(LOOGOOTEE) - Loogootee Mayor Don Bowling, Indiana's oldest mayor at age 83, said he loved being mayor, even during the controversy.
Bowling's term of office officially ends at midnight Saturday; a swearing-in ceremony for incoming mayor Noel Harty and city council members will be conducted at noon today at city hall.
Harty defeated Bowling and two other candidates in the May Democratic primary election. Since no Republicans filed to run for mayor, no general election was required in November.
A graduate of Loogootee High School, Bowling worked 35 years for National Gypsum Co., Shoals, including his last 10 years there as human resources manager. After retiring in 1990, he worked 13 years for the St. John Conference of the St. Vincent DePaul Society.
The position of Loogootee mayor is the only political office Bowling has ever held. But even after he leaves office and becomes his family's full-time handyman again, Bowling plans to stay involved in certain areas of public service. He has agreed to serve on the Martin County Senior Housing Board.
Bowling has been a long-time supporter of both the West Gate Tech Park and Interstate 69. In his position as mayor, he was a member of both the Martin County Redevelopment Commission and the West Gate at Crane Authority.
He believes the tech park will continue to be very important to the economic development of Loogootee, Martin County and all of southwestern Indiana.
Several significant projects were completed during Bowling's two terms, several involving grant money. These included a $1 million renovation of Larkin Apartments and $200,000 for the Downtown Loogootee Building Renovation Project, more commonly known as the Facade Program. The downtown building owners matched the grant money with $100,000 of their own funds.
Bowling said the city also received a $1 million grant to finance a sidewalk project throughout the city, as well as a $500,000 grant toward the cost of a surface water project, which helped alleviate flooding problems in some parts of the city.
And last week the sale of the former Perfect Fit textile plant to the Knox County Association of Retarded Citizens was completed. The 139,000-square-foot facility closed its doors near the end of 2010, after about 80 years in operation under various names and owners. When the business closed, 93 people lost their jobs.
KCARC, a nonprofit organization based in Vincennes, is dedicated to serving people with disabilities in southern Indiana. Bowling credits the Martin County Alliance and its executive director Tim Kinder for working for months with KCARC president Mike Carney to complete the sale of the plant. The new business will be named Bowling Manufacturing.
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