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Lanthier breaks ground on Hanover expansion
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Lanthier Winery and Distillery broke ground on a $1.5 million manufacturing and warehouse facility Friday at 431 West Lagrange Road in Hanover.

The business began operations in Madison in 1994 at 123 Mill Street, which for many years provided sufficient operating space. However, cellarmaster Chris Lanthier said with the winery now making 7,000 gallons of wine annually, the business is “totally out of space” to meet customer demand. He noted the business slowed a few years ago during the Milton-Madison bridge construction but “since we’ve been back on exponential growth, and we had to do something to meet our demand ... the wine making was suffering and the customer service was suffering so we started to think about how we would expand.”

The original plan was to expand near the Madison location, but Lanthier later purchased land from Auxier Investments in Hanover where there is room for even additional growth. “In the end it’s better than we thought because the future of this provides so many more options than we did in Madison,” Lanthier said. “We would have been really limited there.”

Lanthier said the Hanover property provides space to expand both to the south and west of where the new facility will be built.

“We are purchasing four new wine tanks that are going to more than double our wine-making capacity,” he said. “It’s going to be a high-tech facility” that will allow wine to be processed in “20% of the time that it takes us now. That’s 75% reduction in energy cost, 50% reduction in our losses of alcohol. The quality will be better.”

Lanthier said that new capacity should serve the winery well now and in the immediate future but the hope is for continued growth of production capability as well as providing a facility for on-site storage and warehousing.

“This will be good for at least 10 years we think for production,” Lanthier said, noting he anticipates more expansion down the road. The new manufacturing and warehouse facilities will consolidate and improve business operations.“Right now, we rent off-site storage so that will all move here. We can consolidate our operation, make everything more efficient, and make the retail (location in Madison) more efficient too.”

Lanthier partners in the business with his wife, Tami Hagemier, who said that whenever they opt to retire, Terrence McCarthy, the company’s distiller, will take over ownership. Lanthier said they anticipate the Hanover facility will serve the winery “for 40 to 50 years operation. We’re really excited. We own two acres here and we have got room to do all that. And with the zoning changes Hanover has given us, we can do even more. Currently this will just be manufacturing and warehousing” but there are also other possibilities including adding a retail location, perhaps a restaurant, or even a brewery. “There are a lot of things we could do,” he said.

Hanover Town Council President Kenny Garrett voiced his appreciation to Lanthier Winery and Distillery for expanding in Hanover. “On behalf of the Council and the town of Hanover, we congratulate you on your new addition to your business,” Garrett said. “We thank you for picking Hanover to have it. We think it’s going to be a great addition to our town. Right now, our town is really growing ... We congratulate you and look forward to working with you for many years to come, and hope everything flourishes for you in Hanover.”

Southwestern High School held its annual prom Saturday at the Ole Red Barn near Hanover. Those crowned included (from left): William Leach, king; Meaghan Kramer, queen; Parker Mefford, princess; and Jordan DeAtley, prince.

Rebel Royalty

Health Department beginning new chapter with Monroe retirement, Wyne hiring
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Tammy Monroe has worked at the Jefferson County Health Department 22 years — the last 10 as the County Health Administrator and the final two of that during a worldwide pandemic — but last Friday was her last day as she retired with Lindsey Wyne taking over the position Monday.

“I have loved working at the health department and serving Jefferson County,” said Monroe, but now she wants to retire and devote more time to her family. “I am going to miss working with the public” but the health department will be in good hands with Wyne as administrator and a good staff in place to continue the agency’s work.

“I think Lindsey is going to do a great job,” said Monroe. “She’s got a great personality. I like to think we have got things in enough order that it hopefully will be an easy transition. She has good experience and I think she’ll do a fine job. I wish her nothing but the best, and I’ve told her, and told the board members, I’m always a phone call way. It’s not like I’m moving away. Public health will always be near and dear to my heart, and I will still be cheering public health from the sidelines, so I am always willing to help.”

Wyne, a lifelong Jefferson County resident, grew up in Saluda Township, graduated from Southwestern High School and now owns a home in Hanover. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana University Southeast, she worked at Walgreens as an assistant manager and pharmacy tech, and then the last 8-1/2 years as an administrative assistant at LG&E’s Trimble County generating station at Wise’s Landing. At LG&E, she performed several different functions from office tasks to overseeing safety matters and working with human resources and more.

Wyne is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the county’s health administrator. “I like helping and being involved in things going on, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to work in the county I grew up in a role that gets to help people. That definitely has made me excited about the opportunity,” she said.

At the same time, Wyne said replacing Monroe involves “some big shoes to fill” considering Monroe’s experience and knowledge of the county healthy department.

Meanwhile, Monroe said she’s looking forward to being able “to spend more time with my younger girls” when she retires — Audrey, 13, and Tootsie, 4, along with being a grandmother since her daughter, Chelsi, 32, has a girl on the way. “It was just time for me to spend more time with them and help get them raised and enjoy being a Grandma,” said Monroe, who has been married to her husband, Scott, for 36 years.

As Monroe departs the health department, she feels good about her work there over the years. “When I started I never envisioned that I would one day be the administrator,” she said.

She began working at the health department as the receptionist then moved into the billing department and served in the home healh division before becoming assistant administrator and finally administrator.

A Madison Consolidated High School graduate, Monroe has lived all her life in Jefferson County, working earlier in doctor’s offices — first for Dr. Schirmer Riley at the Madison Clinic and later for Dr. Paul Cronen and Dr. Leon Michl.

