Teams assigned to community projects

Jeff Rasche (right) makes a point to the rest of Team Dental during their first meeting to discuss the project. Nicole Mann (center), practice manager of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center, is sponsor of the project.

Jeff Rasche (right) makes a point to the rest of Team Dental during its first meeting to discuss the project. Nicole Mann (center), practice manager of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in Greenfield, is sponsor of the project, which seeks to establish dental hygiene “stations” at food pantries and other locations.

Members of the Class of 2018-19 will take on five community projects during their studies this class year.

The projects and the project teams were unveiled during Community Issues Day on Oct. 3.

A committee made up of members of the LHC board of directors had been meeting since the summer to solicit and evaluate project proposals. It settled on these five:

Plan a bike rodeo to promote Greenfield as a bike-friendly community and to raise awareness of bicycle safety. Members of Team Bike: Cindi Faunce, Debra Cochran, Amanda Kirchner, Marie Castetter and Angela Birdwell.

Document historic structures in Hancock County that were designed/built by influential architects. With the help of Greenfield Historic Landmarks, the team would research the history of the buildings and produce the information in an easy-to-use format. Members of Team Landmark: Donna Butler, Mary Meek, Ted Munden, Rhiannon Pope and Tara Carie.

Establish oral hygiene stations at food banks and other locations where at-risk populations can be impacted. The stations would include a baggie containing toothpaste, a toothbrush and floss. The packet also would contain information about clinics and advice on good oral hygiene. Project would seek out partners to promote and distribute the packets. Members of Team Dental: Susan Wildey, Angie Lyon, Jeff Rasche and Linda Garrity

Research and develop an app that highlights amenities in Greenfield and Hancock County. This would cater to visitors and also local people who are interested in learning more about their community. Other communities have similar apps that could serve as a template. Members of Team Main Street: Brian Dowden, Kim Crist, Rebecca Zapf, and Dina Davis

GoGreen Week: Focusing on children as the audience, design and implement a campaign to promote recycling and conservation of resources. Members of Team Green: Allyson Smith, Sunshine Nichols, Katie Ottinger, Amy Sutton and Jeff Inskeep

Class learns about community needs

The class of 2018-19 learned how fast hard-earned money can disappear like candy.

The metaphor was applied literally during a poverty simulation on Community Issues Day on Oct. 3. On a class day devoted to understanding Hancock County’s safety net and the nonprofits that work to keep it in place, the class’s first exercise of the day was to figure out how to stretch a paycheck across all the needs a family encounters. Instead of money, the class members used Smarties candy, “spending” 15 pieces of candy on housing, transportation, food and other needs.

Once their budgets were tapped out, facilitator Paula Jarrett, CEO of PSJ Consulting LLC, introduced the real lesson: She told each “family” to wipe four Smarties off their grid of needs. The class members struggled to re-prioritize their spending to cover all their expenses. The result: As happens in the real world, these simulated families had to do without.

The exercise was an eye-opener for a number of class members, who haven’t suffered such struggles before.

That was the idea of the exercise and the rest of the class day, which included visits to the Hancock County Food Pantry, Hancock Hope House and the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen. They also sat in on roundtable discussions with the CEOs of six county nonprofits who provide services to those in need.

The Landing Place in downtown Greenfield played host to the class. Jarrett and Lori Cooley of Hancock Regional Hospital were day chairs for the session.

Retreat kicks off 24th class of Leadership

Twenty-three members of the new class of Leadership Hancock County began their studies on Sept. 13-14 with a lively retreat that included thought-provoking seminars and team-building exercises.

Meet the new class:

Angela Birdwell, Hancock Physician Network

Donna Butler, city of Greenfield

Tara Carie, Hancock Regional Hospital

Marie Castetter, Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office (Nancy King Scholarship winner)

Debra Cochran, Purdue Manufacturing Extension

Kim Crist, Hancock Regional Hospital

Dina Davis, Hancock Regional Hospital

Brian Dowden, NineStar Connect

Cynthia Faunce, Hancock County Public Library

Linda Garrity, Hancock Regional Hospital

Jeff Inskeep, Inskeep Ford

Amanda Kirchner, Inskeep Ford

Angie Lyon, Hancock Hope House (Greater Greenfield Chamber of Commerce Scholarship)

Mary Meek, Greenfield Banking Co.

