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Gene McCracken To Head Commissioners, Mike Arena Honored
Updated January 11, 2017 6:45 AM
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Mike Arena
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Gene McCracken

(BEDFORD) - The first order of business of the Lawrence County Commissioners Gene McCracken, Rodney Fish and Dustin Gabhart Tuesday morning was to elect a president.

Gene McCracken will fill that position, with Rodney Fish serving as vice president.

The commissioners also passed their first resolution honoring former Lawrence County Surveyor Michael Arena, who retired after 44 years of service.

"We want to congratulate, honor and thank, Mike Arena for his exceptional skills and service," said McCraken before reading the resolution.

A retirement party will be held Wednesday in the commissioner's room of the courthouse from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend.

Arena began his career in Lawrence County at the age of 18 working for then Surveyor Nelson Prall in February, 1964. He started as a rod man and by 1965 was a crew chief/instrument man. At that time transits and steel tape (which were called a chain) were in common use and most calculations were done by hand.

In 1972, Arena was elected as Lawrence County Surveyor.

He passed the Land Surveyors Exam in Indiana in 1975 and was licensed to practice in January 1976. In 1983, Arena passed the state's surveying exam in Kentucky and Illinois. In 2010, he passed the exam in Tennessee.

From 1976-2006, Arena had a private practice in surveying and sold his practice to what is now Bledsoe, Riggert, Cooper & James, where he currently works part-time.

He and his wife Nancy Jeskewich Arena have been married 50 years and have two children, Mandy and Sam.

In other business:

The commissioners approved Community Corrections Director Chad Shew to apply for a Department of Corrections Juvenile Corrections grant, for the county's Juvenile Problem Solving Court.


Highway Superintendent David Holmes says crews are using cold-mix to patch county roads and cutting brush. Crews are also preparing county roads by replacing culverts to get read for spring paving.

The county also received a $5,500 grant from the Indiana Public Employers Plan to purchase safety equipment. Some of the funds from the 80/20 grant will be used to purchase a defibrillator for the department.

Work will begin Monday on Bridge 25, the Brent E. Steele Bridge, located on Leatherwood Road near Otis Park. The road will be closed during work on the bridge. The contract with Duncan Robinson states the bridge must be finished by May 23. The cost of replacing the bridge is $357,527.60.

The commissioners, with some reluctance, voted to accept an insurance settlement from American Family Insurance of $50,000 after their client crashed into Bridge 113 on Springville Judah Road in July. The bridge located between Popcorn and Harrodsburg roads was damaged after a vehicle crashed into the bridge and knocked out a pier from under the bridge and caused other substantial damage.

The bridge had to be closed, taken down and replaced with a new bridge at the cost of around $115,000.

"They have offered us all they have to offer," says County Attorney David Smith, who has been negotiating a deal with the insurance company. "They have a $50,000 cap on the policy. The only thing is you have to agree to release the driver from any further restitution."

The commissioners voted to accept the terms of the settlement.


Sheriff Mike Branham reported there were 120 inmates in the county jail, of those 12 were Level 6 offenders and 18 females.

The new commissioners visited the jail after the commissioner's meeting to look at repairs needed for the ramps to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The also voted to not accept any current bids for repairs because they all were over budget supplied to the county by an engineer.


Emergency Managment Director Valerie Luchauer told the commissioners her department will be reviewing the county's emergency management plan, especially the areas of responsibility.

"We want to make sure people know what they are to do and what they are responsible for during an emergency situation," she added.

Luchauer is also keeping an eye on a nasty ice storm which could hit the area late Friday night into Saturday morning.


The commissioners also voted to fill several appointments. They include:

  • County Attorney - David Smith
  • Human Relations Director - vacant. The commissioners are currently seeking someone to fill that position
  • Highway Superintendent - David Holmes
  • Highway Foremen District 1 - Troy Fountain
  • Highway Foremen District 2 - Fred Stout
  • Highway Foremen District 3 - Richard Henderson
  • Cum Bridge - John Stewart
  • Garage Supervisor - Robert Woods
  • Highway Bookkeeper - Brandi Webb
  • Weights & Measures - John Cobb
  • Emergency Management - Valerie Luchauer
  • Veterans Office - Brad Bough
  • Plaza Security - Aaron Shoultz
  • ABC Board - Jeanie Chenault
  • 4-H Board - Dustin Gabhart
  • Southern Indiana Development Commission - Rodney Fish, Dustin Gabhart, Gene McCracken
  • Community Child Protection Team - Rob Herr
  • Lawrence County Economic Growth Council - Rodney Fish
  • Boys & Girls Club - Rodney Fish
  • Lawrence County Board Of Health Officer - Alan Smith
  • Region 8 Workforce Board - Gene McCracken
  • Tourism Commission - Gene McCracken, Sam Carnell, Larry Root
  • Airport Board - Chris Woods
  • Insurance Committee - Commissioner Gene McCracken, a council member yet to be named, the Human Relations Director which is currently vacant, Auditor Jody Edwards, Treasurer Paula Stewart
  • Health Board - John Sherrill
  • Bedford Public Library - Amanda May
  • Mitchell Public Library - Vicky Schlegal

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