In the August issue of “Rider” magazine, columnist Eric Trow writes about a cross-country motorcycle trip with his son, Porter, and about a stop in historic Madison, Indiana, where an older gentleman greeted them with a joyful “Good morning” as they were searching for a coffee shop.
The older gentleman asked about the journey the father and son were on, and then told them about the city and his life in Madison.
Even though the article doesn’t mention the older gentleman by name, Wayne Stearns of North Vernon said “there can be little doubt” that the “older gentleman” was 89-year old Frank Hayes.
It’s actually an encounter Hayes remembers. “I do that with a lot of people,” he said. “I’m proud of our history here and everything Madison represents. We need to tell people about it.”
Hayes, who lives in an apartment above the Red Roaster Coffee and Eatery, 102 West Main Street, encountered the Trows there.
Eric Trow was impressed by the kindness Hayes had shown him and his son and wrote about that in the motorcycle publication.
“This is the small-town friendliness and hospitality I was drawn to as a young solo traveler, and it was wonderful to see Parker discovering it as well,” he wrote.
Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said recently it’s residents like Hayes who make Madison a special place to live and a special place for visitors and it’s for that reason Courtney presented Hayes a ceremonial key to the city.
“He’s been a wonderful ambassador for the community,” said Courtney.
In addition to the friendliness Hayes shares with passersby, he’s also philanthropic and donates to several local organizations including the Lide White Boys and Girls Club and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana.
Hayes is only the second person to receive a key since Courtney became Mayor in October of 2019 — the other being Elsie Perry-Payne, a long-time volunteer in the city, including leadership of the Pilot Club which holds Old Court Days twice a year around the Jefferson County Courthouse.
Hayes had lived in New York for 57 years before moving to Madison six years ago after his wife died in 2014. He moved into the apartment building — he calls it the old Lodge Brothers Furniture Store for the longtime business that occupied the structure for many years at the northwest corner of Main and West streets in downtown Madison — that has housed a coffee shop now for two decade. He spends much of his time out and about in the vicinity of the coffee shop, spreading kindness to the people he encounters.
Hayes was born in Indianapolis, but later moved to Jefferson County, where he attended Hanover High School. He went on to serve with US Air Force reconnaissance units from 1951-1955. Following his military discharge, he worked at Philco in Philadelphia before successfully moving on to a career involving several important engineering projects. For 12 years, he was president of the Iron Gate chapter of the Air Force Association in New York, and he’s been an active supporter of the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
During his time in the Air Force, Hayes said he “saw dozens of miracles one after the other” including surviving an airplane crash himself. Those experiences have strengthened his faith.
“After the airplane crash, I didn’t worry about things I couldn’t do anything about,” said Hayes. And even in the last year, Hayes has overcome a stroke, a bleeding ulcer and COVID-19.
Hayes credits Mary Beth Boone, owner of Blush on Main, for the support she gave him during his recent health challenges. He said Boone is one of the angels in his life.
But Boone thinks much of the phenomena of Hayes’ life is a “super tribute” to Frank.
“Because of the kindness he bestows on other people, he has blessings in his life,” she said. “He’s so good to people and kind.”
Boone noted that Hayes has made positivity his mantra.
“When I see something negative, I go the other way,” said Hayes. “I don’t have time in the day to waste on negativity.”
Hayes is happy to be in Madison — he’ll celebrate his 90th birthday her on Oct. 28 — and notes life has been good.
“There have been so many good things about my life, I can’t think of anything I would have changed,” he said.
Editor’s Note: For additional video coverage of this story, visit our media partner WKMNews.com
Progress on construction of the new Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Center is moving forward on schedule on Madison’s hilltop.
At Thursday’s Jefferson County Commissioners meeting, president David Bramer reported that work on the foundation is nearly complete, and Sheriff Dave Thomas said decisions on carpet and door colors are currently taking place.
“Work is pretty much on schedule,” Thomas said.
Bramer said the footprint of the building is “smaller than what I thought. There’s plenty of room for expansion,” he noted, should the county need to build larger at some point in the future.
The county broke ground July 24 on the new 300-bed jail, located at 1150 J.A. Berry Lane, and construction on the $45 million facility is slated to be completed in 2023.
Bramer said there has been a request to re-name J.A. Berry Lane from State Road 7 to Shun Pike as Veterans Parkway, a matter in which the Commissioners have not yet made a decision.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Followed up on plans for the $6.2 million the county received through the American Rescue Plan. In August, the Commissioners announced a draft of how they plan to spend half of what will be received this year — $3.1 million.
