KOUTS | The reconstruction of the town's main intersection at Ind. 49 and Ind. 8 was a needed and long-awaited improvement for Kouts in 2010, and it has allowed completion of downtown beautification to become the focus of 2011.
Clerk-Treasurer Greg Frame said the intersection "desperately needed to be done."
The project by the Indiana Department of Transportation included turn lanes and a fully activated traffic light that Frame said makes it easier for people to get in and out of the Tysen's shopping plaza.
Residents to the west of the intersection got a new water main. The project got started a little late in the year, so a few final features remain for completion in the spring. That's also when the town hopes to complete the downtown beautification.
Decorative lighting and stamped concrete were installed along Main Street in 2010, but the town wasn't sure how far south of Ind. 8 the intersection improvements would extend. Now that construction is nearly complete, the town can finish putting in lights and sidewalks.
Another improvement in 2010 was at the park; the town expanded the parking lot.
In 2011, the town hopes to add another picnic pavilion, Frame said.
Financially, the home of the annual Park Fest is on solid footing and is one of the few in the region that has not had to borrow to pay bills during recent delays in delivery of property tax revenue.
Despite improvements, Kouts remains a small town that longtime resident Jay Birky calls a "relational community."
"We still have the dynamic of people knowing about each other and caring about each other," Birky said. "Most of us grew up in Kouts and know one another for the most part. As the town grows, it changes a bit but it still has that country charm that people care about other people and the quality of life in Kouts."
Birky is pastor of Cornerstone Community Church, chaplain for the Porter County Sheriff's Department, president of the town's economic development commission and a member of the Porter County Economic Development Alliance. He also coaches boys varsity volleyball and eighth-grade girls basketball.
"That's another thing we have going for us is the school," Birky said. "We have a great faculty, and that's an important dynamic in a small community. The leadership of the community, all the way from the Town Board to the civic leaders, are people who really care about the town moving forward.
"They love the small-town charm but they move the town forward as it needs to."