Community News

SHS graduate Sarah Work gains experience at the Statehouse

Shelbyville Senior High School graduate Sarah Work is gaining experience as an intern with State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) and his fellow members of the Indiana House of Representatives during the 2021 legislative session.


Work, a Shelbyville resident, is the daughter of Nathan and Julie Work. She attends Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where she is majoring in political science, and law in liberal arts.


"My passion for state government began in high school through my government class, and this internship has only sparked my interest even more," Work said. "Someday, I want to represent the people of Indiana and continue playing a role in improving Hoosier lives. The connections and experiences I am gaining while interning at the Statehouse will help me achieve my goals of attending law school and starting my political career."


As a legislative intern, Work corresponds with constituents through phone calls, letters and emails while also staffing committee hearings and floor proceedings.


"Throughout this internship, Sarah has the opportunity to hone her skills that will set her up for success," Eberhart said. "She and other House interns do a tremendous job every day. I have enjoyed getting to know this intern class, and I encourage other Shelbyville students to apply."


Each year, the House of Representatives offers paid internship opportunities to college students, law school students, graduate students and recent college graduates for the duration of each legislative session.

2021 Voices of SCUFFY

Two third graders from each Shelby County elementary school are chosen by each year to share a special message as the Voice of SCUFFY.





Harper McInerny

Matthew Sipes


Triton Central



Sydney Allen

Ruben Lotz






Vivian McIntire

Mason Miano



St. Joseph



Maggie Kolkmeier

Wyatt Lancaster





Kailee Vaiagae

Elijah Brock





Dafne Bejar Gonzales

Chandler Tucker





Gracie Walker

Noah Leap





Bailey Conners

Brian Reyes-Abundiz









































































































































Indiana General Assembly approves funding to extend relief for entrepreneurs & small businesses

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced a significant expansion of the Indiana Small Business Restart Grant that will add $60 million to the program, tripling the total allocation, and allow small businesses to seek reimbursement for eligible expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. 

The program, which was first announced in May 2020, is designed to accelerate the speed of economic recovery by providing working capital to Indiana's entrepreneurs and small business owners. The state issued $34.5 million in grants through the first iteration of the program and is now adding another $60 million in federal dollars made available through the CARES Act and approved for allocation by the Indiana General Assembly. 

“I’m grateful to the Indiana General Assembly for their supportive collaboration that made it possible to extend this program for Hoosier entrepreneurs," said Gov. Holcomb. "The Small Business Restart Grant program has already done a tremendous amount to get small businesses back on track, and this extended relief funding will continue accelerating our economy’s recovery.”

Small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements can apply for reimbursement of qualified business expenses incurred at their Indiana operations between March 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021. These qualified expenses include payroll – which may be reimbursed up to 100% – and non-payroll expenses, such as insurance premiums, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, lease payments, food delivery software service payments, and safety investments – which may be reimbursed up to 80%. 

Reimbursements may be awarded up to $10,000 for each month, but may not exceed $50,000 over a 12-month period. Businesses that have already received Small Business Restart Grants, but have not reached the maximum reimbursements, may re-apply and submit new expenses (that have not already been reimbursed through the program) for reimbursement. 

Registered Indiana businesses must: 

  • Have been established prior to Oct. 1, 2019;
  • Be registered to operate in Indiana, except sole proprietors, and must be seeking reimbursement for expenses related to their Indiana operations;
  • Be in good standing with the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) or have a DOR-approved payment plan;  
  • Have had fewer than 100 full-time employees as of Dec. 31, 2019;
  • Have been profitable in 2019 (determined by EBITDA) and have had less than $10 million (Gross Receipts or Sales) in revenue in 2019; and
  • Demonstrate a monthly gross revenue loss of at least 30% compared to pre-COVID-19 revenues (average monthly revenue in 2019).

The application, along with additional details and instruction, is available at Eligible small businesses may apply until Dec. 31, 2021, but are encouraged to apply and submit expenses for reimbursement as soon as possible, as grants will be issued in the order they are received until funding is exhausted. 

