Bicentennial Torch Relay passes through county

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The torch relay celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial made its way through Switzerland County on Saturday morning, with plenty of fanfare and celebration in honor of the state’s 200th birthday.

“It went great,” county coordinator Christy Morgan said. “It was, by far, more exciting than I ever thought it would be. It just wonderful.”

Morgan said that the success of the torch relay comes from the efforts of the county’s Bicentennial Committee, which has been meeting throughout the year. Committee members Anita Danner, Martha Bladen, Donna Weaver, Itsy Jones, and Rhonda Pennington all worked with Morgan to select the county’s representative torchbearers and also plan the route that the torch would cover while here.

“The route had been pre-determined from the courthouse and then up Vevay Hill,” Morgan said. “But the state allowed us to add another two miles here in town in order to allow all of our torchbearers a true opportunity to carry the torch.”

The morning started with the Switzerland County band and choir performing at the courthouse; and after Circuit Court Judge Greg Coy gave some remarks, the cauldron was lit, and from there Kirk Works lit the torch. He walked the front sidewalk of the courthouse to Main Street, where he handed the torch to Martha Bladen and Helen Parks, who carried the torch west on Main by horse-drawn carriage. They handed the torch to Lois Rosenberger, who continued west on Main and handed it to SCES student Aubbrey Biddenger; who handed it to middle school student Allison Furnish; who then transferred it to high school student Whitley Schirmer at the west side of the high school.

She came back east on Main Street to Arch Street, where she gave the torch to Tonya Krall, who went south on Arch to Market and gave it to Edsel Detraz. Edsel came east on Market, handing it to Larry Tolbert, who handed it to Itsy Jones; who handed the torch to Mike Danner at the corner of Market and Ferry streets, who was riding on the county’s Bicentennial float. Donna Weaver was supposed to ride along with Danner on the float, but could not participate due to her health; but the official Bicentennial medal that she designed was riding on the float in her honor. Danner took the torch north on Ferry to Pike Street, where Jeff-Craig student Luke Sullivan carried it on north to the Jeff-Craig firehouse.

From there, John Archer, riding in a classic car piloted by John Kniola, took the torch up Vevay Hill to Cogley Cole Road, where Jeff Priest took it and continued north to Mt. Sterling. In Mt. Sterling Dr. Robert Findley took over; who then gave the torch to Josh South near Jacksonville; who took the torch to Center Square, where he handed it off to Tom Demaree and Jeni Scudder, who were on a firetruck courtesy of the East Enterprise Fire Department.

Demaree and Scudder were supposed to carry the torch to the county line between East Enterprise and Aberdeen; but when no Ohio County representative was there to accept it due to a mix up in planning; the duo took the torch all the way to the Rising Sun city limits, where the official Ohio County relay began.

“Every torchbearer who I talked to, it was just much more emotional than they anticipated,” Morgan said. “Overall it was just a great day for our state and our county.”