The Statehouse File
FRANKFORT, Ind. – With only 14 months left in office, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is getting close and personal with Hoosiers as she winds through her 92-county Hoosier Crossroads Tour.
The tour, which began in July, is taking the Republican to every county in the state. Skillman started in Jackson County with a meeting with local officials, a stop at Stahl’s Café in Ewing and then a visit to Maplewood Farms.
And recently, she was in Cass County where she served as the graduation speaker at the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility.
Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, at right, talks with officials from Keller Development in Fort Wayne during an Allen County stop on her Hoosier Crossroads Tour. Photo courtesy of Skillman's office.
“You couldn’t help but feel the emotion in the room,” Skillman wrote later of the experience on her Hoosier Crossroads Tour blog. “There were tears and smiles from parents, grandparents, and several correctional staff members who all came to show their support for the graduates.”
Typically, Skillman spends one day in each county. She meets privately with local officials to talk about ideas for local government reform, a priority for Gov. Mitch Daniels, and is working on a larger report of recommendations for the 2012 legislative session.
In the afternoons, Skillman visits businesses or projects, including many that have been supported by state government. In Allen County in September, Skillman visited Cameron Crossing, a neighborhood created by Keller Development in part with tax credits administered by her office.
In some communities, Skillman has been able to make jobs announcements.
Last month in Clinton County, the lieutenant governor joined executives from LEP Special Fasteners Inc., a manufacturer of steel fasteners, to announce the company’s plans to relocate parts of its operations from Illinois to Frankfort and create as many as 160 new jobs by 2015.
It was the largest job announcement in the county in seven years.
“I am personally most proud that we have been able to help so many small cities and towns and rural areas boost their local economies,” Skillman said, beaming to the crowd gathered for the announcement.
As she travels, Skillman’s pride in the state and in Hoosiers is evident. She said her trips are meant to create more partnerships between the local and state governments, so that elected leaders can better serve Hoosiers. She wants to bring the government closer to the people.
“This Hoosier Crossroads Tour is what I set out to do in my remaining 14 months in office,” Skillman said. “I want to help the Indiana government to find and create new ways to better serve Hoosiers by witnessing how local partnerships are formed.”
In Clinton County, Skillman made a quick shoe change after the warehouse announcement and then headed to a fundraiser for Frankfort’s 23-year-old GOP mayoral candidate, Chris McBarnes.
“Hoosiers should be proud when bright, young people want to stay in their communities to make them better,” Skillman said of McBarnes.
At the event, Skillman greeted any everyone who approached with a smile. She talked to Hoosiers of all ages and backgrounds.
“She makes you feel like you have known her for 3 years,” said McBarnes. “She is just such a welcoming woman and makes you feel so comfortable.”
Skillman has been visiting two to three counties each week as she continues through her tour. This week, Skillman is headed to LaPorte County and next week she’ll be in Brown and Wells counties.
“This is how I want to spend my remaining year plus in office,” Skillman said.