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Hess Bridge dedicated in Lanesville

Hess Bridge dedicated in Lanesville
Hess Bridge dedicated in Lanesville
Relatives of the late Harlan and Blanche Hess gather for a group picture at a plaque Thursday after county officials, some of whom are in the background, had cut a ribbon at the Harlan and Blanche Hess Memorial Bridge in Lanesville. (Photo by Randy West)

Lanesville dedicated and cut the ribbon on a new, long-awaited, $140,000 Harrison County bridge Thursday and named it after a local couple, the late Harlan and Blanche Hess, who did much for their town.
Dr. Phil Partenheimer, the new superintendent of the Lanesville Community School Corp., noted the symbolism of the occasion. He said the Hesses, through their many volunteer endeavors, were loving and caring “bridge builders” who were always finding ways to help others improve their lives. He said he hoped their model of community service would inspire and challenge Lanesville students, and he looked toward a group of band director Aaron Guernsey’s Lanesville High School students who were there to play and sing for the program.
Blanche Hess, who died in 1986, a year before her husband, was an elementary schoolteacher for 40 years. She made cookies and cupcakes for her students, and provided needy children with coats and hats to wear in the winter.
Programs that were handed out to the estimated 200 or so people at the dedication service said Harlan and his brother, Joe, operated the Hess Texaco Service Station in Lanesville and the Hess Tire Co. in Clarksville. Early in his career, Harlan worked at the garage, at a stone quarry and, with a borrowed bulldozer, dug basements for people on the weekends. He was a handyman who always carried a screwdriver and pair of pliers with him.
He later became a dedicated town board president who dug ditches for the town water supply, day or night, and maintained the water plant, turning on the pumps in the morning and turning them off at night. He did this for 25 years, the program said.
He also drove a schoolbus and took the Lanesville Eagles to their away basketball games for many years.
When the town needed a right-of-way for a new town park, the Walter Q. Gresham Memorial Park, which now adjoins the Lanesville Heritage Festival grounds, the Hesses donated the property.
The Hesses had no children, but they did have nieces and nephews. Some were present Thursday afternoon: Jerry Hess and his wife, Barbara, of Corydon, and their daughter, Jackie Beck, of Lanesville; Bill Hess of New Albany and his wife, Margaret, and Frances Hess of Lanesville.
Peter J. Schickel was master of ceremonies at the dedication of the bridge, officially Lanesville Bridge 76. He introduced county commissioners J.R. Eckart, James Goldman and Terry Miller, county councilpersons Alvin Brown, Gary Davis, Carl Duley, Carl (Buck) Mathes and Rhonda Rhoads and county highway engineer Darin Duncan.
Others who joined the dignitaries on Schickel’s two farm wagons, which had bales of hay for seats, were the Rev. Christopher D. Truelson of St. John’s Lutheran Church, who gave the invocation, and Dallas Montgomery of Scottsburg, the engineer who designed the two-lane concrete bridge over Little Indian Creek. It was built by Fulkerson Construction of Lanesville.
Schickel also introduced Lanesville town trustees Ray Brewer and Herb Schneider. Town Board Chair Carolyn Scott was unable to attend.
The old one-lane slab bridge, built in 1964, mostly by Hess when he was town board president, Schickel said, was barely adequate once the park was built, and it became a true bottleneck when many thousands of people showed up for the annual Lanesville Heritage Weekend parade and festival each September. It was often covered during high water.
Schickel said the construction of the bridge is an example of town and county governments working together with the county park department, Franklin Township Athletic Club and Heritage Festival Committee.