About the Indiana Small Business Restart Grant
The Indiana Small Business Restart Grant was initially announced in May 2020. The program, which, until now, reimbursed expenses incurred before Dec. 31, 2020, has already provided $34.5 million in grants to 1,644 small businesses in 85 counties across Indiana. Of the 1,644 small businesses that were issued grants, 190 are certified minority-owned and women-owned businesses (11.5%). 

For more information on support, resources and funding available to Hoosier entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit

Shelbyville Public Utilities opens new office location on Monday

The Shelbyville Public Utilities office was on the move this past week. It will open in the former Bradley Hall Furniture building on the Public Square on Monday, April 5.


The payment collection box behind city hall will remain in its current location for payment drop-offs.

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino donates $100,000 to Shelby County Fairgrounds pavilion project

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino is committed to providing assistance for the region and recently stepped up to assist in a huge project in the works at the Shelby County Fairgrounds. The fair board is working to add a pavilion to the property this year, and with a $100,000 donation from Indiana Grand, the project is well on its way to becoming a reality.


Photo caption:  From left, Mike Cochran, Fair Board Secretary, Dave Howell, Fair Board Vice President, Mike Rich, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Indiana Grand, Jeff Pruitt, Fair Board President, Jennifer Thopy, Fair Board Second Vice President, Casey Gideon, Indiana Grand Guest Services Manager, and Mike Schantz, Fair Board Treasurer.


“This is something we’ve talked about for 20 years and now this is a priority for our board,” said Jeff Pruitt, Fair Board President. “Our board is made up of 11 volunteers and we want to do everything we can to make things grow and progress. By adding this pavilion, we will be able to host numerous events throughout the year that we could not accommodate in the past. It’s good to see this type of local support for our fairgrounds.”


The current structure is located on the southwest side of the racetrack and will undergo major renovations to provide a new temperature-controlled pavilion. The building will create venue space for everything from goat shows to indoor flea markets and meeting space. A groundbreaking will take place soon as weather becomes more favorable.


“The Shelby County Fairgrounds has been a great partner of Indiana Grand for years and they are a vital part of this community,” said Mike Rich, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Indiana Grand. “Having space for additional events and programs year-round will benefit a lot of area residents and ultimately generate more visitors to Shelbyville. We are dedicated to continue our investment in Shelbyville and Shelby County and hope this is just the beginning of growth and development for this facility.”

Meltzer Woods in Trek Our Trails Challenge

You’ve been cooped up for months, and it’s time to get out and explore some of the most beautiful places in Central Indiana. Soon, wildflowers will be peeking through the forest floor, birdsong will be in the air, and Indiana’s nature preserves will be coming to life.


Central Indiana Land Trust is encouraging Hoosiers to take part in a Trek Our Trials Challenge by hitting the trails at five of its most popular nature preserves. The best part: you can go at your own pace, on your own schedule, as long as you hit the trails at five participating preserves in Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson, Morgan and Shelby counties.


When you’re on the trail, keep your eyes and ears open to the wonders of nature. You’ll want to take plenty of photos to remember and share the magic of the nature preserves, where you can enjoy gently flowing streams, lively birds and trees that are more than 300 years old.


To enter the Trek Our Trails Challenge:


1. Take a photo of yourself and any companions at the nature preserve sign or trailhead, either before or after your hike.

2. Email your photos to or post them to the Central Indiana Land Trust Facebook or Instagram using hashtags #cilti #trekourtrails2021.


Once you’ve visited all five sites, you’ll receive a Central Indiana Land Trust pin, plus, you’ll be entered into a drawing for prizes.


Your deadline is Nov. 26 (Black Friday), 2021. That gives you plenty of time to get out for a hike. And, if you want to go the extra mile, let the land trust plant trees to offset the carbon of your travel to and from the preserves. Enter your mileage in the carbon calculator at to get started.


