For the past six years, Mike Bear has been serving on the Switzerland County Council representing District #2, which covers three precincts: Jefferson 3, York, and Posey 1. It’s a wide district encompassing a path across the county — but Bear has enjoyed serving not only the people of his district — but all of the residents of the county.
Bear recently stepped down from his County Council seat when he and wife, Sue, moved to Vevay, which meant that he was no longer living in District #2.
“Not by choice, but health-wise, I had to,” Bear said of his move. “I had a stroke earlier, and then I had an aneurysm on my aorta. I just got operated on for that — so I’m out of commission pretty much.”
Bear was halfway through his second term on the County Commission, having been elected for his first term in 2014; and then re-elected in 2018.
He is proud of what the council has accomplished for the county during his time serving.
“I’ve enjoyed most of it, except for the budget times, and that was the hardest time, because you always had to cut things,” he said. “Other than that, it was great. When the boat went down (closed due to COVID), it was really tough. But all of the council members are great people. We had good times.”
Bear was born and raised on what is now the Thiebaud Farmstead Museum on River Road west of Vevay. It was a close-knit family with eight kids in a small home.
“There was four boys and four girls,” Bear said. “With our parents, that made 10 of us.”
Bear attended and was a member of the final graduating class of Vevay High School (1969) before it consolidated into Switzerland County High School, and from there he attended Barber School in Indianapolis.
“When I applied they wouldn’t let me in because I wasn’t 18 yet when I graduated,” Bear remembers. “So I had to wait until the Fall before I could start.”
After graduation, Bear worked at Barber Shops in Madison and then at a shop on Ferry Street before — at age 22 — purchasing the barber shop on Main Street from Terry Griffith in 1974. He named it the “Golden Shear”, and the shop became a Vevay institution for over 45 years.
Slowing down after a hectic pace, Bear at first was in the shop for two days a week before spending some time cutting hair at his house near Fairview Road.
“Mainly just long time customers and family and friends,” Bear said. “I think I barbered 51 or 52 years.”
Mike Bear met Sue Griffin in high school, “I was a senior when she was a freshman,” he recalled. “She was a cheerleader. We’ve been married 52 years — we just celebrated our anniversary.”
The Bears are still in the process of moving to their new home on Packett Boulevard on the west side of Vevay: “We’re still living out of boxes and tubs,” Bear laughs. “It takes awhile.”
Mike and Sue had been at their home north of Mt. Sterling for 22 years, and that, along with moving from a larger home to a small home, is leading to some downsizing.
“My pole building out there’s full, so we’re either going to have a little auction or de-clutter sale this Spring,” he said.
Making things a little easier is that son Mikey has purchased his parents home, so dad feels comfortable that son can continue to store things moving forward.
“It’s nice that our son bought the place, so we can go back out there every once in awhile — and we can leave our stuff longer,” Bear laughed.
In addition, the new home also puts Mike and Sue closer to the home of their daughter, Traci Earls — who’s just across the highway.
“She comes over about every evening and checks up on us,” Mike said.
As he looks back over his time on the council — Bear only missed two meetings in six years, due to his recent surgeries; he is proud of the job that the council has done in allocating county funds.
“I’ve enjoyed most of it,” he says. “I enjoyed saving the money for the taxpayers. Sometimes we stuck our neck out, but we’ve done the right thing. I enjoyed all of it except the budget — the budget was tough, man, because you knew you were going to have to cut. Nobody wants to cut. You do it for the voter and the taxpayer, you do it for the people.”
The process of replacing Mike Bear on the County Council will involve a caucus of the Republican Party, which will occur on Saturday, March 6th, at 9 a.m. at the Republican headquarters on East Main Street.
The selection of the new councilman will come by a vote of the three Republican Precinct Committeemen — those who represent Jefferson 3, York, and Posey 1. The person elected must reside within one of those three precincts, and will then serve out the remainder of Bear’s team, which runs through December 31st, 2022.
Those interested must complete a Declaration of Candidacy form (CEB-5), which can be obtained from the Switzerland County Clerk’s office; and the completed form must be turned into the clerk’s office no later than the close of the business day this Tuesday, March 2nd.
As of Tuesday, February 23rd, Steven Jones-Ellard had filed his candidacy for the vacancy.