By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief
Since 2015, Norm Gabehart has been hard at work as Whiteland’s town manager. As town manager, his main job is to oversee town administration, though his daily tasks can vary greatly.
Gabehart was hesitant to take the position at first.
“Honestly, I was reluctant at first. When I came to work here, I came in as Street Superintendent MS4 Storm Coordinator and I really was having a good time with that. Then the town manager who was here before had decided it was time for him to retire. The town manager had suggested I succeed him and the council asked if I was interested,” Gabehart said. “At first blush, I said ‘no, I don’t think I am.’ The reason being I loved what I was doing and I’d been in this type of position before. I was at the city of Greenwood from 1985 until 2012. I don’t believe opportunities exist by coincidence and when this came about, I prayed about it and I thought, ‘well, I’m going to do what I believe, that’s put in my path.’”
Whiteland Town Council President Andy Brock described Gabehart as passionate and positive.
“Norm is very passionate about the town of Whiteland and that enthusiasm clearly comes through in his presentations and updates to the town council. Through the day-to-day challenges, he stays positive and promotes collaboration among the various town departments to complete the job at hand. He has also developed relationships with the mayors of Greenwood and Franklin to ensure Whiteland has a voice in the broader Johnson County landscape,” Brock said.
Town Council Vice President David Hawkins described Gabehart as the most honest person he knows.
“Norm is probably the most honest and straightforward person I’ve ever met. His integrity is just unbelievable,” Hawkins said.
Gabehart has big goals for Whiteland with many projects already underway.
“Residential, this is private sector development, there’s 50 percent growth on the table. From our perspective, it’s not that we do development, we give the opportunity. We have projected 150 million dollars of industrial development coming. We look for dirt to be moving on the first building in April. This will be the largest catalyst in movement of industry in the history of Whiteland,” Gabehart said.
Gabehart’s main goal is to prepare and protect the town for the future.
“My objective is to advance and move this community at a pace that’s equivalent to where we should be without ineptitude to our future and protecting our successors. What’s that going to mean twenty years from now? We want to protect them. What do we do today to make the best services we can and how will it affect tomorrow,” Gabehart said.
Hawkins is proud of the growth that has occurred since Gabehart became town manager.
‘Until Norm came along, Whiteland had no goals. He has moved this town 10,000 percent,” Hawkins said.
Brock appreciates the collaboration Gabehart puts into all the tasks the town takes on.
“His team effort approach to getting the most out of the resources available. The town staff really comes together as one unit under his supervision to work together and achieve moving the town forward. The focus is to find the solutions to get the job accomplished and not falling into the ‘that’s not my job’ mentality,” Brock said.
Gabehart keeps students involved in the process through his student advisory council where all members are taught about government. Gabehart wants students to be involved in the town government too since it is hopefully their future.