These five nature preserves are part of the challenge:


  • Burnett Woods offers a perfect spring hike for the whole family, with an easy 1.5-mile trail. Located on 80 acres near Avon, this special woodland features a stunning display of wildflowers, including wild geranium, woodland phlox and trillium.
  • Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve near Martinsville has steep slopes, ridges and valleys that give hikers a dramatic view of the forest. While on this moderately difficult hike, you may see rare species like hooded and worm-eating warblers, Eastern box turtle and the state-endangered cerulean warbler.
  • Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow near Trafalgar is prime habitat for migratory birds and forest interior nesting birds. As you walk the two-mile moderate trail, listen for the fluting of the wood thrush and the voices of worm-eating and hooded warblers.
  • Meltzer Woods is one of Indiana’s last remaining fragments of old growth forest where you’ll find trees more than 300 years old. Level trails make for an easy 1.2-mile walk through this majestic forest near Shelbyville.
  • Nonie Werbe Krauss Nature Preserve offers a two-mile, easy walk through prairie and woodland in Fishers. Particularly in summer, its wildflowers draw butterflies galore.


Find more information about the properties and the challenge at

INDOT to host Virtual Career Fair Thursday, April 1

The Indiana Department of Transportation will host an online, virtual career fair on Thursday, April 1 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET.


INDOT is recruiting applicants for open full-time and seasonal positions in highway maintenance, fleet services, construction engineering and construction project inspections. Recruiters from INDOT will be available to answer questions and provide information on the benefits of joining the State of Indiana team. INDOT offers $250 sign on and $500 retention bonuses for eligible candidates.


Click here or visit to attend INDOT’s virtual career fair. Advance registration is not required.


Summer seasonal positions run from April through October at a starting pay of $16 per hour.


Candidates should have a valid driver's license and commercial driver's license (CDL). A high school diploma or GED is preferred but not required.


For questions, please email

Shelbyville - Shelby County Animal Shelter receives $2,500 donation from Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Shelbyville–Shelby County Animal Shelter plays a vital role in the community and with recent assistance from Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, their mission will extend a little further. Indiana Grand recently provided a $2,500 donation to the organization who is committed to assisting cats and dogs in the area.


“Animal shelters in the area were hit hard in 2020 due to the pandemic and their numbers have continued to increase as a result, which has put a great strain on a lot of the facilities in the area,” said Mike Rich, Senior Vice President and General Manager. “We recognized these hardships and wanted to step in to provide some monetary relief for several shelters in the area, including the facility in Shelbyville. We are proud to continue our partnership with an organization that is so committed to their mission of assisting unwanted animals.”


The Shelby County Animal Shelter provides a much-needed service to the area, taking in dogs and cats that can no longer be cared for. They also receive strays, getting them off the streets and send them through a spay/neuter program before setting them up for adoption into new homes. One resident has made himself at home at the facility and has become a “poster cat” for the operation.


“Max Dyar came to us 16 years ago as an owner surrender, and we adopted him back out,” said Chris Browder, Administrative Assistant for the facility. “He came back to us last year when his owner could not care for him any longer. We tried to find him a home but because of his age, he was difficult to place. Our facility couldn’t adopt him, so he ‘adopted’ us. He now has his own social media following from coast to coast and has been featured on local television stations. He’s become a local celebrity.”


Known for his iconic expressions, Max was available for the check presentation from Indiana Grand, outfitted in his bow tie collar. He will benefit from some of the plans already underway through the donation from Indiana Grand.


“We will use this money for much needed dog beds and cat towers,” added Browder. “We will also use some of the funds for the exterior of our property. Spring always presents us with projects to fix. We want to beautify our facility and make it as inviting as possible, and we always welcome people in to adopt or to volunteer.”


The Shelbyville – Shelby County Animal Shelter is equipped with an outdoor walking trail behind the building, complete with a waterfall, to get the dogs out for exercise. They also have a play area for the canine residents, ideal for interaction with potential adoption families and volunteers. The facility is very community focused and works to “give back” as much as they can to the area.


“Twenty-five hundred dollars is a blessing to us,” added Browder. “We are very grateful for the continued support from Indiana Grand.”


Eberhart: New online tool connects Hoosiers to job and career opportunities

Hoosiers seeking a better-paying job can use the state's new Hoosier Talent Network website to match to 1 of more than 135,000 job openings, according to State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville).