Ted Munden, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department

Sunshine Nichols, Hancock Physician Network

Katie Ottinger, Hancock County Community Foundation

Rhiannon Pope, Hancock Regional Hospital

Jeff Rasche, Greenfield Police Department

Allyson Smith, Hancock Health Foundation

Amy Sutton, Greenfield Intermediate School

Susan Wildey, Greenfield Banking Co.

Rebecca Zapf, Elanco Animal Health

Send us your project ideas

Greg Woods (left), Nick Riedman and Staci Starcher, members of the Class of 2018, present a summary of their community project during the class's graduation celebration. The three were part of Team Debate, which successfully put on five political debates last spring as part of its project to create county debate committee.

Greg Woods (left), Nick Riedman and Staci Starcher, members of the Class of 2018, present a summary of their community project during the class’s graduation celebration. The three were part of Team Debate, which successfully put on five political debates last spring as part of its project to create county debate committee. The committee will soon be planning debates in this fall’s general election.

HANCOCK COUNTY – Leadership Hancock County is reaching out to nonprofits and other community groups for ideas for community projects.

Enrollees in the leadership academy, which begins its 2018-19 program on Sept. 13, undertake community projects as part of the curriculum. The projects help class members apply lessons they’ve learned in leadership and teamwork. They also help the organizations.

Community groups are encouraged to submit proposals. They can run the gamut, from helping conceive and put on events to coordinating improvements at nonprofits’ facilities. Projects last year included an insect/bird garden at the Hancock County Public Library; a redesign of the offices of Bentley’s Buddies and Friends, a reading program for children; and creation of the nonpartisan Hancock County Debate Commission. You can look over all our past community projects by clicking on the “Projects” tab at the top of our home page.

Deadline to submit project ideas is two months earlier this year: They are due Sept. 7. Applications are available by clicking on the “Applications” tab at the top of our home page. Projects will be unveiled to the class on its Community Issues Day, Oct. 3.

Leadership Hancock County is a tuition-based program that works to identify and nurture emerging leaders. Founded in 1996, it has graduated more than 400 people, including many who have gone on to prominent leadership roles in community organizations, businesses, schools and government.

More information is available online at You also can send email to

Class of 2017-18 finishes with a flourish

After eight months, more than 70 hours of class time, and untold hours working on their community projects, the 24 members of the Class of 2018 took the stage and presented the culmination of their hard work.

The graduation celebration on Wednesday, May 2, was the climax of the 2017-18 program. In front of family members, friends, mentors and fellow alumni, the class members presented short programs on their six community projects, finishing to applause and receiving plaques for completing the program. They also received copies of John Maxwell’s inspiring collection of daily leadership devotionals, “The Maxwell Reader.”

The highlight of the evening came at the very end: Maria Bond, communications director at Mt. Vernon schools, received the 2018 Stacia Alyea Excellence in Leadership Award. The honor was voted on by class members on the class’s last program day, March 7, and it was presented by last year’s winner, Laurene Lonnemann.

Laurene and Maria

Maria Bond (right) and the 2017 Alyea Award winner, Laurene Lonnemann, celebrate Maria’s honor.

Nearly 100 people attended the celebration, which was held for the first time at Bradley Hall in downtown Greenfield. With early-evening sunlight illuminating the stained-glass panels high in the ballroom — including one depicting Ned Bradley, a prominent leader in Greenfield in the late 19th century — the audience enjoyed a reception and dinner before the six project groups made their brief presentations.

