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Monday, October 3, 2022
Grand Gala Marks Bicentennial Celebration
Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun addresses the crowd at the Bicentennial Gala held at Blessing’s Opera House on Saturday. | by ANNA TUNGATE
The stories of Shelbyville’s and Shelby County’s 1922 centennial celebration are etched in local newspaper lore and history books. An estimated 25,000 attended. A “solid mass of at least 8,000 vehicles” were in the centerfield of the fairgrounds, papers said. It was the first Shelby County event to be promoted on radio.
But it’s hard to imagine the planning for that celebration matching the attention to detail at Saturday’s Shelbyville and Shelby County Bicentennial Gala, held at Blessing’s Opera House downtown Shelbyville and attended by a couple hundred in formal attire.
James Garrett Jr. pointed out that the numerous bicentennial events were carried on through the pandemic “and all the challenges with it.”
“This is obviously a once in a lifetime event for all of us,” Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun said. He provided a few historical facts:
Shelbyville was originally inhabited by the Delaware Native American tribe;
The Treaty of St. Mary’s, between the federal government and the Miami nation in 1818, included the land upon which Shelbyville was founded;
Most original settlers were either Methodists or Kentuckians, the Mayor said. (It was not immediately clear if those were mutually exclusive.)
A large Catholic presence began to arrive in the 1830s;
Shelbyville was the site of the state’s first railroad; and
Famous residents have included Sandy Allen, James “Bucky” Barnes (Captain America’s cartoon sidekick), William Garrett, Thomas Hendricks, Victor Higgins, Charles Major, Edna Parker, James Pierce, Kid Quill, Wilbur Shaw and Bob Zimny.
“If you look out the windows this evening, you’ll notice that we’ve preserved our heritage,” DeBaun said, noting that many communities have been forced to create downtowns in recent years.
Located in the center of Public Square, the restored Joseph Fountain is 100 years old and the Balser statue is 92. Blessing’s, the historic second-floor host facility, was recently restored by Rob Nolley and Jason Foltz.
“Five years ago, this place was a repository for billboards, chairs, and HVAC equipment,” DeBaun said.
Now, the former DePrez Hardware Company includes a historic ambiance while hosting weddings and elegant receptions, such as Saturday’s.
The mayor closed by calling for the continued engagement of Shelby County’s youth. “We need them to develop a sense of pride, but also a sense of belonging. We talk about diversity and inclusion, and oftentimes the sense of belonging is overlooked.”
The event also included live music from Garry Lauziere and Bob Rogers and a 200th birthday greeting from Kevin Nigh, who has served as Shelby County Commissioner for 18 years.
“My dad and mom both instilled the importance of family and giving back to your community,” Nigh said. “I've seen such a great example of these principles throughout the bicentennial celebrations. Everyone has come together for a greater good in our county, from a great kickoff in Waldron to the Bicentennial Farm Fest just a few weeks ago.”
Some others involved in the event included:
Blue River Career Programs culinary art students, dressed in professional uniforms;
Just Peachy, owned by Charity Elliott, provided the appetizers and desserts;
Queen’s Cafe & Dining, owned by Elizabeth Taylor, provided the tableware and main entree;
Pudder’s staff handled bar duties;
Sherri’s Heavenly Balloons created balloon art;
Spegal’s Prime Cuts provided locally sourced beef and chicken; and
Blue River Printing, Sharp Trophies by Mack and the Grover Center all provided items.
Local Man, Marco Island Resident Holds On During Hurricane Ian
Flooding was prevalent throughout Marco Island following Hurricane Ian. | photo submitted by Bob Claxton
by EMMA CLAXTON
Hurricane Ian was a surging, destructive Category 4 storm that caused catastrophic damage to numerous coastal areas in and out of the U.S. The hurricane struck Southwest Florida just this past week and left its permanent mark in many counties. Flooding and extreme winds took out buildings, boat docks and everything else in the path. Florida residents were without power during and after the surge, with no way of contacting loved ones. Homeowners had to take refuge on the roofs of their houses in order to escape the flooding. The storm had recorded winds in excess of 150 miles per hour. At least 80 deaths have been counted so far.
The devastation is heartbreaking. My grandparents happen to be residents of Marco Island, one of the hardest hit areas. My grandpa was actually in Florida during the storm, and when he returned to Indiana safely, he shared his experience.
Bob Claxton flew into Fort Myers a few days before Ian was expected to hit his home on Marco Island. He realized only after the fact that it wasn’t the wisest decision ever, he said. He kept his home protected as best as he could with insulated hurricane shutters, but that could only do so much. He lives in a channel just outside the Gulf of Mexico, and explained that he felt the most anxiety watching the ocean water rise with every drop of water.
“The water was only a few feet away from the house,” Mr. Claxton said. “At one point, I put on a life jacket and headed to the top floor.”
Bob watched as the ocean came closer and closer to his home, and ruined numerous amounts of equipment outside and near his dock. Like many others, he was without power and was unable to contact his family. We were all worried sick not being able to hear from him. After the storm began to dissipate, Bob went outside to inspect the damage.
“When I stepped outside to look around, I realized just how lucky I had been when I saw the damage the storm had caused my neighbors.”
Bob explained that the flooding had reached his neighbors’ houses and caused devastating damage. His house hadn’t suffered any structural damage, thankfully.
Bob said his spirits were lifted when he looked into the water and saw a confused manatee. He thought she could use a fresh drink of water after the storm, so he grabbed his hose and got her what she needed. He said she gladly accepted it.
