Non-Elwood Resident(s) to Pick Next Elwood Mayor
Mayor’s Tenure Marked with Millions of Investment
New Wastewater Treatment Plant
“Light Up the Magic” Unveiled
Elwood, Ind. Mayor Ron Arnold (R) has announced he will resign from office at the end of March. His resignation comes nine months before the end of his first term and just over three years into a highly regarded economic expansion in the central Indiana community. Arnold announced last month that he would not seek a second term in 2015.
Arnold’s mayoral term focused on economic and public project revitalization in the city once heavily focused on manufacturing. Discovery of natural gas during the 1880’s led to the city being nicknamed the “Gem City of the Gas Belt.” Manufacturing defined the city’s history; however, during the 1990’s, with the exodus of manufacturing jobs and subsequent failed economic development attempts, the city fell on hard times.
Arnold returned to his hometown in 2011 and campaigned for mayor on a platform to improve life in Elwood and turn things around. He was elected by a nearly 2:1 margin and quickly went to work focusing on public works improvements, private economic investment, and improvements to cultural and park facilities.
Trip to Japan Foreshadowed Millions of Investment
Arnold became the first Elwood mayor to lead an economic development trip to Japan. His 2012 and 2013 trips were rewarded when ELSA Corporation announced during 2014 that the Japanese company would make a $42 million dollar investment in Elwood, creating 54 jobs. ELSA, makers of automotive components including exhaust systems and fuel tanks for Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, broke ground in October for its new 131,000 sq. ft. facility along State Road 37, across from Kmart.
Arnold’s economic leadership also brought Warner Truck Bodies and an estimated 150 jobs to a shuttered 240,000 sq. ft. factory that formerly housed Essex Wire, and more recently Plastech. An improving local economy and loyal customer base spared the Elwood Kmart store from multiple rounds of Kmart closings. The mayor’s efforts to stabilize the historic façade of the huge former Leeson’s department store helped the downtown retail district continue with a storefront anchor.
Leadership Found Solution to Dumping Raw Sewage into Duck Creek
Arnold’s pubic infrastructure focus led to December’s groundbreaking of a new $8 million wastewater treatment plant. Prior to Arnold’s arrival as mayor, the city was under a mandated legal decree with the State of Indiana for dumping untreated sewage into Duck Creek. Arnold shuttered a leftover plan to build a 10 million gallon wastewater holding tank and process the overflow through a plant that dates back to the 1940’s.
Under Arnold’s plan, an entirely new wastewater treatment plant is being built that will increase the city’s ability to treat an additional 12 million gallons of daily wastewater at a fraction of the cost of building a holding tank alone. Per city officials, the $8 million price tag is drastically less than an originally estimated $35 million plan and treats far more wastewater.
Arnold encouraged others to bring ideas to improve Elwood. The successful “Dive into Elwood” effort to reopen and refurbish the closed Elwood City Pool included the completion of the Red Gold Patio with fully equipped tables, umbrellas and a grill. The pool was renamed the Mary Beth Dunnichay Aquatic Center, to honor Elwood’s Olympian. The mayor encouraged efforts to improve historic Callaway Park, including, new grills at each picnic location.
“Light Up the Magic”
Arnold’s support of the 180,000 LED “Light Up the Magic” Christmas display brought some critics; however, as the mayor described, it was the first step in making Elwood a destination for specific events throughout each month of the year. By all accounts, the displays, entertainment, and retail opportunities, introduced and reintroduced people outside of Elwood to the city of 8,600, leaving both visitors and businesses with a positive holiday experience.
Under Arnold’s leadership, Elwood was recognized by national publications as the 48th safest city in Indiana and the 71st best city for young families in Indiana. Median family income and family income growth exceeded that of neighboring Anderson and won Elwood as the highest rated Madison County community on both lists.
The partnership between Arnold and Elwood residents ends on a sad note as his candidate campaign committee recently became the subject of an investigation by Indiana State Police. According to THB reports, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings (R) gave Arnold a deadline of March 1 to resign or face possible infraction charges that could result in a fine. Arnold tendered his resignation, effective March 27.
Surprise: Willis’ Non-Elwood Appointees Will Help Decide Next Elwood Mayor
Madison County Republican Chairman and Anderson City Councilman, Russ Willis, appears ready to call a caucus to determine Arnold’s successor. According to Madison County Republican Party insiders, Willis has appointed several precinct chairman from outside of Elwood to positions within Elwood. A majority of those approximate 10 chairmen will meet and determine the next Elwood mayor in the coming weeks.