In the February Village Voice
VRA President Letter
Usually, January is the coldest month in Indiana and graces us with an average of 8 inches of snow. Since January 2022 was relatively mild, it looks like February is making up for lost time. These cold months are a great time to help our feathered friends. Read below for some tips from VRA member Bob Royalty. You can find Bob’s book, Walking Hadrian’s Wall, at Black Dog Books. The book is sprinkled with some of his birdwatching experiences in the United Kingdom.
Cold weather also means our local businesses may take a hit with fewer people shopping. To help downtown Zionsville businesses, the VRA is initiating a new contest – Ready, Set, Shop! We discussed the possibility of a contest at our VRA meeting Tuesday and I think we’ve ironed out the details. For the month of February (beginning after the blizzard), we’re encouraging members – and really ANYONE who likes to shop in Zionsville – to shop local in February. Take a photo at any business and tag Zionsville Village Residents on Facebook. (to tag, “like” our page. Then when you post something, simply use the “@” symbol before Zionsville Village Residents). We’ll track those who post throughout the month and give prizes to those who visit as many downtown locations as possible. More details and specific rules are below. Let’s help our local businesses!
A few weeks ago, Zionsville said goodbye to longtime resident and VRA member Drew Kogan. He will be missed by so many. If you didn’t see his obituary, you can find it here:
Drew was a Zionsville institution, and it won’t be the same passing by his bench. Consider a contribution in his memory – details are at the bottom of the obituary.
Stay safe during these cold months,
In case you missed it: Thanks to former town council president Josh Garrett for his leadership, and welcome to new town council president Jason Plunkett.
From Town Councilor Josh Garrett
Happy New Year!
I’ll start this update with a correction from the December message I sent. In it, I referenced upcoming legislation around historic preservation in the district:
“It’s also important to look back and appreciate all the things that make Zionsville special. Councilor Joe Culp has been working with residents to determine the need to create a historic preservation committee and possibly a historic preservation district in our Village. More to come on this in 2022.”
It was pointed out to me that what is being established is a Preservation Commission not a committee, and more importantly a historic Conservation District, not a historic preservation district. While it may seem like a small change, there is actually a big difference between a conservation district and a preservation district. It’s important that residents aren’t confused or think what is being proposed is something different than what was communicated earlier.
Councilor Culp recently put out a quick video talking about this in more detail and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W30XH4bqWso
Our first Council meeting of the year started with the election of new leadership for the Council. This happens every year, and while it has been my pleasure to be Council President for the past 5 years, I was extremely supportive of the selection of a new Council President in Jason Plunkett. Jason has been the Vice President for the last few years, and I think will make an excellent Council President. In addition, Councilor Brad Burk stepped up to become Council Vice President and will work with Jason on our continued efforts.
For those of you that follow our Council meetings, you’ll know that we have been very frustrated by the lack of financial information we’ve gotten about the Town. There have been many months where the Council has gotten no information, which becomes difficult to perform our duty as the fiscal body for the Town. This becomes even more problematic when financial decisions are made which range from Claims (approving our bills) to much bigger decisions like bond issuances or the annual budget.
As of January, the Town is now without a CFO and has not fully rolled out the new financial reporting package (OpenGov). While the Town is not in danger of running out of money, I am concerned about decisions being made in an information vacuum. I am hopeful that the recent re-engagement of Crowe as the Town’s financial advisor may help bridge this gap. Crowe had been the longtime partner with the Town in all measures of our finances but was replaced within the last few years by the administration. Their return was welcome news to the Council and we’re looking forward to getting information on current and future/sustainable financials.
Stay safe and warm as we hit the cold months of winter. Please keep an eye out for ice, especially on sidewalks, to avoid slips and spills for residents and visitors.
It’s All for the Birds
February is National Bird Feeding month and it’s also the time of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a program run through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Village resident and birder Bob Royalty has suggestions for watching and feeding our feathered friends.
Birdwatching can be done at home or at one of Zionsville’s parks. One of the easiest ways to start is to set up a birdfeeder (or multiple feeders) near a window in your home. Birds are most active in the morning after the sun rises, so set it up near a window where you spend time in the morning.
