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Time for county to think big

Time for county to think big Time for county to think big

Call me a ‘Johnny one note’ if you want, but I can’t get off the opportunities that downtowns offer ‘we the people.’
It was encouraging recently to hear the voices of others who also value the old Statehouse square in the center of Corydon.
When the plans to repair the drainage under the First State Capitol Building were announced, a number of folks were troubled by the temporary loss to our community of its outdoor gathering place. When the construction chain-link fences were put up around the limestone structure, the reality of the place being ‘off limits’ for a time hit us all. Though we understood the building was in peril if it wasn’t repaired, we didn’t like having to temporarily relocate or eliminate our activities on its grounds.
I have been a member of the board of trustees of the Indiana State Museum off and on for some 40 years. The historic sites around the state are a vital part of the whole museum system. It made me sad to hear the complaints about shutting off part of our downtown to fix its centerpiece, but, on the other hand, it encouraged me to hear the sense of ownership expressed by our Harrison County residents. We believe that the Old State Capitol is part of us. It helped form us by its story of our ancestors, and it provides the main meeting and gathering place for our community today. It is truly the one piece of real estate that belongs to all of us.
The First State Capitol Building has been the centerpiece of our tourist trade for generations. The fact that we do not have a county museum is testimony to our past dependence upon the state to preserve the history of our families and community. But no one building or historical experience stands alone. Without a more extensive interpretation of our story as a community, who beyond a fourth-grade student studying Indiana history will come here to spend time? Without services and activities for local residents, a limited venue solely for tourists cannot sustain itself.
It is a great time for Harrison County to think big, to look and plan and act for the future.
I had an eye-opening experience recently as a result of being invited to a bridal shower. My husband, Don, decided that, while I was at the shower, he would wander around, look in stores, eat a bite of lunch and attend a movie. Since we have only one car while at our farm, he would have to walk wherever he went. We began to look for a good place to take him for his adventure. It soon became apparent that there were few areas that would accommodate an older man’s leisurely venture. Downtown Corydon was our first choice but, unless he wanted to eat several meals and visit a tourist shop, there was little he could do there.
I ended up dropping Don off at the Corydon Cinemas outside the downtown area near the interstate. Later, he decided to walk somewhere to have lunch and look around. I had suggested that there were stores across S.R. 135 that he might find interesting. After I left him, I drove through the intersection connecting both sides of the commercial district and prayed that he not try to navigate through the traffic on foot. The afternoon went well for him but I wonder if a more unique and convenient experience could be provided for our residents and guests who don’t drive or who would prefer not to drive.
Many of our retired folks go to Florida for the winter’s warm weather and an active lifestyle. They tell me of the amenities that make it so they can get around for social, medical, intellectual and everyday needs. Remember, retirement often starts at age 62 and many baby boomers are there right now.
It isn’t just those who have time on their hands who want a good environment in which to spend their days. Those high-tech whiz companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are revamping their office locations and designs.
Matt Vella wrote in the April 20 Time magazine, ‘Technology’s most powerful {and wealthy} companies are grappling with how to be environmentally responsible while recruiting and retaining workers and continuing to foster innovation.’
According to Margaret O’Mara, an associate professor at the University of Washington who has studied the rise of Silicon Valley, ‘They’re betting that if you’re in the right space, you’re going to work hard; you’re going to be happier.’
They aren’t simply adding better drinking fountains and break rooms. They are creating bike paths, retail areas, walking paths and green spaces in and around them that will provide for more integration into the community.
While in Houston last month, Don and I were taken to two very different hotels to stay. One hotel was located on the outskirts of town and was lovely but there was nowhere to go. With all the offices in the area closed for the weekend, there weren’t even any restaurants open. The other hotel was in a restored historic building downtown. As we wandered out for an evening adventure, we had a hard time selecting from the many things to do and see. Which one of these places would you choose to live in or visit?