‘Downtown Rescue’ book, scavenger hunt now available

Nate Otte wrote and illustrated a book several years ago and was waiting for the right opportunity to get it published.

In late 2022, he was talking to Leadership Jackson County Executive Director Rexanne Ude about Vision 2025 and how projects and ideas from that could fit with her organization. He also told her about his book, “Downtown Rescue,” which takes the reader on a trip around downtown Seymour.

“She jumped right on board and said, ‘Hey, you need to come talk.’ She kind of pushed me into the meeting,” Otte said.

He talked to the LJC class in December, and from that, the health and community growth and awareness project teams were inspired to make the book part of their projects.

“The minute I heard it, I knew it fit in with a wonderful community project,” said Melanie Burgess of the health team.

“Then on top of that, Nate has always been one of my top role models in life just from tennis and everything we do together,” project teammate Karen Dringenburg said. “As soon as I heard that and we knew it fit in line with our project, I talked to Melanie right away after he talked and basically called him that same day and we were like, ‘Hey, we’ll take it on.’”

About a week later, the community growth and awareness team joined in the effort.

“We were already talking the next meeting that we had and we were just like, ‘Yeah, we need to talk, tune in, too, because that could just grow into so many things,’” team member Amy Combs said.

Burgess said her team, which also consisted of Katie Hall, Miranda Whipker and Dawn Jackson, thought the book was a great way to promote eating right, exercising and being together.

“It’s a lot of mental health issues with that, too, that it can help, so that’s why we wanted to bring that to life,” Burgess said.

Otte said he was inspired to write the book after talking to a friend about Mice on Main in Greenville, South Carolina, which has people follow clues in a book to find mice along Main Street.

He wanted to do something similar in Seymour but based on dogs.

“The community kind of rallies around it, so I thought it would be neat to bring something similar,” he said. “If you have a family from out of town come in, you can say, ‘Hey, let’s go find the paw prints around downtown, then explore and see what Seymour has to offer.’”

While he had the story written several years ago, Otte didn’t start drawing and watercolor painting until the past couple of years. The book contains watercolor paintings, including his own rescue dog, Bradshaw, on the cover and places in downtown Seymour.

“I had the book written and illustrated already. It was just the logistics of bringing it to life,” Otte said. “It fits with what Leadership Jackson County does and community awareness and all of those things, and so I thought that it fit well with that organization and these teams.”

In working with the LJC project teams, it was decided to create signs with different dogs and health facts on each one and put them in four downtown Seymour parks and outside the Jackson County Public Library. Painted paw prints are in front of the signs at the parks, while a concrete paw print is in front of the sign at the library.

The signs were designed and produced by Seymour High School’s Owl Manufacturing. People can follow along in the book to go from park to park and the library.

They are encouraged to take pictures when they find the signs and paw prints and post them on Facebook and tag the Downtown Rescue page.

Books are available for $5 at the Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour, and all proceeds will benefit Red Sky Rescue, a local nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs.

The book also can be downloaded online at jacksoncountyin.com/downtownrescue in English, Spanish and Japanese, and it can be checked out at the Jackson County Public Library.

The community growth and awareness team, which also consisted of Solomon Rust, Jacoby Shade, Michelle Kleber and Heidi Earnest, took care of translating the book to Spanish and getting those printed and also getting the online Japanese version translated.

“The idea was just the English version, and then it grew,” Otte said. “That’s kind of the beauty when you get other minds together with it. Then it grew into different languages that are represented in our community, too.”

The project teams also came together for a special book signing July 22 outside Otte’s office, Dr. Nate Optometrist, where Bradshaw inked his paw print on the cover.

“We just wanted the community to be aware of all of the work that Dr. Nate put in,” Burgess said of why they decided to have the book signing.

“They can get this book and they can go out there and they can go through this trail, and it’s really interactive,” Combs said.

Dringenburg said Ude told them this is the first time she’s aware of LJC project teams working together on a project, and the plan is to grow it into something bigger.

“We really liked that this could be grown further into other projects,” Combs said. “So we’ve got a book project now here in Seymour. Well, maybe it could grow into projects in Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora. We planned out a map to grow this into future projects, as well.”