Village Voice 06 2021: June

President's Letter:

Dear VRA members,

Staying connected has been one of the primary challenges we’ve all faced this past year. Despite logistical difficulties, The VRA has been able to meet through Zoom and has provided as much information as possible through the weekly and monthly newsletter. As we continue to reduce the spread of Covid-19, I’m hopeful that the VRA hosted its last Zoom meeting on May 20. We shared a lot of information that evening about various projects and proposals that impact the Village, but there’s nothing like connecting face-to-face.

Looking to the future, our goal is to have an in-person meeting in July or the first week of August (more details when we have them). Meeting in person will give us a better opportunity to discuss a possible picnic on the bricks in September and a progressive dinner in December. If you’re interested in helping please let me know. These events have always been key to neighbors connecting with neighbors and highlighting the camaraderie of our members.

Another item we accomplished at our meeting was to elect Sally Zelonis to the VRA board as committee chair. With her extensive knowledge and background, she’s a fantastic asset to our group.

While we didn’t receive a Gateway update at our May meeting, there is a tentative date for stakeholders to receive an update on July 1. After that meeting takes place – whenever that occurs – we’ll provide information to the VRA email list as it’s available.

Planning for future gatherings is something we haven’t been able to do for a while. That’s why it’s fun to provide a list of activities for this summer. Most of these events are free or low cost so they’re a great for families or playdates. Look for a new list in July. If you have ideas to add please sent them my way.

And if you have ideas for the newsletter or would like to submit an article let me know. Even kids looking for a place to practice writing are welcome!

Enjoy summer,

Heather Lusk

Town Council:

I wanted to start out this month’s edition of the Council update with a quick correction. In a previous version I had noted the efforts of local Village residents to create a Preservation district. I mistakenly called it that because the name of the group is the Historic Preservation Committee. The correct statement is that it is a Conservation District being proposed, which is a much different approach and much less restrictive. I know some of you may have very strong feelings when you say Preservation vs Conservation and wanted to clarify any confusion I created.

One interesting thing we did in our last meeting (May 17) was create an “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Fund 176)”. That’s a mouthful. What was created was a fund, consider it a bank account, to deposit money given to the Town by the Federal government because of the CARES act. We are receiving roughly $5.9M, with half paid in 2021 and half paid in 2022. This money needs to be used towards efforts around COVID-19 relief and work is under way to ensure it is spent accordingly.

Some of these monies will come from items that would have been budgeted within our regular 2021 and 2022 budget. In those cases, those monies will be freed up to be spent in other areas, although still within that budget. For example, if the Fire Department spent money in their budget on PPE, it could now be reimbursed through this Fund 176, and that money within the Fire Department could be spent on other needs.

Those plans are still being worked out. It is important for me, and the Council in general, that any spending shift be sustainable. The last thing we want to do is take this money and create a future obligation / deficit because of a new expense that is recurring. While this does provide some budget relief for the two years where this applies, we always want to be prudent with our dollars and ensure we’re living within our budgetary means.

That budget process should start kicking off next month as individual department heads present their budget to the Mayor, who in turn presents her overall budget to Council. It takes in the requests of department heads, administration and Council to have the final budget approved sometime in early November.

Now that school is out, and the weather is warm, please be careful driving around the Village and in Town. We’ll have more walkers, bikers and kids playing and we want to make sure everyone has a safe summer.

Picking up chicks

by Heather Lusk

It’s not often that we bring home chicks from Broad Ripple, but that’s exactly what we did in mid-January. They made a bit of a racket on the drive, but they were such cute little balls of fluff it was worth it.

More than a year ago we inherited a small flock of older hens from our neighbors. We’ve lost a few over the years due to illness, a hawk and old age. Recently an idea hatched to replace our losses.

We purchased our little ones from Agrarian ( They’re a second-party distributor of chicks specifically for urban farmers. They purchase the chicks directly from a large-scale operation which allows Agrarian customers to get the type of hen they’d like in much smaller numbers, even as few as a single chick. Alternatively buying chicks online, there is often a minimum order of eight and sometimes as high as 15. Agrarian sells 61 different breeds, although each breed is not available each week. Because the chicks can be challenging to distinguish, they often will only sell different looking varieties in the same week.

Agrarian has a money-back guarantee that chicks will live for the first 48 hours. For an additional fee they offer rooster insurance and will replace or refund eligible male chicks. Their pickup service is quite simple and they sell anything an urban farmer might need.

We discovered that raising chicks isn’t as complicated as it might appear. There are a few necessary household items, and anything else can be picked up at Tractor Supply or Agrarian. We borrowed a large tub (to serve as a brooder) that we filled with pine shavings. Then added a small waterer and feeder, a heat lamp bulb attached to a regular lamp, and a thermometer to ensure the temperature is warm enough. As the chicks continued to grow, we transferred them to a dog crate. Their only requirements are ensuring the temperature in the brooder is comfortable, that they have consistent food and water, and that their brooder is cleaned every few days.

