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HCI Forum hears discussion, ideas from the Angola community

By Ashlee Hoos 
ahoos@kpcmedia.com

Mar 16, 2018 Updated Mar 17, 2018

ANGOLA — Three rounds of discussion about the paths of placemaking, local economy and local leadership led the way during the Angola Hometown Collaboration Initiative Forum held Thursday night at Angola High School.

The forum was held as part of the initiative to get citizens’ input and let them express their feelings and thoughts about what should be done to improve the community.

With the forum complete, facts will be analyzed and then Angola will select a building block, which will be the path of either placemaking, leadership or economy, and then a project within that building block that will receive $5,000 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and $5,000 from the city to execute.

“It’s wonderful you all came out to participate,” said forum facilitator and Clear Lake Land Conservancy Executive Director Bridget Harrison.

Harrison acted as emcee and facilitator throughout the event.

Each session of the forum started at a numbered table with community members, students and leaders gathering to discuss topics about each of the different paths.

Tables each had facilitators, mostly local people — though a few were from Ball State University or Purdue University — that were in charge of keeping discussion on track during the time limits. Each also named a recorder to keep notes on the discussion at hand.

The placemaking topic focuses on investing in place, gaining historical perspective, examining research and discovering best practices, says the HCI website, indianahci.org.

Placemaking ideas that came out included a number of improvement projects not just for the immediate downtown area, but for Angola as a whole. Some included:

• Parks, trails and improved walkability and transit on North Wayne Street;

• Taste of Angola local food festival;

• Reduce truck traffic along U.S. 20.

The local economy path focuses on examining economic resources and opportunities in the community, business retention, expansion and entrepreneurship and identifying different ways to cultivate these within the region.

Discussion on this path focused on how to support existing businesses within the community and how to help those wanting to start a business in the community. Suggestions included:

• A one-stop shop for information about the community for new businesses;

• Youth training and life skills training for all ages;

• Better communication of resources already available in the community.

The final path of the discussion was the leadership, which has a focus on engaging residents in civic activities, assessing needs of current boards and communities, growing leadership programs and more.

This discussion saw groups coming together not at tables but instead at different posters to write their ideas down, discuss them and picking a favorite to bring up to the entire audience.

Each poster had one of the top three leadership areas people wanted for Angola based on the HCI survey completed by 900-plus community members last fall. These ideas were improving the interpersonal skills of current leaders, providing leadership training to youth and promoting a culture of inclusivity.

Ideas from the leadership pathway included some of the following:

• Have youth sit on the community boards, both government and non-profit;

• Webstream public meetings;

• More community leadership forums;

• Integrate leadership skills into the school curriculum.

During the leadership discussion, Angola businessman and City Councilman Joe Hysong said it was a great idea to have youth sit on area boards along with board members.

The HCI team made of partners from Purdue and Ball State will analyze the information from the forum and determine the next step Angola should take to determine what path the project should take.

The results, Harrison said, should be online at indianahci.org/communities/angola in a few weeks.