Business

Holcomb makes board appointments

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) – Governor Eric Holcomb has announced new appointments and reappointments to various state boards and commissions. They include the Domestic Violence Prevention & Treatment Council, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Board and  Statewide Independent Living Council.

Board of Registration for Architects & Landscape Architects

The governor made two reappointments to the board, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023:

  • Hal Kovert (Jeffersonville), principal at Kovert Hawkins Architects
  • Debra Schmucker (Indianapolis), president and CEO of Cornerstone PDS

The governor also made two new appointments to the board, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023:

  • Lisa Gomperts (Indianapolis), project manager and principal at Schmidt Associates
  • Todd Scoggins (Indianapolis), architect at Scoggins Design, Inc.

Domestic Violence Prevention & Treatment Council

The governor made one new appointment to the council, who will serve until April 30, 2021:

  • Amy Blackett (Indianapolis), DV/SA Resource Prosecutor with IPAC

Indiana Board of Tax Review

The governor made one reappointment to the board:

  • Ted Holaday (Indianapolis), who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023

Indiana Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors

The governor made two reappointments to the board, who will serve until April 30, 2023:

  • Dominic Grote (Madison), president and CEO of Grote Industries
  • Mark Neal (South Bend), principal of Bradley Company

Indiana Horse Racing Commission

The governor made two reappointments to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023:

  • Susie Lightle (Greenfield), retired
  • George Pillow (Indianapolis), founder of Pillow Logistics, Inc.

Indiana Real Estate Commission

The governor made two reappointments to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023:

  • James Litten (Carmel), president of F.C. Tucker Company
  • Douglas Rose (Carmel), president of Irwin R. Rose & Co., LLC

The governor also made two new appointments to the commission:

  • John De Souza (South Bend), president of Cressy & Everett Real Estate, will serve until July 31, 2021
  • Donna Spears (Richmond), associate broker at Coldwell Banker Lingle, will serve until Dec. 31, 2023

Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

The governor made one reappointment to the commission:

  • David Ober (Indianapolis), who will serve until Jan. 31, 2024

Indiana Veterans Affairs Commission

The governor made one new appointment to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2020:

  • Richard Leirer (Carmel), surgeon with the VFW Department of Indiana

Indiana War Memorials Commission

The governor made three reappointments to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2022:

  • Charles Dodson (Brownsburg), starch handler with National Starch & Chemical Company, LLC
  • Lawrence Long (South Whitley), vice president of John McCormack Co., Inc.
  • Carol Mutter (Indianapolis), Lt. Gen. (Ret.) of the United States Marine Corps

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Board

The governor made two new appointments to the board:

  • Jerome Prince, mayor of the City of Gary, who will serve until May 31, 2020
  • Jim Arnold, former state senator and current member of the LaPorte Community School board, who will serve until May 31, 2021

Serve Indiana Commission

The governor made seven reappointments to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2021:

  • Kathryn Clayton (Commiskey), director of the Labor Institute for Training
  • Jane Crady (Waldron), coordinator of disaster preparedness and response with Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
  • Mark Eutsler (Linden), principal of The Edge
  • Media Oakes (Avon), manager of communications at Calumet Specialty Products Partners, L.P.
  • David Reingold (West Lafayette), Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts & Professor of Sociology at Purdue University
  • Stefonie Sebastian (Brownsburg), education specialist with the National FFA Organization
  • Sarah Waddle (Indianapolis), executive director of AARP Indiana

The governor also made six new appointments to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2022:

  • Erin Busk (Indianapolis), 21st CCLC Grant Specialist with the Indiana Department of Education, as Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick’s designee
  • Shannon Frederick (Indianapolis), executive director of Multiplying Good
  • Laura Hodges (Madison), former city councilor of the City of Madison and retired administrative assistant with Dockside Services, Inc.
  • Brian Sheehan (Rushville), director of special projects and community development
  • Matthew Stachler (Fort Wayne), senior at R. Nelson Snider High School, representing 16-25 year old volunteers
  • Jo Yocum (Indianapolis), executive director of Playworks