Eberhart said the Indiana Department of Workforce Development's new online tool located at connects individuals searching for work directly to employers in their desired location. Companies that are hiring can also use the website to connect with candidates.


"Searching for a job can be difficult for some, and this site provides another helpful resource," Eberhart said. "By matching users with opportunities based on their skill sets, this is helping both job seekers and businesses that are searching for strong candidates."


According to Eberhart, the platform is powered by artificial intelligence and can understand a job seeker's skills and capabilities to match them to relevant jobs. To get started, Hoosiers create a profile by answering basic questions about themselves, which takes about 5 minutes. Job recommendations will appear based on qualifications and capabilities. Applications can be submitted through the website or through company career sites.


Eberhart encourages local Hoosiers to visit to connect to the Hoosier Talent Network, and other education and training resources.

You're encouraged to check for recalls during Vehicle Safety Recalls Week

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) and Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) are encouraging motorists to check for vehicle recalls during Vehicle Safety Recalls Week.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, there were 886 safety recalls affecting 55 million vehicles and other equipment in the U.S. Unfortunately, approximately 25% of vehicle recalls go unrepaired, which puts drivers, passengers and other road users at risk.

Checking for vehicle recalls is a quick and easy process:


Find the vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number, which is located on the lower portion of the car’s windshield on the driver’s side. It may also be on the vehicle’s registration or insurance card.


Enter the VIN number into the search bar at


Within seconds, drivers will know if the vehicle is subject to an open safety recall.  If one exists, motorists should contact a dealer for the vehicle manufacturer to schedule an appointment as soon as possible for the free recall repairs.


If you think your vehicle may have a safety-related defect that isn’t part of a current recall, contact NHTSA online or by calling the agency’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. Even one complaint is enough to trigger a safety recall.


For more information about vehicle or equipment recalls, visit

INDOT Unveils "Hoosier Hoops Highway" for NCAA Tournament

The Indiana Department of Transportation this week began unveiling its "Hoosier Hoops Highway" signs in advance of a busy basketball month in Indiana, with the Big Ten, Horizon League and NCAA tournaments being hosted in the Hoosier State.


Games will be played throughout Indiana in basketball arenas in Indianapolis, Evansville, West Lafayette and Bloomington. 


INDOT is placing temporary signs on highways leading to host cities to commemorate the historic month and help guide fans and teams.


March Madness

Signs will be visible along major routes serving tournaments, such as I-65, I-70, I-465 and I-69 during the month of March.

Follow INDOT on Facebook and Twitter for traffic and road construction updates as you travel to tournament games.

Police conducting 'full-court press' in March to combat impaired, dangerous driving

The Shelby County Traffic Safety Partnership today announced that officers will be cracking down on dangerous and impaired driving in March, as part of a statewide enforcement campaign. From February 26, through March 21, 2021, officers will be conducting high-visibility patrols showing zero tolerance for those driving aggressively, over the speed limit or under the influence.


The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute grant.


“Dangerous and impaired driving continues to be a problem, especially around high-risk events like St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Tournament,” said Sheriff Louie Koch.“However, you celebrate this year, do so responsibly. Slow down, buckle up and if you drink, don’t drive. It’s that simple.”


On average, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year in the U.S., according to NHTSA. Although 2020 was a unique year due to the pandemic, preliminary data from the federal safety agency shows that while miles traveled had decreased by about 14.5 percent in the first nine months, overall traffic fatalities increased by 4.6 percent nationwide.


In addition, a separate report released from NHTSA revealed that more road users engaged in risky behaviors in 2020 such as speeding or driving under the influence, and that fewer motorists wore seat belts.


Despite having fewer drivers on the road in Indiana, 2020 was the third highest year for traffic fatalities (850) in the past decade, according to ICJI.


“We’re seeing an uptick in dangerous driving during the pandemic, and it’s very concerning,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “That’s why we’re pulling out all the stops this March to reverse that trend and encourage safe driving behavior. Preventing loss of life is our top priority.”


Dangerous driving includes such factors as speeding, tailgating and disregarding a traffic signal – all of which are against the law in Indiana. Additionally, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to 1 year.


