Betty Lucas honored with ‘Sagamore of the Wabash’ award


Betty Lucas of the Switzerland County Health Department thought she was going to lunch with some friends and coworkers this past Friday. When she arrived, she found a room filled with friends and dignitaries, who again honored her for her years of dedicated service to the Switzerland County community.

On hand on Friday afternoon was State Representative Bob Bischoff, who officially presented Betty Lucas with a “Sagamore of the Wabash” award — the highest honor that anyone in the state can receive.

Representative Bischoff noted that the award was approved by Governor Joe Kernan while he was still in office, but stubborn winter weather had kept the award from being presented until Friday.

“I truly feel that there is no one more deserving of this honor than Betty,” Bob Bischoff said. “I have known her for many years, and I am proud to call her my friend. No one has worked harder for the betterment of this community than Betty has.”

County Council president Mike Jones was also in attendance at the ceremony, telling those gathered about the tireless effort that Betty Lucas has put forth for the residents of the county.

He told of her work in bringing the grant money to the county that funded the establishment of the Nurse-Managed Clinic, which provides healthcare to many county residents and their children who otherwise would not be able to get that care. He also spoke of the many other projects that Betty Lucas has been a part of for the county.

In presenting the award, Representative Bischoff read the scroll that signifies the honor, and after finishing, he presented it to an emotional recipient.

“I can’t thank all of you enough,” Betty Lucas said. “This is very emotional for me. I just wish Jim (her late husband, Jim Lucas, who served as a county commissioner) could be here today to share in this. I love this community, and I thank all of you for sharing this with me today.”

Betty Lucas was initially honored on Sunday, November 21st, in celebration of her 40 years of dedicated service to Switzerland County.

She began her career in county government in 1963, as deputy auditor for Paul Wiley. This was the beginning of a 40-year career in county government. Betty Lucas also worked as county registrar in the newly formed Switzerland County Health Department in January, 1967, where her first challenge was to write a grant to obtain a county sanitarian position for the health department.

One of Betty Lucas’ finest accomplishments for the residents of Switzerland County came in 1996, when she was instrumental in writing a grant and receiving federal funding to establish the Switzerland County Nurse Managed Clinic. The clinic is now in its eighth year.

Betty Lucas not only works full time as administrative assistant of the Switzerland County Health Department, she has been the manager of Switzer Square Senior Apartments for 27 years.