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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.

Mayoral Bicentennial Address

Dear Citizens of Rushville and Rush County:

It is with extreme pride that I reminisce on the past year of Bicentennial celebrations. The City of Rushville have been full of joyous celebration of the past 200 years of Rush County success. It is my deep honor to serve as the Mayor of Rushville during this momentous time. Over the past year, I have witnessed the community come together in a way that I have never seen before. Rush County’s Bicentennial celebration was the work of a thousand different hands. Today, I would like to recognize both the events and hands that made this past year of celebration spectacular.

Over the past year, thousands of people have flooded into Rushville to celebrate Rush County’s Bicentennial. From the Throwback Thursday historical film showings to the Celebration Saturdays to the culminating Bicentennial Concert, the City of Rushville has seen record-breaking growth in our downtown corridor. Driving into downtown, people are met with the newest art additions celebrating Rush County’s heritage: the Bicentennial mural, the downtown art restoration, the RUSH sculpture, and the larger-than-life guitar. Walking on main street, you see Bicentennial promotions all around. The over the street banners, pole banners, and merchandise (t-shirts, buttons, flags, cups, cookbooks, history books, coloring books), truly exhibit Rushville’s pride in celebrating its 200th birthday. Pulling out your phone, you can visit the Bicentennial website and social media. The place where information about Bicentennial Bargain Days, the stamp cancellation, and the 200 Bicentennial trees sponsored by Duke Energy. Rush County has been wholeheartedly celebrating its Bicentennial in big ways for 365 days.

However, the small things cannot go unnoticed as well: the Bicentennial ribbons awards during the Rush County Fair, the historical posters on Main Street, the Fastest Kid Bicentennial Race, the 4th of July Feature TQ Midget Bicentennial Race, the Bicentennial Pickle Ball Tournament, the 200 bike helmets given out by the Rushville police department, and more. Both the big and the small projects celebrated Rush County’s history in a hundred different ways.

While Rush County Bicentennial celebrations were all around, the City of Rushville also saw numerous complimentary projects continue to grow. With a historic investment of $259 million into a 700,00 sq. ft. facility, Diamond Pet Food officially broke ground in September. Recently, it was announced that the REC Community Center has reached full funding ($24 million) and will be breaking ground within the next year. The Jefferson Helm House has received $100,000 toward the restoration of the historic house. Milroy saw a new mural. The Rush County Courthouse has a new roof and tuckpointing. The Commerce Park @ Rushville saw its first addition with the Frito-Lay Distribution center. 2022 will forever have a place in history as the greatest Bicentennial celebration and the year of outstanding economic development.

To the citizens of Rushville, thank you for giving us this opportunity to celebrate. We are living in history, and the citizens of Rush County are continuing to make it a history to remember. Rushville is a city small in numbers, but not in spirit. It is because of you that this year was such a success. I am constantly blown away by the support, love, and passion that residents of Rushville have toward this great city, county, and community.

I would like to personally thank the behind-the-scenes hands that made the Bicentennial Celebration a success. Brian Sheehan chaired the Rush County Bicentennial Committee and acted as the guiding force in many of the events, activities, and celebrations that happened this past year. The City of Rushville Interns (Nicholas Neuman, Riley Sheehan, Lexey Yager, Nick Lawler, and Carter Tague) dedicated countless hours to ensuring that many of Brian and I’s crazy Bicentennial ideas came to fruition. The City of Rushville Fire, Police, Street, and Utilities departments worked constantly monitoring events and helping them flow smoothly.

This Bicentennial Celebration would not have been possible without the generous giving of our donors and supporters. The City of Rushville, Rush County Community Foundation, Emerson Copeland, Rush County Government, Riverside Park, and Rush County Chamber of Commerce, along with dozens of others financially supported our Bicentennial Celebrations.