The projects were notable this year because half of them originated with class members themselves. The class was tasked last fall with making suggestions for community projects, and a committee consisting of members of the LHC board sifted through a record number of submissions. All of the projects were rousing successes this year, but the three class-member sponsored ones felt extra special. (You can read more about the community projects by clicking on the “Class Projects” tab at the top of the page, then clicking on “2017-2018.”)

The master of ceremonies, LHC Board President Donnie Munden, announced at the end of the evening that enrollment is now open for the 2018-19 academic year. (You can access the application under the “Applications” tab at the top of this page.) The board’s Curriculum Committee already has met twice to consider changes to the program for the coming year, including revisions to introduce more leadership training in place of some of the traditional studies in county history, business/commerce and government. More information will be available soon.


And now, a word about our sponsors

2017-18 Sponsors CROPPED

One of the unsung stories about Leadership Hancock County is the contributions by our corps of dedicated sponsors. Without their help, our program would not be as strong and enriching as it is.

These organizations contribute time, services and, yes, money to support Leadership Hancock County. With their help, we are able to provide comfortable venues for our classes and other events; meals and snacks for the eight daylong programs; and tuition to support the enrollment of some class members.

Their investment in Leadership Hancock County shows their commitment to making Hancock County a better place.

Teams get to work on community projects


Linda Thakrar (left) Maria Bond, Stephanie Haines and Stephanie Wilson go over their calendars as they begin setting up their first meetings to discuss their project. The four will work to establish a clothing bank in the Mt. Vernon schools for students who need fresh clothes during the school day.

Members of the Class of 2017-18 are diving in to their community projects.

The six projects were unveiled at the end of Community Issues Day on Wednesday, Dec. 6. They cover a wide variety of issues — from childhood literacy and health to horticulture and politics. A key part of the Leadership experience, the projects will give class members the opportunity to work in small groups as they take on initiatives designed to better the community. The projects were proposed by various groups and class members themselves. In all, 20 proposals originally were submitted for consideration. A committee of the LHC board of directors chose the projects for the class in mid-November.

The project teams will work to complete their projects in April and will present their results during presentations at graduation on May 2.

Here is a summary of the projects and the class members who will work on them:

Transform the offices of Bentley’s Buddies and Friends, a program to encourage young readers, into a kid-friendly environment. Bentley’s Buddies trains dogs and their owners to spend time with children, who read to the dogs in an environment that helps them build confidence. The program visits classrooms and also works out of an office in downtown Greenfield, especially when school is not in session. The Leadership team will design and present to the organization ideas for decor and will organize a volunteer effort to redo the office space to make it a more kid-friendly atmosphere. Team members: Alex Bush, Medicap Pharmacy; Chris Carter, Hancock Regional Hospital; Cara Fields, Elanco Animal Health; Tracy Sweet, IU Health.

Create a pilot program to keep school health offices well-stocked with emergency clothing stores in the event of playground accidents, dress-code issues, bathroom emergencies, etc. The program would begin in the Mt. Vernon schools and would be built so it could be used in districts countywide. Health offices already collect clothing items for emergency needs, but schools have trouble keeping the stores stocked because the items are rarely returned. Goals include possibly creating a district “clothing bank”; working with organizations to sponsor clothing drives; and appealing to area businesses for donations. Team members: Maria Bond, Mt. Vernon schools; Stephanie Haines, the Daily Reporter; Linda Thakrar, Hancock County Public Library; Stephanie Wilson, Hancock Physician Network.

Create a Hancock County Debate Commission, which will be a nonpartisan entity that will organize and oversee political debates in key local and regional elections. The Leadership Hancock County team will write by-laws; recruit a board; and hand off responsibility for the debates before the primary election next May. Team members: Nick Riedman, city of Greenfield; Staci Starcher, town of McCordsville; Diana Trautmann, Elanco Animal Health; Greg Woods, Greenfield Banking Co.

