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City Announces New Street Commissioner

Mayor Mike Pavey announced at the most recent City Council meeting that Mike Land was named the new Street Commissioner effective January 1, 2023. 

Mike, a veteran of the street department, began his career with the City in November of 2004.  Land has served the City as Assistant Street Commissioner since January 1, 2012. Land has assisted in all areas of operation for the department and has worked alongside former commissioner Jemmy Miller, who recently retired after 29 years with the department.  Land played a key role in the Community Crossing Matching Grant process that has provided numerous upgrades to City Streets since its inception in 2016.  Mike and his wife Karena have two children and two grandchildren.

“For those who are close to the City or Street Department this shouldn’t come as any surprise,” comments Mayor Pavey. “Mike has been working alongside Jemmy Miller for the last several years preparing for the day he would be handed the reigns. It is with great pride that we see an employee rise through the ranks to department head.”

It was further announced that Tompaul Owens was promoted to working foreman effective January 1, 2023 and will serve as assistant to Land. He began his employment with the street department in February of 2001. Since 2019, he has served as crew leader on the jobsite and will continue to do so while also taking on a larger role in planning and management. Tompaul and his wife, Whitney, have two children, Jaylen and Tressler.

For more information about the City of Rushville Street Department visit www.cityofrushville.in.gov > Departments & Services > Street Department. You can contact Street Commissioner Mike Land at streetcommissioner@www.cityofrushville.in.gov or 765-932-2575.

Bust of Wendell Willkie Donated to the City of Rushville

The Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute has donated a plaster bust of Hoosier statesman Wendell Willkie to the City of Rushville where it is now on display in the City Hall.

 “We are eternally grateful to the Swope Art Museum for their donation of this bust,” comments Mike Pavey, Mayor of the City of Rushville. “This bust will stand in the City Council chambers and look over the proceedings of our great City.”

The life-sized bust had been at the Swope since 1948, and was done by Edmondo Quattrocchi, a talented sculptor of the first half of the 20th Century. It was a gift of Mrs. Edith Willkie, the widow of Wendell.  The bust was deaccessioned in 2010 by the Swope and has been in storage awaiting a proper relocation. The relocation of this bust was coordinated by David Willkie, the grandson of Wendell Willkie.

“It is fitting that his bust, one of the few known of Wendell Willkie, be on display in Rushville where the Willkies are buried,” said Fred J. Nation, executive director of the Swope Art Museum.  “It will be a meaningful addition to the city’s remembrance of one of Indiana’s most famous sons.”

“The Bicentennial Committee would like to extend its thanks to the Swope Art Museum for the donation of the Willkie bust,” adds Brian Sheehan, Rush County Bicentennial Committee Chairman. “The timing could not have been more perfect. This bust of Willkie pays homage to the role that he played in making Rush County’s 200 year history, historic.”

ABOUT WILLKIE: Willkie, the Republican party’s presidential candidate in 1940, was born in Elwood, Indiana in 1892.  He was a graduate of Indiana University where Willkie Quadrangle is named after him.  After becoming a lawyer, he worked for Firestone Tire and Rubber in Akron, Ohio, later became a utility executive and in 1933 became president of Commonwealth and Southern Corp., a major utility.  He was active in national politics and in 1939 switched from the Democratic to Republican party. As an internationalist, he was the Republican nominee opposing President Roosevelt’s bid for a third term. After his loss, he became a key advisor to Roosevelt advocating for US participation in the war against the Nazis. Wendell Willkie died in 1944 and his wife Edith, a native of Rushville, had him buried in her hometown.  He and Edith are buried in Rushville’s East Hill Cemetery. 

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Quattrocchi, the sculptor of the Willkie bust, was born in Italy, moved to New York where he studied.  He executed a number of portrait busts including one of Frederick MacMonnies and a full-length statue of Benjamin Franklin at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. 

Rushville is Recognized as a “Thriving Rural Community”

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch was joined by other state, regional and local officials Thursday morning at City Hall for what she called a “Thriving Rural Communities” roundtable discussion.

The focus of the gathering was economic growth and how the state can better partner with Hoosier counties and communities to improve quality of life and attract new investments.

Crouch said that according to a report recently issued by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research titled The State of the Rural Economy in Indiana, several rural Indiana counties, including Rush County, are projected for growth as the state’s post-pandemic economy continues to grow.

“Good things are happening in Rushville. You all know how to make things happen and work together,” Crouch said in her opening remarks.

The Rushville roundtable was one of six Crouch is hosting throughout the state and included David Terrell from Ball State, Denny Spinner from Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs, State Senator Jean Leising, Mayor Mike Pavey, representatives from the Rush County Board of Commissioners and County Council, John McCane from the local Economic and Community Development Corporation, and several others.

“With at least 22% of all Hoosiers living in rural areas, these communities are vital to the health of the state,” Crouch said. “We can look at pages and pages of data, but I want to hear from community leaders around the state on what is being done successfully and what the state can do to help because I want to ensure all rural Indiana counties are poised for growth.”

