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County HELP program progresses: Community pathway committees share project proposals

Friday, August 26, 2022

August 26, 2022  (Warsaw, IN) – More headway has been made with the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP) as local committees will share proposals for community development projects at upcoming Town and County meetings.

As a recap of the program, Kosciusko County was one of three communities selected by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to participate in the first cohort of the HELP program. HELP assists and equips rural communities with developing Strategic Investment Plans, resulting in a legacy project for each community focused on at least one of four community development pathways/focus areas including advancing e-connectivity, enhancing quality of place, promoting community wellness, and strengthening local economies. The communities of Etna Green, Mentone, Milford, and Pierceton agreed to participate with the County collectively, in the HELP program.

The first phase of the program included the towns identifying members of their communities who would be willing to review project ideas submitted by multiple community members during the community engagement activities which occurred in phase two of the program.

Nearly  350 responses were collected in a variety of ways from communities throughout the county.

“We were extremely pleased about the participation and variety of ideas we received from local community members,” said Kosciusko County Coordinator Amy Roe, who is leading the HELP Kosciusko program.

Here’s a recap of how respondents prioritized the four pathways/focus areas in their own communities:

Etna Green:

  • 43% of respondents said Enhancing Quality of Place is most important to them.
  • Promoting Community Wellness: 38%
  • Strengthening Local Economies: 14%
  • Advancing E-Connectivity: 5%

Mentone:

  • 56% of respondents said Enhancing Quality of Place is most important to them.
  • Promoting Community Wellness: 26%
  • Strengthening Local Economies: 11%
  • Advancing E-Connectivity: 7%

Milford:

  • 46% of respondents said Enhancing Quality of Place and Promoting Community Wellness are most important to them.
  • Strengthening Local Economies: 4%
  • Advancing E-Connectivity: 4%

Pierceton:

  • 71% of respondents said Enhancing Quality of Place is most important to them.
  • Promoting Community Wellness: 14%
  • Strengthening Local Economies: 14%
  • Advancing E-Connectivity: 0%

County (which included other non-HELP communities):

  • 37% of respondents said Promoting Community Wellness is most important to them.
  • Enhancing Quality of Place: 36%
  • Strengthening Local Economies: 19%
  • Advancing E-Connectivity: 8%

“This process has provided an opportunity to be civically involved in something we hope will leave a lasting legacy in our respective communities. I think we all look forward to seeing how the potential projects identified throughout the process develop from concept to reality,” said Mentone Community Committee Member Chris Treber.

During phase three, committees comprised of community members identified in the first phase of the program, were guided by educational facilitators for a review of all project submissions. Committees identified projects for their respective communities in each area of focus, and community members will prepare to share with local units of government.

“These volunteer committees have done tremendous work reviewing project submissions,” said Roe. “On behalf of the community I extend many thanks to each of them for their dedication, and look forward to next steps with the program.”

Each local unit of government will review projects identified by the community committees, and make recommendations to a local Core Advisory Team comprised of town clerks, county-wide leaders, and local funding agencies as to which project they desire to earmark as their Capstone Legacy Project, as required by OCRA.

All additional projects identified by the community committees will be reviewed by the Core Advisory Team, who will then determine whether funding currently exists to support those projects, and/or assist community committees with completing details for highlighting projects in the Strategic Investment Plan for potential funding in the future.

Community members are invited to the upcoming public meetings where project proposals will be presented and reviewed. Dates and locations are listed below.

Monday, August 29 at 9 a.m. at the Kosciusko County Courthouse (121 N. Lake St., Warsaw)

Wednesday, August 31 at 6 p.m. – Milford Town Hall (121 S. Main St.)

Tuesday, September 6 at 5 p.m. – Pierceton Town Hall (105 W. Walnut St.)

Wednesday, September 7 at 6:30 p.m. – Mentone Community Building (201 W. Main St.)

Tuesday, September 13 at 7 p.m. – Etna Green Town Hall (106 S. Walnut St.)

“I feel this has opened our eyes to the many possibilities that could be part of the Town of Pierceton,” said Pierceton Community Committee Member Georgia Tenney. “As a small town we sometimes don’t understand the many opportunities that are out there that we can take advantage of using. The grants that are available, and the fact there are people willing to help us get what we need. I will present to our Town Board on September 6 and I believe it will open their eyes as well.”

For updates on HELP Kosciusko visit www.kcgov.com and follow HELP Kosciusko on Facebook @HELPKosciusko.

About the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP) in Kosciusko County
The Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP) from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) supports communities directly by building capacity, creating a peer network system between communities participating in the program, developing a strategic investment plan and providing access to set-aside funding. HELP is a 52-week process culminating in a dynamic Strategic Investment Plan rooted in four pathways: advancing e-connectivity, promoting community wellness, enhancing quality of place, and strengthening local economies.

Media Contacts:
Amy Roe (HELP Kosciusko County) – aroe@kcgov.com
Cary Groninger (Kosciusko County) – cgroninger@kcgov.com