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Growing Fayette County Initiative looking to improve life locally

Tom Peck ran for the Fayette County Council in November, and was not elected.

For many, that might be the end, as far as community service is concerned.

But not for Peck.

Following the loss, Peck doubled down on his commitment to Fayette County, finding others to join him in what he calls the Growing Fayette County Initiative.

“After I lost, I was trying to think about what I could do with the network that I had already established during the campaign,” he recalled. “This wound up being the brainchild of my own original candidate race.

“I kind of turned my race for County Council into a growing Fayette County thing. Basically, it was just a bunch of ideas on how to make Fayette County stronger, make it more desirable and make it more family friendly.”

Finding other like-minded people wasn’t difficult, he added.

“Really, it’s a non-partisan group that is focused on expanding areas in Fayette County that are kitchen table talk things, the topics that people discuss at home with friends,” he says. “We are looking at things that people want to see Fayette County become, and what they miss about other areas.”

It didn’t take long for the group to zero in on a “project” worthy of its time and effort.

“One of the things that we are working on this year is kind of a festival experience that takes place in the early spring, prior to the fair,” Peck said. “That way, it’s about more than the 4H and agriculture aspect.

“This would be more about the over all culture aspect of Fayette County. It’s about incorporating the river, the railroad, and really trying to get certain aspects of Fayette County back in order to bring other people in.”

Taking aim at this particular project was the right thing to do, Peck noted.

“Losing Thomas the Train was really one of the big parts of growing this movement,” he said. “After losing that, it left us with really no major draws through spring and summer here.

“We’re really trying to figure out something we can do on a cheap, grassroots level that can hopefully grow into something much larger. We really just want to bring Fayette County to the forefront during those months.”

Currently, Peck says that there are about 7-8 people working with him on this project. But the interest in his still-developing organization has grown beyond that.

“Really, the numbers fluctuate between 15 and 20 over all,” he said. “Some of the people involved are young politicians, while others are people from around the area that have connections to Fayette County.”

Despite the number of interested peers, Peck says that the GFCI, for the moment anyway, will maintain a focus on the one project.

“Right now, we are focusing on the one project for 2021. Hopefully, we can use that to springboard into other things in 2022,” he said. “At this point, we have established that, with COVID-19 still being a monkey on everyone’s back, trying to get a big slate of things accomplished would not be a good idea.

“So we’re going to focus our energy on the one major thing. We will also look at possibly piggy-backing for other projects that might be going on locally.”

While the group has adopted that laser focus for the moment, that does not mean that other ideas have not been discussed.

“As a group, we have asked ourselves, ‘What do we want to see and what do we want to do here?’” Peck said. “One of the ideas I proposed on the Facebook page was turning Central between 5th and 6th streets into a pedestrian’s plaza.

“That way, the Oasis, Ozzie’s and the two wholesale stores would have much more walking traffic, and nearby restaurants could have outdoor seating and picnic areas.”

There has also been talk of using the Whitewater River as more of a draw to the county.

“We have a great campground and a great river,” he said. “Why shouldn’t we start a paddle culture here? It seems that, currently, everyone goes to Brookville for that.

“Maybe we could start a little regatta where we have kayakers and canoes race from the Waterloo/Pennville bridge, down to Robinson’s campground.”

Ideas.

At the moment, that’s what the Growing Fayette County Initiative is all about. And Peck hopes to hear a lot more of them in the future.

The group meets every other week via Zoom. Go to Tom Peck’s Facebook page to learn when those meeting are.

People can also email him at tpeck2@hotmail.com.

“We are our infancy right now, so we can use all the help we can get,” he said.


News
Warriors 4 Kathryn to hold raffle

Kathryn Marszalek, daughter of Josh and Laura Marszalek, is about to celebrate a very special birthday.

Marszalek is about to turn 10 years old next week. When she was only a few weeks old, she began showing symptoms of the disease, Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood with a stiffening of the arm. Over the course of a few months, she would display an episode where her body would stiffen. That is when medical professionals discovered she had the rare, mutative disease, Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood.