Create a garden with native plants outside the window of the Nature Nook area of the Children’s Department of the Hancock County Public Library’s main branch. The garden will be designed to attract wildlife such as birds, bees and butterflies. The Nature Nook of the library was designed in 2015 to bring the outdoors inside with a view finder and interactive displays. A large swath of unused library property nearby also could be developed to attract pollinators and wildlife that would be visible from the children’s area. Team members: Kelly Leddy, MainSource Bank; Jena Mattix, Hancock County Public Library; Courtney Miller, Jane Pauley Community Health Center; Renee Oldham, Mt. Vernon Education Foundation.

Start the “5210” program in county public schools. The 5210 program is an educational effort that strives to assist children in making healthier choices. The program educates children to aim for eating 5 fruit or vegetable servings every day; keep recreational screen time to 2 hours or fewer each day; include at least 1 hour or more of physical activity each day; and consume 0 sugar-sweetened beverages while drinking more water every day. The Leadership team will work on rolling out a pilot program to one age level — likely younger students — in one of the school systems. A school will first have to be identified and stakeholders engaged. Team members: Angela Flench, Indiana Department of Transportation; Christy Harpold, Greenfield-Central schools; Dr. Jason Hua, Jane Pauley Community Health Center; Adam Wilhelm, Hancock Regional Hospital.

Revamping the Leadership Hancock County Scavenger Hunt, which is a key part of the organization’s team-building retreat each fall. The team will be tasked with incorporating technology and social media into the activity to make it more interactive for participants. Possible upgrades also include using geo-caching or some sort of GPS component to highlight teams’ progress during the hunt. The group also will write a brand-new trivia test. Team members: Diane Petry, Life Choices Care Center; George Plisinski, NineStar Connect; Jason Wells, Hancock Regional Hospital; Stacey Wixson, Greenfield Banking Co.

Send us your ideas for community projects!

Members of the 2016-17 class (from left) Kate Brown, Teresa Smith, Kimberly Sombke and Matt Davis discuss their group project at the end of Community Issues Day. The team established a "sensory" garden at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, where Davis is principal. This year's projects will be unveiled on Community Issues Day on Dec. 6.

Members of the 2016-17 class (from left) Kate Brown, Teresa Smith, Kimberly Sombke and Matt Davis discuss their group project at the end of Community Issues Day. The team established a “sensory” garden at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, where Davis is principal. This year’s projects will be unveiled on Community Issues Day on Dec. 6.

A key aspect of the Leadership Hancock County experience is the class members’ community projects. From designing the county flag to launching a campaign to build a “bark park,” class members over the years have honed their leadership and collaboration skills by working together on community issues.

Leadership Hancock County is now seeking proposals from alumni, nonprofits and other civic groups for the community projects. Time is growing short for submissions: The deadline is Nov 17.

Each year, members of the LHC class form small groups and study a community issue or challenge. They make recommendations and submit reports as part of a public presentation at the class graduation in May.

Projects from last year’s class included creation of a “sensory garden” at J.B. Stephens Elementary School; development of a website for The Landing Place, which helps people deal with destructive behaviors; and creation of a 5K run/walk for Alternatives Inc., an agency that advocates for victims of  domestic violence and sexual assault. Since its inception in 1996, students have completed more than 60 community projects.

A form to submit a community project idea is under the “Applications” tab in the menu at the top of our home page. Emails also can be sent to the LHC coordinator, Dave Hill, at

Leadership Hancock County’s latest class, which has 24 members, is meeting monthly. Projects will be unveiled on Community Issues Day on Dec. 6.

Class steps back in time

Leadership Hancock County

Christy Harpold examines an exhibit of World War I items in the museum at the Chapel in the Park.

Beulah Driffel isn’t a well-known figure in Hancock County history. But the story of her short life adds a lot to understanding what life was like in Hancock County in the early years of the 20th century.

The Class of 2017-18 heard the tragic story of Beulah’s life and times as part of its tour of historic sites for History Day on Oct. 4. The class visited several key sites throughout the day as part of its study of important people, places and things on the county time line.

The story of Beulah was particularly poignant. An exhibit about her is a cornerstone of the collection maintained by the Hancock County Historical Society in the basement museum at the Chapel in the Park in Riley Park in Greenfield.

