Community Assets

Center for Rural Outreach and Public Service (CROPS)

One of the strongest assets for the community of San Pierre is the continued dedication of the Center for Rural Outreach and Public Service (CROPS) and its Director, Beverly Santicola. CROPS has helped form the San Pierre Revitalization Project to promote economic development, tourism, and community health by capitalizing on the existing assets of the community. A professional grant writer by trade, Beverly works tirelessly, donating her own time and expertise, to secure grants and funding for San Pierre Revitalization Projects.

Since the Revitalization Project began in March 2005, the following groups have donated to the revitalization of San Pierre:

  • United States Department of Agriculture - Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services - Administration for Children and Families
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services - Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Indiana Youth Institute
  • Ball Brothers Foundation
  • Starke County Community Foundation
  • San Pierre Athletics
  • Kankakee Valley REMC
  • Northern Indiana Public Service Corporation
  • Emil Smolek Farms
  • Memorial Contributions
  • In-kind Donations
  • Individual Donations

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People and Events

The San Pierre Revitalization Project, in developing plans for its "youth-led rural development initiative," identified five existing assets in San Pierre:

  • an active and engaged youth,
  • the unique sandhill crane migration,
  • the town's railroad history,
  • surrounding oak savannahs, and
  • a strong agricultural heritage
We would add to this list an active and engaged community, as evidenced by the attendance and participation in town meetings for this planning process and the overwhelming participation in our community surveys. The citizens of San Pierre have also demonstrated their ability to organize and collectively voice their concerns to County and State agencies regarding the future development of their town, whether the issue be the straightening of US Highway 421 through the middle of town, or a proposal to build an ethanol plant nearby.

Many of the town's favorite activities cited in town meetings and surveys include community events already existing in San Pierre, as well as other events from the town's past that provided excellent opportunities to gather with neighbors and enjoy the small-town quality of life in San Pierre. The semi-annual Volunteer Fire Department Fish Fry continues to attract thousands of people to San Pierre each year. Other past events that still evoke strong memories include: Movies in the Park, the annual Halloween bonfire, school dances, and little league games in the park. Many citizens expressed interest in reviving this part of the town's history, and making it part of the town's future as well.

The community of San Pierre has another wonderful asset in the San Pierre High School Alumni. The alumni organization is connected to several hundred graduates living all across the country, many of whom gather each year in San Pierre for a high school renunion.

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Downtown - Past and Present

Many small towns across America possess an often underappreciated asset - their downtown. These collections of structures, often built to last 100 years or more, still stand. Some may need repair, but with a little attention, they will proudly serve their town for another 100 years.

Downtowns tell a great deal about who we are. They are often a visitor's first impression of a place and the people who live there. Whether the buildings are run-down or well-maintained, whether the sidewalks are crumbling or walkable, whether the streetlights show the way or create pockets of darkness, whether history is preserved or forgotten, all tell a great deal about those who call that place home.

San Pierre's physical downtown district offers a wealth of potential commercial, cultural, historic, spiritual and social opportunities - all within walking distance. In downtown San Pierre you can find a Sears Catalog house, a bank robbed by John Dillinger, a WPA-built amphitheater, churches with congregations dating back to the 1860s, a veterinarian's office in a 1960s bank building, health care facilities in an old grocery store, a post office, a library, a restaurant, used cars, and historic cars restored.

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Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

A unique asset to the San Pierre community is its close proximity to the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. Although the Wildlife Area straddles two counties (Jasper and Pulaski), it actually sits closer to San Pierre than to any other town. Run by the Department of Natural Resources - Division of Fish and Wildlife, Jasper-Pulaski maintains 8,062 acres of wetland, upland and woodland game habitat. The area was designated as a game farm and game preserve in the 1930s. Hunting began at the property in 1958, and in 1965, the area was designated as a fish and game area. In 1972 the name was changed to the Japser-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

Two observation towers provide great viewing points to see the roughly 20,000 sandhill cranes that stop here every year during their fall migration between Florida and Canada. The cranes begin arriving as early as August, and stay for three to four weeks on their way south. By mid-Novemebr, the peak fall viewing time, cranes will number between 15,000 and 30,000. They return again in February and March as they head north for the summer. Each year thousands of bird lovers from across the US and from overseas flock to the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area to observe this spectacle.

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© 2008 The Institute for Small Town Studies