At the end of it all, he shared, “During the worst parts of the storm, the thought of my family was the only thing that put my mind at ease.”
While Bob was among the few Southwest Florida residents that didn't have their homes severely damaged, he sure had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the suffering areas begin to recover, it is important to keep all those affected by Hurricane Ian in your prayers.
HOOSIER NEWS: Hoosiers with print disabilities can choose a person to help them fill out their vote-by-mail ballot for this fall’s election. That’s after a federal judge’s recent ruling in a lengthy legal battle. Print disabilities include those who are blind, have low vision or those with a physical disability that limits their manual dexterity. Under current law, Hoosiers with print disabilities can use the assistance of someone they choose to mark their ballot when voting in person – as long as that person isn’t their boss or a member of their union. But if they want to vote absentee by mail – meaning, at home – they don’t get that option. Instead, the state forces them to use “traveling boards”: officials sent by the county. A federal judge ruled that’s not a good enough option. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said the traveling boards limit availability and privacy and sometimes don’t show up at all. Instead, people with print disabilities can choose someone to help them fill out their ballot at home and mail it back in for the November election. (Indiana Public Media)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2002
Waldron High School graduate Chris Royal, 22, continued to see success with his cmradio.us station, broadcast from his Mechanic Street home in Shelbyville. His web radio station offered country music, rock-and-roll, and Mark of the Rose Memorial, which contained Sept. 11 memorial songs. Yahoo.com had ranked cmradio the fifth largest such station in the world, but record companies were threatening to shut the station and those like it down due to copyright issues. Royal was limited to 50 listeners at any one time due to bandwidth.
30 YEARS AGO: 1992
Mike Carpenter was well-known in Shelby County for his letters to the editor and columns in The Shelbyville News. He became better known when a column he wrote about the Family and Medical Leave Act, which he favored, appeared in USA TODAY.
40 YEARS AGO: 1982
Dick Jones, 55, who had lived in Shelbyville most of his life, retired as a lieutenant with the Indiana State Police. He had received 30-plus letters of commendation, a 900,000-mile safe driving award and a commendation for bravery. Jones was a Shelbyville High School graduate who studied pre-law at Indiana University, was an Army sergeant in Korea during the Korean War and worked at Naval Avionics in Indianapolis. He had admired Elmer Cord and Leo Moore, and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement like them. He married Jo Stites, who became a local dance instructor. They had five children.
50 YEARS AGO: 1972
In a sixth grade science class experiment at Pearson School, students launched numerous helium-filled balloons bearing slips of paper with each student’s name and address. The notes asked that finders notify the school or student of where the balloon and notes were recovered, as prevailing winds carried them north. Science instructor John Chesser reported helium for the experiment was donated by Kay Woollen of Airco Products.
City police officers were called to 104 Hillcrest Dr., home of Thomas Strawn, a senior guidance counselor at SHS, after a neighbor reported seeing a teenager near the home at 1:40 p.m. They found wood molding and a small window had been removed from a side door of the Strawn residence, and that someone had then reached inside to open the door and entered the house. Nothing apparently was taken. Police later arrested the teen.
60 YEARS AGO: 1962
The Indiana State Highway Commission formally returned to Shelby County an 11-mile stretch of old U.S. Highway 421 - extending from the north edge of Shelbyville northwest to the Marion County line - following a complete resurfacing of the road at cost to the state. Shelby County had possession of the highway for a time after it was abandoned by the state following the opening of I-74, but had worked out an agreement to turn the stretch over to the state temporarily to be improved.
70 YEARS AGO: 1952
Two Texan firefighters, complete with cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats, were en route from purchasing a new fire truck in Anderson to their home. The Texans showed up in Shelbyville and asked for a place to spend the night. Assistant fire chief Fred Breeding invited the men to spend the night at the local fire station and park their new engine in the department garage overnight.
80 YEARS AGO: 1942
Levenstien Bros., which owned the old Davisson Machine Shop next to Firestone on North Harrison Street, started offering car storage in a steam-heated garage for $6 per month (approximately $110 in today’s money).
90 YEARS AGO: 1932
“Pie Shortage Disturbs Waldron Demo Meeting; Hoover Will Be Blamed,” The Republican newspaper claimed. “Democrats in Waldron and Liberty Township were casting suspicious glances at their Republican neighbors today, and the Republicans in that territory, while claiming complete and absolute innocence, were snickering to themselves,” the paper said. “‘Who stole the pies?’ is the question of the hour.” A large number of pies had disappeared at the Democrat meeting held at the Waldron school while a speaker railed against Hoover’s policies. “Republicans feel certain that the pie shortage, along with all other domestic and economic evils, will ultimately be charged against President Hoover by the losers,” The Republican said.
100 YEARS AGO: 1922
Unseasonably warm weather had led to a fly infestation in town, local newspapers noted. The weather had also led to “girls who have a great deal of respect for their complexions,” to carry parasols in October, The Republican said. “No swimming parties have been arranged but if Old Sol continues as he is now doing, a number of merchants will make special prices on bathing suits.” The daily high temperature was 87.
The alley at the west side of St. Joseph Catholic Church, running from Broadway to Hendricks Street, was ordered vacated by Judge Alonzo Blair. Rev. John Rager, pastor of St. Joseph, said it was the intention of the church to construct a school building on the west side of the alley, and that the closing of the alley would add to the safety of boys and girls attending the school.