It is truly amazing that the City, County, and Community has been able to accomplish so much in so little time. From record attendance to record investment, the City of Rushville and Rush County have thrived during our Bicentennial year. We are forever thankful for the opportunity to celebrate our people, and we are further committed to capitalizing on this momentum and ensuring that Rush County continues to lead the way in rural Indiana for the next 200 years. For one last time, Happy Bicentennial, Rush County!

Grateful for this great city,

Mayor Mike Pavey

200 Trees Planted for Rush County’s Bicentennial

On Saturday, October 22nd, The City of Rushville Parks Department and countless volunteers planted 200 tree to celebrate Rush County’s Bicentennial year. The Bicentennial Tree Project was financed through the generous support of a Duke Energy Nature Grant.

The City of Rushville currently has seven active parks totaling over 80 acres (North and South Memorial, Carol Jenkins-Davis, Laughlin, Discovery, Willkie, and Riverside). Many of the parks boast wide-paved trails that are stroller and ADA wheelchair accessible. The paths are frequented by walkers, yet still lack the natural growth that would bring them to their full beauty. This addition of 200 trees to the Rushville Parks system will continue to aid in the beautification and conservation efforts of the Parks Department.

“Planting 200 trees for a Bicentennial celebration is almost unheard of,” comments Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey. “But through the support of Duke Energy, Rushville is once again making a commitment to Rush County and its beautiful parks systems.”

Historically, Rushville has lost several mature trees to INDOT projects, storms, and the infestation of the emerald ash borer. This project, and accompanying grant, is dedicated to creating shade and overall visual improvement in our underdeveloped parks and properties. The Rushville Bicentennial Tree Project serves as a commitment to a cleaner, greener community and the next 200 years.

This project was made possible by countless volunteers and City of Rushville employees that dedicated their time and effort toward the rejuvenation of the Parks’ green spaces. The Duke Energy Grant was co-authored by Kathi Jackley (Parks Department Natural Resource and Program Coordinator) and Nicholas Neuman (City of Rushville Intern). The planting was coordinated by Kathi Jackley and the City of Rushville Parks Department. This tree planting was just one small part in Rush County’s Bicentennial celebration and Rushville’s parks beautification. It is because of the support of Duke Energy, the work of the Parks and Recreation Department, and the support of the community that this project was possible.

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. 

Rush County Bicentennial Commemorative Items Available for Purchase

As Rush County’s Bicentennial year concludes, commemorative items are being made available for purchase to continue honoring, celebrating, and remembering Rush County’s 200th year. Commemorative prints, Christmas Ornaments, Bicentennial banners, and the Bicentennial Book are some of the final items that will be made available for purchase as we celebrate Rush County’s Bicentennial.

PRINTS: The City of Rushville and Rush County Bicentennial Committee commissioned artist Jingo de la Rosa of Indianapolis to create seven commemorate Bicentennial watercolor prints. The Bicentennial watercolor set includes the following historic Rush County locations/events: Rush County Courthouse, Rushville City Center, Kennedy Covered Bridge, Rushville Amphitheater and Concert Series, TQ Midget Race, Steam Engine Show, and Rushville’s Main Street.

“These Bicentennial watercolor prints will capture the history of Rush County as we see it today,” comments Brian Sheehan, Bicentennial Committee Chairman. “In 50 years, we will reflect back on these prints and continued to be impressed by the growth of Rush County.”

Taking inspiration from the 1972 Sesquicentennial black and white prints, these watercolor prints can be purchased at the City Center. Only 100 sets are available for purchase. The Bicentennial print set will be available for purchase for $50. Thank you to HWC Engineering and Hoosier Solar for sponsoring the creation and printing of these Bicentennial prints.

ORNAMENTS: Bicentennial Christmas Ornaments are available for purchase for $10 from the City Center and Mocha Moose. The ornament features the Rush County Bicentennial design cast in custom soft enamel. Only about 70 remain. These prints and ornaments will make for an amazing Christmas/holiday gift.

BANNERS: Bicentennial Banners that were displayed downtown throughout the Bicentennial year are also for sale. They are $50 per banner. All three types/colors are available for purchase. The money raised from this will help the City of Rushville and Heart of Rushville purchase new street banners for downtown celebrations. There are only 17 of each type available.

