Carmel mayor receives state’s top honor, unveils Songbook museum agreement at final State of the City event

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Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard’s final State of the City address took place between several surprises planned in his honor as he prepares to retire after 28 years in office.

The Dec. 4 event at the Palladium opened with former Gov. Mitch Daniels presenting Brainard with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest honor presented by the state’s top official. Daniels, who served as governor from 2005 to 2013, presented the honor on behalf of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was unable to attend the event.

The event ended with the unveiling of a portrait of Brainard by artist Deborah Lyons, whose portraits of all Carmel mayors are displayed in City Hall. The portrait of Brainard will soon be added to the collection.

Brainard also became the first recipient of the One Impact Award presented by the One Impact Foundation. An initiative of the OneZone chamber of commerce, which presented the State of the City event, the award is presented to someone who has shown continued investment in moving the community forward.

Brainard thanked Carmel residents for allowing him to serve for nearly three decades and offered words of wisdom for his successor, Sue Finkam, as she “carries on the mission” of building the city.

“It won’t be easy. There will be hurdles, opponents, elections and politics as usual, but the important thing is to keep your eyes on the prize that will come not five years from now, not 10, but 50 and beyond,” Brainard said. “We’re building our city for our children and grandchildren and people we don’t know, leaving them a gift that will sustain them as they grow and prosper.”

To conclude his remarks, Brainard announced that the Great American Songbook Foundation has entered a preliminary agreement to open a museum at the northeast corner of City Center Drive and 3rd Avenue SW directly north of the Palladium.

Chris Lewis, executive director of the Great American Songbook Museum, said design, fundraising and other major hurdles need to be cleared before construction can begin but he thanked Brainard and other city officials for making it possible.

“The dream of building our own interactive music museum and research center is a major step closer to reality,” Lewis said.

The 3.7-acre site is home to Salon 01 and a building that houses Laser Flash, two businesses planning to relocate in the coming years.

Much of the event was presented in a Q&A format, with five key city partners interviewing Brainard about various topics. Topics and Interviewers were:

  • The arts – Frank Basile, a philanthropist and supporter of the arts who served as interim director of the Center for the Performing Arts
  • Transportation and infrastructure – Michael McBride, partner at American Structurepoint and former Carmel city engineer
  • Development – Bruce Cordingley, president and CEO of Pedcor
  • Sustainability – Rob Bush, founder of Orchard Software
  • Responsive government – Jeff Worrell, Carmel City Council president

Brainard’s term runs through the end of the year.


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