Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021

Shelby County Players Ready for Next Act

ABOVE: Rose McNeely implores the community to “finish out this campaign” at Friday’s Shelby County Players reception.

‘Offstage’ is about to take center stage.

Shelby County Players officials on Friday announced their “Offstage” practice facility, 1416 Miller Ave., which once housed a bowling alley, will be transformed into a civic theatre. And over $1.5 million of the $2.5 million needed to renovate the space, create an endowment, and add paid staff and educational programming has already been raised.

“We now need the community at large to play their part and help Shelby County Players open their next act in an expanded theatre space,” Frank Zerr, a member of the organization’s board of trustees, said.

SCP, which was founded in 1988, has wandered in the wilderness after leaving the former Christian Science church building on South Tompkins Street in 2010. While performances were held at The Strand Theatre, numerous locations have been used to house the group’s possessions.

“We actually ended up in 13 different places at one point in time, with different storage areas, rehearsal spaces, office spaces...I mean, you know, we were everywhere in town,” managing director Cindy Leahy said.

The Miller Ave. facility, used by the Players since 2011, was purchased in 2019.

Other than announcement of the so-far successful campaign, the highlight of Friday’s event was the revealing of artist renderings. The interior will be expanded from 10,500 square feet to over 15,000 square feet and will include a technology system that “surpasses many of the largest venues in Indianapolis,” technical director Greg Cox said.

The exterior rendering includes the namesake of the graphic artist Justin Nicol. “He gets to have his name on the building until we get a large donation,” Leahy said to laughs at the reception, which was followed by a performance of “Bad Seed”. (A matinee show is today, and performances will be held next weekend. Tickets available here.) 

Shelby County Council President Tony Titus said the project would help the county “really take the next step” in the arts. City Councilman Brian Asher announced the City of Shelbyville would contribute $150,000. “This side of town is going to be able to attract homes and retail, and the city is 100 percent behind that,” he said.

Now it’s up to local citizens to finish the job, campaign team member Rose McNeely said. “As we draw the final curtain on this private phase of our campaign, I ask that all of you please share my hope and vision that this community will come together, as it always does, to finish out this campaign, so that before long we will all be in this state-of-the-art facility, opening the curtain on countless new productions.”

ABOVE: In opening remarks, Frank Zerr recognized those who have participated in Shelby County Players since its inception in 1988.

In addition to Zerr, other board members include David Sheets, KaLeigh Lee, John Pouder, John Barker, Susan Blanner, Beth Browning, David Fisher, Alecia Gross, LaTisha Idlewine, Madelyn Scott, Bill Taylor, Tiffany Wilson and Leahy (non-voting). The campaign team includes Honorary Chair Robert Wortman, Tim Barrick, Eric Glasco, Chris King, Leahy, Frank “Hitch” Learned, McNeely, Brad Ridgeway, Brent Sandman, Wendy Stephenson, Mike Vaught, Sally Vaught and Wilson. Campaign and marketing committee members are Rachael Ackley, Fisher, Lee Marks, Nancy Smith, Barbara Anderson, Learned, Janie Schuster, Betsy Stephens, Ryan Claxton, Leahy, Sheets and Wortman.

BELOW: Cindy Leahy highlights features of the planned facility.

Wake up Lenin, it’s Columbus Day 

Dear readers,   

I just recently discovered that even though Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, he is still lying in state.  Over 2 million mourners, tourists, and curiosity seekers file past every year for a peek at the famous Bolshevik. If you are wondering why Lenin would care about Columbus Day, I’ll get to that in a few minutes.  

In 1492, Columbus discovered America. I know this fact to be true because all of my grade school teachers told me so. Those teachers included Hazel Ford and Frances Lyles, a couple of legendary educators.   

I was reminded of those grade school memories recently when my granddaughter, June, colored a picture of Columbus discovering America. At the bottom of the picture these words were printed, “Columbus discovered America in 1492.” Like the Federal Law prohibiting the removal of mattress tags, it is a crime for publishers of coloring books to lie. 

