May 25, 2015
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Open For All

A new law divides state and leaves many businesses concerned

Residents gathered during the end of March at the Four Freedoms Monument in Downtown Evansville to peacefully protest the passing of Indiana Senate Bill 101, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill in late March and criticism mounted immediately. The bill prevents government entities from forcing an individual to violate his/her religious beliefs unless there is a compelling reason. Essentially, Hoosiers can use religion as a defense in a court of law; that court of law, though, has no obligation to uphold that defense. Many say it opens up the door for discrimination against the LGBT community as a business can refuse serving individuals based on sexual orientation.

In response, the governors of two states called for travel boycotts, the heads of international businesses spoke out, organizations with plans for conventions publicly promised to reconsider, and nearly all major league sports organizations said they would be watching Indiana (NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis).

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke published a response on his Facebook page: “We must continue to be a community of hospitality, warmth, and with a desire to treat everyone with respect.”

At the protest, around 100 individuals gathered with signs and rainbow flags before marching down Riverside Drive. Evansville mayoral candidate Gail Riecken joined protest organizer Max Hedon of Evansville in denouncing the bill.

Many businesses have purchased stickers from openforservice.org to show they open their doors for everyone. At press time, an admendment to the bill was awaiting approval. Tucker Publishing Group opposes the law and urges its repeal.

To read Indiana Senate Bill 101, visit iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/101.

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Fore the Community

ULC ticket sales proceeds given to local charities

When the United Leasing Championship is held April 27 through May 3, the focus won’t be entirely on golf, but what the sport can do to give back to the community.

The Golf Gives Back program was born three years ago, which allows charities to sell tickets to the golf championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana, and receive 100 percent of the ticket sales proceeds. Eighty charities participate and in the last year alone, the program raised $130,000 just through the ticket purchase. Over the last three years, more than $200,000 has gone to the charities.

In addition to the ticket sales proceeds, Old National Bank contributes an additional $25,000 to the Golf Gives Back program, which is split proportionately according to their ticket sales.

“I think back to five years ago when this idea was germinating and I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with (United Leasing CEO) Ron (Romain) and he was adamant at the time that this golf event was going to give back to the community,” says Old National Bank CEO Bob Jones. “It wasn’t just about United Leasing, it wasn’t just about the golf, it was about what Ron Romain and United Leasing could do to give back to the community and he’s clearly lived up to that promise.”

For more information on the Golf Gives Back, visit ulcgolf.com/golf-gives-back-2.

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Swimming Means Winning

Evansville residents have their choice of a few indoor swimming facilities, including two YMCA pools (one with two swim lanes) and the city-run Lloyd Pool. However, ask many of them about Lloyd Pool and you’re very likely to hear it ranks very low in their opinions. The indoor Olympic-size pool, located at 6101 N. First Ave., has served Evansville schools and residents for 40 years and is showing its age.

Built in 1975, the facility has undergone many patch-up jobs through the decades. To reach the pool, visitors walk through the locker rooms — open spaces with a few bathroom stalls and no designated changing area. The floors are concrete with occasional spots of standing water. Narrow benches offer places to sit down or perch bags. After passing by the shower stalls, a small, dark hallway leads to a ramp. At the top of this ramp, swimmers are greeted with 25-yard lanes divided by a small bulkhead. Even with the sun shining bright, Lloyd Pool is a bit dark. Only three large skylights and six rows of large, industrial lights along the ceiling illuminate the facility.

Touting 16 lanes, the 50-meter sized pool houses practices for six of Evansville’s high schools, the Greater Evansville Aquatic Team, and the public. Evansville’s high schools also hold meets at Lloyd Pool. However, due to the pool’s specifications, Lloyd cannot host USA Swimming meets for the club team.

Evansville residents have their choice of a few indoor swimming facilities, including two YMCA pools (one with two swim lanes) and the city-run Lloyd Pool. However, ask many of them about Lloyd Pool and you’re very likely to hear it ranks very low in their opinions. The indoor Olympic-size pool, located at 6101 N. First Ave., has served Evansville schools and residents for 40 years and is showing its age.

