January 14, 2004 - Sauk Valley Newspapers: Peace Corps Fellow Shawn Kaskie helps Prophetstown make plans for the next two decades

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: January 2004 Peace Corps Headlines: January 14, 2004 - Sauk Valley Newspapers: Peace Corps Fellow Shawn Kaskie helps Prophetstown make plans for the next two decades

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Peace Corps Fellow Shawn Kaskie helps Prophetstown make plans for the next two decades

Peace Corps Fellow Shawn Kaskie helps Prophetstown make plans for the next two decades

Prophetstown making plans for the next two decades

Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004

PROPHETSTOWN, INDIANA Months of meetings and planning sessions have resulted in an extensive 20-year plan for the village of Prophetstown.

For months, a group of about 15 village residents has been meeting and plotting the course of the community for the coming 20 years. The goal is a better and brighter community with jobs, education and housing to meet the residents' needs from the cradle to the grave.

Mayor Howard "Bud" Thompson said Tuesday night's presentation to the village council was simply that, and implementation of the ideas being presented will come later.

"This isn't the end," he said. "It's the beginning."

New Ideas for Prophetstown Chairman Mark Jacobs said the long-range-planning project was handled primarily by about

15 residents with the assistance and leadership of Shawn Kaskie, a former Peace Corps fellow now working with the Blackhawk Hills Resource, Conservation and Development office in Rock Falls. Kaskie said the effort took shape in four visioning sessions attended by about 45 Prophetstown residents.

"This isn't a comprehensive plan," Kaskie said. "It's a visioning plan for a 20-year process."

A core group of 15 residents sent out a survey to all village residents and about 25 percent responded. From those responses, the committee formed a prioritized list, based on the number of responses to each question.

The top six projects on the list, in order of importance to the respondents, are:

n Establishing a larger community center that would serve the needs of the community, with a special emphasis on the elderly population.

n Working within the school district's budget, increasing daily attendance and receiving increased federal funding, and increasing opportunities in the schools.

n Creating a new business recruitment and retention plan, with emphasis on the downtown, including a used-car dealership, an up-scale restaurant and speciality shops. The plan would utilize television and billboard advertising promoting the downtown retail district.

n Establishing a clearinghouse for available housing options, similar to the first-time homebuyers program in Stephenson County.

n Building a competitive curriculum for kindergarten through 12th-grade, including advanced-placement courses for college credit at the high school level.

n Creating a "gated community" housing development for people ages 55 and older, or 62 and older. Such a move would open existing, inexpensive homes to younger, growing families and increase the real estate tax base. A focus group will continue to address this issue in March or April.

Other topics that received fewer votes include an updated community Web site, a service organization workshop aimed at increasing interagency cooperation and eliminating duplication of services, encouraging a highly developed teaching and support staff at the schools through professional development, establishing a Welcome Wagon type of organization to promote local retailers, creating an industrial park, surveying local youth to determine their recreational needs, developing after-school enrichment programs and establishing park relief stations in three local parks.

The council and those in attendance also praised the Prophetstown High School English class students who created a full-color brochure promoting Prophetstown, using the theme, "Small Town Big Hearts."

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Story Source: Sauk Valley Newspapers

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