News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 3, 2007

Reaching out to rural Indiana: ISU students help create plan for Clay City

TERRE HAUTE — Mary Bradley wants to know if eighth-graders in Clay City are longing for a skate park, if working adults would like to attend evening fitness classes, and if an indoor walking track would help older citizens recuperate more quickly after surgery.

Bradley isn’t the mayor, a school board member or even a resident. She is one of 14 students in Nathan Schaumleffel’s Community Organizations and Leisure Services class at Indiana State University who worked on creating a master plan for Clay City this semester.

Clay City, a rural Indiana community of 1,019 residents, has big dreams. In this little town, dubbed the “Mayberry of the Midwest,” the library was closed down due to lack of funding, the fairgrounds buildings need major repairs, the food pantry is in dire need of additional space, and there is nowhere to hold fitness programs for adults or indoor recreational activities for youth.

Their big dream is to build a community center which will provide space for recreation, education, information and nutrition. In fact, residents have created a non-profit organization — the REIN Center Coalition — named for those very needs that it hopes to address. But big dreams need big resources, and having a master plan is the key that unlocks the money box. A master plan is a document that provides a framework for orderly and consistent planning and development for a community.

“You have to know what you are going to build and why, before you apply for a grant,” said Schaumleffel, assistant professor of recreation and sport management at ISU. “The master plan will provide the city with the Top 10 community projects, based on the research and analysis the students are doing. From this, the residents can make an informed decision about which project they want funding for, and will have all the details they need to proceed with the grant application.”

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