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Editor's Note: A Quality of Life Committee working under the auspices of the Perry County Development Corp. is partnering with The News to present the stories of people who have moved to Perry County or who have returned here after several years away. This column was written by Chad James.
In 1991, I moved away from Perry County, excited to begin my college years at Purdue University. The previous 18 years were spent largely with family. My mother had 13 siblings and my father had 11.
Needless to say, the number of cousins created from these large families resulted in an endless number of family activities such as birthday parties, church functions, holiday gatherings, sporting events, workdays and I cannot forget the annual fishing trip. In addition to the family activities, I was also involved greatly with 4-H, and I took part in junior leaders. This further involved me with other community activities.
Like most 18-year-old high school graduates, I was excited to start the next phase of my life. With all of my ties here, I considered my college years as just a next step in the path of getting a job, building a home and starting a family near relatives and the community of Perry County that I called home.
Unfortunately, when I graduated from Purdue, jobs were not abundantly available in the Perry County area. This left me with a choice of continuing a job that I had taken in Lafayette or moving again to a new location almost certainly farther from my family and the dream of having a home and job in Perry County.
At the time, the choice was easy for me. I had just married my wife, Stephanie, and decided to settle in the Lafayette area.
A short four-hour trip to and from Perry County didn't seem long at the time. Throughout the next several years I gained additional experience in a job that I loved, quickly moving into a production-management position. Meanwhile, I had started a small business that kept me very busy. Sixteen-hour days were not uncommon, but I still always made time to return to Perry County for holidays, family gatherings and community events such as Schweizer Fest and the Dogwood Festival.
The trips had started to get longer as Stephanie and I had added two children to our family. Taylor and Parker turned that short four-hour trip into a journey that included additional stops for diaper changes and feedings. This along with the fact that our oldest was getting close to starting kindergarten, we felt it was again a good time to investigate the job market around Perry County.
In 2007, I began the job search and to my surprise, the job market had changed drastically from what was available just a decade sooner. As I toured my future employer ATTC, the facilities that had developed from a once pillow factory truly surprised me.
Now that I have the opportunity to show other community members our facility, I find that they too are surprised to see what Perry County has to offer.
Since moving back to Perry County, I have seen old friends I had not seen for years.
As in the past, community involvement was a big part of my life. I have become a member of the 4-H Fairgrounds Committee. This has allowed me to get to know and interact with others in the community and help develop plans for the 4H Fairgrounds.
Through community involvement activities at ATTC, I have also been able to get involved with activities in the county, especially with the schools. Project Lead the Way is a great program used to point students in the correct direction and give them exposure to technology and what expectations exist in their future job search.
Most importantly, I am glad to be back closer to my family. My kids can now attend the same school that I did and go through the same experiences in this great community. As an added bonus, they can spend more time with their grandparents.
Many companies, organizations and individuals are demonstrating what Perry County has to offer. We have great hunting and fishing locations. Beautiful sights are everywhere due to the rolling hills and our location on a major river. There are still strong competitive spirits in our small towns with long histories.
These are the reasons I call Perry County my home.
James lives Leopold Township.