(MITCHELL) – Two men are seeking the Republican nomination to be the next Mitchell Mayor.
Current Mayor J.D. England will face off with Former Mayor Dan Terrell.
Both candidates offered their insight into their campaign and the challenges they faced while in office.
England – The most significant issue we are faced with right now is the loss of bus service. England states the city had only one part-time bus driver who no longer wanted to do the job because of the rate of pay.
Indiana Department of Transportation official Todd Jennings advised the Mayor that the state was moving to a regional concept in Bus Service. INDOT had a conversation with Rural Transit in taking over Mitchell Bus Service. In providing that service, the bus would not only transport residents in Mitchell but also Bloomington and Bedford.
England and City Council members had concerns with the fares raised from 75 cents up to $3.
England said with the limited income Mitchell residents have it would put a financial hardship on those using the bus service.
Members of the Board of Works and INDOT officials met, but could not agree.
Mitchell was given $50,000 to operate the bus for one year but, the officials felt it could not justify paying out $50,000 for the remaining residents using the bus system.
England says Teresa Reynolds with SICIL contacted the city about providing bus service. The city will provide SICIL with a bus. Fares will be a dollar a trip. Currently, the bus service is only provided on Wednesday.
Terrell – Terrell says there was no reason for the city to have lost the bus service.
The state purchased the bus when the dispatch center moved out of the police department there was no one to
answer the phones. The Mayor’s office then took over the dispatching of the bus service, but no one was answering the phone.
As time progressed, riders started to decrease because of the lack of response.
Then, the state sent an undercover individual to check out the bus service. When the person came down, he was in a wheelchair and was not strapped down. The undercover individual asked if the driver was going to strap him down, as protocol and the driver replied: “just hold on.”
According to the state, Terrell says the city is going to lose the bus service due to a regional concept of transportation. The bus service at one time was more personable, and if a resident needed additional help, we were able to provide it.
As Mayor, I will get the service back; we have two buses and try to get someone to volunteer to drive. The drivers will have to be licensed, but I think we can get a community-minded individual to drive it.
England – Mayor England at first was not a fan of moving the dispatch center into Bedford. However, it let us focus our attention to other issues. And now the police cars are equipped to be an office for the police officers.
Mayor England says the city has seen a 55 percent reduction in crime, and we continue to work on a goal of 70 percent reduction.
Also, we have teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency, ATF and Seymour Police Department, and Lawrence County Prosecutor to help fight drugs. We will receive $60,000 to purchase a K-9 Cage vehicle, lights, training. The only cost to the city will be the officers’ pay and overtime.
Our school resource officer Rob German has been a tremendous asset in the Mitchell Schools, working his cases and working with school officials to make the school safer and interacting with the students. Over the summer he will be out on patrol.
Terrell – Former Mayor Terrell is not sure if the new HIT Grant with the DEA, ATF, and Seymour is a good thing. Lawrence County and the City of Bedford turned it down because of costs associated with the program.
Mitchell is also dealing with some budget issues and not sure if we could afford to have the program. The biggest complaint I am receiving is Mitchell police needs to be patrolling Mitchell Streets. Not performing traffic stops on State Road 37, to which we have the Indiana State Police.
We are still dealing with drug issues, and while campaigning I have found needles while just walking out on the campaign trail. We need our police force, but the focus needs to be in Mitchell.
Water Bill Concerns:
England – Many residents are concerned over the rising water bills and fluctuation in their bills. In the winter months sometimes the meters do not get read 30 days, 35 days, or 47 days out. So this has caused bills to be higher than usual. The city also had a water rate increase.
The increase did not include sewer service. A basic bill went up from $58 to $62.
Terrell – When I was first elected Mayor within 60 days of office, I received a phone call from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management who wanted me up there in Indianapolis, for a meeting. The previous administration ignored their requests and orders to get the water issues fixed.
I took a lawyer, an engineer and worked out an agreement to get the issues resolved within three years, and we got them done in two.
We got our water back to where it was safe to drink again, digging some water wells. Also, to save some money, we stopped using Fluoride in our water. Not long after I received a letter stating that using fluoride saves $6 in children’s health. The study, however, came from the Fluoride industry, and now it has been eliminated out of most municipal water systems.
England – We have received a 501(c) 3 to help us better market the Industrial Park. And this will speed up the time it takes for a business to purchase a lot in the Industrial Park. In the past it could take months for the process to be complete, now it will only take about a month.
Also, we have teamed up with Radius and South Industrial to move some high-pressure gas lines that sit in the central part of the Industrial Park. We will be seeking grants and with the aid of the Lawrence County Growth Council to get those lines relocated.
We will be having Chase Briscoe move into the Industrial Park, and another individual that owns some private property nearby will also feature another racing business.
Foam Craft and the fire department moved into the Industrial Park. With Doc Hamilton close to Indiana State Road 37 the Industrial Park will be a prime location to attract business.
Terrell – The Industrial Park almost did not happen, nothing was done with it, and when we were about to lose the project when I first became Mayor.
We had to borrow almost $1.5 million in bonds to get the project underway. We then received a grant thanks to Greg Jones of the Southern Indiana Development Corporation. If it were not for him, there would be no Industrial Park.
We spent about a $1 million to get the Industrial Park going, we built a fire station to lower fire protection rates for the Industrial Park, and put in fiber optics, but there is still more work that needs to be done.
The biggest mistake is not getting business development there. Against the advice of the Lawrence County Growth Council, they put a cornfield in the park. Doing that prevents a business from really seeing what the property looks like, and is very poor marketing of the property.
Both candidates would like another four years to help Mitchell grow, and make additional improvements.
“We have got a lot accomplished over the last four years, dealing with some stormwater issues around the city,” said Mayor England. “We have installed a new 6-inch water main to a 12 inch main, increasing water pressure throughout the whole city. This will hopefully, improve our fire protection in the near future. And I am proud of the efforts of the Park Board and people from our community seeking to make improvements to our pool and parks.”
“As Mayor I consider this a public service and want to give back to the community, to which I have lived my whole life,” Dan Terrell said. “Want to make Mitchell better for my children and grandchildren.”