Lloyd Pool, built in 1975, could have about eight to 10 years left before it needs replacing. It currently cannot host USA Swimming meets due to its specifications. Brownsburg High School renovated its pool in 2004 and now hosts many meets during the year.

Built in 1975, the facility has undergone many patch-up jobs through the decades. To reach the pool, visitors walk through the locker rooms — open spaces with a few bathroom stalls and no designated changing area. The floors are concrete with occasional spots of standing water. Narrow benches offer places to sit down or perch bags. After passing by the shower stalls, a small, dark hallway leads to a ramp. At the top of this ramp, swimmers are greeted with 25-yard lanes divided by a small bulkhead. Even with the sun shining bright, Lloyd Pool is a bit dark. Only three large skylights and six rows of large, industrial lights along the ceiling illuminate the facility.

Touting 16 lanes, the 50-meter sized pool houses practices for six of Evansville’s high schools, the Greater Evansville Aquatic Team, and the public. Evansville’s high schools also hold meets at Lloyd Pool. However, due to the pool’s specifications, Lloyd cannot host USA Swimming meets for the club team.

Considering 46,897 people used Lloyd in 2014, the size of the building is a concern. “A big problem is the crowds,” says Mike Chapman, current head age group coach for the Newburgh Sea Creatures club team, which calls the Castle High School Natatorium its home. A former coach for Bosse High School and GREAT, Chapman knows the challenges Lloyd Pool facility presents to swimmers in the city. “It’s difficult. Some of the high school teams are very large and they could have up to 60 kids,” says the current Indiana age group coach of the year.

F.J. Reitz High School Swimming Head Coach Dave Baumeyer agrees crowds and space are two of the biggest problems. Baumeyer has been a part of the Reitz swim program for 14 years, with eight of those as head coach. “We’re limited to four lanes for practice time,” says Baumeyer. “The con of having only four lanes for an hour and 45 minutes is that it’s a struggle when you have six, seven, or eight kids in a lane. It just causes problems.”

Other issues arise from the age of the building itself. Though renovations have been done in recent years, the Reitz coach says it’s only a matter of time before Lloyd Pool can no longer function. “I just say every year we’re just a pump away from not having a season. The pump is old. The building still leaks a lot. It’s just old,” says Baumeyer.

Reitz senior and U.S. National Team swimmer Lilly King has been swimming since she was 8 years old, starting on the GREAT team. She has since left GREAT and now swims with the Newburgh Sea Creatures. King swam in Lloyd Pool for many years and says it is not in very good shape. “When there’s high school meets going on, it’s just absolute madness. They did just replace the liner a few years ago but before that, there was algae on the bottom and mold. The ceiling is falling apart. It’s just really a mess,” she says.

Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation Executive Director Denise Johnson says she feels the frustration of the teams and the public. She agrees a plan needs to come together for the future. But from the perspective of her department, Lloyd Pool still has life left in it. “We know we’ve probably got eight more years left and maybe beyond that,” says Johnson.

Johnson has served as the head of the parks and recreation department for three years and says she’s heard many conversations and complaints about Lloyd Pool. Johnson is faced with the task of budgeting money to care for not only the indoor facility, but all of Evansville’s parks and pools.

“It is a real concern. It’s something that we have discussions on. I hope people would understand that we really do care,” says Johnson. “We have to go back to our money, our staff, and our facilities — and shrinking budgets. You have to take everything into consideration.”

Steve Schaefer, chief of staff for the office of Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, says the mayor also believes sustaining Lloyd for as long as possible is important. “Over the past couple of years there has been an investment by the city. I think the idea was, obviously there needs to be a long-term solution, but after the city put a $200,000 investment into (Lloyd Pool), we need to continue to use it … as long as we can, knowing that any new facility is going to be a major capital expense.”

The $200,000 investment was a large renovation in 2012 funded by the city’s capital improvement fund. A new liner was installed, which Johnson says improves the look, taking away the “ugly color or discoloration it had before.” The bulkhead and sun deck were cleaned, painted, and sealed. The ceilings in the lockers room and the lobby also were sealed. Other repairs have been made in the last few years, including painting the outside of the building and the locker rooms. Heaters also have been installed in the locker rooms.

