BICKNELL — Republican leaders on Thursday caucused and elected North Knox farmer and Realtor Rich Chattin to fill the District 4 seat on the county council left vacant by the death of Jim Beery last month.
Chattin said he looks forward to being a “strong voice” for the county’s agricultural community, citing his time with the Indiana Farm Bureau and on his own family’s livestock farm.
“I just think that’s extremely important in a county that’s 80 percent agricultural,” he said following the caucus held at the Knox County Housing Authority’s Wilson Center in Bicknell.
District 4 represents the northernmost portions of Knox County. Committee chairs from 10 precincts in Bicknell, Vigo, Widner, Washington and Busseron townships, the ones that that make up District 4, were the only ones to cast votes for Beery's replacement.
The winner had to receive 51 percent of the votes cast, and party chairman Linda Painter said Chattin was elected on the first try.
Chattin was immediately sworn in and will attend his first council meeting when its members meet in regular session at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 201 Vigo St.
“I think this is great. (Chattin) brings a lot of knowledge — a lot of agricultural knowledge — that is really important in our community,” Painter said. “He knows the North Knox area. He was born here, raised here. He grew up here.”
Having had Beery as a teacher, Chattin said he was honored to follow in his rather large footsteps.
“I’ve known him my whole life,” Chattin said. “He was a great man who served the county, the schools, our churches with zeal.”
Chattin, also an auctioneer, was one of just three candidates who filed their intentions to seek the seat formerly held by Beery. The other two were former county highway superintendent Ron Clark, and Steve Volling, a former Bicknell City Council member who currently serves on the Area Plan Commission.
The caucus was closed to members of the general public.
Beery died on May 14 at the age of 74.
County officials have said his rather sudden death was the result of a heart attack. He'd also recently suffered a kick from a horse he was fitting for a new shoe and had undergone reconstructive surgery.
Beery had served on the county council since 1991. He also served on the Knox County Work Release Board, the Knox County Solid Waste District Board and on the Knox County Public Library's Board of Directors, among many others.
He was a retired educator, having been an English teacher and coach at the North Knox School Corp. for more than 40 years.
Beery's term is set to expire at the end of 2022. Chattin would then have to seek election to the seat.