When I was in grade school, we always had an art project to commemorate Columbus’s famous voyage. I once made a shoebox diorama complete with Columbus wading ashore and his three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, in the background. I repurposed it a couple of years later. I submitted it as General MacArthur returning to the Philippines for extra credit in a history class. 

Columbus Day was dishonored last year when in some cities Antifa nihilistic anarchists toppled statues of Columbus. Caving into the demands of the Antifa movement, the city of Columbus, Ohio removed the 20-foot-tall statue of Columbus from in front of their City Hall.   

This is where the Russians enter the story. In 1992, Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli built a colossal statue he called “The Birth of the New World” to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. The statue depicts Columbus and his three ships. It is made of bronze and is larger than the Statue of Liberty.   

The artist wanted the statue to be in an American city and offered it to several, including New York City. The American cities all rejected it. It finally found a home in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It is the tallest sculpture in North America.  

It is fitting that the statue ended up in Puerto Rico. Christopher Columbus visited Puerto Rico on his second voyage to the new world. He never actually set foot on land that ended up becoming the United States, a fact that was lost on me when I was making my shoebox diorama. I always pictured Columbus wading ashore somewhere in South Carolina. 

Happy Columbus Day.

BELOW: Christopher Columbus discovering America, colored by columnist Kris Meltzer's granddaughter, June. Maybe next year, grandpa will help her make a shoebox diorama.


  • Five Shelbyville High School cross country runners advanced to regionals yesterday, including Michael Fox, Elijah von Werder, Kaila Brattain, Stefanie Howard (7th overall) and Hannah Wright.

  • The stadium lights malfunctioned at halftime of the Shelbyville High School football game Friday. The game was called for Class 4A fifth-ranked Mt. Vernon, which led, 49-0.

  • HOOSIER NEWS: Afghan refugees at Indiana’s Camp Atterbury will need a permanent home in the US, and Muncie is hoping to become an attractive place to settle.  The city has convened a committee to help the effort. The Muncie Afghan Refugee Resettlement Committee is made up of individuals and organizations around the city, looking to make the resettlement of the refugees go as smoothly as possible and provide any support that they can. Ken Holland used to lead international efforts at Ball State and lives in Muncie.  He’s also the former president of the American University of Afghanistan, and says Afghan people can be productive members of Muncie’s community. “The city would like a large number, because there is a lot of unfilled jobs in the Muncie community.  So, Mayor [Dan] Ridenour, for example, has been talking to employers in a variety of sectors — advance manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality — you know, we could fill many many hundreds of jobs.” (Indiana Public Radio)

  • SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY EDITION: This week, we broke stories on St. Joseph Catholic Church’s expansion and the new company that purchased the former NSCI building, and gave details on how part of a $50 million state grant would be used locally, if granted. Subscribe to the daily edition and receive access to the archives for less than 20 cents a day!

Sgt. Gary Henderson Remembered at Golf Outing

by Anna Tungate

On the eve of the 14th anniversary of Sgt. Gary Henderson’s death, Shelbyville Police Officer and Shelby County FOP Lodge 84 vice president Adis Ibrekic organized the second annual memorial golf outing in Henderson’s honor.

“This is one of several events that we at the Lodge do to give back to the community and to honor our members of the Lodge, and Gary is family to us. This is just the least I can do on behalf of his family,” Ibrekic said.

Funds raised at the outing support FOP events, such as community fishing days.

“We want to bridge that gap between the police and the community and the community and the police,” Ibrekic said.

Henderson’s son, Kyle, has fond memories of his father, who was killed Oct. 10, 2007, while helping a motorist on I-74. “Police work came only second to his family,” Kyle Henderson said. “He liked coming home and telling stories. He wasn't out there to ruin people's lives. He just wanted to talk to people, and I think he wanted to leave police work with a good name.”

Mission accomplished, according to those at yesterday’s outing at Blue Bear Golf Club.