To avoid the potential for legal fees and criminal charges, the department recommends following these simple steps:


  • Slow down and follow all posted speed limits.
  • Never drive impaired. If you plan on drinking, plan for a safe, sober ride home.
  • Do not tailgate or drive aggressively.
  • Put down the phone and avoid distracted driving.
  • Buckle up – every trip, every time.


USDA temporarily suspends debt collections, foreclosures and other activities on farm loans due to coronavirus

Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice. Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers.


Today’s announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10% of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.


“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary. “Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.” 


The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.


USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides several different loans for producers, which fall under two main categories:


  • Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other non-traditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95%.
  • Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.


The most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with Microloans for each: 


  • Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.
  • Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.
  • Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional and niche-type operations.


Contact FSA

FSA encourages producers to contact their county office to discuss these programs and temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and the loan servicing options available. For Service Center contact information, visit For servicing information, access

Luke Schonfeld's Barnyard Party Pals mobile petting zoo is a growing business

A love of animals combined with an 8th grade Agriculture class and time in FFA has turned into a business endeavor for one Shelby County man. 


Luke Schonfeld has managed to combine all three into Barnyard Party Pals, a mobile petting zoo that features pony and unicorn parties, pony rides, live nativities, educational programs and more. 


"When we started, we started with a couple of goats, one alpaca and a pony. Since then, we have grown tremendously. We have a multitude of species as part of our Critter Crew here at Barnyard Party Pals," Schonfeld tells Giant FM. 



Schonfeld says his love for animals comes from the "best role model I had growing up," his grandfather, Frank Schonfeld, Sr. 


"Growing up, he taught me amazing lessons about raising animals and sharing them with others. He and I would take day trips to amazing places and meet amazing people who had all kinds of animals. One trip to this day I remember was seeing buffalo, ostriches and camels on one trip. That is where I get my love for sharing my animals. I am also a huge fan of Dr. Pol, Steve Irwin, and his son, Robert, all of them are animal lovers as well," Schonfeld told Giant FM. 


Currently, Barnyard Party Pals features alpacas, ducks, donkeys, geese, goats, ponies, turkeys, rabbits, iguanas, bearded dragons, hedgehogs and more, according to Schonfeld. 



As for growing too fast, Schonfeld said he wanted to start his business slowly.


"I am not the person who wants to get crazy, big fast. I want the chance to slowly grow that we can handle the growing pains that come with it. Everything is planned and has to be in order to work with animals," he said. 


Schonfeld said his business initially started out by bringing animals to various nursing homes and doing a few family birthdays, but now they supply the animals for the week of the Shelby County Fair, as well as at the Shelby County Ag Promotion and Farm Bureau Children's Animal Farm and Shelbyville Parks Department events. 


"We are a mobile petting zoo, which is definitely different among the rest. We bring the zoo to you," he said.  


In 2021, Schonfeld said his business will be featuring pony rides, ponies and unicorn parties, as well as animal educational programs.


"We do all kinds of events for all different age groups. Whether you are one or 100, when you see an animal for the first time, I get to see that sparkle in their eyes. It is truly why I do what I do, sharing my animals with people," he said. 


Schonfeld said his thinking of a future changed over time into something he truly loves.


"Honestly, with my love for animals growing up, maybe I would work at a zoo or a vet office, but I must say, I like sharing my animals this way," he said. 


For more information, contact Schonfeld at 317-696-8419 or

Chamber Chat talks with new Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Christian

Retiring Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Metz and the new Executive Director Donna Christian appeared on Chamber Chat on Friday, January 15.



The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Donna Christian has been named the Executive Director of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.


She will be replacing Executive Director Julie Metz who has held the position for 14 years.


Metz is eager to retire but she said, “knowing that Donna shares my passion for the county and the mission of the Chamber makes it easier to move on. Donna has exciting ideas that will continue to meet the needs and expectations of our members and the community.”


Donna Christian has a varied background that is well-suited for the job of Executive Director. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Journalism from the University of Indianapolis and has continued her education with certifications from Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame.


