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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sen. Bray glances back before looking forward to retirement

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

(Photo)
Following what was likely his final Putnam County Legislative Update session, retiring State Sen. Richard Bray (right) enjoys a lighter moment with new Putnam County Republican Chairman Darwyn Nelson Saturday morning at the Farm Bureau Building in Greencastle. [Order this photo]
Looking back on 38 years in the Indiana General Assembly, State Sen. Richard Bray (R-Martinsville) knows the political landscape has changed and there is still much work to be done at the statehouse.

Saturday morning, in all likelihood, marked his final appearance at a Putnam County Farm Bureau Legislative Update session, and the 77-year-old Bray took time to look forward while looking back on his career.

"I've enjoyed it," the District 37 state senator said of his 20 years in the State Senate that were preceded by 18 in the House. "I had a lot of satisfaction and a few frustrations. But I thought about it, and thought it was about time I bowed out."

Today, he said, some of the issues confronting society and government were not even on anyone's radar when Bray first went to Indianapolis 38 years ago.

"Most of the common drugs that are problems now didn't even exist when I was prosecutor, except maybe in the minds of chemists," Bray said of the Morgan County role he held from 1958-1969.

"We have people out there now manufacturing these drugs faster then we can outlaw them," he added. "We have a very difficult time keeping up with them ... and these drugs are very, very harmful socially and physiologically."

While many politicians of his era are facing harsh words and disdain at the polls, Sen. Bray heard noting but kind words Saturday from constituents and colleagues alike.

"We will miss him greatly," District 24 State Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) said. "When I was first elected, I sat near Richard, and he was my mentor."

State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) agreed, noting that in his opportunities to work with Sen. Bray, he found him to be "very pleasurable and very knowledgeable."

The same was true during the public portion of the program, with Greencastle resident Kelsey Kauffman noting how she has been going to the Legislature the past 13 years to monitor proceedings.

"Richard Bray has been one of the most reasonable and most accessible chairs up there," she said, thanking him for his time and effort.

Bray has been a member of several Senate committees, including service as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ranking member of both the Senate Ethics Committee and the Commission on Courts.

One of issues the Judiciary Committee has been looking at, Bray said, is how to keep Hoosier farmers from being targets of "frivolous lawsuits."

As an example, he pointed to "a lot of unfortunate feuds" between subdivision developers and feedlot operators in Morgan County.

He detailed how one family, the Andersons, had operated a hog operation for more than 150 years in the Martinsville area.

Recently, however, people from Indianapolis came down and "built a nice subdivision," albeit right alongside the hoglot.

"I don't blame them," Bray said. "I happen to think Morgan County is a pretty nice place to live myself."

The two factions peacefully co-existed until a couple times a year "an odor came out of the hog operation that frankly isn't Chanel No. 5."

The subdivision folks sued, but the jury sided with the hog operation that dates back to the 1800s in Morgan County.

"The Andersons won," Bray said, "but nevertheless I don't like to see farmers harassed like that, so we're trying to deal with that."

For 20 years, Bray has represented Senate District 37, which includes areas of Putnam, Morgan, Owen, Clay, Johnson and Monroe counties.

In Putnam County, District 37 now encompasses Washington, Warren and Cloverdale townships, along with six Greencastle Township precincts (Foxridge, First South, Third East and West, and Fourth East and West).

Newly elected Putnam County Republican Chairman Darwyn Nelson said the local GOP will honor Sen. Bray during the party's Feb. 26 Lincoln Day Dinner, starting at 1 p.m. at the DePauw Union Building.


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Good bye Union Buster

-- Posted by mickhamblen on Tue, Feb 21, 2012, at 2:48 PM


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