Ann Bradshaw began her first working day of service to the City of Brazil as the first woman mayor in Brazil history, but she is no stranger to making history. She was also the first woman on the city council.
"I guess I paved the way for all the others," Bradshaw said. "I didn't set out to be a role model."
Bradshaw didn't intend to rock the boat, but her first official action certainly did.
She restructured the city government, and in the process, former police chief Mark Loudermilk and former fire chief Tobey Archer, were shuffled back into the deck. In their place, she placed former police chief Terry Harrison back into that position, and named Jim Smith the new fire chief.
"I did restructure," Bradshaw said, "However, I believe that Mark and Tobey are assets to this city, and I value them as such. I wanted to take the departments in another direction."
Harrison and Smith were very optimistic about the future of Brazil.
"There are several programs that we want to establish, and reestablish in Brazil," Harrison said. "I've got several on the short list of priorities including restarting our reserve program with new recruits to learn the skills needed to supplement our police force. I want to crack down on drug enforcement. This is definitely an area of concern to residents. I plan to revive the K-9 program. This is incredibly important. One dog can sometimes do the work of nine officers in helping with the drug problem. I also want to rebuild our response team. We are going to be very busy."
Harrison was looking forward to the challenge, and pleased to have the opportunity.
"I have an open door policy. If you have concerns, I want to hear them," Harrison said. "I'm looking forward to getting back to work and getting involved in the community."
Smith was equally excited.
"I've been in the firefighting business for over half my life, and I'm glad to be given this opportunity," Smith said.
"One of the first items planned is be more active in the community. Whether that's education, or service, we want to be more visible."
Smith plans on expanding several of the programs begun by Archer, among them the fire safety program of touring local business' to get an idea of how the business is laid out. In the event of a fire, knowing this could save lives and dollars.
"Our first priority is saving lives. After that is saving property," Smith said. "The better prepared we are, the more effective. I hope to be able to get blueprints of businesses on file to better serve Brazil."
As with Harrison, Smith also has an open door policy.
"I want to improve upon our relationship with residents, and also with our neighboring fire departments. We need to be able to depend on each other in times of crisis," Smith said.
With the police chief and fire chief on the same page as the mayor, residents will see several changes.
"Family is very important to me," Bradshaw said. "That includes the families in Brazil."
To this end, she has spent considerable time with the city engineer, weeding out must-be-done's from the to-do list. With her short list complete, she is all set to tackle some big issues in town.
"We need the water tower replaced and streets and sidewalks repaired," Bradshaw said.
"In fact, on the web site, www.brazil.in.gov, there are forms to fill out for pothole repair and sidewalk repair, among other issues. Having residents fill those out would help a great deal. We are going to be 'chipping and sealing' several areas, but the more information we get, the faster we can assess the worst areas to tackle."
Bradshaw is looking forward, and hopes residents will do the same.
"I am new at this job, but not to the workings of this city. I'd love to see this city brought back to life," Bradshaw said. "I want the drug problem solved. I'd like to see a shelter for families in Clay County. There is no place for families to go if they want to leave a bad situation or if they're temporarily homeless. There are several items I plan to tackle. I also have an open door policy. Residents can contact me, or come in and talk at any time if they have an issue to discuss. I plan to be proactive."