Her background includes serving in positions in Governor Orr’s public relations department, WWWY Radio, Irwin Management Company of Columbus as The Commons Mall and Downtown Main Street marketing director, general manager of Indiana Premium Outlets with Simon Property Group, and operations in the Rotary Club of Indianapolis. She has served on numerous boards and committees. She was appointed by Gov. Evan Bayh to serve on the State Tourism Board, Columbus (IN) Visitors Center, Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Zonta Club, Columbus Jaycees, Columbus Farmers Market, Columbus Area Arts Council, and the Foundation for Youth to name a few. She is a current member of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.


Travis Edington, President of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce said, “Hiring someone with Donna’s experience and talent is a clear example of the Chamber’s determination to continue the momentum and positive impact for our members’ businesses under Julie’s leadership. The Hiring Committee interviewed outstanding candidates, but Donna stood out for her experience, marketing and ability to develop relationships with members, the media and the county. We found her to be engaging, energetic, and experienced. She certainly has a “can-do” attitude.”


Donna Christian is a life-long resident of Shelby County and a graduate of Southwestern High School.


“I have always wanted to work in my hometown. Shelbyville and the county have always held a special affection. I am always quick to tell others that I’m a resident of Shelby County. The people in the county are authentic and caring – it’s just a great place to live, work and raise a family. I’m excited about the opportunity to be instrumental in adding valuable programs and educational opportunities for our members while promoting business growth in Shelbyville and the surrounding area,” Christian said. “I look forward to fulfilling the needs of our current membership while spearheading a push for new members. I believe passionately in the Chamber and its capacity to enhance the economic and business climate of our area. It’s going to be great to be at home in Shelby County and serving my community.”


“I am anxious to start training with Julie for this job. I know she will get me prepared to take the helm and chart a course for success. Julie is such a seasoned, well-known professional – it will be a challenge to meet her high standards. I know the Directors and members of the Chamber join me in wishing her all the best in her endeavors. She will be sorely missed,” Donna Christian said.

Shelby Materials marks its 70th year in business

First, a few things that happened in 1951:  


Congress passed 22nd Amendment, limiting a President to two terms


The Rosenbergs convicted of passing U.S. nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union


General Douglas MacArthur relieved of command in Korea


Joe DiMaggio announced retirement after the Yankees beat the NY Giants in the World Series


Notable movies included The African Queen and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I Love Lucy began its TV run.


1951 was also the beginning of a business celebrating an anniversary this year.  Shelby Materials is in its 70th year of operation.


Vice President of Operations and Sales Matt Haehl.



Haehl says it’s wonderful to be a part of a successful, growing company.



70 years is something to celebrate.  Haehl hopes they get that chance with Covid still having its impact.



In 1997, the business was renamed Shelby Materials, from Shelby Gravel, Inc., in order to showcase the vast variety of concrete, aggregates and custom blends offered. 



Pride and love of BBQ powering Smokin' Barrel Barbeque

A love of family, community and food are the three principles Mike McFarland and his wife, CJ have built their business, Smokin' Barrel Barbeque, on. 


It has been that way since 2016 when the couple decided to try their hand at bbq full-time after winning several competitions. 


For Mike McFarland, the business is the end result of his goals after attaining a degree from Pennsylvania Culinary School. In 2015, he started smoking meats and competing in various backyard bbq competitions. 



"He and I met 17 years ago working at Smokey Bones. We met when I worked as a waitress through college and he was a kitchen supervisor and restaurant opening trainer. Kids and careers took us a different way, but after winning a few competitions, we decided to try bbq full-time," CJ McFarland told Giant FM.


McFarland said all the food made at Smokin Barrel is keto friendly and the bbq is cooked slow and and smoked low on wood. 


And, it is made with something that a price tag cannot be put on -- pride and love. 


"We love what we do. We love being with our family. We love the communities that surround us and that support us regularly. New Palestine and Warren Township have become our biggest support systems. Our bbq is our family and it is our culture," CJ McFarland said. 


McFarland said there are potential plans for indoor dining and possibly a patio area in the future. 


