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SURPRISE: Elwood Mayor Resigns. SHOCK: Who Picks Replacement

Elwood "Light Up the Magic" Christmas celebration.  
Photo: Light Up the Magic
  • Non-Elwood Resident(s) to Pick Next Elwood Mayor

  • Mayor’s Tenure Marked with Millions of Investment

  • National Recognition

  • Pool Reopened

  • New Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • “Light Up the Magic” Unveiled

Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold (R)

Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold (R)

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.

Bill Savage, Elwood Economic Development Director since 2004, former Madison County Council President, and current Madison County Democrat Party Vice President.

Bill Savage, Elwood Economic Development Director since 2004, former Madison County Council President, and current Madison County Democrat Party Vice President.

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.

Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold (R)

Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold (R)

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.

Elwood, Indiana City Hall

Elwood, Indiana City Hall

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.

Elwood "Light Up the Magic" Christmas celebration.   Photo: Light Up the Magic

Elwood “Light Up the Magic” Christmas celebration.
Photo: Light Up the Magic

“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.

Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rodney Cummings (R)

Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rodney Cummings (R)

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.

Anderson City Councilman and Republican Party Chairman Russ Willis

Anderson City Councilman and Republican Party Chairman Russ Willis

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.

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{ 9 comments… add one }

  • DERYKE Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 7:27 am

    Monday even city hall was over flowing with people about the annexation issue ..There was so many people there people were
    standing outside no city council member could be found for this meeting finally at 6;45 pm there a statement that there would not be nothing said at the city council meeting this evening in which started at 7 pm so every body left .I don’t even think there was a person who stayed for the council meeting.

  • DERYKE Sunday, April 5, 2015, 3:21 pm

    As of today don Tucker has proven to start a major move to help Elwood .Cutting cost by getting rid of a PR person saving 33,000 dollars per year.Cutting another Arnold persons contract with the city to help buy and remodel or level homes in Elwood ? Now as i see it this persons salary is about one third as it was.
    Saving enough money to open the swimming pool this year and paying for the use of it..I would say Don should really be a person that every voter should look to elect in Nov 2015 general election .If he can keep up the good work why not? ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!!

  • Jennifer Monday, March 30, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Elwood has been on a downward spiral for years…this is nothing new. There has never been any official concerned with keeping businesses in town. Would that not keep jobs local and drum up interest in our town from outsiders??? Young kids have not had much to do in this town that wasn’t in some small (or larger than once thought) way connected with negativity. Anything that was interesting was either burnt to a rubble or torn down for lack of funds to remodel. The theater, gone. The skating rink, however negative, gone. Decent shopping (to give Kmart a run for business), gone. I mean what attracts families to this town…no businesses = no jobs and smaller schools. I understand the politicalities of it all…being a small town power tends to go to one’s head. This is precisely why the voter needs to keep informed on even the slightest personal news of who is being voted in. Personal envolvment in the smallest of things tells you the character of the person you are electing to make decisions for you. That is what you’re doing….electing a person to make decisions on your behalf. How well is this person at making their own decisions?? If their name is in the criminal report, my guess would be, not so good; therefore, I am not voting for them. As a voter..we should look at each person in the party…are they on my wave-length? Are they valuing what I value…do they want what I want??
    just sayin…rant over.

  • Maggie Thomas Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 5:39 pm

    Arnold got screwed from the beginning. His council was never on board unless it made them individually look good. All the regular players of the democrat party in Elwood have back-doored the community and they owned the council seats for decades. Too bad since the community is now almost a 50-50 split. We sure could use some leadership from the GOP or any Conservative with the time to lead and make a difference. The same last names filling the same seats has got to stop. Elwood is the most undesirable place to live in the county next to Anderson. All these Economic Development committees are a waste of money. They get and use the office and titles like our councils and Boards already in existence should . Seems the bigger the government in our small towns get. the smaller the towns and the lazier the leadership voted in by uninformed voters. I guess it’s too much to ask for a newspaper that reports without bias, a city council actually interested in the benefit of the city, and and political party leadership that represents the entire party. The county and the cities are spiraling into a dark mess. Well I guess listing all the bad stuff would really get off topic here, but sooner than later the citizens are going to have to act.

  • Danny hayes Saturday, February 28, 2015, 4:47 pm

    Being born and living in Elwood the first 28 yrs of my life, going thru the school system and graduating from Willkie High, and the pride going with that, as those in and from Elwood know you can take the boy out of Elwood but not Elwood out of the boy, I must question three groups within Madison County.
    First the five elected Republican precinct committeemen, second the Republican Party, third the citizen of Elwood.
    The Elwood I grew up in would be very upset, if five people from Alexandria and Anderson played any part voting for Mayor Arnold’s
    Replacement.
    It upsets me being a life long Madison County residence, the Republican County Chairman Russ Willis even proposing an appointed committeeman from outside of Elwood to have a say in Elwood. Seems to me the Republican Party stands to lose the same amount of respect as Willis.
    What say Republicans? What say Elwood?

    Danny Hayes Alexandria 754 7251

  • Shirley Sunday, February 22, 2015, 8:29 pm

    If he was given until March1st to get out or pay a fine I’m assuming he will have to pay the fine. Isn’t that the law since the prosecutor said it??? Don’t understand.

    • DERYKE Monday, February 23, 2015, 12:09 pm

      Far question Shirley? I wonder how this will play out?

      • DERYKE Monday, February 23, 2015, 12:10 pm

        Sorry fair question my spelling was not correct Shirley..

  • DERYKE Sunday, February 22, 2015, 6:42 pm

    As Elwood goes the state might as well take over Elwood for a couple of years. Perhaps by then all the power issues will be over that is going on. Now about who is going to replace Arnold, or better the next election, well you have not seen nothing yet. A new level of bigger government, more people on the payroll and perhaps a mayor who is in the office one day a week?? Yes, this will set a new drama of upset citizens like no other. Just keep your laptops around little Elwood starting, let’s say, one month on. What used to be a nice small town is going down the hill and I see no stop. Yes I live here and I wish I could stop all the problems. Until all elected people figure out they work for us, rather we work for them, things will not change. Just the faces do.

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