Constellation of Starke Public Engagement Meeting Draws a Stellar Turnout

About 100 people from all across the county turned up to the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center Thursday afternoon to show their support for Constellation of Starke.

The purpose the meeting was to inform the public about Constellation of Starke and the region’s mission to be designated a Stellar Community through the Office of Community and Rural Affair’s multi-year, multi-million dollar investment program.

The event began with a presentation from Stellar Communities Program Manager Michael Sinnet. He listed the various agencies that contribute funding to the program, shared a program timeline and provided a general process overview. 

The information he provided will be available through the Stellar Communities tab on OCRA’s website.

Following Sinnet’s presentation, Constellation of Starke team members had a chance to share why the community is in a good position to be involved in the Stellar program at this point in time.

Stills from the Mirth and Whimsy video

A video created by Mirth and Whimsy creatively captured the region and emphasized why the community would be an ideal candidate for the Stellar designation.

In addition to the video, County Attorney Marty Lucas shared a power point presentation with some statistics that highlighted Starke County’s potential for growth.

A panel discussion that featured input from the community’s leaders was also included.  Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert prompted panelists to share why they felt participation in this program was important and asked them to talk about some potential project goals.

Panelists included County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler, Hamlet Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Pitts, North Judson Clerk-Treasurer Andrew Rowe and Knox Mayor Dennis Estok.

The event concluded with officials from Ball State’s Indiana Communities Institute (ICI) providing some community engagement exercises that gave the public a chance to participate in the regional development plan process.

The information they gathered will be analyzed by the ICI and shared in future meetings with the Constellation of Starke executive team and advisory committee.

Ultimately, the goal is to accurately represent the community’s needs and desires into the regional development plan that will be submitted for consideration this fall.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, you can view elements of the event on the Constellation of Starke Facebook page.