Over the past several years a group was formed, Warriors 4 Kathryn – W4K – a fundraising group that supports the Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood Foundation.

“The Warriors for Kathryn event in Connersville has raised money for the AHC Foundation annually the past four years,” organizer Elizabeth Hauger said. “AHC is a rare neurological disorder in children that causes temporary paralysis. The AHC Foundation helps fund research for the disease, in hopes for a cure.”

Hauger said the pandemic delayed this years event in Connersville, however, there is hope to host a live event on May 22.

“In the meantime, we would like to thank the community for their support the past four years with a basket giveaway for a lucky winner next Wednesday February 24, on Kathryn’s 10th birthday,” Hauger said. “We want to give anyone that has donated, volunteered, or attended the event a chance to win!”

The drawing will be virtual, live on Facebook. An event has been created on Facebook for more info. In addition, anyone that would like to make a donation to the cause can do so during a virtual fundraiser in honor of Kathryn’s 10th birthday.

Last year the event raised over $26,000. The group hopes that in May the fundraising will continue and help many children.

Please contact Elizabeth Hauger 265-3349 or Carrie Pfeiffer 265-6945 for more information.


News
Hoosier History Highlights

Benjamin Harrison

1889: Benjamin Harrison left his home in Indianapolis to go to Washington, D. C., to take the oath as the 23rd President of the United States. Indiana Governor Alvin Hovey and Indianapolis Mayor Caleb Denny led the large crowd which gathered to send him off. The parade to Union Station included prominent citizens and members of the state legislature as well as hundreds of school children who had been given a long recess to allow them to witness the history-making event. Speaking to the assembly, Harrison said, “I love this city. It has been my one cherished home.” The Indiana Sentinel reported that, through the excitement, Harrison’s “ever cool and collected manner manifested itself.” (Pictured: The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site at 13th and Delaware in Indianapolis.)

Mary Tomlinson

1890: Mary Tomlinson was born in Acton, Indiana. After attending local schools and Franklin College, she became interested in theater. She ended up in Hollywood where, under the name Marjorie Main, she was hired by the MGM Studio. Her filmography includes over 80 films, including “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Friendly Persuasion.” She is best known as “Ma” in the popular “Ma and Pa Kettle” series.

Marian Anderson

1922: 24-year-old Marian Anderson was the featured singer in a program at the Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis. She was at the beginning of a long career in which she gained international fame and broke down racial barriers in the arts. She was the first African American to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera and the White House.

Duesenberg

1925: The Duesenberg Motor Company filed incorporation papers with the Indiana Secretary of State. The firm was being moved to Indianapolis from New Jersey by brothers Fred and August Duesenberg. Their luxury automobiles were not only beautiful but powerful, performing well on the Speedway track. The company ceased production in the mid-1930s, but the cars are still highly prized by collectors. (Pictured: The 1930 Model J Duesenberg.)

George Washington

1932: The 200th Anniversary of George Washington’s birth was celebrated in cities all around the state. Pageants, plays, and speeches were on the programs in Greensburg, Anderson, Connersville, Greencastle, and Martinsville. In Columbus, flowers were placed on the grave of Jonathan Moore, a Revolutionary War soldier and bodyguard for Washington.

Churchill

1932: British Diplomat Winston Churchill was the featured speaker in a program at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis. Accompanied by his 22-year-old daughter Diana, he was in the city under the auspices of the Council on International Relations. A reporter wrote, “Most of Mr. Churchill’s carefully prepared address was made with the assurance and deliberation with which he would have addressed the House of Parliament.”


“Cook really good food!”

– Shannon Anderson

Anderson


“Taking in the scenery.”

– Marta Ball

Ball


“Staying inside and watching it snow, love to take the kids to Robert’s Park to sled.”

– Jennifer Horning

Horning


“Sleep and dream about summer.”

– Amber Robertson

Robertson


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