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Hancock County News Archives for 2022-02

Crider named 2021 Legislator of the Year for improving mental health

The Mental Health America of Indiana recently presented State Sen. Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) with its 2021 Legislator of the Year Award.


"Sen. Mike Crider has passed and prioritized numerous mental health bills during his tenure in the Indiana General Assembly," said Stephen C. McCaffrey, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Indiana. "These bills have been wide ranging, including the creation of the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission and the expansion of mental health parity. Behavioral health must be a state priority for policy reasons that are rational, financial, and clinical – but it truly makes a difference when you have an understanding that is personal, that you feel at your core. Sen. Crider feels that and we want him to know that his work has truly made a difference."


Crider received this award for his unwavering support and commitment in protecting and promoting legislation for the lives of Hoosiers who have been impacted by behavioral health issues.


“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work on ways to improve the lives of those suffering from mental health challenges," Crider said. "I want to also express my appreciation for my fellow lawmakers who have come alongside me in my efforts to improve mental health outcomes for Hoosiers across our state. It has been a legislative priority of mine for many years and I am humbled and grateful for this recognition and support."


To learn more about bills Crider has authored and had passed into law, click here.


To learn more about Mental Health America of Indiana, click here.

INDOT to host public hearing on US 36 reconstruction project in Hancock County

The Indiana Department of Transportation is hosting a public hearing on a proposed road reconstruction project on U.S. 36 in Hancock County. 


The public hearing will take place on Wednesday, March 2 at the Mt Vernon School Corporation Administration Building (1806 W S.R. 324, Fortville, IN). The meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m.  with a formal presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m.


The reconstruction is proposed along U.S. 36 from Garden Street to S.R. 13. The project also includes plans to modify the intersection at Maple Street and a plan to construct a new concrete paved multi?use path  along US 36 beginning at the northside of Garden Street and continuing along US 36 until it turns north at the intersection with SR 13. 


Construction is slated to start in the Summer of 2022. 


Members of the public are invited to come and give their comments during the formal public hearing. If you cannot attend the meeting, written comments will be accepted until Friday, March 18.


Written comments may be submitted prior to the public hearing and within the comment period to Lochmueller Group, Attn: Chris Kunkel, 3502 Woodview Trace, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46268  or CKunkel@lochgroup.com.


Joe McGuinness to step down from INDOT; Former head of Greenfield District Mike Smith named new commissioner

Joe McGuinness has notified Gov. Eric J. Holcomb that he is stepping down from his role as the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) after five years. Gov. Holcomb today named Mike Smith, an INDOT deputy commissioner and its chief financial officer, as the new commissioner, effective Feb. 14.

“From day one, Commissioner McGuinness harnessed his local government experience and the many resources at INDOT to find innovative ways to expedite construction projects and create safer work zones all while finishing projects on budget and ahead of schedule whenever possible,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Under his leadership, Indiana continues to offer a world-class infrastructure system, which remains a key engine to our economic growth and safety. Joe’s legacy is one Hoosiers can be proud of and will have long lasting positive impacts right here at the crossroads of America.”

McGuinness was appointed INDOT commissioner in 2017. Prior to serving as commissioner, McGuinness was mayor of Franklin for five years.

Under his leadership, INDOT has:

  • Expedited the completion of the new Interstate 69 from Evansville to Indianapolis by three years from 2027 to 2024
  • Helped cities, towns and counties modernize their transportation networks through the Community Crossings and Local Trax programs, which are key components of Next Level Roads. The matching fund initiatives have awarded more than $1 billion since 2016
  • Maintained and improved 29,000 lane miles of highways, more than 5,700 bridges, and partnered with railroads and public airports to deliver infrastructure that has consistently earned Indiana top national rankings
  • As Chair of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), oversaw the largest investment in public transit in state history with the more than $944 million West Lake Corridor extension project and the more than $490 million double tracking of the South Shore service between Michigan City and Gary
  • Introduced the Greener Crossroads program, an aggressive, enhanced roadside management program to beautify and promote biodiversity in the more than 60,000 acres of medians and roadsides along Indiana’s highways
  • Partnered with construction companies and law enforcement to improve construction zone safety for motorists and workers by increasing work zone patrols and introducing technology solutions including queue protection trucks and advanced queue warning systems

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to help the state embark on transformational projects that will have an impact on Hoosiers and Hoosier businesses for generations to come,” McGuinness said. “While we’ve worked to deliver projects on time and on budget, we’ve looked ahead for the state, and I leave behind an agency that is at the forefront of partnerships to explore new technology. I thank Gov. Holcomb for the opportunity to serve and his leadership, which allowed INDOT to continue to move Indiana forward.”

McGuinness’ last day as commissioner is Feb. 11. He is departing to become CEO of a new local government infrastructure management consultant company.

Smith has been a deputy commissioner for INDOT since 2015, when he started overseeing the Greenfield district. He became chief operating officer in 2017 and was named chief financial officer in 2021.

“Mike brought experience from the fast-paced demands of managing business growth to INDOT, where he has been involved in day-to-day work in a district, developed comprehensive fleet management plans, invested taxpayer money in the best technologies, and developed biennium budgets to maintain and build Indiana’s infrastructure,” Gov. Holcomb said. “That breadth and depth of experience and determination will serve residents and businesses well as we continue making the best use of dollars to provide a top-rated infrastructure network for Hoosiers and our guests.”

Prior to joining INDOT, Smith was the district manager for Walmart, overseeing up to 10 stores in the Indianapolis area.

“I thank Commissioner McGuinness for his leadership during the last five years, and I’m honored that Gov. Holcomb is affording me the opportunity to continue INDOT’s progress. The team is as committed as ever to finding innovative ways to deliver NextLevel Roads, and I look forward to the work ahead.”

Smith earned his bachelor of science degree in business management from Indiana University.

Semi driver killed in I-70 accident

A semi driver was killed in a one-vehicle accident Wednesday on I-70.


Just after 3:30 pm emergency responders were called to the scene of a single vehicle crash on I-70 westbound near the 112 mile marker. The Greenfield Fire Department responded and located a semi-tractor trailer off the right side of the roadway in the ditch. The driver was unconscious and unresponsive.  Paramedics administered life saving efforts, however Scott Brandenburg, 54, of Clarksville, was pronounced deceased at the scene. A passenger, who was in the sleeper berth at the time suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital. 


Investigators determined Brandenburg was driving westbound on I-70 when for unknown reasons he drove off the road to the left, across the median and into the eastbound lanes, then back across the grass median, across the westbound lanes and into the ditch on the right side of the road. 


The right lane of I-70 westbound was closed for nearly seven hours while the crash was investigated and the damaged semi was removed. The investigation is ongoing.


ISP was assisted by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, the Hancock County Coroner, the Greenfield Fire Department and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.