The top news stories of 2000-09 show how this area has evolved over the past decade
2000:Change at the top
W August “Gus” Hillenbrand, Hillenbrand Industries chief executive officer, announced Oct. 11 he would retire Dec. 1 after a 40-year career. President Frederick Rockwood became the first nonfamily CEO.
2001: National tragedy
As Sept. 11 dawned, what started out to be one tragic jetliner accident turned into a much more sinister chain of events as four aircraft intentionally rammed into New York and Washington, D.C., landmarks and a Pennsylvania field. At least eight Hill-Rom trucks carrying close to 2,000 medical products left Batesville for the East Coast that day. It turned out rescue items were not needed; there were very few survivors.
One who died at the Pentagon was Col. Canfield “Buddy” Boone, 53, a Milan native. “He was just one great guy, one in a million,” recalled his mother, Elda Boone, Milan.
2002: One fine 150th
Century and a Half: Celebrate Batesville was a pep rally, town meeting and party all rolled into a series of events throughout the year.
In between the ceremony to affix a star to the top of the Memorial Building Jan. 3 and a historical home tour Nov. 23-24, there were activities for all sorts of groups: a poster contest, teen dance and kids’ rides and games; lunchtime concerts, big band music, original musical “On Our Way,” a battle of the bands and spectacular parade for those who like to be entertained; a historical bridal fair, skit, vintage Batesville memorabilia display, video of the year, quilt and self-guided walking tours for history buffs; a royalty contest, garden tour and designated white, yellow and blue (the 150th colors) flowers for those who like beauty; and fried chicken and fish, beer, restaurant specialties outdoors during August’s big week, a pie auction and Batesville birthday cake for citizens who like to eat, drink and be merry.
2003: War claims llfe of area soldier
Chad Keith, 21, a 2000 Batesville High School graduate, was killed July 7 in Baghdad, Iraq. The U.S Army soldier, promoted posthumously to sergeant, was on patrol when his vehicle drove past an object that exploded.
Southeast Indiana Young Life director Ozzie Smith recalled, “Whatever he decided to do, he did it 100 percent, with enthusiasm and focus.” Just before Keith died, sister Courtney Creech, Sunman, received a letter from him. “It was very upbeat. He was very proud of what he was doing.”
2004: A global event held in Batesville
While the eyes of the world were on Athens, Greece, and the 2004 Summer Olympics, Batesville hosted its own global competitors during the 21st World Muzzle Loading Championship Aug. 24-28 at Tri-County Coonhunters. Many different foreign languages could be heard in shops and restaurants as about 300 men, women and youth from 18 nations participated. According to Australian shooter Steve Nicholas, “We were absolutely blown away by how friendly people were.” Competitor Pamela Wilcox, Dayton, Maine, said the “overwhelming response of locals” at the parade and opening ceremonies was “so cool. It gives you that hometown feel.”
2005: More change at the top
Frederick Rockwood, HI president and CEO, retired May 11. Rolf Classon, board vice chairman, succeeded him on an interim basis. Corporate and Hill-Rom’s organizational structures were simplified by the board in July. All HI corporate functions, including human resources, finance, strategy, legal and information technology, were consolidated with those in Hill-Rom.
2006: Honda arriving
Morris property owners received March 31 letters from an Indianapolis law firm looking for land for a company that would employ “at least 750.” Rick Bergman, who owned 202 of the desired acres, said residents were offered amounts that were 75 percent above appraised values. But the thought of uprooting was daunting to Ripley County folks. “I’ve farmed all my life. To have to try to buy somewhere else ... I really don’t want to leave.”
In mid-May the firm was revealed as Honda Motor Co. On June 28, 400 cheered in Greensburg when Honda leaders announced Decatur County would be the location for the company’s newest auto assembly plant. The $550 million operation opened in fall 2008.
2007: Split proposed
HI leaders announced May 10 that its board approved in principle a plan to separate into two independent publicly-traded companies, each strategically positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities, according to Lauren Green-Caldwell, Hill-Rom director of communications and public relations.
Under the plan, Hill-Rom, the company’s medical technology business, would be spun out of HI through a tax-free dividend of its shares to HI shareholders.
Batesville Casket would become HI’s sole operating unit. According to Peter Soderberg, HI president and CEO, the name was retained because “there is some awareness and appreciation of the family name in the death care industry. We view the Hillenbrand name as richly connoting a tradition of caring.”
