Tom Rethlake named Republican of the Year

COLUMBIA CITY — Area Republicans gathered Wednesday night to mingle, discuss successes and strategies and recognize their own at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, held at the Eagle’s Nest in Columbia City.Party Chairman Sen. Jim Banks took the podium before the dinner, and prior to the arrival of Keynote Speaker Gov. Mitch Daniels and called on his fellow Republicans to find his replacement.“We are looking for new leadership of the (county) party,” Banks said.At evening’s end, Banks returned to the helm and called County Council Chairman Kim Wheeler to the front to announce the winner of the Republican of the Year Award.The award was given to County Commissioner Tom Rethlake, who accepted and spoke to the crowd with his signature wit.Rethlake closed the meeting by tipping his hat to fellow county elected officials.Banks said the award was conceived four years ago as a way to recognize local members of the GOP who serve the party.