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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 07, 2019 1:00 am

A missed opportunity in DeKalb's upward trajectory

Jim Turcovsky

I consider myself a new resident of DeKalb County (three years), but because of my job and relationships, I feel I've been a part of the Auburn area for more than 20 years. During my short time being an official community member, I have been amazed at the energy that was pouring into the county.

To mention a few projects: 

• Construction of the Team Quality Services Building at Jackson and Seventh streets in Auburn.

• Expansion of the YMCA on North Street in Auburn.

• Addition of the YMCA Sports Complex soccer fields at Indiana Avenue and County Road 36A in Auburn.

• Rieke Park Sports Complex on Indiana Avenue in Auburn.

• DeKalb Outdoor Theater on Center Street in Auburn.

• Building of Brightmark Energy RES Polyflow Plastic Recycling Plant to create fuel and wax in Ashley.

• James Cultural Plaza on Seventh Street in Auburn.

• Creation of the Sixth Street corridor in Auburn.

• Kruse, Stutzman, Bontrager saving the National Military History Center on County Road 11A in Auburn.

• Ambassador Enterprises (VIA Developments) renovation of the Old Auburn YMCA to become 310 On Main.

• RM Sotherby's keeping the former Kruse Family Auto Auction in Auburn.

• Starting of the Veterans Memorial Park in Waterloo.

This community is on the move!

Also on the move is the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an organization that has a goal to keep the counties and towns in northeast Indiana vital and growing. To do this, our counties and towns have to provide a steady flow of opportunities and quality of life to bring people and businesses to our region. Adding to this is the need to keep our local talent in our hometowns.

The goal of the Regional Partnership is to grow the region to 1 million residents by 2030. This is not just a nice thing to do; it's our survival.

In my time as a resident of DeKalb County, I have seen a proposal made by the DeKalb Central School District for infrastructure projects and facilities improvements to JR Watson Elementary School, updates to the interior of DeKalb Middle School, boilers at DeKalb High School and on the high school/middle school campus.

As I see it, the school administrators were good stewards in providing these proposals without a tax hike. A referendum was placed on the ballot this past election.

An issue arose that the proposed improvements to the high school/middle school campus put too much emphasis on sports and band, extracurricular activities, not on education in its pure form. It was argued this would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

I can understand this if I were not aware of the importance of what extracurricular opportunities add to our children's education and our community.

As rules have changed, competitions and tournaments are being run at schools whose facilities have changed to provide the services needed to compete. More students are able to participate in activities than ever before, including students participating in DeKalb Central Unified Sports/Special Olympics program.

What's happening now is DeKalb High/Middle School families are going to other school districts and facilities out of our community to participate in these competitions. At times that means an overnight stay – fill up the gas tank, dine at restaurants, maybe a little shopping.

That is why the proposal made a lot of sense and was in step with the energy being displayed in the community, and what is going on with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

When people move into an area, they look at what the school system can offer their children, and factor that in on their decision where to live.

Sadly, the referendum did not pass.

I have to admit that the way the issue was presented on the ballot could have been confusing if one didn't go to one of the many meetings that were offered or read the details in the paper that explained the proposal.

I wish to thank the DeKalb Central School District administration and the supporters for their efforts to present this proposal to us and for looking out for the future of our community. It's their insight, along with our community leaders, that will keep Auburn and DeKalb County on the map.

I know it won't be long before this proposal will be presented again, and I am hopeful we won't miss this opportunity again.

 

Jim Turcovsky is an Auburn resident.