LAGRANGE – The LaGrange County Community Foundation wants to know what residents think the future of LaGrange County looks like.
The LCCF staff held the first of four Envision LaGrange County listening tour meetings Tuesday night at the LaGrange County Public Library. It will hold three more similar sessions in the next few weeks, the next on Oct. 16 at the Wolfe Community Building in Shipshewana. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. The third session is scheduled to take place on Oct. 24 at the Topeka Fire Station and the last on Nov. 7 at the Stroh Fire Department building. Those meetings also start at 6 p.m.
A group of about 30 people attended the first meeting and told the LCCF staff what they like about living in LaGrange County and what they think needs to be done to help LaGrange thrive in the future.
LCCF Associate Executive Director Octavia Yoder said she was pleased with the size of the crowd that turned out for the first of four meetings.
“We had a really good turn out, and the feedback from the people, they were very engaged,” she said.
Yoder said people talked about several things the LCCF has already identified as community needs, such as affordable childcare, housing, and downtown development, but also heard people bring up new challenges facing LaGrange County.
“People are open to changes and want to see growth in our communities, and they’re very passionate about LaGrange County,” she said. “ A lot of people who live here, they love this community, and I was really impressed by their support of what can be done to make this a better community.”
Yoder said the information gathered will help the foundation decide what projects to fund.
“This is helping us to gather information and formulate what are the real priorities,” she said. “This can show us where we can really help to assist with the big community needs.”
Yoder said she knew that the need for new housing is a major priority of many people in LaGrange County but still admitted to being surprised just how often housing came up as a topic of conversation during the first meeting.
She said the LCCF felt it is important to visit each corner of the county during this listening tour to hear as many viewpoints as possible.
“We couldn’t have a meeting in every town in the community but we wanted to make sure we visited all sides of the county,” Yoder explained.
The foundation will eventually condense and tabulate all these talking points into a final report it will release to the community at large.
Finally, Yoder said the information gathered during the Envision LaGrange County tour will be used to the LCCF focus its grantmaking, addressing the highest priority needs.