As the legislative session pauses and summer study committees commence, I want to take an opportunity to recognize some of "what is going right" in District 74. Let's start with applauding the town of St. Meinrad which is celebrating their 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial). The citizens and monks alike should be proud of the accomplishments of this community founded to help grow church leaders through the abbey (now St. Meinrad Archabbey).and still performs that role to this day. The work ethic, skills, family and neighborly attitudes of St. Meinrad residents reminds us of what makes our rural communities special.
Congratulations also to Perry County and the City of Jasper which were selected as two of the four communities for Indiana Home Town Competitiveness (HTC). To date, 14 communities have participated, including Ferdinand. This program will engage local leaders and citizens to help assess and then to create homegrown strategies for increasing entrepreneurship, engaging and retaining our youth, building leaders, increasing philanthropy, and maintaining strong families. Next week these four communities will send teams to do extensive training in the Indiana HTC Academy and will prepare for a fall 2011 rollout of this community and economic development process.
We are particularly proud of Keith Fritz, owner of Keith Fritz Fine Furniture located in Ferdinand and a Perry Central graduate, who was awarded the William Thornton Distinguished Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship "Made in America" award. Keith is an excellent example of young entrepreneurism and the talent much needed in our rural communities. Keith, a fine artisan and craftsman, has customers like the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush families purchasing his fine furniture. His company now employs 12 and his building, 1440 Main Street, serves as Ferdinand's business enterprise center where others lease space including a coffee shop, frame shop, violin maker, website designer, and antique mall.
Finally, I had the opportunity to visit ACE Academy in Dale this week. During their nightly "circle up", I met approximately 25 adults pursuing their high school diploma/GED, English language skills, as well as other education goals. I could not have been prouder of these adults, mostly young, who were investing in themselves to ensure their own and their families' futures. Several knew that their education would open up to improved job opportunities. A number wanted to be able to speak and read in English, some wanted the personal satisfaction and accomplishment education brings. One very bright woman who was not quite as young as the rest said, "You are never too old to learn!" I applaud her thought and believe we all need that attitude as life has a way of throwing new family and world challenges in our way which require new skills and education no matter our biological age.
The more I visit the "nooks and crannies" of District 74, the prouder I am of the people, the organizations, the businesses, and those who serve our communities in various roles. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and to help celebrate our successes!
Blessings on your week and please travel safely on your summer vacations.
Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand)