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NASHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Hard Truth Distilling Co. is making some major additions to its Brown County operations. The distillery has begun construction on a second rack house that will be double the size of its current rack house and plans to add three, 5,000-gallon fermenters.

The plans were first reported by American Whiskey magazine. The distillery did not disclose its financial investment in the project.

Hard Truth says the new fermenters, in conjunction with its existing 2,500-gallon fermenters, will increase its production by more than 800%.

The second rack house will also increase the distillery’s storage capacity from 4,000 to 12,000 barrels.

Hard Truth co-founder Jeff McCabe told the publication the distillery’s spirits can be found in 16 states and the Bahamas, and there is room for growth.

“We expect to see our brands in 28 states by 2023,” said McCabe.

The distillery expects the project to be completed by the end of the year.

Hard Truth is known for its variety of spirits, including its Sweet Mash Rye, Coconut Rum and Cinnamon Vodka. The distillery has opened a Hard Truth Bar at the Fashion Mall at Keystone on the north side of Indianapolis, as well as The Garage Food Hall at the Bottleworks District near downtown.

The distillery is a division of BWQOHT, which also owns Big Woods restaurants and the Quaff On! craft brewery.

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — New York-based hospitality company Getaway is expanding into Indiana with its offering of tiny cabins. The company says it will place an Outpost, a series of cabins, in Brown County.

Getaway says the concept is to allow people to disconnect from the daily life of work, while escaping to the woods without having to set-up a tent or haul a trailer.

The locations tend to be within a two hours’ drive from major cities, including Chicago, Detroit and Boston.

“Our cabins offer space for people to honor their free time, disconnect from work and technology and reconnect with their loved ones and themselves,” said Jon Staff, founder and chief executive officer of Getaway. “Now more than ever, people are seeking short, frequent escapes to nature and focusing on their mental health and wellbeing.”

The cabins range in size from 140 to 200 square feet and have one or two beds, a small kitchen and bathroom. The company says the cabins do not have internet or wifi service.

Getaway says the Brown County location, when it opens next year, will offer 45 cabins in a wooded hillside.

Getaway says in 2020 it saw a 150% increase in bookings year-over-year and nearly 100% occupancy on its existing portfolio.

Earlier this year, Getaway closed a $41.7 million Series C funding round. The investment is allowing the company to expand to Indiana, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Kansas City.

NASHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Nashville-based medical device startup has won the top prize the in the Women in Bio-Chicago Start-up Challenge pitch competition. Wave Therapeutics received $5,000 for its smart cushion device, which is designed to help prevent bed sores.

The annual event features women-led biotech companies from throughout the Midwest pitching their technologies and products to local investment and startup experts. Wave Therapeutics, founded by Chief Executive Officer Jessica Bussert also won the Audience Award, taking home an additional $500. 

The startup has developed a cushion that is designed to eliminate the pressure that causes bed sores and improve blood circulation. The first product being developed with the technology is a wheelchair cushion.

Inside INdiana Business Reporter Kylie Veleta spotlighted the technology earlier this year in the Life Sciences INdiana e-newsletter.

WIB-Chicago says as a result of the win, Bussert will receive an annual WIB membership, an opportunity to connect with industry leaders, and access to an exclusive network of women founders.

Many people may visit Brown County to take in the fall colors, but that’s not the only place in Indiana that has beautiful autumn views to offer. Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust (or CILTI), joined us today to share some other areas you may enjoy.

  1. Burnett Woods in Avon. While Hoosiers often think of driving through hilly areas for leaf peeping, Burnett Woods offers a unique option because its colors are on display in a flat wooded area. A stroll through this incredibly diverse forest provides a close-up view of the many layers and strata of colors that come from a wide range of tree species. The added bonus? It’s an easy walk, so it’s good for young kids or those with some mobility issues. One tip: Expect to encounter some road construction on the way to Burnett Woods, but don’t let that deter you from this fall color display.
  1. Blossom Hollow in Johnson County. You’ll find a more traditional, hilly leaf-peeping adventure at Blossom Hollow, but you’ll enjoy being away from the crowd. Walking through Blossom Hollow lets you experience nature’s fall display up close, especially those created by Indiana’s native hardwood trees. You’ll also mike catch a glimpse of migratory birds and nesting songbirds. Round out your outing with a stop at nearby Apple Works for apples, you-pick pumpkins and fresh-squeezed cider.
  1. Meyer Nature Preserve in Morgan County. Even the parking lot at Morgan County’s Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve is a colorful treat, as it provides an up-close view of a magnificent black gum tree (photo attached), which serves up arguably the prettiest autumn color found in Indiana. The brilliant red leaves are even brighter than those of the beloved red maple. Heading on into the woods you’ll see more gorgeous leaves, but don’t spend all of your time looking up: Enjoy the ground-level colors from flowering plants like the blue aster, and blue-stemmed and heart-leaved goldenrod. 
  1. Fort Harrison State Park. While it’s not a CILTI preserve, we’re happy to urge people to reduce their leaf-peeping carbon footprint by visiting nearby Fort Harrison State Park. With dedicated nature preserves within its boundaries, the park give visitors amazing topography to wander, where they can enjoy the wide spectrum of colors created by a diversity of trees. With a number of trails and paved pathways, the park makes fall colors accessible to anyone, whether you’re looking for a rugged hike or a casual stroll.

NASHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A list of names appears below an athletic team photo on Page 31 of Brown County High School’s 2020 yearbook.

At first glance, nothing seems askew. The coach and student-athlete names are typed out in sentence case and separated with commas.

But an all-caps label in the seventh line is difficult to miss if you give the caption more than a cursory glance. It’s not a name. It says “BLACK GUY.”

The student seated in the second row between Blake and Seth is listed as “BLACK GUY” in his high school yearbook.

“This is a clear violation of our nondiscrimination policy,” Dr. Laura Hammack, superintendent of Brown County Schools, said Monday night in a Facebook Live video.

She apologized in a letter to school families and said the district would consider disciplinary action after completing a thorough investigation.

Administrators could not explain who typed the caption and who approved Page 31 of the high school yearbook for publication.

Hammack declined News 8’s interview request and did not respond to questions about the yearbook staff’s review process.

The superintendent described the incident as “egregious” and “truly incomprehensible” in her video but repeatedly characterized it as an “error” rather than an act of racism.

Charlee Ison, a Brown County resident who has three children enrolled in district schools, said, “That was not an error at all and somebody needs to be held accountable for their actions.”

“We have biracial family members. It is very hurtful,” Ison said.

She recommended termination of yearbook staff members involved in the incident. Apologies alone are insufficient, she said.

Erika Bryenton, another Brown County parent, also denounced the caption as inexcusable but said “punishment isn’t the answer.”

“I know the editor of the yearbook and I know for a fact they would never allow something like that to happen on purpose,” Bryenton told News 8. 

The student mislabeled in the yearbook has not spoken publicly about it. School administrators are working with the student’s family to address the situation, the superintendent said.

“We are committed to ensuring that Brown County Schools provide a welcoming, safe, inclusive and equitable school community,” she wrote in her letter to parents.

NASHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Quaff ON! Brewing Co. in Nashville is planning to relocate and build a new 20,000-square-foot brewery at Hard Truth Hills in Brown County. The brewery says the decision is a result of increased product demand and company growth.

Construction for the new brewery is expected to begin next spring. The brewery says beer production and tours will start fall 2021.

“By moving the brewing company to our destination distillery campus, we now have a one-of-a-kind facility in southern Indiana with unforgettable experiences for our visitors. Everything from Big Woods at Hard Truth Hills, craft spirits and craft beer are all made onsite,” said Jeff McCabe, co-founder and executive chairman of BWQOHT Inc. “Our main priority has always been to ‘wow’ our guests, and this move will take our offerings at Hard Truth Hills to the next level.”

Quaff ON! Brewing Co. began operations in 2012 and is one of three brands within the Big Woods Restaurant Group, BWQOHT Inc., umbrella.

The company says the brewery will be built north of the distillery on Hard Truth Hills’ 325-acre property. The new facility is expected to double brewing production and add six brewing company staff.

Currently, Quaff ON! beers and Hard Truth Distilling Co. spirits are distributed at more than 2,000 locations throughout Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky as well as all seven Big Woods restaurant locations.

“By relocating the production of Quaff ON!, we look forward to providing additional access to consumers and ultimately visitors at Hard Truth Hills,” said Derek Clifford, brewery general manager for Quaff ON! Brewing Co. “Hard Truth Hill’s visitors will be able to sit outside enjoying an ice-cold Quaff ON! beer while watching the Brew Crew in action. The customer will have an excellent view of the cellar which is where you will find the fermenters and brite tanks. These tanks are planned to be larger than our current vessels providing Quaff ON! the space needed to expand production across state borders.”

The new brewery will include a spent grain system, which the group says makes it easier for local farmers to receive the used grains. In addition, the system allows for cleaner and more efficient operations for the environment.

BWQOHT Inc. is partnering with Westfield-based EdgeRock Development which plans to convert the former brewery site into Orchard Hill Apartments.

NASHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Big Woods Restaurants is planning to reopen The Original Big Woods Restaurant in Nashville with a new menu concept and a new dining experience. Big Woods says guests can dine-in and check out the new menu starting June 22.

The Brown County restaurant says its new menu will feature high-end versions of regional comfort food.

Big Woods says the restaurant will continue to be a 21-and-older venue and will feature local craft beverages from its sister brands Hard Truth Distilling Co. and Quaff ON! Brewing Co. The new cocktail menu will complement the updated cuisine and includes several premium whiskey offerings.

“With three restaurants located in Nashville, Indiana, we wanted to provide a different experience and menu at each location. It is important to us that The Original location on Molly’s Lane, which has been around more than a decade, continues to embody the Big Woods spirit and experience, and that is why we launched this new concept to highlight Midwestern and Southern food and Nashville staples,” said Ed Ryan, chief executive officer of BWQOHT Inc., parent of Big Woods Restaurants.

The restaurant says it will provide seating for approximately 54 guests, including a seven-seat bar and 26 patio seats.

Casey Schaefer, head chef for The Original, says, “The Original will offer an increased level of hospitality with one-of-a-kind handcrafted menu items along with a unique, new type of dining experience not offered anywhere else in the area that will leave guests craving more.”

Big Woods Restaurants are currently operating at 50% capacity in accordance with Governor Holcomb’s Back On Track Indiana plan. When The Original reopens, it expects to open at 75% capacity with bar seating open at 50% capacity.

NASHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Sugar Creek Barbecue Company has struggled not only with getting through the COVID-19 pandemic like any small business, it’s also faced other unexpected challenges.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” co-owner Chris Johns said.

Johns says the barbecue restaurant was looking forward to a profitable 2020 before the pandemic hit, but tough challenges came with it, including a shortage of meat and the news that their lease at 4359 State Road 46 would not be renewed.

However, they’ve used this uncertain time to give back and they had people on the front lines in mind.

“It’s kind of been our business model since we started,” Johns said. “We never really did it to get rich, but try to help out our neighbors in our community and the community’s helped us out through all this.”

Through their “Feed the Fearless” campaign in Brown County, the restaurant helped feed nearly 400 health care workers and first responders for free. Now, Johns hopes, as the restaurant transitions into its new location, the community will double down with its support.

“All the support means the world to us,” he said. “We can definitely use it.”

Sugar Creek Barbecue is available for carryout. Go to the restaurant’s Facebook page for more information.

If you stop by, Johns recommends the house brisket with the competition rub. “It’s smoked and no sauce needed.”

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb said it was “completely my fault” when he did not wear a face mask as he picked up dinner for himself and his wife during a weekend outing in Brown County.

In the state’s Monday coronavirus briefing, Holcomb said he posed for photo with a restaurant owner and her daughter when picking up an order from the Nashville business. The governor also had issued an apology in a statement Sunday night.

The governor’s Back on Track plan released Friday recommends that residents wear face coverings in public settings through June 13. After that date, the wearing of face masks is optional, although high-risk populations are recommended to continue wearing masks. Also, the recommendation may change if data shows a resurgence of the coronavirus.

He said he had planned to have had his mask on, get the food and then walk out. When the owner requested the photo with her daughter, the governor said he should have went to the car and gotten his mask.

“No, it’s not … ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ It was a reminder for me, that six-second photo op. I went in to frequent a local dining establishment. I like to make sure that I’m doing my part while they’re weathering this storm, and it was an unforced error, completely my fault.

“I actually looked at a bench down in Brown County, right by that particular restaurant, and it had a quote on the bench that should have been a sign to me that, get my mask out. I take a mask everywhere I go. I had the mask in the car. And the quote on that bench from ‘Abe Martin’: ‘Ther’s too many folks confusin temptation with opportunity.'”

The cartoon “Abe Martin” from 1904 to 1937 often used Hoosier vernacular. Abe Martin was a character in the cartoon of the same name introduced in The Indianapolis News. Indiana cartoonist, humorist and journalist Kin Hubbard created “Abe Martin.” In 1932, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources dedicated Brown County State Park to Hubbard and named the park’s guest accommodations the Abe Martin Lodge.

Holcomb mentioned the weather was beautiful, and he noted he was outside as many Hoosiers were in the warm temperatures. He said Monday he regretted the chance to educate Hoosiers by wearing his mask.

“That would have been the absolute, ideal, perfect opportunity to take that photo properly social distanced with the mask on,” he said.

Despite his situation, Holcomb said, “This should be a reminder not just for me to break old bad habits, this should be reminder for everyone, especially folks who are voluntarily seeking to break the rules or the recommendations. Again, wearing a mask is a recommendation, something that we highly, highly recommend. I’ll be subscribing to it now 100% of the time, not just 99% of the time.”

Indiana coronavirus timeline

NASHVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A medical device company in Brown County is developing technology to help in the fight against bed sores. Wave Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Bussert Medical Inc. in Nashville, has raised $500,000 from investors to further develop the device, which has captured the attention of the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. Chief Executive Officer Jessica Bussert says the patent pending device combines existing technology designed to eliminate the pressure that causes bed sores with a compression component that improves blood circulation.

Wave says bed sores are the cause of more than 60,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. The startup says the current best-in-class product on the market to prevent bed sores has a retail price of more than $4,000.

“(There are) very expensive devices that actually have air bladders that inflate side to side and alternate the pressure points. That’s the current state-of-the-art,” said Bussert. “What Wave has done is we’ve taken that alternative pressure state-of-the-art and improved it by adding a sequential compression component to it. So not only are we eliminating those pressure hot spots, but we’re actively promoting return blood flow from the extremities back to the heart and lungs for reoxygenation.”

Bussert says she expects the retail price for the Wave device could be around $300. To help further the device’s development, the Veterans Health Administration has authorized two clinical studies of the device at VA hospitals throughout the country.

“The reason why this is so exciting is in the United States, the largest single healthcare provider there is is the Veterans Health Administration. They’re my biggest potential customer and they’re interested enough in my product that they’re going to invest in two studies into it.”

Bussert says the initial product that will include the technology will be a wheelchair cushion, but plans are in place for full mattress toppers, neo-natal beds, and stretcher mattresses. She adds the company has also identified uses for the military, as well as people sit for extended periods of time such as frequent fliers and long-haul truck drivers.

Bussert explains how the idea for the device came to her.

Additionally, Wave Therapeutics has brought on Ricardo Vasquez as its chief medical officer. Vasquez is a board certified vascular surgeon who comes from the Vascular Center and Vein Clinic in Bloomington. 

“I originally approached him to seek assistance with doing some initial clinical tests and he was so excited about this new technology that he really wanted to play a part in it,” said Bussert. “My healthcare background is limited to emergency room nursing so having that added expertise of a board certified vascular surgeon is incredible.”

Vasquez will also become a 15% equity-share partner in the business.