We’ve invited Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell to share updates from the city in a monthly column on CassCountyOnline.com.
Normally this time of year, Logansport in many respects resembles the Charles Dickens’ classic with the famous words from Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one.”
Christmas lights are shining through Spencer Park as Christmas in the Park welcomes visitors. Red kettles appear in front of stores. Any number of pageants are held at local schools and churches.
But given the recent tragedies that have befallen our community, we are living in times similar to another Dickens classic, “A Tale of Two Cities.”
To borrow from that story, we have experienced the best of times and the worst of times. November was a month when Logansport announced it will have 30 new homes built on lots next year through state incentives. Pioneer won its third high school championship. We were named Indiana’s 10th safest city and we honored our Policeman and Firefighters of the Year at the largest parade we’ve had in Logansport since the Iron Horse Festival nearly 20 years ago. We welcomed Blair Milo, the Indiana Secretary of Career Connection and Talent, who met with local leaders and educators to discuss our workforce challenges. We celebrated the 100th anniversary of World War I by dedicating an exhibit to Cass County veterans. The Polar Bear Express excursions roared through Cass County again.
In that light, it was the best of times.
But the tale of another Logansport told of the tragedies that touched the community and claimed innocent lives. We continue to mourn for those victims and their relatives, friends, neighbors and fellow students, as well as the emergency response personnel affected by these events. Although neither tragedy happened in Logansport, we will do what we can to support the people affected. In particular, I will review what Logansport can do better to prevent fatal fires in our community. Our county has lost nine residents in house fires this year. We all have to do more to ensure that we never experience this type of year again, and it starts with installing working smoke detectors in every home, business and agency in our community. Despite the tragedies we’ve experienced, the last month has galvanized one of our community strengths – our support for each other across party lines, city/county lines and school districts. The #WeAreCassCounty movement has been just that – a movement. It goes beyond logos and more than a thousand T-shirts sold to support families. It speaks to the kind of people that make Logansport and Cass County a special place that is a community unto itself – caring, sensitive people who extend their harms for a hug, shed tears for those we knew and search for explanations in their personal reflections. In places like Logansport, the people-to-people relationships are strong and in these times, you see the heart of our community that cares – even for those that barely crossed their paths if at all.
These are people who understand that for many families, this has been the worst of times. It’s in these times when those who care show just how much they do. It’s a time to look past differences and to look at each other and appreciate what we have just that much more. We have a visceral strength that sees us through the toughest of times and days to the calmer seas ahead of us. In many cases there are second-, third- and fourth- or even fifth-generation Cass County families that step forward to lend a hand, prepare a meal or send a note or card to someone because their families know what gives us the strength to keep going.
In this, the unofficial season of hope, my hope is that #WeAreCassCounty is a brand for all of us that we can rejoice in having in better times in 2019.
From our office to your family, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.