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May 30, 2000

Young people and adults who took part in the recent "Project Perry" survey had more on their minds than just housing and movie theaters as prime needs in this community. Their opinions were summarized and shown to the more than 400 builders, developers and others who came here last month to help this community fulfill its obligation to its present and future citizens. The "Project Perry" task force was organized with principal support from the Perry Chamber of Commerce, Perry Main Street, Perry Development Coalition, the city council and the city planning commission with major assistance from personnel at the Charles Machine Works, Inc., manufacturer of Ditch Witch underground construction equipment. Other city entities also provided help in various areas, and the affair is regarded as a major step in making possible a bright, secure future for all Perry residents.

In previous columns we have looked at the need for new housing, retail businesses and entertainment facilities, as indicated by a survey of adults and students in this community. That survey, designed by Sheri Justus, human resources manager at CMW, is regarded as a major tool in the effort to persuade builders and others that Perry offers them a ready market for their goods and services. Just how well that message was received will be determined in due time. Meanwhile, it's interesting to review some of the points brought out by the survey and in other areas of "Project Perry."

Ms. Justus reported that Noble county has an unemployment rate of only 2.4 percent. Since January 1 of this year, CMW has received 2,565 job applications from 1,196 individuals. During that period, 166 have been hired. More detailed information was provided in the "trade show" that concluded the day last month when this event was held. Data on development opportunities was provided at the Information Booth, along with handouts based on the survey and research information.

The reaction of most of the 400 visitors was positive and many of them began calling for additional information on the following day. Projects are being discussed and some will be announced in due time, but it's far too soon to sit back and regard this as an accomplished fact. No indeed. There's lots of work to be done by you and me as we do our bit to make this a more attractive community. Every neighborhood should be examined by homeowners and tenants as part of this process. If lawns need mowing and weeds need special attention, if paint is peeling off the old homestead, if signs of blight are beginning to mount along with piles of just plain trash, don't wait for someone else to take charge. Pick it up, mow it, spray it, paint it - whatever it takes.

Perry's annual cleanup day took care of part of these problems and our abundant spring rain is giving new vigor to lawns and gardens, but there's still plenty to do. The downtown area is what some visitors see first and remember longest. The courthouse park, with its regal trees, lush greenery, magnificent courthouse and the Hopes and Dreams statue, certainly give a good impression. Let's see if the rest of Perry can measure up as we, continue to prepare for the influx of many new residents.