The Bicentennial Torch Relay is a 2,300-mile journey across Indiana that began in Corydon, Indiana’s first capital, on Sept. 9.

The purpose of the torch relay is not only to celebrate Indiana’s 200th anniversary as a state but also to honor dedicated community members by choosing them as Torchbearers as well as promote unity across the state.

The torch will travel six days each week for six weeks, concluding at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Oct. 15.

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Date: Tuesday, Sept. 20

Hours in county: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Torch is lit at the intersection of state roads 46 and 135 in downtown Nashville.

North on State Road 135/Van Buren Street and north on Schoolhouse Lane past Nashville schools campus.

West on Washington Street, then follows the parade route north on Jefferson, east on Mound and south on 135/Van Buren to the Salt Creek Trail trailhead at CVS.

East on the Salt Creek Trail to the YMCA and circles through the parking lot at Brown County Health & Living Community.

East on State Road 46 East to the north gate of Brown County State Park.

Follows the main park road past the North Lookout, Aynes House, Ogle Lake, Tulip Tree Shelter House, West Lookout and exits the west gate.

West on 46 West to T.C. Steele Road.

South on T.C. Steele Road to T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

The torch is then handed off for the Monroe County relay.


The following Brown Countians were chosen by a local bicentennial committee to carry the torch because of their exceptional public service, achievement, acts of heroism and/or volunteer service. The reasons listed below come from the nomination sheets submitted by their co-workers or fellow volunteers.

Trent Austin

Representing: Brown County Schools

Reason: Brown County Intermediate school principal. “Cares about children, staff and community. Very giving individual.”

Mode: Running

Jerry Bell

Representing: Veterans

Reason: “Was a combat engineer in Vietnam, a disabled veteran and continues to work and support veterans through the American Legion, VFW, DAV, Honor Guard and more.”

Mode: Riding in electric wheelchair

Jenise Bohbrink

Representing: Brown County Community Foundation

Reason: Development and program assistant; “loves her job because it allows her to serve the Brown County community through grants and scholarships.”

Mode: Walking/running with double stroller

Kelli Bruner

Representing: Brown County Schools

Reason: Has worked at Helmsburg Elementary for 20 years; currently principal. “Proud member of our community.”

Mode: Driving a classic car

Pete Bullard

Representing: Brown County Historical Society

Reason: Vice president of the society; retired educator and coach; stained glass artist and painter. “He can be found in many countywide locations, generally helping out, getting an amazing number of projects completed.”

Mode: Walking

Thor Davis

Representing: We the People civics team

Reason: Assistant to the coach and chaperone of the national champion junior high civics team. “Thor has given hundreds of hours to the school and community. People like Thor make our lives, and the lives of our children, much better.”

Mode: Walking/running

Keith Fleener

Representing: Brown County Democrat newspaper

Reason: Has been one of the most recognizable representatives of the newspaper for more than 35 years and “generally embodies the friendly and quirky spirit of Brown County.”

Mode: Walking

David Frensemeier

Representing: Fire departments

Reason: Firefighter, medic and trainer for “one of the county’s most active fire departments.”

Mode: Driving a classic car

Bradley Gipson

Representing: VFW

Reason: National Guard infantryman, “an amazing young man who represents the best of our youth in Brown County.”

Mode: Running/walking

Alisha Gredy

Representing: Brown County Chamber of Commerce

Reason: Family’s roots run generations deep in Brown County; also a member of Nashville Town Council.

Mode: Running

Denny Kubal

Representing: Habitat For Humanity

Reason: “As Habitat for Humanity director, Denny has been instrumental in seven families now living in their own home.”

Mode: Walking/running

Tona Martin Nelson

Representing: Brown County Lions

Reason: Longtime club member and officer who helps to organize Spring Blossom Parade and fireworks. “Great volunteer worthy of this honor.”

Mode: Running

Lydia Miller

Representing: YMCA

Reason: “Her main goal as a personal trainer is to help others improve their quality of life, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.”

Mode: Walking/running

Thom Miller

Representing: Brown County Schools

Reason: “Thom works hard to be inspiring in his math classes and all he does and is very well liked. He changed his life after his dad had open-heart surgery and started on a healthy lifestyle.”

Mode: Walking/running

Cash Myers

Representing: Town of Nashville

Reason: High school student intern, tennis star and former We the People national champion team member. “His interest in the different areas of how the town operates is very impressive.”

Mode: Running

Yvonne Oliger

Representing: Brown County Rotary Club

Reason: Retired librarian and strong supporter of literacy efforts. “She is a true humanitarian and volunteers her time wherever she can.”

Mode: Walking

Abbie Oliver

Representing: Brown County Schools

Reason: Principal at Sprunica Elementary. “She is caring and selfless and only has the kids’ best interest in mind.”

Mode: Walking/running

Pete Schrougham

Representing: TRIAD

Reason: Founded TRIAD, which sends teams of volunteers to check on seniors and the sick. “He is a wonderful citizen, volunteer and friend of the community.”

Mode: Riding in electric wheelchair

Lisa Shaner

Representing: American Red Cross

Reason: Started volunteering after 2008 floods and has comforted victims of fires and natural disasters. “She takes great pride in helping people.”

Mode: Driving a classic car

Mark Shields

Representing: Brown County Parks and Recreation

Reason: Parks director and active in Salt Creek Revitalization and Preservation, Nashville Tree Board and Salt Creek Trail Committee. “Mark is a valuable asset to our community.”