Johnson says the facility still has a lot more to offer the city. “I think people just write it off because it’s 40 years old and they’ve heard so many things about it — bad things about it,” she says.

But a new pool still is needed and the road to an aquatic center is not an easy one, she says. In 2006, former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel formed an aquatics task force group and put one question to them: Is there demand and need enough for city swimming pools? The 52-page assessment report contained one prominent idea — have four outdoor pools in each region of the city and one new indoor facility that’s centrally located.

It’s been almost a decade since the report was released and little has been done on the recommendations from the study, including the suggestion of a new indoor facility. Johnson says the topic of pools is a very volatile one for the city.

The biggest obstacle for pushing forward with a new center is money. “Money makes the world go round,” says Johnson. “Do we talk about it? It comes up all the time. But I fight to get what I’ve got and my budget shrinks every year. You’ve got so many competing forces. So where do we go?”

Dr. Andy Tharp, an ophthalmologist at Vision Care Center and a member of a grassroots organization supporting a new aquatic center, agrees the biggest obstacle is funding. “I applaud (the city’s) effort. I think they are doing the best they can. To be honest, I don’t think the city probably has the resources to do it on their own. It’s going to take some sort of public/private partnership with support by some of the big industries in town to help the funding,” he says.

But to get Evansville businesses involved, Tharp says the city, the school corporation, and even the University of Evansville have to declare a need for a new indoor facility. “I think if you can get to that step, it will be a big step in the right direction. Because I see all three of those as having an invested interest in bringing something about,” he says.

Lloyd Pool is not the only local indoor pool being discussed. UE’s Wyttenbach Pool was closed at the beginning of 2014 due to technical difficulties. The university’s swimming and diving team used the Castle High School Natatorium for the rest of the season. Repairs were made during the summer months and the school reopened the facility during a ceremony Aug. 27, 2014.

The University of Southern Indiana does not have swimming and diving teams but the school has a pool in the Physical Activities Center. In addition to using the pool for its own classes, USI’s pool hosts Reitz Memorial High School’s swim team practices. Noncredit classes — such as swimming lessons for children and adults — also are offered through USI’s Outreach and Engagement program.

In November 2014, the USI Board of Trustees approved a resolution to request approval from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana State Budget Committee, and Gov. Mike Pence to proceed with a renovation to the center. The state agreed to a $16 million capital appropriation and renovations are set to start in the spring of 2016. However, the pool may or may not be apart of those renovations. The Shield, USI’s student publication, quoted Steve Bridges, the university’s vice president for business affairs, Feb. 17 saying renovations for the pool would be discussed and thought about as they could be expensive.

As for Evansville’s city-run indoor pool, many share the thought that it may be expensive, but the benefits would be great.

Baumeyer says he believes residents of Evansville would be surprised by what a new indoor facility would do for the city. “I do think there is a demand. And all I would base that on is when Castle (High School) built their new pool, their club team doubled. I just think if Evansville had a nice facility, they would be shocked at how many people would come and use it,” says the coach.

Chapman voices a similar belief, stating large USA Swimming meets generally bring in 500 to 700 participants. “These large regional meets bring in a lot of people. (Evansville) is pretty centrally located, so we’re missing out. (The city) is putting on these large soccer tournaments where people come from all over. The same thing could happen for swimming if we had a facility for it,” he says.

If Evansville wishes to be a sports tourist destination and a fitness-orientated community, Tharp says a decent aquatic facility will need to be a part of the plan. “(The city has) done a great job with putting the Ford Center Downtown. They’ve done a great job building the ball fields and the soccer fields. This is part of the puzzle that’s missing in my opinion,” he says. “If Lloyd Pool breaks down, (the pool) will get done. So why not be proactive and do it in a timely fashion? I think everyone is motivated to do it, it’s just a big, big project,” he says.

