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Knightstown GOP delegates raise their 'Hammers'

Cheryl Hammer makes a point during her remarks to delegates at Wednesday’s Knightstown GOP Convention. Hammer was selected as a candidate for town council this fall, giving her an opportunity to defend the seat she took over for Kevin Knott earlier this year.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

KNIGHTSTOWN — Knightstown Republicans decided Tuesday they have the “Hammers” to build new “Rhodes” to future success for Henry County’s third-largest community.

Roger Hammer, Chuck Rhodes and Cheryl Hammer were chosen among five candidates to be nominees for the November town council election. They will join Democrat incumbent Mitch Roland on the ballot. Three of those four will be elected.

In the eyes of even candidates who weren’t selected, however, there were no real losers. Everyone there helped make Knightstown the true winner.

“I’ve been in Knightstown since 1968,” said Cort Swincher, one of the five who sought a council nomination. “I have served on the council in the past. Just to see more than 10 people turn out for a convention is really awesome. But even better than that, there’s five people running. Obviously there’s interest in trying to help Knightstown and move it forward.”

Two of the three winners weren’t able to attend Tuesday’s convention and were represented by others. 

Cindy Hammer, wife of incumbent councilman Roger Hammer, spoke on his Tuesday and said afterwards he will be excited at an opportunity to keep the seat that’s meant so much to him.

“I’m supposed to report to him as soon as I can and he’ll be very happy,” Cindy Hammer said. “He really wants to continue to work on things he’s in the middle of right now.”

A director of products and services for a software company, Hammer was out of town on business. His wife read a statement from him which said in part “I hope I have contributed to an optimistic vision of Knightstown, where we can work to always maintain our small-town feel while pursuing development that enhances our way of life and encourages businesses to move here and expand.”

Roger Hammer’s statement also said he is “working with developers to potentially bring $11 million in investments to this area over the next two years.”

Rhodes said through his representative, Larry Wheat, that there “just seems to be a new positive spirit about our town” and he wants to be an active part of it.

“The last few years have seen positive change in the downtown with new shops and new storefronts,” his statement read. “We have been blessed with the addition of several new restaurants which continue to receive good reviews and bring people in from surrounding communities. And let’s not forget the Hoosier Gym which continues to draw visitors from all over the world.”

The other Hammer – Cheryl, sister-in-law to Roger – is the newest member of the town council, having taken over the seat recently vacated by Kevin Knott. She was happy to have a chance at continuing her new role.

“This doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s just to get my name on the ballot,” Cheryl Hammer said. “As I told everyone I’m not a politician, that’s not me. I’m the worker bee. I’m happy to plant flowers, clean streets and whatever it takes to make Knightstown look good. My main goal is to try and bring a grocery store and a daycare center here, things that will bring out youth back to town.”

A fifth candidate, Bruce Brown, offered experience to the 33 GOP delegates who attended the convention, listing service on the board of zoning appeals, fire department and park board.

Knightstown was just one of two county communities conducting conventions Tuesday and among four that have conducted them in the past week or so. Mooreland also selected nominees for town board Wednesday, but there was no report on who won there as of press time.

Lewisville and Middletown have also conducted conventions. Hiday said the conventions in Lewisville and Middletown were well-attended. He said Lewisville had approximately 60 people participate while Middletown had 58.

The interest in grassroots government was refreshing and encouraging.

“The last time I served as GOP Chairman, I don’t remember doing any of these,” Hiday said. “This is kind of exciting that we have this many Republicans wanting to be on the ballot. I’ve always said local government is when and where people should vote because those are the people you see on the street every day. Everybody likes to vote in a presidential election, but you’re probably never going to see a president out here at Walmart.”