"We want to be great at what we are currently doing. We are looking to offer breakfast on Saturdays. Catering in the beginning was our main focus. we still cater, but try to limit it to smaller events as our bbq is an art. It takes at least 15 hours for our meats to be prepped and smoked," McFarland said. 


McFarland welcomes anyone who likes bbq to give them a try. She told Giant FM the staff aims to make all customers feel like family. 


"We provide good food and service and make all feel welcome. We provide a safe work environment for young people, and our kids work alongside us. Our faith in God has kept us encouraged and has confirmed more than once that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Acts 2:42," McFarland said. 


Smokin' Barrel Barbeque is located at Camp Sertoma, 2316 S German Church Rd, Indianapolis, just outside New Palestine. It is open Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. 


For more information, call 317-340-4502 or at

Hoosiers age 80 and older can register for Covid-19 vaccine

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Health today announced that Hoosiers age 80 and older will be eligible to register for a free COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday, Jan. 8. 


Individuals age 80 and older account for less than 4 percent of the state’s population but represent more than 19 percent of the hospitalizations and more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the Indiana Department of Health.


State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said vaccine supplies are still limited. Indiana has received just over 350,000 doses of vaccine to date and is scheduled to receive about 78,000 vaccines per week at this time.


“By opening vaccine to those who are 80 or older, then adding people in their 70s and 60s when vaccine supplies allow us to expand, we can best protect the populations that account for 93 percent of our COVID-19 deaths,” Box said.


Hoosiers age 80 and older can register beginning at 9 a.m. Friday by going to, searching for a nearby vaccine clinic and selecting an appointment time. Appointments may also be made by calling 211. A caregiver or loved one may make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior.


At least one vaccine clinic will be located in each Indiana county.


Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.

Additional groups, such as those based on underlying health conditions, will be added as vaccine becomes available. Updates will be posted at

Conservation Reserve Program general signup began January 4 and ends February 12

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can sign up for the popular program Jan. 4, 2021, until Feb. 12, 2021. The competitive program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.


“This signup for the Conservation Reserve Program gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term,” Steven Brown said. “This program encourages conservation on sensitive lands or low-yielding acres, which provides tremendous benefits for stewardship of our natural resources and wildlife.”


Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to their local region and the nation’s environment and economy. CRP general signup is held annuallyand is competitive; general signup includes increased opportunities for wildlife habitat enrollment through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.


New cropland offeredin the program must have been planted for four out of six crop years from 2012 to 2017. Additionally, producers with land already enrolled but expiring on Sept. 30, 2021, can re-enroll this year. The acreage offered by producers and landowners is evaluated competitively;accepted offers will begin Oct. 1, 2021.


Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. The program marked its 35-year anniversaryin December 2020. Program successes include:


  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks.
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95% and 85%, respectively.
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road.
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, which is enough to go around the world seven times.
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows, and many other birds.


All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including those that restrict in-person visits or require appointments. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will continue to work with our producers by phone, email, and using online tools. More information can be found at



Successful recovery of bald eagle marks big win for conservation

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) recently removed the bald eagle from Indiana’s list of state endangered and special concern species due to evidence of successful recovery.

The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the greatest conservation success stories in Indiana. Habitat loss, the hat-making trade, and persecution once caused dramatic declines in eagle numbers, leading to the last eagle nest being found in Indiana in 1897. Nationwide, bald eagle populations continued to decline throughout the 1950s and 60s because pesticides, like DDT, interfered with their ability to reproduce.

A combination of legislative changes and conservation efforts put bald eagles on the road to recovery. The U.S. Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940 to prevent the killing of bald eagles. DDT was banned nationwide in 1972. In 1973, bald eagles were one of the first species listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act. State agencies began restoration efforts to meet conservation goals for eagles as a result of this listing.

Indiana DNR reintroduced bald eagles to the state from 1985–1989. During this time, 73 eaglets from Wisconsin and Alaska were raised and released at Monroe Lake to restore a breeding population in Indiana. The first successful nesting occurred in 1991.

By 2007, the U.S. national symbol was declared recovered and removed from the federal endangered species list. Indiana followed suit in 2008, upgrading the bald eagle from a state-endangered species to a species of special concern after reaching a goal of 50 nesting pairs. This was a significant achievement—no eagles were known to have nested in the state from around 1900–1988.