State Ethics Commission

The governor made one new appointment to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2023:

  • Rafael Sanchez (Fishers), president of private banking at Old National Bank

Statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee

The governor made one new appointment to the committee, who will serve until July 31, 2022:

  • Jon Frain (Winamac), Pulaski County coroner

Statewide Independent Living Council

The governor made two reappointments to the council, who will serve until June 30, 2023:

  • Kevin Burk (Salem), Washington County coordinator with the Southern Indiana Center for Independent Living
  • Derek Deckman (Brownsburg), RVP at Salesforce

The governor also made one new appointment to the council, who will serve until June 30, 2023:

  • Kelsey Cowley (Bloomington), past president of Self-Advocates of Indiana

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Hamilton County’s ‘Wellness Unit’ part of nationwide effort to improve mental health among officers

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — An initiative to improve employee well-being at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is among a spate of efforts across the nation to address mental health concerns among officers.

Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush announced the department’s new “Wellness Unit”  — devoted to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its deputies, correctional officers and civilian employees — Friday in a Facebook post.

“Our guys really care about the public,” he said Monday in an interview with News 8. “When you see somebody who’s injured or victimized, it really impacts us… We’re only human.”

The Wellness Unit launched in January with funding approved by county council members and commissioners.

Appointments are held off-site at undisclosed locations to protect the privacy of employees. Supervisors are not briefed on which employees seek counseling or what they discuss during sessions.

Information gathered during counseling sessions will not be used to demote or discipline employees, and will only be disclosed if required by law, including when somebody poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The department’s entire staff will receive training related to suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, critical incidents, addiction, mindfulness and officer wellness, the sheriff said.

Nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI); the suicide rate for police officers is four times higher than the rate for firefighters.

Years of daily exposure to stress, trauma and tragedy can have other devastating consequences if appropriate coping skills are not developed, according to Susan Sherer-Vincent, a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcoholism counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist involved in launching the Wellness Unit.

“Think of the hurricanes that come in, in Florida, and think of the palm trees where they bend,” she explained. “But then, what happens afterwards? They go back up. That’s called resilience. We want our officers to bend, not break.”

Until approximately 3 to 5 years ago, officers were often conditioned to “pull [themselves] up by the bootstraps and go to the next call” instead of addressing personal struggles, Sherer-Vincent said.

Cultivating resiliency can be difficult within a law enforcement culture that equates mental health challenges with “weakness,” she said.

“[Officers] are trained to have the warrior mentality,” Sherer-Vincent told News 8. “Truly, they would have been made fun of [in the past for seeking counseling].”

She compared strong, silent officers with underdeveloped coping skills to California’s famed redwood trees.

“They’re pretty sturdy. But what would happen if you took an ax and hit those every single day, day after day, for years? They would eventually fall,” she said.

Quakenbush credits his wife, church and non-law enforcement friends with providing “a really good support system.”

“But sometimes, you need a professional,” he said, urging employees to “talk through” negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol and other substances for temporary relief.

Several internal cases that resulted in disciplinary action during his year-long tenure as sheriff may have been prevented with wellness-focused intervention, Quakenbush said.

He was unable to comment on personnel matters. 

Sources within the department indicated some of the cases involved employees with substance abuse issues that had escalated over time, possibly as a result of work-related stress that had gone unaddressed. 

“I wouldn’t say that [disciplinary action] was happening often,” Quakenbush told News 8. “But seeing it happen and knowing that we probably could have done something about it made it impactful and something that we wanted to make a priority.”

Hamilton County announced its Wellness Unit days after New York City police officials revealed plans to hire a team of psychologists to combat a spike in officer suicides.

On Feb. 13, Indianapolis police officials said they planned to swear in the department’s first full-time therapy dog by the end of March.

  • FIND SUPPORT: Learn more about supporting law enforcement wellness on NAMI.org

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