Through a planning grant program called 4Community, the combined efforts of organizations led by the United Way of Clay County, leaders and residents have set a Vision Statement and more than 40 specific objectives to determine the attainable future of the county.
More than 150 citizens have been working since October 2004 to develop goals and measurable objectives through a matching grant from the Lilly Endowment administered by the Indiana Association of United Ways. The partners are the United Way of Clay County, the Clay County Community Foundation, Clay County Chamber of Commerce, Delta Theta Tau, Brazil Rotary Club and the Clay County Redevelopment Commission.
Public input has been developed through a team of citizens, focus groups, surveys and individual interviews. Many issues have been examined by seeking ideas of the assets, challenges and opportuniti1es from residents of Clay County.
Developed at a community retreat in January, the Vision Statement states:
"The vision for Clay County is to create a community that is economically viable, and develops employment and business opportunities, access to education, quality healthcare, abundant recreation, safety for all, and seeks a high quality of life within the Wabash Valley. We will capitalize on our existing assets and resources and develop our potential for the enrichment of the members of the community.
"Clay County, by becoming an appealing place to raise a family, work, play and retire, will be the image of the 'Heartland' of the Midwest. We will be a place where we can 'leave our doors unlocked' because it is a place where we know and respect our neighbors."
"As our community continues to change, we felt a strong need to develop a consensus about the future," Cheryl Whitted of the United Way of Clay County said. "It was important to bring a variety of people together to identify and examine the issues we will be facing."
The 4Community Steering Committee further developed information derived from various sources, which resulted in the vision, goal areas of opportunity and measurable objectives.
Whitted said, "Now that we have the goals and objectives, it is very important to put into place an action plan to accomplish the findings. This is not a study that will sit on the shelf. We will accomplish things."
The community will focus on one issue that will be the subject of another planning grant application for the implementation of an action plan to attain the identified objective. The other objectives, however, will be implemented according to the timetables set in the plan. This grant is also offered by the Lilly Endowment through the IAUW.
The action plan has more than 40 measurable objectives in the seven general goal areas of Arts, Recreation and Leisure, Beautification and Historic Preservation, Economic Development, Government, Life Long Learning, Social Issues and Youth.
The 4Community plan includes recommendations for a timetable, necessary costs and resources and organizations that will take responsibility. A report will be made to the community at various presentations. Jim Dittoe of Winning Communities has facilitated the process.