HEBRON | When Dale Tuck was searching for the best location to open Anytime Fitness, he looked at several communities in Lake and Porter counties before picking Hebron.
"I felt like it was Porter County's best-kept secret," Tuck said, but he didn't mean it was so secret no one would be able to find his fitness center.
"The leadership is doing a good job of leading the town to a new future. It's basically a family-style town that really cares about the community," Tuck said.
Anytime Fitness is one of several new businesses, including Pav's hot dogs, and several health-related businesses, that opened in Hebron last year, and Council President Don Ensign said the town is making a real effort to attract visitors and new businesses, especially a hardware store in the future. It starts with offering a new look and new events to catch the public's attention.
The town has really had something to celebrate since the completion of the Main Street reconstruction project by the state in the fall of 2009. The block party held in October of that year has become an annual attraction despite soggy weather both years.
Ensign said the rain stopped last year in time for the laser light show finale, and town officials are hoping this year the show will be back, better and drier.
Along with the annual Winter Fest and the Easter Egg Hunt, the town has added Santa's Workshop for kids to visit each Christmas, and the July 4 celebration has been stretched over two weekends with a carnival, parade, bingo, food sales and entertainment that Ensign said is meant to recapture the old-fashioned flavor for the holiday.
Now that the town has a prettier face courtesy of the Indiana Department of Transportation, Hebron plans to concentrate on installing the infrastructure it hopes will attract new businesses. That starts with running a sewer main to the north end of town where 400 acres of recently annexed land await development.
Ensign said two water main projects also are top priorities. One on Washington Street from U.S. 231 to Siegler Street will replace a main that has had several breaks. The Wilson Street area also needs a new water main. Both roads will be repaved after the mains are installed, which will happen as soon as the town can find the money.
Planning also has begun on building a new administration center and a community/recreation center. The former will be built downtown where the town has outgrown the existing Town Hall. The community/recreation center will be somewhere on the north end, possibly near the water plant.
"South county does not have the recreation facilities, the learning centers or the technology centers they have in north county," Ensign said. "We'd like to see something like those in south county. It could service Winfield, Hebron, Kouts and the whole area. We want to bring people in from all those areas that could be affected by this to come to a common goal with this. It's a long-term thing, but we've got to start.
"Over the years, we've lost businesses because of the malls, but, as gas prices go higher and it becomes more expensive to travel, we're hoping some of that business starts coming back. We want people to know that Hebron is a business-friendly community, and that we're open for business in Hebron."