Governor tours downtown Madison

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb spent some time walking together through downtown Madison during the Governor’s visit to Jefferson County last weekend.

“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.”