(See here for Part I.)
Warsaw, Indiana--where I live and move and have my being--is the seat of Kosciusko (kah-zee-AH-sko) County. (One might surmise that it was settled by Polish immigrants, but that is not the case. The state legislator in the 1830s, a Mr Chapman, who somehow acquired the naming rights, wanted to honor George Washington's Polish comrade-in-arms, Tadeusz Kosciusko, and, as a bonus gesture, named the planned county seat after the capital of Mr Kosciusko's native land.)
By the standards of most Americans--certainly by the standards of my life before moving here--Warsaw qualifies as a "small town." The inside-the-city-limits population is only some 12,000. We're about 45 miles NW of Fort Wayne and 50 miles SE of South Bend. Still talking small towns, you say? Well, we're roughly 120 miles from both Chicago and Indianapolis, in opposite directions.
Yet, we are not without urban (OK, suburban) amenities. We have a WalMart, a K-Mart, a Lowe's, and a Menard's under construction. (Discerning shoppers still patronize the locally-owned Ace Hardware, however.) We have two McDonalds, two Dairy Queens, and two Arbys, plus one each of Taco Bell, Wendy's, Burger King, Hardee's (Carl's Jr. for you Californians), Long John Silver's, