LINDA CHANDLER PHOTOS
ABOVE: Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman attended the
groundbreaking ceremony for the shovel ready Versailles
Business Park located just west of US 421 south of Versailles.
The Lt. Governor was greeted by many business and community
leaders who came to a reception located at the park. Pictured
from left are: Commissioner Lawrence Nickell, Denessa Benkie,
Sue Meisberger, members of the Ripley County Redevelopment
Commission, Lt. Governor Skillman, Barry Lauber, Jeff Volz,
members of Ripley County Redevelopment Commission, Commissioner
Robert Reiners, Ted Spurlock, RCRC, and Chuck Folz, commissioner.
Skillman spoke to the crowd about the importance of economic
rural development before speaking to the audience at the
Ripley County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting. RIGHT:
Lt. Governor Becky Skillman addressed the crowd at the official
groundbreaking ceremony held at the Versailles Business
Park on October 30.
Chamber honors local residents
at annual meeting
Lt. Governor praises local economic efforts
Cathy May, Contributing Writer
Lt. Governor Becky Skillman spent part of October 30 in Versailles.
First, Skillman took part in the ground breaking ceremony of the
new 100 acre upscale business park. Ripley County accomplished
what few others have, putting together a shovel ready park in
only 18 months.
The ceremony started with Barry Lauber, president of the Ripley
County Redevelopment Corporation, (RCRC) which along with the
Town of Versailles, own the property. Lauber said the project
was accomplished by national, state and local governments working
together. Lauber introduced the other members of the RCRC: Ted
Spurlock, Denessa Benkie, Jeff Volz, and Sue Meisberger.
Lauber thanked the former property owners: Larry and Nancy Curry,
Frank and Bette Wade, Dave and Nancy Adams, and the Halcomb Family.
He also thanked the City of Lawrenceburg for donating $1.5 million
towards the project. The Ripley County Commissioners and Ripley
County Council also gave $100,000 toward the project.
RCRC member Denessa Benkie then introduced Lt. Governor Skillman
who said in her dedication speech that Ripley County was only
one of 30 counties out of 92 in Indiana to have a park that is
shovel ready. This puts it at the top of the list for economic
In business time is money. We must eliminate the obstacles
to development by having shovel ready projects. Skillman
said, I am delighted to be here and see the progress taking
place. She talked about her passion for rural development.
Skillman is from Bedford.
After the ceremony, Lt. Governor Skillman then attended the Ripley
County Chamber of Commerces Annual meeting. In her remarks
to the chamber she reported that Ripley County had received $3
million in tax incentives and grants from the state since 2005.
She talked about the need of recycling and the efforts of finding
new energy sources.
Skillman said the major emphasis of Governor Mitch Daniels is
property tax reform. Referring to the governor's plan which came
out last week, Skillman said, The total local tax spending
has grown faster than peoples income. The new tax proposal
will put a permanent cap on property tax which will require a
constitutional amendment. The cap on property tax is proposed
at 1% on the assessed value of a home, 2% on rental property and
3% on business. To do this would require a 1% raise on sales tax.
Then Andrew Stone from Honda gave a power point presentation showing
the progress of the Greensburg Honda plant since its groundbreaking
March 19, 2007. Stone said on October 1 the last piece of steel
was put into place putting the one million square foot building
all under roof. He gave a history of the project and shared there
had been $41.5 million of incentives and $56 million in infrastructure
given to bring the Honda plant to Greensburg. Honda will put in
$550 million to develop and build the plant.
There will be 2,000 total jobs. When the 1,700 production jobs
were announced online, there were 30,000 applications. Honda expects
to hire by May of 2008 and train yet that summer. Their hope is
to have the first Honda Civic off the line by October 2008. They
expect to produce 200,000 Honda Civics each year.
Stone explained there are already 40 suppliers to Honda in Indiana
and in 2005 $1.5 billion was purchased from these suppliers. Having
so many suppliers so close was one reason Honda chose Greensburg
as their site. He said their goal is to establish an Indiana
company of which Hoosiers will be proud to embrace.