In just 35 years, the bald eagle went from extirpated in Indiana to a thriving population statewide. This year, biologists estimated Indiana supported about 300 nesting pairs across 84 counties. In the last five years, at least one bald eagle nest has been documented in 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties. Chick production was also up by 11% from 2019 to 2020.

The bald eagle reintroduction program was the first endangered species restoration project in Indiana. This project and ongoing research would not be possible without donations to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund, the main funding source of all nongame and endangered species research and management. You can donate to this fund online at

Although bald eagles are no longer listed as an endangered species, they remain protected by other state and federal laws, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. If you see bald eagles in Indiana, observe the birds, their nests, and roosts from a distance of 330 feet, which is roughly the length of a football field. Photography enthusiasts should take photos of eagles with a telephoto lens instead of getting close to them. All should foster a climate of respect for wildlife by sharing these guidelines with friends.

Learn more about bald eagles at

Happy Birthday Indiana

Today is Indiana's 204th birthday.


On December 11, 1816, President James Madison made Indiana the 19th state.


Corydon was the first state capital for nearly the first decade of Indiana's existence, until Indianapolis became the capital in 1825.

Virtual pesticide / outlook meeting for farmers December 14

The Rush Co. Extension Office will be hosting a virtual pesticide/outlook meeting for farmers on December 14t The program will start at 9:30 with the PARP ending at 11:30 and the outlook meeting following.


All fees for private applicators will be covered by sponsors—First Financial Bank and Halderman Farm Management & Real Estate.


All participants must be registered by 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 10 with their license number and email address if they want credit for their license. Anyone wanting to join for their personal enrichment is welcome but must also register by 4 p.m. on December 10 with their email address.


Registration can be done through the Rush County Extension Office: 765 932 5974 or You can also register at Registration is limited, please reserve your space as soon as possible.


“Agronomy and IPM Tips That Save You Time And Money”

                              Scott Gabbard  - Shelby County – ANR

                              Jeff Hermesh – Decatur County – ANR


“Storing Micronutrients On The Farm”

                              Fred Whitford, PHD – Purdue Pesticide Programs


“Ag Outlook Presentation”

                              Pat Karst – VP Halderman Companies


Indiana State Police remind drivers to Buckle Up and designate a sober driver

Thanksgiving is normally one of the busiest travel times of the year. While the pandemic may have impacted plans with family this year, the Indiana State Police wants to remind motorists who do use the road to buckle up and drive sober this holiday season.


“Due to the pandemic, we anticipate fewer vehicles on the road, but precautions still need to be taken, like wearing a seat belt and designating a sober driver,” said District Lieutenant Josh Watson. “Let’s work together to make sure everyone gets to their planned destination safely.”


Many traffic deaths and injuries could be prevented by wearing a seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 1975 to 2017, seat belts have saved an estimated 374,196 lives. While Indiana’s seat belt usage rate is above 90 percent, more than half of the people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes last year were not buckled up.


Drinking and driving is also deadly and completely preventable. Every day, almost 30 people in the U.S. die in drunk driving crashes, NHTSA data shows. That’s approximately one person every 50 minutes.


In Indiana, there were 106 people killed in alcohol-impaired collisions in 2019, representing 13 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities.


“In a year when miles traveled are down, traffic fatalities are up 9 percent from this time last year,” said Rob Duckworth, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Traffic Safety Director. “Slower speeds and wearing seat belts are two of the best ways to prevent further fatalities, along with driving sober.”


Further, vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 8 and 15. For families with children, it’s important to have a properly installed child safety seat or booster seat for each child.


Parents can visit for a list of locations and a toll-free phone number to speak with experts about the proper installation of child safety seats.

Shelbyville's PMC - 90 years and growing

Shelbyville manufacturer PMC SMART Solutions recently celebrated its 90th year in business.


President / CEO Lisa Jennings, Executive Vice-President Mark Delaney and Sales Account Manager Michael Parks appeared on Chamber Chat with details of the PMC history and its future.