“Dr. Riley and I had a long history,” noting that he was the county health officer when she first came to work at the health department. “He delivered me (as a baby), I worked for him at the clinic and I worked for him here” at the health department.

Monroe said while her medical background was an asset when she began working for the health department, “there was still a lot to learn when I came here because public health encompasses so many other things.” She noted the job also includes food safety, environmental safety, recording vital county records, nursing and much more.

“I knew a lot because of immunizations, communicable disease because you deal with those things in doctor’s offices as well, but that’s not the only thing public health involves,” she said. “A lot people don’t realize all the things the health department does until you come here to work and just discover so much more.”

Monroe took over as county health administrator at a time of turmoil after Ralph Armand, who had served as the county health administrator for 29 years, was dismissed from the position.

“I feel that was one of my biggest accomplishments in getting over that hurdle and gaining the confidence again of the public,” Monroe said. “I’ve always liked working with the public and helping people so I feel like I’ve helped the health department along with all the staff that is here currently that we got over that and regained that confidence.”

Another aspect of running the helath department is preparing and staying within a budget and providing taxpayers the best value for their dollars. “ I always took pride of being able to operate the health department within our budget, and being a good steward of taxpayer money when it came to the health department,” said said.

Monroe said “going through COVID” the last couple of years has been a big challenge to work through in itself and she’s proud of the work done by the county health department staff — work that continue long after she retires.

“We’re still dealing with it,” she said, noting that while local cases are currently low, Indiana Department of Health officials are indicating that COVID-19 is “something that we will continue to go through” and “we need to stay on our toes.”

For all that’s been achieved at the health department during her tenure, Monroe said, “I always want to take the opportunity to brag on the staff because the staff is what makes this job enjoyable and easy because they all do an amazing job.”

Board of Public Works OKs resolution to issue water bonds
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Madison’s Board of Public Works and Safety unanimously approved a resolution Monday to issue up to $13 million in waterworks revenue bonds to help refurbish the city’s drinking water infrastructure with the bonds to be repaid through a rate increase.

Madison Utilities Manager Brian Jackson cautioned that in order to secure a lower 2% interest rate, the city needs to close on the bonds by the fall. “Any delays will possibly jeopardize that 2% rate,” said Jackson, adding that if the timeline isn’t met, the loan process would have to restart and with interest rates currently rising, that could likely mean higher rates and costs for the project.

Mayor Bob Courtney agreed that any increase in interest rates would drive up cost for the project or force a scaling back of the upgrades.

“Timing is critical,” Courtney said. “If we miss the deadline in order to take advantage of the low cost financing, the implication is that interest rates go up” which that would create a “higher level of debt service” and “further rate adjustment” to absorb that increased debt or “cut your expenses” to reduce the amount of service you provide.

“So there is no good outcome relative to delaying this project where we miss the opportunity for low cost financing,” he said.

Courtney said the city’s drinking water infrastructure needs were identified during an asset management plan developed by city engineers to evaluate the water system and its needs. He said those needs “include a little bit of everything” from pumps and boosters, to treatment and storage and distribution.

He said the city sought grants and loans for the project prior to considering a bond issue. “We’ve exhausted the grant application process with state water infrastructure funding. And we’ve had numerous conversations with the Jefferson County Commissioners about financially supporting the project,” Courtney said. “Those conversations are still ongoing but have not materialized and there’s nothing firm yet, so we’re at a point where we have to deal with the increase in the rates that have not changed for 14 years.”

City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to implement rate increases at its last meeting and will hold the second reading at Wednesday’s meeting. The final vote on that ordinance could come at the May 17 council meeting when Courtney said there will be a public hearing followed by the third and final reading.

Courtney said last week the city has received a letter from the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) that the city’s preliminary engineering report has been approved for the project. Now, as the project moves toward the permitting and bidding process, Courtney said the city needs to focus on the revenue portion, which involves increasing water rates in order to support bond financing and demonstrate to the IFA that the city’s utility will have sufficient income to pay for the project.

“Nobody wants to pay higher water rates,” Courtney said. “We’ve worked really hard to keep water rates affordable. We have some of the most affordable water rates in the entire state but we do need to continue to invest in our infrastructure.”

“Even after the rate increase, we’ll still have some of the lowest rates in the state,” Jackson noted. “By investing in the infrastructure it will allow us to keep the lower rates as time moves forward into the future when we’re gone. If you don’t invest in your infrastructure now, you’re not going to have it later on.”

“We’re doing our best to be sure we have sustainable water supply. The only way to do that is to invest in our infrastructure,” Courtney said, noting the rate increase will average out to about $5.50 per household.

“We’ll be able to spread the cost not only for the borrowing of this investment but create a capital replacement reserve that’s extremely needed in order to self-fund maintenance and investment of our water system,” he said, adding the city can then “invest along the way to properly maintain” its infrastructure while continuing to provide affordable water rates to residents.

Courtney said the ordinance before city council will require that water rates be evaluated every five years establishing more frequent, regular evaluations of costs and the impact on inflation so “we can make more modest changes along the way that are more affordable ... rather than gigantic or monumental increases because the practical part of this is that we are supporting a business that is not supported at all by property taxes. It’s only supported by user fees.”

All documents related to the drinking water infrastructure project can be found on the city’s website with links provided on the utility department’s web page, Courtney said.