Commissioner Bobby Little said before finalizing how the money is spent the county should seek advice from Barnes and Thornburg attorneys in Indianapolis to be certain the money is allocated as designated.
“We felt it’s better to get a professional opinion before we start using it,” said County Auditor Heather Huff, noting if the county uses the money improperly, it will have to give the money back within 180 days. Huff suggested the possibility of scheduling a joint meeting between the County Council and the Commissioners before finalizing how the ARP money is spent.
• Huff talked about the need for air duct cleaning in the Courthouse, something she said has not been done since the Courthouse fire in 2009. “All the ducts need to be cleaned,” she said, noting they have been finding small black balls on surfaces, and they discovered that it’s coming from the ducts. One quote of $32,000 has been received, but the Commissioners will be seeking other bids for the work.
• Heard a request from Tami Hagemier, representing the Jefferson County Humane Society, in which she requested consideration of an increased budget for the Jefferson County Animal Shelter. With requests for increased staff, building improvements, animal medical treatment expenses and more, Hagemier said the current budget is not sufficient.
• Approved a limited use agreement between the county and the Town of Hanover that would allow for sharing information through the iWorQ software, designed for governmental entities to track building permits, planning, zoning and more. The Jefferson County Planning, Zoning and Building Inspection office is in the process of beginning utilization of the iWorQ software, which is already being used by Hanover’s Building and Zoning Department.
• Approved the purchase of a Savage Boom Mower 600A from Chamber American Products Inc. of Pioneer, Tennessee, at a cost of $120,000, due to malfunctions with current mowers. Bramer said two of the county’s surplus mowers will be put up for sale next week.
• Approved a contract for $3,600 with Integrity One Technologies of Indianapolis to scan all minutes of county meetings and provide searchable functions for finding information. Little noted that scanning the documents will decrease long-term wear-and-tear on county’s bound books and make them easier to search.
• Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Morgan reported on a $30,000 grant that had been received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to replace the perimeter fence at the Hanover wastewater treatment plant. Morgan said portions of the fence have holes and need to be replaced, and the county was able to obtain grant funding for a new fence.
Morgan also updated that the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency had received a $20,700 grant from the Community Foundation for a sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System) drone for use by county emergency officials and first responders. The new drone, which has been ordered but not yet received, will have infrared technology with thermal imagery that will allow for capturing images at night.
• Milton Township residents Barbara and Randy Romans returned with follow-up information after research on the scoring for the gravel road conversion program in which they have felt Bishop Hill Road should have scored higher, and were given assurance that the information will be reviewed and they will receive a response.
The Jefferson County Animal Shelter board has received at least five resumes for the shelter’s interim manager’s position and board members hope to begin going though those and any other applications received next week in order to have the position filled in November.
There will be no residency requirement for the position; however, board member Warren Auxier noted that he and others board members might give more consideration to a person who lives in the county and can access the facility quickly in the event of an emergency.
“There’s no residence requirement but it might be taken into consideration if the person lived 10 minutes from the shelter rather than an hour away,” Auxier said. However, he also pointed out that depending on qualifications and how a particular candidate presents in interviews with the selection committee, hiring outside the county could produce the best candidate.
The position was created at the board’s last meeting when the Jefferson County Animal Shelter (JCAS) board received notice that manager Jenny Slover will be off work for some time on medical leave. Employees, volunteers and former volunteers urged the board to fill the position permanently because Slover has reportedly been difficult to work with.
The board agreed to hire an interim manager with the intent of making that position permanent by reassigning Slover when she is able to return to work. Auxier said previously board members screened all applications to come up with a group of finalists to be interviewed, interviews were conducted using an exact set of questions and candidates were scored with the results tabulated to reach a ranking prior to taking a vote. The board agreed that the process should be repeated for hiring the interim manager with the new manager then heading the selection process of other positions that may need to be filled.
Meanwhile, the shelter’s remaining employees, volunteers and board members have been working to get JCAS back in order and operating as intended.
Holly Toler, the JCAS assistant manager, reported on Wednesday that shelter conditions are improving and animal adoptions are once again taking place. She said the workload has been divided among staff and volunteers and that animal care — cleaning, feeding and vaccinations — is getting done as well as business and documentation — record keeping, returning phone calls, answering emails and managing social media — along with some work to repair and paint the facility. In addition, animals are being seen by a veterinarian and medication is being administered as needed.
As of Wednesday, the shelter was housing about 15 dogs and 50 cats of which the majority were mothers with kittens. No animals have been euthanized and the facility hopes to resume its former weekend and weekday schedule for adoption contacts and possibly even expand hours to accommodate people who work days and can only visit at night.
