Jon Hillenbrand sworn in as new police chief

Sgt. Jon Hillenbrand was sworn in as the city’s new police chief by Mayor Joe Yochum Monday afternoon during the Board of Public Works meeting. Hillenbrand, a near 20-year veteran with the Vincennes Police Department, is replacing Robert Dunham, who will officially retire later this month.

Sgt. Jon Hillenbrand was sworn in Monday by Mayor Joe Yochum as the city’s newest police chief.

And as he looked out over the crowded gallery inside City Hall, 201 Vigo St., he was humbled.

“Thank you all for coming to support me,” he said during the brief Board of Works meeting. “I will honestly do the best job I can, and I appreciate all of the support.”

Yochum last week announced that Vincennes Police Department Chief Robert Dunham would retire (for the second time) later this month and that Hillenbrand, a near 20-year veteran with the VPD, would replace him.

Hillenbrand previously worked for four years as a detective and, most recently, served as a school resource officer.

Early in his career, he served in an upper management role at the Southwest Regional Youth Village.

He holds a degree in criminology from Indiana State University with a minor in business administration. He, too, is a certified firearms instructor.

Dunham served 18 months at the VPD’s helm.

He was sworn in in the fall of 2019, just before the pandemic struck, but was, however, no stranger to the job. He first retired as city police chief in January of 2009 under then Mayor Al Baldwin after being with the department for 24 years.

Dunham will remain a reserve officer, he said, and work primary as a school resource officer, which has been a life-long goal, he said last week.

In other business, the board also opened bids on the city’s latest state-funded paving project. They received two — one from Milestone and another from E&B Paving.

The city in May learned that it had received a matching grant of $302,000 as part of the state’s Community Crossings Matching Grant Program. Combined with the city’s portion, they have just over $600,000 to spend paving sections of Overlook Drive as well as Fifth Street from Hart Street to College Avenue and from Willow to Vigo streets as well as Nicholas Street from Second to Sixth streets.

Also on the list this year will be 16th Street from Willow Street to Kavanaugh Avenue as well as Schwartzel Avenue from Second to Chestnut streets.

City engineer John Sprague said they also included in the bid specifications a handful of streets within the city’s cemeteries; they’re in need of repair, he said, and they were hopeful they could secure a lesser price on asphalt since it was lumped in with the much larger CCMG project.

E&B Paving submitted a lesser bid for the CCMG work at $570,000 — or more than $30,000 under budget.

Milestone’s bid was for a higher $625,000 for the CCMG work alone.

Each company bid about $45,000 for the cemetery work, but that will not come out of the city’s share of CCMG funds.

The board took the bids under advisement so Sprague can review them. He is expected to make a recommendation on how to move forward when the board meets again in two weeks.

The board also on Monday approved a request from Emily and Karl Yetka, the owners of Vincennes Best Barber Shop and Shave Parlor, 16 N. Second St., to host again this year Party at the Pavilion, an event that offers free hair cuts, backpacks and school supplies to youngsters as they head toward another school year.

This year, Emily Yetka told the board, they hope to do 1,000 free hair cuts and give away as many backpacks.

The event will be open to those ages 5-11 and will be held Aug. 1 at the Riverfront Pavilion.

For more information or to sponsor the event, contact the couple at vincen nesbest@gmail.com.

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