Splurge on a squirrel proof feeder (available at Wild Birds Unlimited) which can help save money in the long run, since you won’t be spending money feeding the squirrels. A heated birdbath is another investment that can attract a wide variety of birds such as bluebirds and finches.
Royalty suggests sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds as two of the most popular seed feed options. He prefers the no-mess variety of sunflower seeds. Adding suet brings clinging birds like woodpeckers, wrens and nuthatches.
Knowing which birds are common in Central Indiana, and in particular which ones are often seen this time of the year, is one of the most important steps in birdwatching. It’s a quick way to help identify an unknown bird by process of elimination. The website and app, ebird.org, will show ranges for each bird and where they can be found at certain times of the year. The app Merlin provides similar information.
One tip from Royalty is to learn the calls of common birds which can make it easier to recognize an unusual sound. Merlin has tools for hearing and identifying bird calls. Being able to identify bird calls is especially handy when walking through local parks. Royalty suggests Creekside Park or the retention ponds in Starkey Park as popular spots for sighting a variety of birds. Watch for juncos, eagles and hawks, especially the Northern harrier which can be seen swooping low to the ground in the winter months.
A good pair of binoculars is helpful for anyone doing their birdwatching away from home. The Audubon Society has a binocular guide that suggests options in a variety of price ranges. But overall, the best thing to pack is a bit of patience.
Join the Great Backyard Bird Count at: https://www.birdcount.org/
Check out Bob Royalty’s book, Walking Hadrian’s Wall: A Memoir of a Father’s Suicide, available at Black Dog Books on Main Street.
Ready, Set, Shop!
Ready, Set, Shop!
This month we’re initiating a short-term contest to encourage visiting our Zionsville businesses. We’re encouraging members – and really ANYONE who likes to shop in Zionsville – to participate. All you have to do to enter is take a photo at any business, and tag Zionsville Village Residents on Facebook. In order to tag, first “like” our page. Then post a picture of yourself or others from business in the village, and try to remember to include #ZVRAContest to ensure we can easily track it. At the end of the month we’ll draw a random winner from all of the submitted photos. Details and specific rules are below. Let’s help our local businesses!
Ready, Set, Shop! Contest Rules
NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ALL FEDERAL, STATE. LOCAL, AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY.
- Sponsor. The Contest is sponsored by The Zionsville Village Residents Association (“ZVRA”) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Eligibility. Ready, Set, Shop (the “Contest”) is open to anyone over the age of 18 regardless of VRA membership status or residence. The current VRA Board, Officers, their immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, and children) and household members are not eligible to participate.
- Agreement to Official Rules. Participation in the Contest constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the ZVRA Board, which are final and binding.
- Contest Period. Pictures must be “Posted” between February 4 and midnight on February 28.
- How to Enter. A “Selfie” photo or photo of others in your party must be “Posted” between February 4 and midnight on February 28, to the ZVRA (“Zionsville Village Residents”) Facebook page with #ZVRAContest and noting which business you are in. Photos can be posted once you “like” the ZVRA (“Zionsville Village Residents”) Facebook page.
- Eligible Locations. Photos must be taken inside an eligible business. This includes restaurants, offices, shops, and services. All eligible locations must be located within the ZVRA Village boundaries, extending to South Main Street. This includes any business located south of Ash Street, west of Elm Street, east of 9th Street and north of Sycamore Street. Additionally, businesses located along South Main Street and Zionsville Road are included if they’re located north of Zionsville Cemetery. The business must be open to the public. Photos may be entered from the same location if they are taken on different days.
- Prize Drawing. Everyone who posts at least one picture will be in the drawing for a $50 Chamber of Commerce gift certificate! Winner(s) will be contacted via a private message on Facebook no later than March 7. Winner(s) must respond to the message no later than March 15 or the prize will be forfeited, and the next name drawn. After collecting the prize, the winner(s) will be publicly announced on the Zionsville Village Residents Facebook page. By entering the Contest and posting a photo, you expressly give the Village Residents Association rights to use that image and your name as part of the Contest.