State Rep proud of local accomplishments

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Since winning the District 44 state legislature seat in 2002, Republican Andy Thomas feels he has accomplished much of what he set out to do.

On Monday, Thomas announced he would withdraw his candidacy for reelection. The District 44 seat serves all of Putnam County and portions of Clay, Parke and Vigo counties.

On Wednesday, Thomas told the BannerGraphic it was a privilege to serve the residents of Putnam County.

"I believe I'm in close touch with the people of Putnam County," Thomas said via telephone interview. "I have attended numerous meetings to listen to the concerns of the citizens.

"I feel like Putnam County is headed in the right direction."

Since taking office, Thomas said he has worked diligently to improve several projects in the county, including helping bring Ivy Tech Community College to Greencastle.

"This has been a high priority for me since the project began," he said. "This was not one of the top projects for Ivy Tech one year ago. Now, it's second."

Thomas said through efforts of several people at the state level, the first phase of the project was able to get into the 2005 budget, including a line item of $250,000 slated for construction and engineering of the project.

"There was an incredible cooperation in the Greencastle community for the Ivy Tech project," Thomas said. "We were successful. A feasibility study shows the campus is needed, and it is my hope that the full project will be included in the 2007 budget."

Thomas said he was also proud of having been involved in the ethanol plant coming to Cloverdale.

"I'm confident that this project is moving forward," he said. "It will not only bring a new manufacturer to Putnam County, but it will increase the price of corn for local farmers in Putnam County.

Since taking office, Thomas has made education and business his top priorities.

"I feel like I've moved the ball in those areas," he said.

Recently, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the state was operating in the black after working with its tightest budget in 55 years. Because of the state surplus, money the state has in the bank will now be returned to school corporations.

On Wednesday, Thomas told the BannerGraphic the four county schools -- along with other school corporations statewide -- will receive $1,150,923.99 from the state.

He said Greencastle will receive $315,630.25, while North Putnam will get $318,839.45.

In addition, Thomas said Cloverdale will receive $275,097.74 while South Putnam will get $241,356.55.

The money couldn't come at a better time for several school corporations, who have lived through many lean years, especially South Putnam.

The local corporation, Thomas said, has has seen its share of troubles in recent years.

"They've been running a deficit for quite some time now," he said. "Every little bit helps.

"But I remain concerned about (South Putnam)."

Thomas said he, along with State Senators Connie Lawson and Richard Bray, have worked together to investigate ways to ensure the school corporation has a solid tax base to work with.

"We want to make sure that the tax base is increased as much as possible," he said.

He also said he was pleased to help pass Daniels' Major Moves program. Thomas said Putnam County will receive $17,229,038 for projects during the next few years and $1.2 million from motor vehicle funds.

"That's significant road money," Thomas said.

Thomas also said he was pleased to be a part of bringing a horse arena to Cloverdale, an arena proposed by Crossroads Arena representatives Jim Skinner and Steve Jackson.

"This project will attract money and people throughout the state and the rest of the country," Thomas said.

Thomas has served two terms in the House, winning the District 44 seat in the 2002 election and winning again in 2004. Earlier this week, he said he chose not to run again because he wanted to spend more time with his family while continuing to teach math and criminal justice at Ivy Tech in Greencastle.

While he was signing a withdrawal form Monday in Indianapolis ending his reelection campaign, Andy's father, Amos Thomas, 76, Brazil, announced he would run for the seat.

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