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April 14, 2000

Next Tuesday, Perry will play host to a large number of visitors who will be here to consider their role in the expected growth of this community. "Project Perry," a newly formed amalgamation of local citizens, is about to make its public debut after weeks of planning for this unique event. Their goal is monumental but achievable: To build an orderly path to the future. The visitors were invited here to receive the factual information they need to chart their course.

At the annual Perry Chamber of Commerce banquet in January, announcement was made of the exploding growth pattern now underway at the Charles Machine Works, Inc., where Ditch Witch construction equipment is manufactured. Dave Woods, chief operating officer at CMW, revealed that the company expects to add at least 1,000 new employees in the very near future. They will be in addition to the more than 1,500 now on the payroll. Since unemployment is practically zero in this area, many of the new hires will be coming here from other cities. They, plus the families coming with them, will increase Perry's population to approximately 7,500 -- more than a 50 percent gain since the 1990 census.

Perry will need homes, schools, medical care, an upgraded infrastructure, retail firms, entertainment, and other elements to provide support for a growing, vibrant community. Those needs, and possible solutions, have been the subject of intensive study by an informal committee of some 30 Perry men and women in recent weeks. They represent just about every segment of the community and they are seriously concerned about the immediate problems facing a small but growing city. They have adopted the name of "Project Perry" and they are serious about building a bridge to Perry's future.

Specific local people and city officials also have been invited to Tuesday's get-together because the welfare and development of Perry businesses is a major concern. Project Perry exists to help our hometown folks, also. Obviously, all the work cannot be done by shopping at home. We will need technical assistance and counseling from specialists outside our community. Tuesdays session will help them understand where we stand and where we're going, and how they can play a significant part in all that. Some say this will be a second "Great Land Run," equaling or surpassing the Cherokee Strip run that settled this area in 1893. Perry surely is on the brink of a major and exciting new episode in its outgoing story.

Cleanup Day in Perry is scheduled for this Saturday. That is an excellent opportunity for all of us to get rid of the junk and debris not only on our own premises, but also to pick up and cart off the clutter that now greets visitors to our city from all directions. If you see a strange face on the streets of Perry next Tuesday, put on a broad smile and give him or her a cheery greeting. Chances are they will be here to do their part in getting us ready for the bright new future that beckons, just around the corner. We welcome their input and their presence.