Johnson sees many economic and tourism benefits for Evansville in a new aquatic center. “When you say: ‘Will it benefit Evansville?’ Yes, it will benefit Evansville. I will tell you that people will drive over here from Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. So a new facility will benefit everyone beyond Evansville, (too). I know that’s not supposed to be my concern, but if we’re looking at revenue and looking at benefits, absolutely,” says the executive director.

The one thing agreed on as much as the need for a new pool is the teamwork needed from all entities that would be involved with a new aquatic center. “I think the heads of our schools are the ones who are going to have to step up and meet with the city,” says Baumeyer.

Johnson believes it will take the community as a whole to see the project through. “It takes everyone coming to the table who would use it that are players. We as a whole, the ‘we’ of the city of Evansville, need to figure out how we do this.”

For more information about Lloyd Pool, call 812-435-6085 or visit evansvillegov.org.

Victory Lap

Indiana communities see success in indoor facilities

As Evansville struggles to keep Lloyd Pool afloat for all those depending on it, other communities seem to be bypassing the city on swimming facilities and the economic benefits and tourism that come with them.

In South Bend, Indiana, a recent swim meet at the Rolf’s Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame brought in 600 swimmers and their families and fans from all over Indiana. According to Visit South Bend Mishawaka, the convention and visitors bureau for St. Joseph County, Indiana, the estimated economic impact of the event for the county over a three-day period was around $608,329.

Vigo County School Corp. in Terre Haute, Indiana, broke ground for a new natatorium at the beginning of 2015. Bond sales totaling $9.8 million will fund the project according to Superintendent Danny Tanoos. He says he has no doubt Terre Haute will see an economic boom from the facility.

In Hendricks County, Indiana — just west of Indianapolis — Brownsburg High School has a renovated and up-to-date swimming facility. It was completed in the fall of 2004 and now has a seating capacity of 950. Josh Duke, communications manager for the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the county is beginning to hone in on sports tourism and natatoriums are a factor. “We’ve really started to realize in the last few years how important the sports tourism market is to our local economy … as far as bringing in visitors to this county,” says Duke.

He emphasized that spectators, families, teams of meets, and tournaments contribute revenue to the community. “There is a lot of economic impact while they are here. Any opportunity that we have at our disposal to bring visitors into Hendricks County is something that is only going to be a positive for everyone in the community,” says Duke. Brownsburg’s facility, according to Duke, hosts a number of meets each year. The pool also is rented out for parties and events, bringing in additional revenue.

“Any new sports facilities that can be brought in that can draw tournaments or meets that would bring in visitors to the community, is only going to enhance your economy,” he says.

For more information about Visit South Bend Mishawaka, call 800-519-0577 or visit visitsouthbend.com. For more information about the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau, call 800-321-9666 or visit visithendrickscounty.com.

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“When Good Enough ... Ain’t”

Evansville has a municipal self-esteem complex. We’ve written about the low image the city seems to have of itself many times. Indeed, the inaugural magazine of Tucker Publishing Group was founded to help battle this complex. We asked, “Why not Evansville?” Often we are under the mistaken impression that “passable” is good enough, while complaining that “up in Indy” they don’t do without.

Our feature cover story by Staff Writer Trista Lutgring on Lloyd Pool and our community’s lack of a decent facility begins on page 28, and underscores this line of thought. I realize that we are unable to build everything we are desirous to have as a community and we must remain fiscally responsible. What “grinds my gears” (thanks Peter Griffin) is that a facility in such a poor state of repair is still deemed “good enough” by some community officials. Really? Lloyd is unable to even host USA Swimming meets due to conditions.

By coincidence, during production of this feature, an Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick brief touted that in South Bend, Indiana, an upcoming three-day meet (standard length) was estimated to pump $608,000 into local community coffers. My most immediate concern, though, is as Lloyd Pool limps along mechanically (it is), where do six high school teams, the Greater Evansville Aquatic Team, and the community’s swimmers go if if the pool goes down? Nowhere is the short answer.