Henderson previously organized an event in his dad’s honor, and he’s glad to see the FOP take the lead. “It just got to be too much, really, for us. I'm glad somebody picked it up and took off running with it, that's doing it better than I did.”


The above unidentified “mystery photo” is in the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department files. If you recognize anyone, please email Donna Dennison,, head of genealogy and history at the Shelby County Public Library. Thank you for your help!

This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.


News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.

20 YEARS AGO: 2001
Morristown’s volleyball team won the Shelby County Volleyball Tournament. Members of the team were Emily Prifogle, Erin Nigh, Kayla Tarrh, Trista Wood, Jennifer Shoultz, Jessica Stamps, Abby Milli, Becca Miller, Stacy Kuhn, Megan Lane, Ashley Linville, Lindsey Shepherdson and Eric Rouse. Coaches were Rita Rouse, Nora Hagist and Dena Caldwell.

Shelbyville’s boys’ cross country team took first place in the sectional. Members of the team were Sean Hudson, Matt Nolley, Alan Fox, Dustin Prosser, David Fox, Adam Hackman and Bryce New. Coaches were Gary Nolley and Michelle Nolley.

30 YEARS AGO: 1991
Coulston Elementary received a state grant to establish a 12-station computer lab. Teachers had just received Apple II GS computers for classroom use.

40 YEARS AGO: 1981
Emily Hart was Shelbyville High School’s homecoming queen. She was escorted by Mike Tingle at the half-time coronation.

Amy Good, Warren Good and Anne DePrez were all sworn in as members of the Indiana Bar.

50 YEARS AGO: 1971
Three-pound sweet potatoes had been grown in Henry Williamson’s garden on Seventh Street. His son, Jewell Williamson, showed off the produce to the newspaper.

A new electrical substation near I-74 and E. State Road 44 was finished.

Ground was broken for the Heath Shurway Food Center beside the Ames store at the northeast edge of Shelbyville.

60 YEARS AGO: 1961
The Ross D. Snyder Insurance Agency moved from 510 N. Harrison St. to 116 E. Washington St., the former Knights of Columbus building. The office secretary was Betty Delzell, and Paul Moore was an agent.

The inside of the new Youth Recreation Center on W. Franklin St. was painted by 26 members of the Shelbyville Lions Club. Ray Harris and Bob Gary supervised the Lions’ work along with Rec Director Pat Collyer.

70 YEARS AGO: 1951
A “bazaar” event was held at the Negro Recreation Center on S. Harrison Street. Gertrude Jones, Marina Phillips and Florence Brashear had organized the event.

The Morristown softball team, coached by Keith Shelton, won the county championship. Team members were Gene Springer, Jim Patterson, Jim Willard, Keith Wood, Hubert Blackford, Dave Hauk, Jerry Larrison, Foster Adams, Bob Sheperdson, Jim Brunning, Jim Smith, Paul Caldwell, Don Foreman and Ed Handly.

80 YEARS AGO: 1941
A free General Electric Cooking School was held at the Bradley Hall Furniture Company featuring the new G.E. range.

An alleged violation of the former parking meter ordinance in Shelbyville was heard in circuit court. Meters had been removed two years prior. “City officials were reminded Thursday of the ‘little iron men’ that once stood in military order along the downtown streets,” The Republican reported. The case was dismissed.

90 YEARS AGO: 1931
More than 300 attended a review of the “famous Negro play on the creation of the world, ‘Green Pastures’, at the First Baptist Church at the Sunday evening service,” The Republican said. “The 4-B colored quartet, composed of Charles Harden, Bert Lambert, Bennie Smith and W.S. Hines, sang a group of Negro spirituals for the music of the service.”

100 YEARS AGO: 1921
The Franklin, Ind. postmaster said all city homes without address numbers would lose their right to free delivery of mail, The Shelbyville Republican reported. The order followed a complaint by a new minister, who said “in attempting to find the homes of the members of his church, he was as a mariner without a compass.”


None today