelby County.


1) The civic group, Backyard Shelby, has already started efforts to build relationships with local realtors to entice homebuyers to choose Shelby County. The group is also working to increase the number of participants in local events and has plans of providing new, unique activities of their own in the future. 


2) BRCF has partnered with Girls Inc. to convene and lead conversations in the community around diversity, equity and inclusion. They will do this by providing a series of workshops to local professionals.


3)BRCF will partner with other local leaders to activate public spaces.  Work has already been started thanks to a QUIP grant from Indiana Arts Commission and a donation from Indiana Grand to activate an alley on E. Washington St. GIFT VII funding will allow additional items and ultimately completion of this project.  We will also be partnering with local artists to complete public art on 12 more traffic cabinet boxes throughout the community.  Additional public art and cultural elements will be activated in our downtown and within the trail system with the development of a linear park behind the Historic Porter Center. The park will serve as a gateway to the west side of the trail system.


“It is great that in a time of uncertainty with COVID-19 we are able to continue projects that are engaging our community, beautifying our downtown spaces, and overall enhancing our community.  We can’t thank Lilly Endowment enough for what they do for all of our communities.”-Brent Thoman, BRCF Board President.


Blue River Community Foundation is a catalyst for igniting action that improves the quality of life in Shelby County. Our vision is to encourage philanthropy and inspire action that improves all lives and builds stronger communities in Shelby County.


Lilly Endowment an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.