Year in review: A look back at the top news stories in Carmel in 2016

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The Jan. 3 edition of Current in Carmel features updates on several projects in the works for the year ahead, but here is a review of the big news stories in Carmel from 2016:

12. 126TH AND AUMAN STOP SIGN REMOVED — The previous Carmel City council debated the need for this stop sign, as some saw it as necessary while others said it slowed traffic. The council had voted against its removal, but once the slate of candidates endorsed by Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard took office they immediately voted to remove the sign.

11. COUNCILOR SCHLEIF RESIGNS — Two-term City Councilor Carol Schleif resigned from her position on the council at the second to last meeting of 2016. She has decided to move to California. Her replacement will be decided by an 11-member caucus at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 at Market District. It is not open to the public. Ron Houck, who previously ran for council and lost, has filed. Others have expressed interested including Dan Dutcher, vice president for division III sports at the NCAA, and Raju Chinthala, a speech language pathologist who is a frequent attendee of local GOP events. Keith Griffin, who ran against Schleif, decided against filing.

10. NEW COUNCIL PASSES $242 MILLION IN NEW BONDS — In January of 2016, the newly elected Carmel City Council moved quickly to pass $242 million in infrastructure bonds for various projects such as new roundabouts, road improvements and storm water drainage.

9. CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS CEO RESIGNS — In August, Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, President and CEO of The Center for the Performing Arts, announced that she would be leaving The Center to accept the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago. Jeffrey McDermott agreed to serve as interim president and CEO. McDermott is a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP and current chairman of the board of the Songbook Foundation. Moskalenko joined the Center in June 2012.

8. ICE SKATING RINK ANNOUNCED — On Oct. 11, Mayor Brainard announced city plans to construct an ice-skating rink where the center green is located, just outside of The Palladium. The ice rink would be part of a Center Green Plaza, where the grass field would be replaced with a hard surface, allowing it to be used for festivals. In the winter, this plaza could be transformed into an area for ice skating. Around the ice skating rink, the City of Carmel will create its own Christkindl Market, where people can shop for holiday crafts and buy refreshments during the holiday season.

7. POLTICIANS ASKS FOR A PAY RAISE — Double-digit pay raises for elected officials were originally proposed after the City of Carmel hired a firm to conduct a salary study using comparable cities in other states. Brainard’s new salary would have been $179,344, which is around the midpoint of the study. Carmel City Judge Brian Poindexter was to receive a 20 percent raise to $145,919 and council members would have a 28 percent increase to $22,167. Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley was recommended to receive only a 2 percent raise, which led her to claim gender-discrimination in a letter to the council.

The Carmel City Council decided against giving Brainard a 40 percent raise originally proposed in his 2017 budget and salary ordinance, instead giving him just a 2 percent cost of living adjustment. Council members themselves, though, received a 15 percent pay increase after a 5-2 vote Oct. 17.

6. BRAINARD CONSIDERS RUN FOR CONGRESS — When Gov. Mike Pence was selected as Donald Trump’s running mate, it created an opening for someone else to run for governor. U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks of Carmel decided to throw her hat in the ring. If selected, it would mean that someone else would have to run for Brooks’ seat. Brainard said he’d be interested if Brooks was selected, but eventually he decided to pull his name from the running because he said he has more work to do in Carmel.

5. SUN KING ANNOUNCES CARMEL LOCATION — Sun King Brewery, one of the top-selling craft beer makers in Indiana, unveiled plans on Sept. 7 for a new 15,000 square-foot craft distillery and tap room to open in the Midtown area of Carmel in the fall of 2017. The Sun King Distillery and Tap Room will be at the north end of Midtown Plaza adjacent to the Monon Trial.

4. NO MORE RAY’S FOR TRASH COLLECTION — For the next seven years, Ray’s Trash Services won’t be an option for Carmel residents. The Carmel City Council voted 5-2 on Jan. 18 to eliminate the ability for Carmel residents to opt out of using the city’s contracted trash collector. This does not affect business trash collection. Near the end of 2016, the City’s Board of Public Works awarded Republic Services the city’s contract after its bid came in approximately 20 percent lower than others.

3. CLERK-TREASURER SQUARES OFF WITH CITY COUNCIL — The year started off amicably between the Carmel City Council and the newly elected Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley. Brainard and many of the councilors endorsed Pauley, partly because they had previously feuded with the previous Clerk-Treasurer Diana Cordray, who served two decades in office. Tensions arose when some councilors questioned the way that Pauley spent her time. It escalated when the City Council didn’t recommend a full raise for her — only 2 percent — while the other elected officials had double digit raises proposed. She sent a letter to the City Council alleging gender discrimination and then asked the city to pay $5,000 for her legal costs associated with drafting the letter. The Council refused payment and City Council President Ron Carter reprimanded her and claimed she was unqualified for her position. She criticized Carter’s behavior. Later on, some on the council and Pauley butted heads over a city audit. Some claimed that Pauley was holding up the process, but she denies that accusation. The Council then cut money from her budget to pay for the audit, but it was later restored. She claimed that some were out to get her, but that she would keep doing her job. Now an ordinance is being considered that would eliminate Pauley’s regular speaking time at City Council meetings, so the issue is likely to continue.

2. DONALD TRUMP COMES TO CARMEL — On May 4, the day before the Indiana Primary, then-candidate Donald Trump gave a speech at The Palladium in Carmel. Historians believe that it might be the first public campaign rally by an announced candidate for president in the city. No protests took place and long lines formed outside The Palladium hours before the speech. Trump ended up winning Indiana the next day and effectively secured the Republican nomination before winning the presidency a few months later.

1. ROUNDABOUT CONSTRUCTION — Probably the story people talked about the most in 2016 was road closures and roundabout construction. Several new roundabouts were built, leading to some detours, but the one that caught the most attention was at Carmel Drive and Range Line Road, which ended up being Carmel’s 100th roundabout. It opened Nov. 17, about three months after closing. Fireworks and live music celebrated the feat, which drew national attention. But the path to completion wasn’t easy. Some businesses reported drops in sales due to the road closure. Some businesses closed, although some debate whether road construction was the reason. People complained that they had longer commutes during construction and were confused about where to go. At the same time, many residents praised the infrastructure investment and said any burden was minor.

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