Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman John Pickerill plans to step down from his position and leave the GOP to join the Libertarian Party.
Pickerill emailed the local media Thursday morning of his intentions. In that correspondence he stated he would conduct a press conference at 3 p.m. June 2 in the Crawfordsville District Public Library at which time he will give a short statement about “why I now consider the Republican Party a failed institution, one that has failed constitutional conservatives such as myself, and why the Libertarian Party has become our best choice going forward.”
Since Pickerill was elected party chair nearly four years ago, there has been disagreement between his point of view and the political views of others within the local GOP.
Mayor Todd Barton has not been shy in voicing his disagreement with Pickerill. Barton said it is a good move for both the county Republican Party and Pickerill.
“John resigning is not surprising,” Barton said. “I think it is an appropriate move on his part. I have said for a long time that John’s political views do not align with the local Republican Party but with libertarians.”
Montgomery County Democrat Party Chairman David Hadley, who taught political science at Wabash College for many years, said he too believes the move is good for Pickerill.
“I think John will find agreement with the Libertarian Party,” Hadley said. “Especially with his expressed view on the size and role of government, with the exception of conservative social issues that the Libertarian Party does not agree with.”
Barton hopes the local Republican Party will learn a lesson after electing Pickerill as the party head.
“It is sad that we Republicans let someone attempt to take over our party,” Barton said. “I believe you can have different views in the party, and that is a healthy thing. But after seeing election results, John’s view was not in line with the Republican Party.”
With Pickerill’s planned resignation, party vice chairman and Montgomery County Auditor Jennifer Andel becomes the interim-chairperson. She now has 30 days to call a caucus of the county Republican precinct chairmen to elect a new leader.
In the May primary, county Republicans voted for precinct committeemen. Several candidates who were elected to the post were supported by Barton and other mainstream party members. Several candidates associated with the local Tea Party were defeated. Local political officials believed one result of the election would be Pickerill would not be re-elected as party chairman in January. Now, that vote will come earlier.
Andel, who acknowledged receipt of the resignation letter, said she will soon announce the caucus date.
She said finding the right person to bring the party together is important and that the chairman’s job is not necessarily an easy one.
“County chairman is a volunteer position that takes a lot of time,” Andel said. “I applaud John because I think he did a great job carrying out his administrative duties.”
Barton said the new chairman must work for all Republicans.
“We need someone to pull the party together and have the party support our candidates again,” Barton said.
Hadley complimented Pickerill when he heard the news of the resignation.
“John always stated his views clearly and publicly,” Hadley said. “He clearly made the Republican Party in the county more visible.”
Even though they are the ones on billboards and on commercials, celebrities are not the only ones who participated in Red Nose Day on Thursday, a national campaign to raise awareness and funds to lift children out of poverty.
Residents at Wellbrooke of Crawfordsville, an assisted living facility, showed their support for the cause with their own fundraiser and, of course, their own red noses.
“We are participating in Red Nose Day because of what it stands for,” said Alicia Hauk, the facility’s life enrichment director. ‘The motto of the cause is to “Get together. Have fun and make a difference for kids.’ The residents and staff at Wellbrooke love to get together and have fun. So that part was easy, and we would love to help out local children any way we can.”
The staff and residents at Wellbrooke decided to use Red Nose Day as a way to support a campaign called Independence from Hunger. For the month of June, Wellbrooke will be taking donations of canned and dry food, with the hope of collecting 5,000 pounds of food. So far, everyone in the facility has collected 1,500 pounds of food, and it’s not even June yet. All donations Wellbrooke receives will be donated to a local food pantry. Monetary donations are also being accepted; $1 equals three pounds of food.
“Our residents love having a face with a cause,” Hauk said, “and with this fundraiser
benefiting the community immediately, they’ve really gotten involved. Especially because they know that this fundraiser is benefiting children. They absolutely adore children!”
Red Nose Day is a fundraising campaign ran by the non-profit organization Comic Relief Inc., which is one reason red noses were chosen to symbolize the campaign. According to the campaign’s website, Red Nose Day has raised over $1 billion dollars globally over the past 25 years. It might be cliche, but the campaign has certainly put the fun in fundraising.
