Long-time official turns in keys
After 16 years serving Harrison County as either a county councilman or commissioner, Carl (Buck) Mathes, as of Jan. 1, is again just a Harrison Countian without a title in front of his name.
Mathes took part in his last commissioners’ meeting Dec. 27 and, while he was appreciative for his time in office and wished his successor, Kenneth (Kenny) Saulman, well, he’s not happy about leaving his seat.
He was defeated in the Democrat Primary by Scott Hussung, who was handily beat in the General Election by Saulman.
Mathes said he enjoyed his time as commissioner and that there’s a lot more things he wanted to get done for the county.
‘I always tried to help residents of Harrison County with their problems,’ he said. ‘I always tried to address them. If there was something I could do, I would.’
A ‘pipe dream’ Mathes had for the county was constructing its own landfill in the northern part of the county, using riverboat gaming funds, that would provide low-rate garbage pick-up for each county resident.
‘We could actually make money with other counties bringing their trash to it,’ he said.
Mathes said the atmosphere was never right to try to push for the landfill as he never had enough votes from the board of commissioners or council.
The project Mathes was most pleased about completing during his time as commissioner is the Valley View Road bridge. He said he used to travel the road when he worked at the quarry, and the bridge could only support small trucks.
‘I never thought I’d be in a place where I could improve it,’ he said.
The project was funded, engineered and completed in less than two years.
The old bridge was left in place for a walking or fishing area. Mathes said he hopes to be able to fish off of it now that he has more free time.
Mathes said there’s a few pressing problems the new commissioners will have to face, including the closure of the Waste Management transfer station. He said, hopefully, the county can find a way to provide that service through its solid waste office, or else trash, such as shingles, will wind up in sinkholes or along the roadway, he said.
Mathes said the ongoing debate about how to use riverboat funding will also have to be answered by the commissioners, specifically whether to use the funds for county projects or invest the revenue. Balancing the budget is an ever-growing concern for Harrison County, he said, and there’s three ways to address it: use riverboat money to subsidize the budget, raise taxes or cut services.
Commissioners receive a lot of phone calls throughout their term, Mathes said, but most of them are good calls and provide useful ideas. One such call led to Mathes installing lights at the intersection of Pacer Court and Corydon-Ramsey Road near Harrison County Hospital.
‘I’m very glad he (Jesse Young) called and told me that,’ he said. ‘We don’t see them (concerns) all. I always invited comments.’
County commissioners sometimes are guilty of letting day jobs and smaller projects that don’t receive headlines slip through the cracks, he said, although he tried to not let that happen.
Mathes said he has no plans to run for office again in the future but didn’t rule out the possibility.
‘I have a lot of experience in the operation of county government,’ he said. ‘It’d be nice if I could use that.’
Mathes told the audience at his last commissioners’ meeting that it’s just another chapter in his life and he always tells his kids not to cry when he dies, but to celebrate all of his ‘lifes.’
‘I’m just really pleased to have served four years as commissioner and 12 on the council,’ he said. ‘I’ve learned a lot. I hope I’ve helped the county.’