In 2020, Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development and Ball State’s Indiana Communities Institute collaborated to issue The Rural Road to Recovery as a blueprint for placing Indiana’s small cities and town on the road to recovery in the wake of COVID-19. As a follow-up to that report, OCRA commissioned Ball State to begin research for The State of the Rural Economy in Indiana.

During Thursday’s roundtable, Terrell shared highlights from that report. He noted that while Rush County had steadily been losing residents for decades, population loss stabilized in 2016 and the number of people living there has remained consistent since then, which he said was a positive development in and of itself.

“We follow Rush County,” he said. “It’s a fascinating community.”

Terrell said there are many factors that contribute to a community’s ability to grow and prosper including good schools, the availability of housing, and people who are willing to travel for work.

Other factors he said were important included regional collaboration and planning, and investments in infrastructure and quality of life amenities.

Spinner spoke about the success of the STELLAR Communities program and more regional approaches the state has initiated such as the READI grants program. Rush County benefited from both.

Rushville Director of Special Projects Brian Sheehan later shared some statistics that he said demonstrate programs like STELLAR work.

“In 2016 we won the STELLAR Award,” he said. “The city had to provide a match of $4 million, the state provided $8 million in tax credits for housing projects, and about $6 million was split between OCRA and INDOT for downtown beautification projects. That’s a total of $18 million, and since that point I’ve been tracking 178 projects that have happened in the city of Rushville that total $409 million including the $259 million that will be spent over the next two years bringing Diamond to town. I’d say that’s a pretty decent return on investment when you look back on the money we put into the STELLAR program.”

Crouch asked those in attendance for their thoughts about what else the state can do to help fuel the engines of economic growth.

Leising said she would like to see Ind. 3 be improved to serve as a better connector between I-74 and I-70 and pledged to continue to try to convince INDOT such an investment would be worthwhile.

She also talked about improving services at Indiana’s rural hospital, specifically about those hospitals in her district that don’t deliver newborn babies.

Crouch mentioned the importance of good schools and Terrell noted that over the years Rush County has consistently provided a good education for its students.

“Good school systems drive population growth,” he said.

In wrapping things up, Crouch thanked the roundtable participants for their efforts and said she thought the meeting had been very productive and beneficial.

City of Rushville and Ivy Tech Launch New Achieve your Degree Program

Through a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, the City of Rushville is launching a new Achieve your Degree Program for interested City employees. On Tuesday, July 19th over 25 City employees attended a presentation by Mayor Mike Pavey, City of Rushville; Mary Roller, Ivy Tech; and Leslie Shaul, Rush County ECDC, concerning the program.

“Rushville is the first city in Indiana to partner with Ivy Tech for this new program,” comments Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey. “From education to beautification, we are proud to be leading the way in rural Indiana.”

At no expense to the person, any City employee may take one Ivy Tech class per semester completely paid for by the City of Rushville. Classes can either be in their area of expertise or an elective area that they would like to explore. City employees have the opportunity to login to a specially designed Ivy Tech portal for this opportunity. Following the complete of the class with a C average or above, the employee turns their tuition expense into the City for payment.

The Achieve your Degree program is the first of its kind for municipal government and a joint effort by the City of Rushville and Ivy Tech to promote professional development and continued learning education.

Mayor Donates Medal Lion Art to RCHS Athletic Department

On Wednesday, July 27th, Mayor Mike Pavey donated a metal lion art fixture to the Rushville Consolidated High School athletic department. This donation serves as a “leave behind” for Rush County’s Bicentennial celebration and a way to recognize the class of 2022, the Bicentennial class.

The mascot logo was presented to Rush County Schools Superintendent Jim Jameson, RCHS Principal Rob Hadley, and Athletic Director Melissa Marlow. Included in the presentation were the graduated seniors of the 2021-22 Rushville Lions Football Team: Adam Sizemore, Jonah Shuppert, Layne Beard, Nick Pavey, John Alexander, Devin Richardson, and Nash Paddack.

“I thought that having the graduated football team help with the presentation was a perfect example of the message we are hoping to leave with future students,” says Pavey. “The entire community and I take great pride in the students that graduate from our local school system. This donation is a small, but visible token of that pride.”

The mascot logo will be placed outside of the main entrance to RCHS Memorial Gym. It will be a focal point and photo opportunity for visitors of the school. A plaque underneath the metal lion will read “In honor of the Bicentennial Class of 2022, ‘Victory isn’t defined by wins or losses. It is defined by effort. If you can truthfully say ‘I did the best I could, I gave everything I had,’ then you’re a winner.’ Always find the positive and always set your sights far beyond tomorrow. Presented by Mayor Mike Pavey.” Funds for the project came from revenue raised by the Mayor through his annual 5K fundraising efforts. The mascot logo was designed by Shelle Designs, built by Samantha Chandley of Samani Design and Fabrication and Chris Earman of Starweld, and powder coated by Pike’s Sand Blasting, all local Rush County businesses.