As we point out in the story, many new pools throughout the state are being built and are up and are operating. How were they funded? Based on the multiple meetings with different community leaders, no one has attempted to determine if we can get it done here. As Dr. Andy Tharp states in the story, we can either be proactive regarding moving forward or left with no workable solution.

Frankly I am tired of going to Boonville, Lynnville, Huntingburg, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, and Jasper, Indiana, to swim in their far superior facilities. Or is a dilapidated, aging, over-crowded, and dirty facility good enough for Evansville? 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker
Publisher

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High Flying

Evansville Regional Airport has changed significantly since 2012

Evansville Regional Airport is preparing to welcome a new airline to the team this summer. Along with Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways (American Airlines and US Airways are in the process of a merger), United Airlines will offer its services to Evansville’s fliers. With three daily flights to Chicago, United begins service on June 4 in Evansville.

“The addition of United gives us more flights on a daily basis to Chicago, which is one of our major hubs,” says Greg Wathen, president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. “Also it opens up access to other local carriers. It opens up more avenues for air travel.”

Evansville Business previously visited with Wathen in the April/May 2012 issue when he emphasized the importance of Evansville Regional Airport after a report from Garner Economics that assessed the state of the region.

“If you were to remove commercial air service from Evansville tomorrow, how would it impact the marketplace?” says Wathen. “Companies would have to go to Louisville or Nashville, and, if companies would be going that far of a distance, at some point they would think why are we in Evansville? Keeping an airport here enables us to attract and retain new investment.”

Since 2012, the regional airport has undergone positive changes like the addition of jet bridges, allowing passengers to move from the terminal gate to the airplane without having to step foot outside, an increase in air service with the addition of US Airways’ daily flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, and the shift of the main 1.5-mile runway from U.S. Highway 41 toward the northeast.

“We have to continue seeing the value of the airport,“ says Wathen. “We contribute to the airport because we think it’s important, and we want to maintain this service.”

For more information about Evansville Regional Airport, call 812-421-4401 or visit flyevv.com.

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Courthouse Creatives

Designers collaborate and remodel space in historic courthouse
Nick Basham, Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Kennedy Rose all work independently and collaboratively in the Old Courthouse.

When Evansville freelance graphic designers Matt Wagner, Rachel Wambach, and Aaron Tanner went looking for an office space in August 2011, they wanted something to make their own.

What they found was an empty room surrounded by windows on the third floor of the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, 201 N.W. Fourth St., Ste. 301, with floors covered in glued-down carpet, sun-bleached walls, and aged ceiling fans — and it was perfect.

“I remembered thinking how cool it was,” says Wagner, owner of Matt Wagner Design, who previously worked in the courthouse for four years early in his career. “I stopped by on my own and looked up here and walked in and peered through the glass and said, ‘Holy cow, this is available?’”

The three designers first came together to work out of Wagner’s home in 2010. They would work individually on projects and often collaborate together as well. “We didn’t know if this was temporary, but once we were working together for about a year, we were like, ‘OK, this is how this is going to be,’” he says.

But the designers lacked a functional office. The renovation took two weeks as the group rented equipment on their own dime and sanded and refinished the floors, reconditioned all the wood, and painted.

“Having a space that we can feel creative in is important,” says Wambach. “We are representing what we do in here.”

Four years later, the office is home to three designers, a developer, and two interns. Tanner of Melodic Virtue left in March and Nick Basham with Nick Basham Design and Kennedy Rose with Smarter Games joined in his place. They serve clients such as Tin Man Brewing Co., Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Welborn Baptist Foundation, and more.

They’ve given the space “two layers of vintage,” says Wagner. “There’s the original feel of the building and the feel of when advertising was in its heyday during the ‘Mad Men’ era.”

Because it is an open floor plan with no dividers or cubicles, Wagner says chemistry is important. They share the expenses such as rent and the cost of equipment.

“This is stuff that none of us would be able to do on our own,” says Wagner. “The group is more powerful than the individuals.”

Currently, the entire third floor is being renovated after the first two floors were renovated over the past two years.

“It’s the sweetest inconvenience,” says Wagner of the construction noise. “It is such an iconic building in Evansville and it needs to be treated as such.”

