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Lanesville Jaycees are No. 1 in Indiana

Though one of the smallest chapters in the state, the Lanesville Jaycees achieve big. This year, the Lanesville Jaycees won first place in the Parade of Chapters for Indiana, the state organization’s top award.
‘It has taken us 30 years to do this,’ said Jamie Dobson, 2005 chairman of the board and the Southeast Region district director.
That’s how long his chapter has been around, but this isn’t its first accolade. The Lanesville Jaycees have finished second in state standings twice before, and the chapter has yielded two state presidents, Alan Richmer and Darrell Voelker.
The Daniel Wigginton project in 2003 raised $26,000 to help the Lanesville man with medical expenses he accumulated during his battle with terminal cancer. The fund-raiser earned the chapter the coveted Dr. Jerry Bruce Award for the most outstanding project in the nation.
But the Parade of Chapters represents a culmination of a year’s worth of projects, state competitions and membership drives.
Unlike the Wigginton benefit, ‘We didn’t have a signature project this year. We had a lot of projects,’ Dobson said.
‘We had a lot of successful projects,’ Lanesville Jaycees President Sherry Applegate clarified.
Applegate was named Indiana Jaycee of the Year in February, and Dobson won Indiana’s Joe Craven Memorial Award and was named among the Top 100 Chapter Leaders to Watch at the national convention last week.
The Lanesville Jaycees grew their membership from 34 to 56 members in 2004. A decade ago, membership had dwindled to fewer than a dozen, and the chapter’s future was uncertain.
The Lanesville Jaycees use their famous Heritage Weekend beer garden to fund all they do throughout the year. That includes $6,000 to $8,000 to fund community projects.
The Jaycees also supplement their budget by renting out their clubhouse adjacent to Lanesville’s Walter Q. Gresham Memorial Park. The 3,000-square-foot building with full kitchen rents for $150 for one night and is popular for wedding receptions.
(Call 952-1900 for more information.)
The Jaycees will host a fish fry Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the clubhouse, and their 21st annual Easter Egg hunt is Saturday at 11 a.m. on the grounds.
A fire department chicken dinner is in the planning for April, and the group is hosting its first state convention in September in Clarksville. The 20th annual Halloween Party with clubhouse trick-or-treat is in October, of course. In November the Lanesville Jaycees will again serve a free Thanksgiving meal to seniors of Harrison County. They’ve served 4,000 so far.
The Jaycees began as a young business leaders organization. They are always looking for new members between the ages of 18 and 41, Applegate said.
Membership dues are $4 a month, and membership isn’t limited to Lanesville residents. In fact, the group takes members from all of Harrison County and neighboring counties without chapters.
The Jaycees provide resources like public speaking education to members for little or no cost.
Meetings are open to the public and are held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse. And for those who need assistance, ‘We aren’t going to turn anybody down,’ Dobson said.
‘We are going to help them in some way.’