Monday, April 18, 2016

Shelby County Partners, Communities Working Together

Shelby County Partners, Communities Working Together
Shelby County Partners, a collaboration of five communities surrounding Lake Shelbyville, “is a like-minded group that wants to see Shelby County businesses, schools, nonprofit groups, and especially its people achieve goals that better our communities and benefit our families now and for future generations,” states Nate Wascher, president of the C.O.W.S. group in Stewardson.

The Shelby County Partners are made up of community members from the groups F.L.IP. in Findlay, C.O.W.S. in Stewardson, S.C.A.N. in Strasburg, W.H.A.T. in Windsor, and various representatives from Shelbyville.  These communities have been through the MAPPING Program (Management and Planning Programs Involving Nonmetropolitan Groups) provided by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs.  The leaders of this program encouraged residents to identify high priority goals that would benefit their towns, as well as strategies and projects to achieve their desired results.

After experiencing positive results from the MAPPING process in their individual towns, the five communities decided to form a group known as the Shelby County Partners in order to identify goals that would benefit the county.  Some of these goals include increasing access to broadband for both residents and tourists, promoting community development by re-evaluating Shelby County’s five year plan, and increasing the awareness of options available to tourists. 

Marcia Johnson, from the group F.L.I.P. in Findlay, shared that, “Shelby County Partners is a way for the communities in the county to work together toward larger goals which individual towns might not be able to accomplish. Also, communities can find inspiration and strength by sharing successes and working together.”
Shelby County Partners is also a way for the communities involved to share about their local attractions, and encourage neighboring communities to check out their businesses and events.  Freddie Fry, director of the Shelby County Office of Tourism, states, “We know the value of visitor dollars spent in our area, but as we travel to each other’s communities, we are finding new services and products that let us leave more of our own dollars in Shelby County.”

The main goal of the Shelby County Partners is to work on various projects that will have positive impacts in Shelby County.  This group meets monthly to discuss ways in which they can collaborate on promoting efforts of community and economic development throughout the county.

If you would like to learn more about the Shelby County Partners, feel free to contact their Peace Corps Fellows/AmeriCorps member at, or by calling 217-774-2244. 
For more information on the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs MAPPING Program, or the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois University, contact Gisele Hamm, MAPPING Program Manager at or Karen Mauldin Curtis, Peace Corps Fellows Program Manager at

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