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Purdue targets Harrison for survey

Harrison County has been selected to be part of a research study by Purdue University. The research team is looking at the collaborative process involved in guiding growth in Indiana’s rural counties.
According to a flyer distributed by Purdue, Harrison County was selected because of the efforts of the Farm, Forest and Open Space Preservation Task Force, which was formed two years ago, to identify productive agricultural and forest areas, as well as other desirable open space areas, and, among other things, to develop recommended strategies to protect and preserve identified areas.
The FFOSPTF ‘is one of the first collaborative efforts in Indiana to address land-use planning,’ the research team said.
Harrison County Planner Eric Wise, who serves as an ex-officio member of the task force, said the Purdue group will conduct 400 telephone surveys of county residents to determine their attitudes towards farming and farmland preservation.
‘We want people who are called to know this is a legitimate survey,’ Wise said. ‘Hopefully, they will take the time to let us know their opinions.’
And, Wise said, the survey is being conducted at no cost to the county.
The surveys are scheduled to begin this month and will take a couple of weeks to complete. Aaron Thompson, a graduate research assistant at Purdue, is the contact for the research team.
Once the Purdue team finishes its phone calls, they will summarize their findings and share them with the task force here.
‘We hope to get a read of the community’s perception of the (FFOSPTS) program and how we can improve getting our message out to the community,’ Wise said.
Additionally, the task force hopes to identify ways they can increase public participation in government projects.
‘It is hoped that the results of the study will provide our elected officials additional evidence of the extent in which conserving land is supported in the county,’ Wise said.
Besides sharing survey information with Harrison Countians, results will be made available to residents in other rural Midwestern counties to use as a resource for developing collaborative land-use planning initiatives to deal with growth concerns.
Last year, at the Harrison County Fair, task force members conducted a brief survey of random fair-goers, asking them to respond to 11 statements that addressed land conversion and growth.
Task force members will be on hand at the fair again this year, July 31 through Aug. 5, to answer questions about their program. They will share booth space with the Harrison County Farm Bureau.
The public is invited to attend Farm, Forest and Open Space Preservation Task Force meetings, which are normally held the last Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the county annex building. This month’s meeting has been changed to Tuesday, July 18, to allow time to make plans for the county fair.
For more information about the task force or the survey, contact Wise at 738-8927.