Outgoing Seymour mayor, clerk-treasurer recognized for service


For the past 12 years, Craig Luedeman and Fred Lewis were a part of projects that moved Seymour forward.

From existing industries expanding and new ones coming in to upgrades to parks and new ones added, those are just some of the accomplishments they helped achieve.

Luedeman served as mayor and Lewis was clerk-treasurer, but in 2019, both decided to not run for re-election.

During their last Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety meeting Tuesday, they received clocks to signify their years of service to the city — Luedeman 12 years and Lewis 28 years.

It’s a city they also call their hometown.

"It was neat to be able to go to college, work here a little bit and then be able to become mayor," Luedeman said. "My family is here. My family is not going anywhere. We’re staying here. It was a big deal to know that my kids had something to go forward with. That was a big deal to come back and serve my hometown."

Lewis said he has lived in the same house his whole life.

"It’s gratifying everything we’ve done and the associations I’ve made with the banks and some businesses," he said of his career.

They are being succeeded by fellow Republicans Matt Nicholson (mayor) and Darrin Boas (clerk-treasurer), whose terms started Wednesday.

Luedeman said economic development is one of the biggest highlights of his time as mayor.

With help from Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., he said the development totaled $1.1 billion and led to several thousand jobs.

"That’s kind of an impressive number when you look at it from that standpoint," he said. "I couldn’t do it without the hard work of Jim Plump and JCIDC. Just being a partner of that was phenomenal, watching that run and going through that."

Plump, who finished the year serving on the board of works with Luedeman after the death of Larry Sunbury in November, presented the clock to him Tuesday as a token of appreciation from the board and city.

"I will tell you, Craig, I think we calculated I traveled around the Earth five times with you over 12 years," Plump said of their economic trips to Japan. "I’m really going to miss you, my friend."

While Luedeman saw expansions of the county’s largest employers, including Cummins, Aisin and Valeo, he said he always had a personal connection to O&k American Corp.

"They are kind of near and dear to my heart because that was the first actual business that came to Seymour when I was mayor as far as industry," he said.

Luedeman said he’s also proud of Crossroads Community Park being created in the 100 block of East Tipton Street as the gateway to the downtown.

"Seeing it all lit up at Christmastime, Bob Tabeling and his crew have done an unbelievable job, I think, in the parks department in the last three to four years and just really tried to elevate the parks," he said. "I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do further, what Matt can do with them with the foundation we have now."

Luedeman also was part of numerous ribbon-cutting ceremonies for businesses, celebrating various types of milestones with his famous oversized scissors in hand.

"Those are the city’s. I’ve got to hand those off to Matt," Luedeman said, smiling.

He also noted how Seymour overcame the economic downturn in 2008.

"We had a bunch of appeals in the economy as far as property tax and we lost income tax, so we had the perfect storm," he said. "As a city, we really got tight on cash. We got down to like 13 days of cash on hand, which is basically bankrupt as a city, and we’ve managed to bring that up to about 120-some days now cash on hand. Obviously, the goal is 180 because that’s how we get paid every six months."

He said it’s getting closer to that number, and Seymour is now very sound financially.

"It’s just great department heads and a great team that we had in place, and I can’t thank them all enough," he said.

Lewis said he was happy to see the city come together and weather the downturn, too.

"It’s rewarding," he said. "Just look at everything we got done. We have a lot of debt, but we have the income to pay off that debt."

Luedeman said being mayor taught him a lot financially, including the budgeting process, sticking to plans and having laid-out plans, and helped him develop good relationships.

One big relationship was with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

"That allowed $60 million-plus of funding that came our way from them in road funding and stuff like that," he said.

Luedeman said he also could call the governor’s office and be able to talk to him.

"As a community, we’re little old Seymour, but yet we still have tentacles that can go out and talk to people," he said.

In his 28 years on the job, Lewis said he worked with good board members and couldn’t recall a time when there was a political argument among the city council.

"Somebody would vote no on something, but there’s no political fighting at all," he said. "You see all of that on TV of people arguing and yelling. We never had that. That speaks for the whole community."

Lewis’ job also involved presiding over weddings. He said he’s proud to have been a part of 1,965 of them, including three Tuesday and one Wednesday.

Even though he’s retiring from clerk-treasurer, Lewis said he hasn’t performed his last wedding. He recently became an ordained minister.

"I thought there is an avenue out there that needs that simple service. That’s all they want," he said. "I have it in Spanish and English."

Lewis said he was fortunate to work with a good team in his office. That includes First Deputy Linda Maschino, Barb Barger, Nancy Pulsford, Patty Tormoehlen and Kris Hackman.

"The old saying ‘You’re only as good as your help,’ I had real good help," he said. "My No. 1 deputy is Linda Maschino, and she was here four years before I was, so she knew everything that was going on, and she brought me along slowly."

On Tuesday, his staff presented him with the clock.

"We sincerely want to thank you for being such a great boss, coach and friend to all of us," Barger said. "We truly appreciate all you’ve done for all of us under your leadership. From the beginning, you have always led with your humor and kindness, and we will miss that humor and for sure your ever-watchful eye."

Barger praised Lewis for guiding them through various changes in the office and befriending the three mayors he worked under.

"You’ve befriended them, you’ve led through them and embraced them and you embraced the challenge in training them in their new duties as a mayor," Barger said. "’Just part of my job,’ as you would say. I sure do appreciate all of your guidance."

Luedeman and Lewis both wished the best to their successors.

"Stay humble and remember you put your pants on just like everybody else — one leg at a time — and the fact that you are the mayor but you at the same time are there to help people," Luedeman said of his advice to Nicholson.

"You are not there just to be the mayor. You’re there to help people and get things done that benefit everybody," he said. "It’s not just because you’re a Republican or a Democrat or whatever. You’re the whole people’s mayor, as opposed to ‘Oh, you didn’t vote for me. I know you supported my opponent. I’m not helping you.’ You help everybody regardless."

Also Tuesday, Luedeman was presented a plaque by Kaleb McKinney on behalf of Local 577 International Association of Firefighters as a thank-you for 12 years of support.

Luedeman then thanked city attorney Rodney Farrow for his help the past 12 years before closing the meeting.

"There’s no other business that comes before this board of works. I’d like to close out the final meeting," Luedeman said.

Plump made the motion, and it passed unanimously.

"The board of works is hereby adjourned," Luedeman said.

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