“Indiana is a great state with a lot of great towns,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Sunday after walking through downtown Madison but he loves his time in Jefferson County.
Holcomb, who was in the county last weekend as the keynote speaker on Saturday for the Boy Scouts of America Hoosier Trails Council Camporee at Hanover College, spent the night in the new Fairfield Inn and Suites on the riverfront and then walked through downtown Madison with Mayor Bob Courtney on Sunday.
He was anxious to expand his time in Jefferson County. “I’m milking it,” said Holcomb, a 1990 graduate of Hanover College, who said he loves his time in the community.
Holcomb reflected on being in college in the late 1980s, and the times he would spend in Madison, and how he grew fond of the city.
Memories were rekindled as local musician Rusty Bladen and his wife, Andra, happened upon Courtney and Holcomb talking at Broadway and Main streets. Holcomb remembered that during his college years that Bladen had played music for parties at Hanover College.
Another passerby reminded Holcomb about his visit to Carl Risk’s Men’s Quarters in Hanover after he had become Governor. “I just needed a haircut,” said Holcomb, who noted he didn’t think much about it since that’s where he had got his haircuts in college, except he found the barber shop had moved from across the street, previously located where the Hanover CVS now stands.
Holcomb said he’s impressed with all that’s happened to improve Madison in the years since he graduated. “You can see all the progress over the years,” and yet the city has maintained its historic character by “treasuring your heritage. Madison is a national gem,” said Holcomb, characterizing Madison as city that’s not just beautiful, but offers a good quality of life for its citizens. “It makes me proud to be a Hoosier.”
Holcomb specifically mentioned the Fairfield Inn and Suites, the former Eagle Cotton Mill building that had been deteriorating for many years until it was rehabilitated and transformed into an 85-room boutique hotel and conference center. “They took an eyesore and turned it into an icon,” said Holcomb.
And Holcomb said he is optimistic of even greater things for Madison, particularly after hearing Courtney’s initiatives for the city.
“I am more than encouraged,” Holcomb said. “I’m bullish about the future. It’s evident and within sight. It’s real and there’s a plan. You’re going to see it unfold before your eyes.”
Holcomb also is encouraged about Indiana. He said state revenue in September was $260 million more than forecasted and “that’s more money to invest” in programs dealing with issues such as mental health, infant mortality and addiction recovery. And for economic development throughout the state.
The governor talked about the success of the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative in which all 92 counties have formed 17 regions competing to be among 10 recipients of $50 million grants.
Holcomb said he is thrilled how the effort is pulling communities together throughout the state to work together to bring economic development to the state. “We’re stronger together,” he said. “We have projects that are not only shovel ready, but they’re shovel worthy.”
Holcomb also said his appearance at the BSA Hoosier Trail Camporee was meaningful in that it reminded him of the 12 points of the Scout law to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. “We need more of that,” said Holcomb.
In particular, Holcomb referenced the need for more kindness. The Governor said he had seen Madison’s Kindness mural at Second and Mulberry streets and that he himself keeps a reminder nearby with a pillow that says “Kindness.”
“Kindness goes a long way,” he said. “It’s infectious once it’s realized.”
“It was great to see Governor Holcomb in town last weekend. His affinity for our community is obvious and we are grateful for his leadership,” Courtney said. “We had an opportunity to share with him our workforce and destination development plans for the next three years which are very exciting and for which he has been a major part in making happen.”
Eric Phagan looks at his life as sort of inverted from the normal flow of events. While most of us were getting married and starting a family and trying to get our careers off the ground, Eric was living his dream as a successful young artist, travelling the world and honing his craft.
“I’m a Madison boy,” Eric explains, “Class of ’98 at MCHS, and then I went directly to the Herron School of Art & Design up in Indy. I also went to the Penland School of Crafts down in North Carolina. And I was fortunate to study art abroad in Paris for a year.
“It was my time in Paris that really solidified my style. I came back totally energized, with my eyes open and my mind clear on what I wanted to express and how to do it.
“My art career really started to get traction, with gallery representation in a couple of cities, some national art shows displaying my work, and even a few of my pieces getting selected for permanent exhibits, like the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts down in Texas. The decade of my 20s was very exciting and professionally fulfilling.
“But I was missing something important in my life, and that was a family. I came back to the Madison area, fell in love with my future wife, Jessica, and am now the proud father of three kids, Vinson, Connor and Callie.
“I’m teaching art at Madison High School full time now, but I’m also a full-time artist with my studio downtown at Gallery 115. And I’m also very much a full-time dad right now.
“But I also have a part-time job which is playing music. About 12 years ago I bought a drum kit and taught myself to play. I’m the drummer in the band Slick River Rockets with Chip Binzer, Rick Bennett and Brook Reindollar.
“There was a drummer some years back here in Madison named Charlie Warren, and he had a huge collection of drum equipment. They had a big auction of all his stuff, and I picked out this Ludwig black oyster pearl kit that is basically the same as Ringo Starr played.
