Thirty-one Bartholomew County representatives carrying a torch for Indiana, figuratively and literally, will participate Sept. 18 in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay.
The local list of torch carriers — walkers, runners, cyclists, antique tractor drivers and possibly even one person pulled on the ground while inside an airplane — was revealed Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse, along with the names of all 2,200 of the state’s emissaries.
Honorees include business and community leaders, educators, volunteers and everyday people. They range in age from 10 to 93, and hail from communities throughout Bartholomew County.
The torch run through Bartholomew County coincides with three local bicentennial events that same day, the biggest of which will be at the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza on Fifth Street. The city’s bicentennial celebration, scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m., includes food, music and other attractions.
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April Williams of the Columbus Park Foundation will be among the local torch carriers, probably riding a ColumBIKE bicycle. Williams led efforts to launch the bike-share program for Columbus.
“I think one of the bikes would be a great way to promote a community project,” said Williams, project and resource development director for the park foundation and the city parks and recreation department. “Also, it can be a great symbol of active, community participation.”
The statewide, six-week torch relay will begin Sept. 9 in southwestern Indiana in Corydon, the state’s first capital.
The torch will first enter Bartholomew County at about 5 p.m. Sept. 18 in Hartsville, where a two-day celebration will be underway on the town square. It will then stop at Simmons Winery for Hope area festivities, before being carried to the library plaza in downtown Columbus.
“I feel humbled to have been chosen,” Williams said.
The park foundation’s continuing Race 2 Play project, promoting family friendly activities in local parks, launched in 2014 and was among the first efforts to be named an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project.
Lynn Lucas, coordinator for the countywide torch relay and affiliated September celebrations in Columbus, the Hope area and Hartsville, said 103 torch-bearer nominations were made for 86 Bartholomew County people, ranging from youth to people now deceased.
Torch bearers will tackle distances as short as a city block and as long as three miles along a county road, according to organizers.
Indianapolis 500 Festival princess Brittany Young hopes to take the torch in an Indianapolis 500 pace car.
“It’s all meant to show off the different and interesting things connected to your county,” Lucas said. “It’s definitely going to be fun.”
Longtime Hope resident Paul Ashbrook, who founded the annual Hope Ride bike event that helps local food banks, will anchor the last 1.5 miles of the torch leg leading to a celebration the afternoon of Sept. 18 at Simmons Winery on County Road 450 North. The torch will not stop at the event, but be passed off and continue traveling.
The often-playful Ashbrook grew serious about being singled out for this role.
“The recognition is great, of course,” Ashbrook said. “There are an awful lot of Bartholomew County people I consider unsung heroes, from firefighters to hospice workers. Really, they deserve something like this more than I do.”
The Columbus celebration, emceed by Bartholomew County historian and longtime Republic columnist Harry McCawley, will include live music from the Grimm Family Band, an ensemble featuring folk singer Tim Grimm, known for musically highlighting people and places from Hoosier history. The event also will include about 20 booths featuring various youth-friendly activities from local nonprofit agencies, food, bicentennial cupcakes and balloons.
The torch and its escorts will leave the following morning for Brown County.
The torch relay is a 2,300-mile journey across the state, traveling through all 92 counties. It ends Oct. 15 on the Statehouse grounds in Indianapolis.
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*Nominee deceased, others selected to run in their honor and memory
Paul Ashbrook, founder of long-running Hope Ride fundraiser
Susan Baute, Smith Elementary School teacher covering Indiana history
Rick Caldwell, deputy commander for Indiana AmVets
Sarah Cannon, Columbus Redevelopment Commission president
Merrill Clouse, Hope business and community leader
Fred Darling, former minister in Azalia
John Foster, WCSI radio broadcaster and community volunteer
Eugene Gurthet, former longtime leader at Foundation for Youth
Siddha Hall, launched free-bike program for youngsters in need
Solomon Hall, launched free-bike program for youngsters in need
Juanita Harden, first female county commissioner
Carrie Harris, Hauser Junior-Senior High School teacher
Lucy “Dody” Harvey, local tour guide and volunteer with the Bartholomew County Historical Society
Don Harvey, volunteer with SCORE, Bartholomew County Historical Society
Jason Hatton, director of the Bartholomew County Public Library
* Susanna Jones, local historian and the first local Woman of the Year (Beth Newman, her daughter)
* Vickie Lowney, Columbus Regional Hospital staff member praised for kindness to patients and role during 2008 flood (Jim Lowney, her husband)
John Martoccia, Bartholomew County Sherifff’s deputy
Cierra McCauley, cancer survivor and spokesperson for children with cancer
Mary McGuire, Hartsville community leader
Gregory Pence, local business leader
Larry Perkinson, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. administrator and author
Ilya Schwartzman, local doctor and Columbus East High School girls soccer coach
Sam Simmermaker, WCSI radio sports broadcaster
* Larry Simpson, leader of Heritage of Hope and publisher of the Hope Star-Journal (Bud Herron, Hope native and Star-Journal advocate)
* Robert Stewart, former Columbus mayor (Peter King, Columbus Rotary)
Don Strietelmeier, local and statewide agricultural leader
William Stultz, band director, Columbus North High School
Chuck Wells, Republic publisher
April Williams, Columbus Park Foundation
Brittany Young, former state FFA president and Indianapolis 500 princess