For more information about the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, visit vanderburghgov.org.

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Barefoot Design

Local shop owner fulfills promise by purchasing The Secret Garden
Beth Martin, owner of The Barefoot Cottage in Newburgh, Indiana, is now the owner of The Secret Garden building.

Nineteen years ago, Beth Martin, owner of The Barefoot Cottage, stood inside The Secret Garden store in Newburgh, Indiana. Looking around the shop, which sold garden accessories and home furnishings, inspired Martin. She stood upon the steps in the store and declared one day she would have a business just like it.

At the beginning of February, Martin made that statement a reality as she completed the purchase of the building at 101 State St. It allows her to move her store, which specializes in home accessories and furnishings, from 7766 Fruitwood Lane in Newburgh to three miles away in the Historic District location.

The process began when Barbara Ulrich, the former owner of The Secret Garden, approached Martin about purchasing the building during last year’s holiday season. Martin says she wasn’t thinking of moving, but it was a strong financial time and buying the building would be another step in the right direction for her business.

“The ultimate goal is to own your own building. It makes sense from the business standpoint. These opportunities only present themselves very rarely,” says Martin. She points out owning the building is much safer than renting. It allows her as a business owner to invest in her future.

The move also allows her to expand on what Barefoot currently offers. Now Martin has around 3,000 square feet. The new building increases her space by 2,000 square feet. A portion of the upstairs will house Annie Sloan® decorative chalk paint classes and the upstairs patio terrace will be used during the warm months. She also will offer more customization options.

“In fact, we’re going to partner with another store owner in Atlanta and we’re looking at having our own furniture manufactured which is really exciting,” says Martin.

Currently Martin is liquidating the inventory from The Secret Garden. After a final sale in May, she says the store will close while some structural work is completed on the building. Her goal is to relocate and reopen Barefoot by late summer.

For more information about The Barefoot Cottage, call 812-401-3383 or visit its Facebook page.

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Local Voice

Larry Bucshon talks about representing Indiana’s Eighth District
Congressman Bucshon speaks at Gov. Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 announcement at St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville.

Newburgh, Indiana, resident Larry Bucshon was first elected to Congress in 2010. He will be up for re-election in 2016. When not in Washington, D.C., he tours his district, which covers 18 counties and a portion of one county of Southwestern Indiana. During his tenure, he has been successful in getting multiple pieces of legislation signed into law addressing issues such as employment for veterans, prescription drug shortages, and critical funding for roads and bridges.

Evansville Business talked  with Congressman Bucshon for insight on current legislation and what it’s like to be a U.S. State Representative.

What are you working on that could affect Evansville’s future?
“I’ve been working to address regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that have drastic implications for our farmers and coal industry. I’ve been involved in an unprecedented effort to protect seniors’ access to quality health care by stabilizing a flawed physician payment formula in Medicare. I’m also excited about a new initiative called ‘21st Century Cures’ that will accelerate the development, discovery, and delivery of disease treatment and cures in America.”
 
What’s a typical day for you like?
“One thing I learned early on is there’s no typical day in the life of a member of Congress. If I’m in Washington, D.C., my days are filled with meetings, hearings, and votes. When I’m in the district, I spend my days traveling counties I represent attending events, meeting with constituents, and touring businesses and organizations.”
 
What do you wish you could have accomplished in your time in office and haven’t yet?
“I’ve tried to get a member of the Obama administration to tour a coal mine here in Southern Indiana. Indiana is one of the top coal-producing states and all of that coal is mined in my district. I even personally invited President Obama when he was in the area in October of last year. I still haven’t heard back.”

For more information about Congressman Larry Bucshon, call his Evansville office at 812-465-6484 or visit bucshon.house.gov.

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Never the Same

Family-owned electronic business rides wave of industry changes
President John Smith “Smitty” Taylor works with his daughter Stacey DeVault and son Tony Taylor at Hutch & Son.

In the electronics industry where nothing seems to stay the same, one family has remained steady since 1953.

Hutch & Son, an industrial electronics and components supplier at 300 N. Main St., was started by J.W. Hutch and E.R. Taylor in 1953 in Lima, Ohio. Later that same year, Taylor purchased the store and brought the headquarters to Evansville. The business was later passed to his sons John Paul, John Smith “Smitty,” and John William Taylor in the 90s. Today, Smitty, the president, is semi-retired and his son Tony Taylor and daughter Stacey DeVault are involved in the daily operations.

“We’ve been evolving as the technology has been changing,” says Smitty, who has seen the business change from the release of microwave ovens and televisions to the closure of thousands of RadioShack stores nationwide. “There have been so many changes. There is nothing in our business that is the same.”

Tony, who works as the vice president and general manager, has seen these changes firsthand since he started working for Hutch & Son sweeping the floors and talking with customers as a 12 year old in the late 1970s. The business started at 919 Vine St. and was later moved in 1969 to 300 N. Main St. in the location of a former Kroger. In December 2000, the building was destroyed in an electrical fire. They moved to a temporary location while rebuilding at 300 N. Main St. and moved back in for business in May 2002.

Hutch & Son is a member of EDGE Marketing & Procurement, a distributor-owned buying and marketing group, which purchases and follows the latest item trends, and represents the top manufacturers and suppliers in the industry with more than 200 lines. Hutch & Son offers audio, computer, and television accessories and cables, connectors, components, fans, wall mounts, and more.

While it has the newest products, it also keeps a range of older technology to meet the needs of the local factories and plants.

“Just keeping up with the latest and greatest is hard enough to do,” says Tony, “but there are so many plants in Evansville that are still supporting old machinery and don’t have the time or money to change the entire system. We keep a range of items in stock.”

Any product a customer may need, Hutch & Son has access to it, says Tony.

For more information about Hutch & Son, call 800-457-3520 or visit hutch-and-son.com.

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A City of Optimism

Nearing completion on gateway project, KEB sets next goals
KEB Executive Director Julie Welch, far right, presents Vanderburgh County CASA with a $500 check.

There is an air of optimism surrounding the Evansville community that Julie Welch says she has never before experienced.

It’s this kind of positive thinking that made it easy for Welch, who has lived in Evansville since 1992, to accept the executive director position of Keep Evansville Beautiful, 209 Main St., last October.

“I have never noticed such an optimistic viewpoint in the city,” says Welch. “We are optimistic because so many things are happening with the (Indiana University) School of Medicine, the hotel, the Ford Center, all the great things that are happening on Main Street. People just have this spring in their step. They are really looking forward to the future. We have so many organizations that are working together to improve Evansville just for the betterment of the city.”

Welch has worked in nonprofits since 2004 and made the move to Keep Evansville Beautiful after former executive director Marcia Dowell left the post in late July.

“It was an opportunity to run my own organization and I really believe in this mission,” says Welch. “We are catalysts for economic development, and it is so important to have aesthetically pleasing places in your city.”

As the Evansville Airport Gateway Project culminates and the sculpture by Bob Zasadny is being fabricated in Louisville, Welch has several goals she wishes to accomplish next. She wants to continue along U.S. Highway 41 and 57 and work on clearing out dead trees and trash, do new planting, and clean up brush. Welch hopes to work on an anti-littering campaign this summer to address the problem at its source.

“So much industry when they are thinking about coming here — they fly into that airport and drive down 41,” says Welch. “It is crucial that area makes a good impression.”

Inspired by a vibrancy movement in Indianapolis, Welch wants to add painted murals in Downtown Evansville and along U.S. Highway 41. KEB is working with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, and, if the organization receives funding for the murals, it is a project that could be completed by the fall of this year. She also is working to get approvals from the Indiana Department of Transportation for welcome signs on five entryways into the city. KEB also recently redesigned its website and revamped its social media accounts.

On April 18, KEB will hold its first-ever gala with the proceeds helping pay for operating expenses. The Path to Beauty Gala will be held at 5 p.m. at Tropicana Evansville. Tickets are $100.

For more information about Keep Evansville Beautiful, call 812-425-4461 or visit keepevansvillebeautiful.org.