“We had residents that, by seeing the staff in red noses, it instantly brought a smile to their faces,” Hauk said. “There were also a few residents that even donned a red nose of their own.”
To give food to Wellbrooke’s collection or to donate financially, contact the facility at 765-362-9122.
Southmont is sending two runners to the IHSAA boys track and field state finals.
Brooks Long placed third in the 1600 meter run in a personal best time of 4 minutes, 20.34 seconds to advance out of the regional round of the postseason.
Justin Long was third in the 400-meter dash in a time of 49.41 seconds — also a personal best.
“I wouldn’t want to say surprised,” Southmont coach Desson Hannum said. “We’re just happy that we got them through. I didn’t think that at the beginning of the week, or last week, that we’d have three people moving on to the State. We’re definitely lucky to have people competing next weekend.”
The Mounties will also send Brittany Barrett to the girls state finals in pole vault.
Crawfordsville’s Davis Thompson finished ninth in the 1600 — one spot from scoring points in the event for the Athenians. He finished in 4:32.27. Zionsville’s Evan tate Browning was eight, just ahead of Thompson in 4:32.21.
Fountain Central’s Ben Payton placed 11th overall in the 1600 in 4:35.82.
North Montgomery’s Hayden Maddox tied for eighth in high jump with a distance of 10 feet while Dalton Surface finished 13th in long jump with a 19-07.
The North Montgomery 4x400 meter relay team of Michael Munro, Ben Dugard, Corbin Osborne and Dalton Surface finished 10th in a time of 3 minutes, 28.65 seconds — just short of the school record from 1972 of 3:27.40.
Fountain Central placed 10th in the 4x800 relay. The relay team of Payton, Logan Pietrzak, Caleb Phillips and Colin Mellady finished in a time of 8:24.93.
Mellady was 14th in the 800-meter run in 2:09.48 and Logan Pietrzak was 15th in the 3200 meter run with a time of 10:23.88 while Caleb Phillips was 16th in 10:50.82.
Students at Nicholson Elementary tackled the last day of school Tuesday by training like Colts players.
A Colts camp was hosted at the school in conjunction with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. Instead of listening to Principal Matt Ridenour like the students normally do during the school day, the students took directions from Mike Prior (“Coach Mike”), a retired safety for the Indianapolis Colts and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers.
The students participated in different drills throughout the afternoon, working on their passing, receiving and tackling skills as well as their speed and agility.
Residents will have another opportunity to participate in a 5K color run on June 25 through Athens Sports and Fitness.
The Crawfordsville Board of Public Works and Safety approved the route Wednesday. It will start at the Boys & Girls Club on Whitlock Avenue and go east on Memorial Drive to C.R. 150E before turning around. The route will then go back on Memorial Drive to South Whitlock Avenue and then back to the club’s parking lot.
Denise Reese of Athens Sports and Fitness, who requested permission for the event, is asking participants to wear white T-shirts. If someone does not want colored starch thrown on them, they will be able to avoid it during the course.
Registration for the color run has already started at the fitness club. Participants also can register the day of the event. Registration costs $15, and all proceeds will go to the Montgomery County Boys & Girls Club.
The board also approved another route during its meeting. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is scheduled to arrive to Crawfordsville at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 11. Byron Cox American Legion Post #72 will mark the arrival by parading it through the downtown area. In the parade will be the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall truck, local police officers, veterans and representatives of all units belonging to the local legion.
The parade route will start on East Main Street from Oak Street to Washington Street. It will turn on Pike Street and proceed to the Lane Place.
In other business, Wabash College has approached the city to help with construction improvements along Crawford Street. Mayor Todd Barton reported to the board that talks are on-going.
Crawfordsville Parks and Recreation Director Fawn Johnson reported that the Splash Zone located in Milligan Park opened Wednesday and the pool will open Saturday. Splash Zone hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Crawfordsville Electric Lights & Power Director Phil Goode reported a new email server is being installed. He asked department heads present at the meeting to report any problems to him after the old system is replaced next week.