2008: Companies separate
Leadership from Hill-Rom and the new Hillenbrand, Inc. (Batesville Casket Co.) rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, April 1, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. to mark the first day of formal trading for each company in its new form. Batesville employees watched live feeds at three sites.
2009: School referendum fails
A referendum to spend $28 million to improve Batesville Community School Corp.’s four buildings was defeated 1,544-1,185 Nov. 3. “Our issues with enrollment vs. capacity still exist,” pointed out superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts a week later.
Other memorable events:
Twenty-nine boys from Batesville and the surrounding areas enrolled to begin their freshman year at Oldenburg Academy, a private high school that turned co-ed after 148 years as an all-girls preparatory school. The decision by the board of directors came after two years of intensive study.
A $5 million Community Alliance to Promote Education grant from Lilly Endowment was to be used to connect computers at Batesville, Milan, Jac-Cen-Del and South Ripley schools. “It will expand the amount of knowledge accessible to the kids of Ripley County,” said task force chairman Tom Patterson.
Two dramatic Batesville robberies at gunpoint made residents aware that urban types of crimes could happen here. A young man entered the open LaRosa’s at about 10:45 p.m. Feb. 22 and ordered the teen-aged cashier, “Give me all the money out of the drawer.” Scared, she ran into the restaurant’s back and dialed 911. Then the man approached a booth and told four other workers to put their hands up and give him the cash. Detective Stan Holt reported, “They were all scared to death. He was waving it (the gun) in the air and aiming it at several of the employees.” After gaining cash, the manager was then forced to open a safe and give him more. Six days later, two 19-year-olds living in Hamilton, Ohio, were arrested.
At about 3:35 a.m. Nov. 30, husband and wife Kerry and Freda Dickey were robbed at gunpoint while working at Cross County Shell just north of Interstate 74. The man took money from the cash register, then fled on foot. The suspect, armed with a silver-colored handgun and wearing black clothing with a ski mask, was never caught.
The latest incarnation of the Batesville Kroger, which operated in the downtown area in at least two locations for 52 years and north of I-74 for 21 years, opened at 1034 State Road 229 Oct. 30, 2003. At 69,132 square feet, it was double the size of the old store. Joining the grocery were Blockbuster Video, Great Clips and Acapulco Mexican Restaurant.
A task force led by Dr. John Gryspeerdt was formed to consider the possibility of a public indoor pool that would be sized for competitive use by school and summer swim teams. The proposal was to construct it next to the Batesville Memorial Pool with private funds, then turn it over to another partnership, perhaps a combination of the city and various schools, to operate it.
When Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi Aug. 29, caring citizens here mobilized. The first effort came when Crum Trucking donated trucks and drivers to transport water purchased by businesses and individuals in an effort spearheaded by Rick Knueven, Save-A-Lot Foods, Batesville, manager. Then donated necessities were loaded into recreational vehicles transported from Batesville to house victims and into trucks recruited in church projects. Over a dozen citizens were drawn to help evacuees in Southern shelters and also began to aid in the rebuilding process.
Army Pfc. Anthony Seig, 19, Sunman, died Sept. 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries he received when he encountered indirect fire from enemy forces while on base supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, reported the U.S. Department of Defense Sept. 11. “It was an honor” to help escort Seig’s casket from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to the Sunman American Legion Hall, where his funeral took place Sept. 17, reported Patriot Guard Rider Tim Macyauski, Batesville. “He was the one who fought for us.”
Hospitality Hall, Margaret Mary Community Hospital’s long-term care unit, closed Nov. 30. Then President James Amos explained, "In recent years, the Batesville area has experienced a significant increase in the number of long-term care options available to area families. These additional options have negatively impacted our resident census and have created an ongoing trend of declining profitability.” Its 42 employees were offered outplacement services and assistance in obtaining new employment, including other hospital positions when available.
The most stunning weather event occurred Sunday, Sept. 14, when remnants of Hurricane Ike blasted this area. During a family reunion at Versailles State Park, Gerald Reynolds, 61, Crothersville, died when a tree blew over on top of him as his 9-year-old granddaughter watched. Numerous reports of property damage were received. About 300,000 Duke Energy customers in Indiana lost power, some for longer than two days.
An estimated 6.47 inches of rain fell in Batesville in just a few hours Aug. 4, almost exactly double the amount that could be expected for the entire month. Many homes and businesses flooded to varying degrees. On Dec. 14 the city council voted to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The top news stories of 2000-09 show how this area has evolved over the past decade
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