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COLUMN: Why I am back in Perry County

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By PHIL WITTMER, Guest Columnist

After leaving Tell City and Perry County for the most part in 1963, and moving 300 miles away in 1966, people often ask me why I returned.

As a matter of fact, I actually ask myself that question occasionally. So, you may ask: “why not Florida, or the Carolinas or south Texas?”  Looking back, like many folks, my wife, Jeanne, and I did have several Southern tier states picked out for possible candidates when we decided to hang up our shingles.

We liked the Fort Myers, Fla., area and the three huge reservoirs in South Carolina – lakes Marion, Moultrie and Murray. We considered southern Alabama – my company had a plant in Foley, near Gulf Shores – several locations in Georgia, and the big reservoirs east of Dallas.

So what brought us back here? Was it the strange habit guys in this area have of driving with one arm draped lazily out the window? This is perhaps the only locale we’ve ever seen people do that. Nope. Is it the seemingly randomly placed stop signs in Tell City? I swear, they sneak out at night and switch them around. Nope, that isn’t it.

Could it be all the gourmet cuisine establishments? Definitely nope. Is it the pro and semi-pro sports teams? Umm, nope – even the newspapers and TV stations down here ignore the Pacers and Fort Wayne Comets. So, how about the weather, as my friend Dave described it: “summers are mild here and we only have three weeks of hard winter.”

Well, the bugger lied about the temp extremes and he failed to mention the hurricanes, droughts, floods and ice storms, so nope, that isn’t it either. And who is it that assigns people to drive back and forth between the dam and Tell City at 25 mph?

So what was it then that brought us back here? Well, it started when we found, and eventually purchased a smallish weekend place on Big Deer Creek near Rocky Point. We’re both outdoors type people, so there was lots for us to do; boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, shooting, fishing and just driving around.

One thing that impressed us the most is the beauty of my native county that I had taken for granted when I lived here as a youth. Now, mind you, we’ve been in 49 of the states, all of Central America and most of Europe. But we realized when driving up Gerald and Deer Creek roads on our way home each week that this is just about as pretty as any place we’ve been. Oh yes, the vistas standing on a mountain in the Alps or when rafting the Grand Canyon are breathtaking. But for a place to live, Perry County is about as pretty a place as you’ll find.

Next, let’s mention the people. In the short time we’ve lived here, we’ve made many great friends. Most of the friends we have had previously were just related to our jobs. Here, we can address Tell City and Cannelton mayors and the councilmen by their first names, and they know us.

Businessmen and women, foundation and committee members and community leaders already know us and stop to talk when me meet.

Contractors show up, perform the work – well, I might add – and then leave without demanding a big down payment, and sometimes we may not even receive an invoice for weeks. That would be completely unheard of where we’ve lived previously!

As for facilities, the great club and good folks at the Hoosier Heights Country Club is an amenity that helped to draw us here, and enhances our quality of life.

Important to us are the great libraries we have here – rare for any small community. The Rocky Point area has a good marina and restaurant as well as lots of water sports-related infrastructure – also quite important for us. Additionally, we’ve had the opportunity to actually become involved as an active and integral part of the community, wherein we can feel as though we contribute and make a difference. Another factor that you people who have always lived here may not realize is that the cost of living here is about 1.5 on a scale of 10 for the U.S. And finally, let’s not forget Julie’s Tell Street Café – our personal dining room. How would we ever do without the café and the friendly gals who “make our day” almost every day?

So, although this may be difficult at times to explain to someone who left Perry County and never returned, do I regret moving back here rather than becoming a “snow bird?” No, not one bit!

Phil Wittmer and his wife, Jeanne, live near Rocky Point. Phil’s column is one of several The News has published from county residents who have moved here or returned after years living elsewhere. These articles are submitted through the Perry County Quality of Life Committee, which operates under the Perry County Development Corp.