Our current flock is growing older – chickens lay eggs for the first six years or so of their life, and then only live a few years after that. New chicks begin laying eggs when they’re 18 weeks old and their egg production will be consistent for the next two to three years before it begins to slow. The addition of ChewBOKa, Hen Solo and Cluck Vadar will ensure we have eggs through the winter.

We’ve watched the chicks with fascination as their fluff turned into feathers and as their curiosity has taken over. Soon we’ll merge them into the existing flock and that will be a completely new adventure. 

Summer activities for all ages

School’s Out! For parents it can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes within a few days of being home, children are whining about boredom. Stave their complaints with some fun nearby outings.


Traders Point Creamery walk:

Hike around the property and watch the cows graze. You may even happen upon a variety of wildlife abundant in the area. Then grab an ice cream or milkshake - Thanks cows!

While currently closed, keep an eye out for the milking parlor’s reopening in the future. Watching cows happily return from the fields to be milked is a memorable experience for all ages.

Splash Pad at Mulberry Park

Nothing like splashing through water on a hot day. The perfect time for elementary ages to visit is in the afternoon when younger children have naps and the heat is at its worst.

Learning opportunities

Time to be creative:

Youth and teen camps are still open at both SullivanMunce Cultural Center, Palette and MyArt. Or check for summer classes that will pop up.

Dance fever:

Students of all ages can take a variety of dance classes at Village Dance Studio in Whitestown. The beginning/intermediate tap, jazz and ballet classes for teens are great for older kids who may be hesitant to be placed in a class with preschoolers. There’s even a tap fitness class for adults. Former dancers can dust off those old shoes and see what they remember.

Close to goat yoga

If you’ve been curious about goat yoga but aren’t fond of goats, try pig yoga. Trader’s Point Creamery hosts the June 6 event.

Bee-lieve it or not

Older kids (8 and up) can bring their parents to Maplelawn Homestead to learn about beekeeping this summer. Sign up for the class to learn how to start your hive. Preregistration required.

Rainy-day fun

Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel:

Browse tiny worlds in this small Carmel museum. Bonus points for reading The Sixty-Eight Rooms, a book about the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. One of Narcissa Thorne’s rooms is located at the Carmel museum.

Zion Nature Center and Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library:

Now open Tues – Sat from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., the nature center lets children learn about animals and their habitats. While you’re at the nature center’s new location – in the library – check out a few books about these animals and what makes them interesting.

Kids (literally) climbing the walls?

All ages can try indoor rock climbing at Hoosier Heights just south of Zionsville.

Family fun

See how many items on this summer fun list you can complete:

Learn to play marbles or hopscotch.

Draw “roads” on the sidewalk or driveway for bikes or toy cars.

Find five different kinds of insects in your yard.

Have a picnic.

Pick berries or fruit (try Spencer Farm or Stuckey Farm).

Eat ice cream.

Roast marshmallows.

Make lemonade.

Visit a farmers’ market.

Eat watermelon.

Look at the clouds and draw pictures of what you see in the sky.

Take a bike ride.

Explore a park (Zion Nature Sanctuary behind Eagle is a less visited location at the edge of the Village).

Skip stones in the White River.

Build an outdoor obstacle course.

Have a water gun or water balloon fight.

Make a fairy garden (or mini-dinosaur garden) with as many items from nature as possible.

Hairdoo experiment – use gels, rubber bands, bobby pins, etc to create funky styles.

Paper airplane contest.

Shutterbug – experiment taking pictures from all different angles and types of light.

See how long you can hula hoop, jump rope or dribble a basketball.  

Giving local business a boost

There are plenty of ways to help Zionsville businesses right now. If every village resident did just one of these things each week, that could make a difference in a business staying afloat.
  1. Shop in person: If you feel comfortable going out and shopping or dining, please do so.  Often sitting down at a restaurant, many people get a glass of wine or a beer with our food resulting in a nice dining experience and a higher ticket for the restaurant. Go into a retailer and shop.  Now would be a great time to pick up future birthday or anniversary gifts, plus individuals can shop while there is less traffic.
  2. Shop Online: If you would prefer to carry out food, consider picking up from a local business once a week. Supporting local restaurants via carry out is a great way to keep businesses open and people employed.  If you do not want to shop in person and would like to shop locally from home, try our option. You can find many of our local stores there and shop from them just like you would from their own websites, but in one place.
  3. Pick-up and delivery: Many stores have delivery or curbside pick-up options.  Call, place your order, drive up and get your items.  Easy!  Some local businesses will even leave their items on your doorstep. Easier!
  4. Leave a business a positive review:  Take an afternoon and leave a positive review for your favorite businesses.  Many people look at reviews when making a purchase, so let’s tell everyone how great our Zionsville shops and restaurants are!  Good places to leave a review are Google, Yelp or Facebook.
  5. Encourage friends and family to shop locally: It’s simple, right? By encouraging those outside of the Village to shop our Main Street, we increase the customer base of businesses and help others discover the many treasures that we have downtown. Just tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on!

(tips courtesy of the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce)