Small towns, big needs

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Video version of this blog post.

As part of this campaign I am visiting local towns throughout the district. These are tiny municipalities. Tipton has 5,000 residents. Sheridan has 3,000 people. Arcadia has 1,500.

The people in these places have needs for their communities. They want clean parks, good schools, and the potholes to be filled in. This is what I hear when I talk to everyday people.

In Cicero, it’s the pool at Red Bridge Park that is the current hot topic. It was built in the 1980s, and fell into disrepair over time. Like many similar facilities across the country, maintenance costs continued to increase, and eventually between these problems and the pandemic, the pool was closed for a season.

Replacing a 30-year old pool is like replacing any structure of a similar age. It’s going to cost more than it did, because modern projects do more than they used to do. Filtration and security systems are more advanced, materials and design considerations make pools safer than they used to be, and the amenities we want in 2021 are not the same we wanted back in 1985. When the town council made calls to get estimates, they found price tags that pushed into six and seven digits. For a town whose budget is about $8 million a year [1], that’s just not something many councilors feel they can focus on right now.

And so, they ordered the pool to be torn down. And if you ask the residents who have been swarming these meetings and talking on the various local Facebook groups, that decision was made hastily, without enough input or sufficient transparency.

Thankfully, temperatures have fallen a bit. Residents who want a new pool are working to create a non-profit foundation and conduct a survey. But the point remains: small towns have big needs. And one of the greatest needs is for people who care about the community to show up.

As a member of Congress, I will not be able to attend as many town councils as I have been. But meeting and connecting with local leaders is absolutely essential. And understanding how Federal resources can and should be used to help communities is, to me, a critical part of this role.

Because even small towns have big needs. And their biggest need of all is to have people who care.


[1] Financial information for many parts of Indiana municipalities is available online at https://gateway.ifionline.org/public/FD/overview.aspx.

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