One issue the staff has been unable to address is a way to get additional kennels for dogs as approved by the JCAS board last month. An attempt to order the kennels approved was unsuccessful and other similar kennels proved to be cost prohibitive. In addition to buying the kennels, the facility will need to construct additional concrete slabs for their placement.
County Commissioner Robert Little, who serves on the JCAS board, said he would look into the concrete issue and he agreed to tour the facility with Auxier and staff next week to assess what repairs are needed and issue exist. Meanwhile, the search for kennels will continue.
In addition to the large number of cats and kittens at the shelter, Toler noted there is a growing problem with feral cats in Madison, Hanover and Jefferson County. No ferals have been euthanized during the COVID-pandemic — such cats are a problem to adopt because they are difficult to domesticate — and the population is getting out of control which contributes to overbreeding and disease and threatens the domestic animals the shelter takes in for adoption. It was suggested that the ferals could make good barn cats but that still does not control overpopulation. It was then suggested that maybe funds could be reallocated to spay and neuter the ferals.
Auxier, who is also a Humane Society member, said spaying and neutering feral cats still does not address the issue of them roaming neighborhoods, damaging residents’ property, threatening family pets and creating a nuisance. In addition, releasing ferals into such situations where no one is caring for them falls short of what is considered humane treatment. He said allowing ferals to run loose can also create situations where some residents opt to take matters into their own hands such as trying to poison ferals and that can then result in the accidental death of a neighbor’s family pet which escalates the problem.
“As a Humane Society we want to release them back into a humane situation,” Auxier said.
Kentucky’s COVID-19 pandemic death toll passed 9,000 Thursday include an additional death in Trimble County to increase that community’s total to 11 dead.
With 50 newly reported COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, Kentucky’s overall total increased to 9,022.
At the same time, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said, due to increased vaccinations and more Kentuckians wearing masks indoors, the Commonwealth continues to see a decline in COVID-19 cases, test positivity rate, hospitalizations, ICU admittances and ventilator use.
On Thursday, the Kentucky Public Health Department reported 2,625 new cases of COVID-19 — 643 of those in residents 18 and under — bringing the state’s overall total to 708,236 during the pandemic. Still, Thursday’s total was a drop from two weeks earlier when on Sept. 23 there were 4,099 new positive cases.
“While we are all excited about the trends and where we’re going, lets remember that we’re going to live with these scars and trauma and loss for a long time. Lets make sure that we give ourselves space and do something about it. And the No. 1 thing we can do is get vaccinated,” said Beshear.
Trimble County has actually reported two deaths this week. In addition, Jefferson and Switzerland counties in Indiana each added another COVID death this week bringing Jefferson’s total to 95 deaths and Switzerland County’s to 11 deaths. There were no new deaths reported by the state this week in Carroll County, which has now 23.
In Indiana, the death toll from COVID-19 during the pandemic in now 15,469, increasing by 29 in the last day. There have been 982,444 positive cases of COVID-19 overall, an increase of 3,595 in the last day. Indiana’s positivity rate is 9.4%.
In the last two days, there have been 34 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, bringing the overall total during the pandemic to 4,977. Switzerland County’s two-day increase in positive cases was eight, bringing its overall total to 1,318. Trimble County’s two-day increase in positive cases was 13, increasing its overall total to 1,137. Carroll County’s two-day increase in positive case was 17, upping its overall total to 1,779.
Jefferson County’s positivity rate stands at 10.8% while Switzerland County’s is 10.6%, Trimble County’s is 10.68% and Carroll County’s is 10.53%.
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is waiting to decide whether to continue his court fight against a new law giving state legislators more power to intervene during public health emergencies.
Holcomb has maintained the law violates a state constitutional provision allowing only the governor to call the legislature into special session after its regular annual session wraps up by the end of April. However, on Thursday, a Marion County judge upheld the law in ruling the state constitution gives the General Assembly the authority to determine when and for how long it will meet.
Holcomb said he and his attorneys were reviewing the ruling and hadn’t decided if they will appeal to a higher court.
“I’m very open minded at this,” Holcomb said. “We’ve got time to make a very informed decision and we’ll use as much time as we need.”
The law was advanced forward by the Republican-dominated legislature following criticism by some legislators over the statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb imposed by executive order.
Republican legislative leaders have maintained that the measure wasn’t “anti-governor” and praised Holcomb’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Though we have disagreed with the governor regarding this law, we have and will continue to work with him and his office in order to serve the people of Indiana,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray of Martinsville said in a statement Friday.