State signs sponsor for road-side assistance program

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Some thought Mayor Greg Ballard had gone cluck-cluck when the city struck a deal with KFC Corp. to put decals of Col. Sanders on fire extinguishers in public buildings.

Hey, it earned the city $5,000.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has topped that by striking a deal with State Farm Insurance, which will pay $1.25 million over the next three years to sponsor the Hoosier Helper program.

Those are the trucks that roam the urban interstates to aid stranded motorists and to help steer traffic from roadway hazards.

State Farm’s logos will be placed on Hoosier Helper vehicles and employee uniforms. At least it isn’t the face of the commercially overexposed “Flo” from Progressive Insurance, who appears on seemingly every fourth television commercial in the United States.

“Partnering with State Farm will help promote the mission of the INDOT’s Hoosier Helper program while providing services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers,” said INDOT Commissioner Michael Cline.

INDOT officials said the idea for sponsorship came after researching what other states were doing to offset costs of their highway helper services.

From now on, INDOT wants the public to refer to Hoosier Helpers by the short and catchy phrase “INDOT Hoosier Helper Freeway Service Program sponsored by State Farm.”

The contract includes an option to extend the contract for two years, during which time INDOT would receive another $750,000.

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