BOOK: The Rush County Bicentennial Books are still available for purchase at the Rushville Public Library. Reflections of Rush County is a 128-page book that contains the history of Rush County from its creation in 1822 to present-day 2022. The cost of the book is $40 plus tax payable to the Rushville Public Library. To purchase a book, visit the Library at 130 W. Third Street or call at (765) 932 – 3496. Only 30 copies remain!

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.

Diamond Pet Food Groundbreaking in Rushville

Governor Eric J. Holcomb joined Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey and executives from Diamond Pet Foods today to announce the company’s plans to build a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in Indiana to support its Midwest client base. To support the new $259 million state-of-the-art operation, the company plans to create up to 170 new jobs by the end of 2024.

“We couldn’t be prouder to welcome one of the world’s largest privately held pet food manufacturers to Indiana’s thriving economic ecosystem,” said Gov. Holcomb. “The Crossroads of America is where agriculture and innovation perfectly intersect, and precisely where our number one ranked infrastructure program, high quality of place and access to talent all contribute to support Diamond’s impressive goals and growth. I’m confident, together, we’ll find success in Indiana for generations to come.”

Founded in 1970, Diamond Pet Foods is a family-owned business headquartered in Meta, Mo. that produces cat and dog food from U.S.-sourced ingredients. The new facility, located at 2606 North State Road 3 in Rushville, will be the company’s first in Indiana and will house production and distribution operations, increasing the company’s output to Midwest clients. Construction is underway, and the facility is expected to be operational in 2024.

“We are excited to choose Rushville for its proximity to suppliers as well as the community’s skilled workforce,” said Mike Kampeter, president of Diamond Pet Foods. “This new state-of-the-art facility will allow us to continue offering quality pet food at prices pet parents can feel good about. We look forward to adding Rushville and Indiana to the Diamond family.”

The company employs more than 1,000 associates in its Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, South Carolina and two California locations. Information about open positions will be made available online.

Diamond Pet Foods is growing its Midwest presence due to increasing demand for pet food as well as an increase in U.S. pet ownership over the last several years.

“Rushville is truly fortunate to have Diamond Pet Foods growing their company here,” said Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey. “The leadership of Diamond Pet Foods understands rural communities. They will have a positive impact to Rush County for generations.”

Based on the company’s job creation plans, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) committed an investment in Schell & Kampeter Inc. (dba Diamond Pet Foods) of up to $1.5 million in the form of incentive-based tax credits and up to $300,000 in the local community from the Industrial Development Grant Fund to support infrastructure improvements. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and investments are made. The city of Rushville offered additional incentives.

Rush County Comedy Show was a Hit

On September 24th, the Princess Theater welcomed six comedians and 156 guests through its doors for the final Rush County Bicentennial Event. The comedy show was well received with laughter filling the Princess Theater the entire evening.

The Rush County Comedy show was the final Bicentennial Celebration Saturday events. In the first-ever show of its kinds, comedians Jake Smith, Brent Terhune, Dyke Michaels, Dustin Burkert, Shannon Rostin, and Conor Delehanty took center stage in front of a packed audience. Rushville own, Jake Smith, acted as the host of the event with Brent Terhun serving as the headliner of the night. The event was sponsored and made possible by Larry Mull and Elevate Entertainment & Events, LLC. Beverages were provided by BarMaids.

“The Rush County Comedy show marks a new beginning for events and programming in the City Center and Princess Theater through its creative use of the space and facilities,” comments Mayor Mike Pavey. “Since its restoration, we have aimed to host events like this in the Princess Theater. It was refreshing to see our goal become a reality.”   While Bicentennial events may be coming to a close, programming is still ongoing. As the Christmas season approaches, commemorative Bicentennial prints and ornaments will be made available for purchase. For questions concerning the Bicentennial celebrations, contact Brian Sheehan, Bicentennial Committee Chairman, at (765) 932 – 3735.