Mode: Biking

Phil Stephens

Representing: Brown County Recycling Center

Reason: In addition to directing the recycling center, is Hamblen Township trustee and member of Masonic Lodge, Shrine Club, Scottish Rite, Lions Club, Fraternal Order of Police and Sons of the American Legion.

Mode: Walking

Judith Stewart

Representing: Brown Circuit Court

Reason: “As our Brown County judge, she brings caring, fairness and professionalism to all of our lives.”

Mode: Walking/running

Gerhard Weber

Representing: Brown County Shrine Club

Reason: “He is a major contributor of time and money to the Shriners Hospital and devotes countless hours to the betterment of our children in need.”

Mode: Walking/running

Lisa Wilson

Representing: Brown County 4-H

Reason: “Lisa helps youth recognize their full potential with the 4-H program.”

Mode: Running

Christy Wrightsman

Representing: Brown County Schools

Reason: Van Buren Elementary principal; also inducted into the Brown County High School Athletic Hall of Fame for her record-setting sports career as a teen. “Mrs. Wrightsman is a positive influence on our children.”

Mode: Walking/running


The Indiana Bicentennial Torch was developed by Purdue University students and faculty.

Three types of torches were made: the general-use torch fueled by E85 ethanol; a high-speed torch capable of staying lit in high speeds, such as on a rollercoaster; and a children’s torch powered by LED lights.

The torches will be handled by about 1,800 people during the relay through all 92 counties.

The general-use torch weighs 5 pounds. Its flame is designed to withstand winds up to 35 mph and remain lit in a light rain. The handle was designed for bearers with various hand sizes.

It was designed to look like the torch on the Indiana state flag.

A camera inside will be capable of recording 10 minutes of high-definition video and 500 photos. Data will be relayed via wireless signals to a nearby van, but when the signal is lost, the data will be stored for transmission later. A GPS system tracks the relay’s progress, and a USB port in the bottom of the handle allows for battery recharging.

The flagship torch also is equipped with a sensor that detects when it tilts farther than 45 degrees, posing a burn hazard. Excessive tilt activates a mechanism that deploys a “snuff plate” to extinguish the flame.

The torch can burn for at least 45 minutes and has enough battery power to last three hours.

Some of the components in its design were produced using 3-D printing.


On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the day the torch passes through Brown County, Visit Indiana’s Bicentennial Mobile Experience interactive trailer will be parked in the Foxfire Park lot at Schoolhouse Lane and Van Buren Street and will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All are welcome to walk inside to see a history exhibit of the Hoosier state. Exhibits cover Indiana environments, leaders and notable residents, agriculture, innovations and virtues.

All are encouraged to line the torch relay route and cheer on the torchbearers. Approximate times of arrival are: 10:30 a.m., lighting and beginning of relay; 11:15 a.m., Salt Creek Trail; noon, covered bridge entrance of Brown County State Park; 1:30 p.m., park entrance on 46 West; 2:30 p.m., T.C. Steele for hand-off to Monroe County.

Brown County State Park will not charge any gate fees Tuesday, Sept. 20.


The state encouraged groups to submit art, heritage and conservation projects for designation as Bicentennial Legacy Projects. Here are the ones in Brown County:

The Brown Hill Project, the purchase of 130 acres of hardwood forest by The Nature Conservancy.

“Origins,” a dramatic recounting of the history of Indiana State Parks performed in Brown County and Turkey Run state parks.

A quilting project in Brown County State Park, making baby quilts to donate to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

The Brown County Hills Project, the purchase of 704 acres adjacent to a 490-acre Yellowwood State Forest tract by The Nature Conservancy.

The 53rd annual Spring Blossom Parade by the Brown County Lions Club.

The acquisition of a 39-acre inholding in the northwest portion of Brown County State Park.

The purchase of a 179-acre addition to Yellowwood State Forest, a portion of the former Tulip Trace Girl Scout Camp.

The 2016 National Maple Syrup Festival in Brown County.

The purchase of 18 acres adjacent to Sycamore Land Trust’s Trevlac Bluffs Nature Preserve, including forest untouched for 60 years, by SLT.

The Brown County Art Gallery, celebrating its 90th birthday in 2016.

The purchase of 8 acres of forest adjacent to Sycamore Land Trust’s Trevlac Bluffs Nature Preserve, including habitat for threatened species, by SLT.

Clay Day in the Park at Brown County State Park by Larry Spears.

Plein-air painting by Patricia Rhoden Bartels in Brown County State Park.

Performances at McCormick’s Creek, Turkey Run, Brown County and Shades state parks about the history of Indiana and nature.

Fabric dyeing demonstration and workshop in Brown County State Park by Daren Redman.

A three-week run of the musical “The Breeze Bends the Grass” in October, highlighting four Indiana women artists, at the Brown County Playhouse.

Performances by Amanda Webb and John Urban of works inspired by nature in Brown County State Park.

Performances by The Windfall Dance Company in Brown County State Park.

Performances by Henry Craig Brenner in “the jazzy side of blues, boogie woogie and other piano styles, focusing on Indiana composers and musicians” in Brown County State Park.

Painting demonstrations by Charlene Marsh in Brown County State Park.

Painting demonstrations by Anabel Hopkins in Brown County State Park and Lake Monroe’s backwaters.

The Brown County Hilly Half Marathon in November in Brown County State Park, organized by the Brown County YMCA.

Sources: Indiana Bicentennial website, Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Author photo
Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.