According to Brigette Jones of the historical society, who led a tour of the museum for the class, Beulah was a 6-year-old who contracted diphtheria, a highly contagious illness that often was fatal in her times, the 1920s. The exhibit features items that turned up decades later in a box belonging to the child, including crayons and toys she enjoyed during her short life. The exhibit also focuses on the isolation victims of the infection suffered in that era.

The exhibit was a small window into what life was like in the county nearly 100 years ago. The day was filled with similar revelations in the class’s travels. Other highlights included:

A survey of historic structures along U.S. 40, also known as the National Road. The route was the first national highway, and historian Rosalie Richardson, with the assistance of day chair Jeff Butts, took the class of a visual tour of historic buildings along the road. Many of them have fallen into disrepair and cannot be saved, Richardson told the class, which makes this photographic record all the more important.

Leadership Hancock County

Helen Roney of Tuttle Orchards leads the class on a tour of the family farm. Tuttle’s grows more than 30 varieties of apples.

A  visit to Tuttle Orchards, one of the oldest — and most well-known — family farms in the county. Helen Roney and her daughter, Ruth Ann Roney, who are principals in the farm’s operations, took the class on a tour of the farm, which began modestly a century ago and has grown into a large regional attraction on the agritourism circuit. Class members had the chance to shop in the farm’s store for apples and cider before leaving.

A visit to the Riley Home and Museum in Greenfield, which is a staple of any historical tour of the county. Docents Frieda Pettijohn and Phyllis Arthur took the class on a delightful trip into the life and times of James Whitcomb Riley and his family in the mid-19th century.

Leadership Hancock County

Rosalie Richardson leads a tour of the Hancock County Courthouse.

A tour of the Hancock County Courthouse, led by Rosalie Richardson, that wound up in the majestic century-old chambers of Hancock Circuit Court. Judge Terry Snow of Hancock County Superior Court 1, who had wrapped up his day on the bench, joined the class for a discussion about the courts and their historical origins.

The class traveled throughout the day via motorcoach. County historian Joe Skvarenina rode with the class and provided rolling commentary about sites the group passed along the way.


Lineup set for History Day

Docent Frieda Pettijohn leads a tour of the Riley Home for the 2016-17 Leadership Hancock County Class. The class of 2017-18 also will visit the boyhood home of the Hoosier Poet for History Day.

Docent Frieda Pettijohn leads a tour of the Riley Home for the 2016-17 Leadership Hancock County Class. The class of 2017-18 also will visit the boyhood home of the Hoosier Poet for History Day.

Hancock County’s top historians will lead the Class of 2017-18 on a tour through the county’s history during its class day on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

History Day is the first class day following the two-day team-building retreat, which was Sept. 14-15. Its purpose is to provide an overview of the county’s history. The class covers some well-known topics but also explores some more obscure ones.

Leading those discussions will be three historians who are considered the most knowledgeable experts in the county on the area’s history:

History Day speakers Rosalie Richardson (left), Brigette Cook Jones and Joe Skvarenina

History Day speakers Rosalie Richardson (left), Brigette Cook Jones and Joe Skvarenina

Rosalie Richardson, a former member of the Hancock County Council who has studied the county’s history for decades. She will guide the class through a discussion about the National Road and will lead a tour of the Hancock County Courthouse.

Brigette Cook Jones, the director of county tourism, who has long been active in the Hancock County Historical Society. She will lead a tour of the Old Log Jail Museum and the Chapel in the Park. The two museums, located in Riley Park, house hundreds of artifacts from the county’s early history.

Joe Skvarenina, the county historian, who has written more than a dozen books on county history. (Copies of one of them, “Also Great,” an examination of famous and near-famous people from Hancock County, will be given to class members.) Joe will ride with the class during its tour of sites and will provide rolling commentary on points of interest along the way.

Here is a complete itinerary of History Day:

2017 History Day Schedule