LaHarpe’s ‘to do’ list lengthy



April 20, 2011 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — LaHarpe’s “honey do” list is so long that Savannah Flory said the challenge is to focus on what’s most important.
Flory is president of LaHarpe PRIDE, a group of concerned citizens  working to the betterment of the town of 600-plus.
She and seven others from LaHarpe met with members of Thrive Allen County Monday evening in a series of “community conversations” that Thrive holds in towns across the county.
“I think if we could pare the list to just a few items, we could get a sense of accomplishment from those successes once complete,” she said. “Right now it feels as if we have too much to do, with too few people.”
Still, she was able to tick off several projects the LaHarpe PRIDE Committee has accomplished in the past two years, including;
* four banners saying “Welcome to LaHarpe, the heart of Allen County.” Two banners are at the entrance to town and the other two are on either side of Main Street in the downtown district.
* an ice skating rink — sort of. Richard Luken spearheaded the effort to flood a softball field surrounded by PVC pipe. Despite its primitive construction, the rink was a success, especially for LaHarpe youths.
“I think it kept kids doing healthy activities during the cold of winter,” said Tisha Maloney, a young mother of three.
The hopes are that a permanent rink will be installed and be a draw from communities across the region.
Flory said they are also looking for ice skates.
* LaHarpe Cemetery cleanup. Twice a year citizens converge on the cemetery and rid it of debris. The next cleanup is April 30 beginning at noon. The cleanup is not confined to just LaHarpe citizens, said Harry Lee who serves as treasurer for the local pride initiative.
Still to tackle, are replacing the fence that surrounds the ball diamonds and acquiring new playground equipment for the adjacent LaHarpe City Park.
The fence is buckled and torn in places from years of abuse, said Ed Hoover, also of LaHarpe.
“It’s in terrible shape,” he said, noting a particularly big hole in the southeast corner of the fence where he said youths slip under rather than walk around to the gated entrance to the ball fields.
Flory said the playground equipment is in dire need of replacing. Upon closer inspection, several hazards were evident, including a missing guard rail at the top of a slide, a cracked seat on the teeter-totter and a spindly swing.
David Toland, executive director of Thrive, said the nonprofit could help LaHarpe find funds for new equipment and fencing and said he would meet with PRIDE members at their next meeting to get the ball rolling.
Flory took participants on a tour of the renovated school which now serves as city offices. In the spacious building are a museum, library, meeting room, kitchen, exercise room, city offices, police department and the gymnasium which can be rented out for gatherings and receptions.

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