During the business section of the meeting, David Baugh, Pat McKittrick,
Barry Lauber, and Bonnie Jeffries were re-elected to the Chamber
Board of Directors. Since it was the 15th anniversary of the chamber,
past and present board members and past award recipients were
recognized. Ted Spurlock, Linda Chandler and Cathy May were introduced
as 15-year members of the Board of Directors.
The chamber again honored three members of the community. Dr.
Christopher Brown was named Business Person of the Year for 2007.
This year Dr. Brown celebrated 25 years of dental practice in
Versailles. He holds a Masters Degree in Biomechanical Trauma
and is only one of 12 dentists in the United States to hold that
degree. He has published more than 100 articles on the subject.
Dr. Brown has lectured extensively throughout the United States,
Canada, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam on the subject of multidisciplinary
Craniofacial Pain Management and the biomechanics of head and
neck injuries resulting from automobile accidents.
He has also been involved in a medical/dental mission trip to
the Dominican Republic for the past three years and is planning
another trip in January. Dr. Brown graduated from Knightstown
High School, Indiana Central College and the IU School of Dentistry.
He set up his practice in Versailles on July 12, 1982. He and
his wife Belinda have four children, Jessica, a Purdue grad in
Design, Abby, a senior at Purdue studying photography, Mark, a
senior at Batesville High School and Savanna, a sixth grader at
St. Louis School. In accepting his award, Dr. Brown thanked the
members of his staff and his family who were in attendance.
Roselyn McKittrick of Milan was named Citizen of the Year for
2007. She has affectionately been called Milans Greatest
Cheerleader and for more than 35 years she has devoted her
life to promoting the town of Milan. As a former owner of the
Milan Railroad Inn and her antique store, Milan Station Antiques
and Collectibles, she worked tirelessly to make her businesses
Since McKittrick moved to Milan in 1956 she has embraced, nurtured,
and invested time and money in the amazing David vs. Goliath story
of the Milan 1954 Basketball Team. She is now retired from business
so she can devote herself to the Milan Museum. Hundreds of visitors
come from all over the world to experience and share a small part
of this story. She has taken it upon herself to record these stories
and weave them into a book of memories.
McKittrick also served on the Board of the Ripley County Community
Foundation for six years, is a members of the Milan Beautification
Committee and attends the St. Paul Lutheran Church. She has three
children, Dennis, Rhonda and Tom and five grandchildren: Eric,
Brian, Riley, Max and Tyler. She is a very proud grandmother.
McKittrick shared her love of Ripley County and the town of Milan
as she accepted her award.
Ted Ahaus was presented the Educator of the Year award for 2007.
Ahaus is in his 36th year at the South Ripley School Corporation.
He taught math for 15 years, coached basketball for 11 years and
baseball for 14. He was athletic director for five years. Then
he began two years as assistant high school principal before being
promoted to high school principal where he stayed for nine years.
After two years as assistant superintendent, Ahaus became superintendent,
a position he still holds today after six years.
Ahaus grew up in Yorkville and graduated from North Dearborn High
School. After graduating from Marian College he obtained his Masters
in Education from Indiana University. He got his Administrative
License at Xavier University and an Educational Specialist Degree
from Indiana State.
Ahaus is in the Marian College Hall of Fame and the South Ripley
Basketball Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Versailles Lions
Club and the Versailles Baptist Church. He has been married to
his wife Vicki for 37 years. She has taught at the South Ripley
Elementary School for the past 16 years. They have three children,
Steve and Lisa who are both teachers and Beth, a surgical nurse.
They also have four grandchildren.
In accepting his award, Ahaus expressed thanks to the chamber
for recognizing an educator each year.
Also participating in the program were Private Nicholas Grider
and Private Erick Demaree who led the group in the pledge to the
flag. B.J. Myers sang the National Anthem and Wilbur Myers gave
the invocation. Hosting the event was Darla Westerfeld, chamber