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When you least expect it, someone might walk up to you and say, “What do you want Harrison County to be like in the year 2016 when the state turns 200 years old?”
Maybe it’s because my wife, Lee, and I moved to Corydon from Norcross, Ga., located in the fastest growing county in the United States, that we see things about the area differently than the people who have lived here for many years.
My wife grew up in Corydon but left shortly after graduating from high school in the early 1960s. I am originally from Mystic, a tourist town in southeastern Connecticut.
We moved to Harrison County in December 1998 partly because of our concerns about Y2K and partly because we were thinking, as many people do, that living in the country would give us a more relaxed lifestyle. A small town would be a more enjoyable environment. We could grow our day lilies and live off the land.
In 1997, the year before we left Gwinnett County, 20 miles north of Atlanta on I-85, it was reported that 23,000 new residents moved into the county and that did not include undocumented immigrants.
The racial and ethnic mix was so diverse that we had neighbors we could not talk to because of the language barrier.
Development there was going forward at a break-neck pace and high- quality strip malls were popping up like mushrooms, with acres of blacktop parking lots where stands of trees had been just weeks before.
Within five miles of our home was almost every store you could want, from J.C. Penney to CompUSA to Barnes and Noble to Publix and Kroger supermarkets.
My wife worked 1-1/4 miles from our home, and some days it took her 10 minutes to get to work, because of the rush-hour traffic. Our neighborhood roads provided a good back route to the highway.
Our school and property taxes combined were $1,000 a year. Police patrols were becoming more regular as crime was on the rise. One night bounty hunters surrounded a house on our cul-de-sac, searching for a someone who had jumped bail.
Several times we reported stray dogs in our neighborhood. Animal control officers would arrive, like storm troopers, in full uniform and a truck with individual cages built into it, to arrest the offending mutts. The stray’s owner would have to pay $100 to get the dog back the first time and up to $1,000 for more offenses.
When we moved to Atlanta in the early ’80s, it was a smallish southern city with a relaxed pace of life . Norcross, 20 miles away, was considered the “outer limits.”
Almost 20 years later, after Atlanta experienced great growth, Gwinnett County was no longer considered the “boondocks” but a close suburb of the ever-expanding city. Atlanta’s rail transportation system had even been expanded to the edge of Gwinnett County.
Moving to Corydon three years ago was “culture shock” for us. We felt like we had fallen into a sink hole. Everything seemed so far away.
To get building materials for remodeling our home meant paying a higher price at local suppliers or driving 40 minutes one way to Home Depot in Clarksville.
Instead of having five or six grocery stores to choose from within a short drive, we now have just two, Jay C and Wal-Mart.
Another thing we experienced was a “time warp.” It felt like we had stepped back into the past. People told us how much Corydon had grown in recent years, but we hadn’t seen that growth. We saw a small town struggling to grow without having to release the past.
We saw county leaders wrestling with weighty issues, such as animal control, paving gravel roads, building a YMCA, updating water and sewer utilities, and developing the local economy while having to overcome the underlying attitudes of people who resist change.
It’s a fact. Corydon will grow. Because Corydon is only about 23 miles from Louisville, like Norcross, it will experience growth as the city of Louisville grows and expands.
In the past three years we have seen some growth in Corydon and Harrison County but there are rumblings of much more growth to come. The county needs to prepare for growth now. A detailed plan for future growth and development is needed to ensure that the Corydon of the future is the Corydon we really want.
Leadership Harrison County is sponsoring a survey of the residents of the county to determine where Harrison Countians want the county to be in the year 2016.
The survey will help provide a guideline of recommendations that our leaders can refer to as they make difficult choices about the county’s future. The guidelines will make recommendations about many areas of future development such as the locations of housing developments, shopping areas, access roads to I-64, town traffic flow, locations for possible technology and office parks while preserving the natural beauty of the county.
You should begin now to think seriously about what you want Harrison County to be like when your children and grandchildren are your age and be ready to give your suggestions and state your opinions about Harrison County’s future development and growth when asked.
The future of Corydon and the county is in your hands.