“To this day I still use that same kit. The only thing changed from when Charlie Warren owned it is a new skin on the snare, and I painted Slick River Rockets on the front of the bass drum. It works perfectly for the style of music I like to play, which is rockabilly and early rock.
“I’m not sure why a guy my age, born in the early 80s, is so into the music of the 50s. I guess I’ve always been immersed in that time period. My dad worked on old cars from that time. And I grew up listening to Elvis and Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry. Back to the Future is my favorite all time movie!
“That’s why I’m so excited about Wayne Hancock coming to Madison this Friday. I’ve been listening to him for about 15 years. I think his sound is best described as kind of juke joint swing, sort of pre-Sun Records. Hank Williams with drums, you could say.
“So going all the way back to 2008 or so when RiverRoots was still happening, I started bugging Jane Vonderheide. I’d tell her, you gotta book Wayne Hancock. I told Greg Ziesemer about him. Anybody who would listen. And then finally the Kindred Folk Society booked him for 2020, and COVID got in the way. I was heartbroken.
“But the day is finally here, this Friday, the 15th, at Red Bicycle Hall. And to make it even better, my good friend Anthony Ray Wright is the opening act. I’m so excited I can barely stand it!”
If you’re a fan of the old-time country sound, and I’m talking the REAL old-time sound, like Hank Williams Sr., then you have a treat waiting for you at Red Bicycle Hall this Friday. Wayne “The Train” Hancock is finally coming to town, after a long COVID delay, as part of the Kindred Folk Society Series of concerts. If Wayne’s version of juke joint swing doesn’t have you up and tapping your feet, then you are just so lonesome I could cry! Anthony Ray Wright will open the show with his special brand of Texas-tinged rockabilly. Another show of note is an artist called Miss Tess who is literally passing through town on Sunday, and she has been prevailed upon to pause for the night and do a show in Acree Alley, next to Thomas Family Winery at 6 p.m. She has kind of a vintage, old-timey vibe, and it should be a fun show.
Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.
Thursday, Oct. 14
Mad Paddle — Madhouse Moxie
Broadway Hotel — Leah Pruett
Central Hotel — Full Moon Risen
Red Bicycle Hall — Wayne Hancock, with Anthony Ray Wright
Mad Paddle — Moonshine Mary
Riverboat Inn — Joe & Deano
Stream Cliff Farm — Johnny Cash Tribute (11 a.m.)
American Legion — Dusty Road (open to public)
Central Hotel — Crossfire
Riverboat Inn — Joe & Deano
Stream Cliff Farm — Skyline Drive (11 a.m.)
Thomas Family Winery — Tim Brickley & Bleeding Hearts
Lighthouse — Jimmy Davis
Mad Paddle — Jordan Tyler
Acree Alley — Miss Tess (6 p.m.)
Crafted Coffee — Open Mic Night
Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night
Central Hotel — Bo Williams
With $6.2 million to spend from what the county received in American Rescue Plan funds, County Council decided on Tuesday to schedule a joint meeting with County Commissioners in November on how to prioritize allocating that money.
Earlier this year, the Commissioners earmarked half of that, $3.1 million, but they are in the process of having that reviewed by attorneys to be certain how they are spending it meet stipulations in the ARP.
“If you don’t do what you’re supposed to with that money, they are going to want that back,” Council member Judy Smith said.
Council president Pam Crozier asked that the Commissioners contribute more to the City of Madison’s drinking water infrastructure project — estimated to cost $15 million. In the Commissioners’ initial draft in August for spending the ARP funds, $200,000 was earmarked for drinking water infrastructure, much less than the $2.5 million requested by Madison Mayor Bob Courtney.
Crozier asked the Commissioners to reconsider and provide more funding to the drinking water infrastructure project. “This is a big initiative” she said, noting the project affects most of the county’s residents with Canaan, Dupont and Rykers’ Ridge water companies all drawing water from Madison.
“You should contribute more to this project,” said Crozier, adding support now will impact water rates not just in the City of Madison, but in water companies in the county that depend Madison for their water.
Commissioners president David Bramer said he anticipates allocating more for the drinking water infrastructure project, but that there are other water companies in the county, too, and other entities needing support. Additionally, Bramer questioned why the city isn’t contributing more of its ARP funds to the to the project
The Commissioners original ARP spending draft had also earmarked $100,000 for a City of Madison request to support an Army Corps of Engineers comprehensive plan on stormwater improvement to mitigate possible future flash flooding disasters.
In other business:
• A public hearing was held for the proposed county budget that totals $23,920,894. A budget adoption meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, at 5 p.m. The budget includes $350,000 for the county’s animal shelter, an increase over the $209,401 allocated this year. Crozier said the increase is due to the efforts to address staffing and other needs at the shelter but that the amount could change. Once adopted by the county, the budget must still be finalized by the Department of Local Government Finance.
• The Council also approved a budget of $77,400 for Saluda Township. Because the advisory board includes one person who is a relative of the Saluda township trustee and another who is a firefighter (the budget provides funding for the fire department), and because the two together provide a majority of the advisory board, the budget required approval by the Council.