Twenty-five Jackson County residents will take part in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay this fall.

They include a former Seymour mayor, a Brownstown fourth-grade teacher, the Crothersville Sesquicentennial queen and the caretaker of the Medora Covered Bridge.

The list of local “celebrities” is made up of residents from all across the county who were nominated for the honor by friends, family and coworkers. A local committee made the final selections, which were then approved by the state and announced Wednesday during a special ceremony in Indianapolis.

Those selected are Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession, acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhood, community, region or state.

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The torchbearers representing Jackson County are John Burkhart, Dianne Cartmel, Tonja Couch, Jack Gillespie, Amy Hartley, Donald Hill, Greg Hutcheson, Vicki Johnson-Poynter, Mike Jordan, Eunice Lacey, Sally Cate Lawson, Aaron Louden, Gary Meyer, Rick Meyer, Charles Moman, Matt Nieman, Doug Pogue, Jeff Rider, Theresa Rouse, Carl Shake, Rick Smith, Clifford Sommers, Steve Sunbury, Morris Tippin and AmyMarie Travis.

“(These) Hoosiers selected as torchbearers embody the Indiana traditions of service, civic pride, community involvement and volunteerism,” said Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb. “As we reflect on Indiana’s first 200 years, it is only fitting that we celebrate Hoosiers who serve as inspirations in their communities.”

Nieman, youth minister at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seymour and an active member of the Jackson County Community Theatre, didn’t believe it when he received the letter that he had been nominated.

“I thought it was a joke, to be honest,” he said. “I had no concept of why I would even be considered, but I’m looking forward to helping make this event a success.”

Being a runner, Nieman said he doesn’t think he’ll have too much trouble carrying out the duty, which he is honored to do.

“Jackson County has a pretty significant history in Indiana, so I would hope our residents would rally for this celebration,” he said. “It sounds like a cool event, and one like it won’t happen again in any of our lifetimes.”

Burkhart served as mayor of Seymour from 1990 to 2003 and said he was “flattered” that people thought of him to serve as a torchbearer. He now works as an office specialist with the Jackson County Visitor Center.

He’s not sure how long he’ll get to carry the torch or where exactly he’ll be, but he’s proud to be a part of such a celebration.

“It’s the anniversary of our state, and this relay shows that as citizens we are proud and thankful for our communities,” he said.

Cartmel of Brownstown said being selected was a huge surprise, but she’s glad she’ll get to be a part of celebrating and making history.

“I do walk a lot, so that will help me,” she said.

In her life, she has served on many local, state and national boards and civic organizations, including the Governor’s Task Force for Museums and Memorials, was past president of the Indiana State Museum Society and director of the Indiana State Museum Endowment, Legion of Hoosier Heroines and was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash. She also was a founding member of the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts.

The bicentennial celebration is important for not just the state but for Brownstown and Jackson County, which is also celebrating its bicentennial, she said.

“We have achieved so much in these 200 years that we should be proud to live in Jackson County and Indiana,” she said. “There have been some outstanding people and achievements here, and it has shown in how we have progressed and what we value.”

More than 2,000 Hoosiers from all 92 counties will carry the torch. The relay starts Sept. 9 in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, and will travel 3,200 miles, ending Oct. 15 at the Indiana Statehouse.

The torch will come through Jackson County on Sept. 15. It will be lit at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Brownstown and will travel along U.S. 50 to Seymour. The public is invited to attend a brief ceremony and see the torch off on its three-hour trip through the county.

It will be carried to Seymour and pass by historical sites, including Freeman Municipal Airport and Seymour High School, where students and the community will be able to participate in another ceremony.

After leaving Seymour, the torch will head to Fort Vallonia and then the Medora Covered Bridge before leaving for Washington County around noon.

The event is being fashioned after the Olympic torch relay, and participants will be wearing specially designed uniforms.

“Enthusiasm is building as the start of the torch relay approaches,” said Mark Newman with the Indiana Office of Tourism and Development. “Communities large and small are pulling out all the stops to honor their torchbearers and celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday. Collectively, they have had far reaching impact, and all of Indiana should be proud.”

At a glance

The torchbearers representing Jackson County are John Burkhart, Dianne Cartmel, Tonja Couch, Jack Gillespie, Amy Hartley, Donald Hill, Greg Hutcheson, Vicki Johnson-Poynter, Mike Jordan, Eunice Lacey, Sally Cate Lawson, Aaron Louden, Gary Meyer, Rick Meyer, Charles Moman, Matt Nieman, Doug Pogue, Jeff Rider, Theresa Rouse, Carl Shake, Rick Smith, Clifford Sommers, Steve Sunbury, Morris Tippin and AmyMarie Travis.

The torch will come through Jackson County on Sept. 15. It will be lit at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Brownstown and will travel along U.S. 50 to Seymour. It will pass by historical sites, including Freeman Municipal Airport and Seymour High School.

After leaving Seymour, the torch will head to Fort Vallonia and then the Medora Covered Bridge before leaving for Washington County around noon.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.