Some residents have already moved into the Bison Ridge Estates housing development being built around Elwood Golf Links in Elwood. Staff photo by John P. Cleary
Some residents have already moved into the Bison Ridge Estates housing development being built around Elwood Golf Links in Elwood. Staff photo by John P. Cleary
ELWOOD — Farmer Garland Antrim, who grows corn and soybeans in Madison, Howard, Tipton and Grant counties, knows the value of having interns working for him.

Beyond the labor they provide in the fields, three of his young workers have become permanent employees and bought homes near Elwood.

“I think that’s a good program to do with the schools,” he told officials from the Madison County Council of Governments.

The council lauded Antrim for doing just what is needed to revitalize the area, said officials at a meeting Wednesday at the Elwood Public Library. The meeting is one of several conducted by the Council of Governments to debrief residents in communities around the county, of the results of forums conducted for the development of Forward Madison County, a comprehensive plan that looks toward 2035.

The outline of the plan looks at five focus areas, including enhancing service amenities, improving infrastructure, managing growth, promoting environmental stewardship and strengthening economic prosperity. The five areas of engagement have generated a total of about 150 objectives, said Ralph Holmes of the regional planning organization.

Among the issues specific to Elwood that were discussed in the meeting were the water quality of Pipe Creek, the improvement of the quality of life through the city’s blight elimination project and a lack of checks and balances on new development. That includes too many smaller properties with septic tanks, Antrim said.

“I don’t think anybody is against development. It’s just got to be done right,” he said.

Antrim’s wife, Sharon Antrim, said she was concerned that many parts of the plan won’t come to fruition because of cost.

“Money comes into everything, like building sidewalks,” she said.

MCCOG Executive Director Jerrold Bridges said there are many young people who grow up in Madison County, but two-thirds move to larger communities with more of the amenities they want.

“What we see is if it shrinks, they don’t come back,” he said. “You will find repeatedly that the young people who work here don’t live in Madison County.”

That’s because there are limited recreational opportunities, Bridges said. As a result, that leaves a smaller tax base on which to rely for all the needs of the remaining residents.

John Lavine, project manager for the comprehensive plan, said younger people don’t want the same things as previous generations.

“What we’re finding is millennials don’t want to own a car if they don’t have to,” he said. “They’re choosing where they want to live over that dream job.”
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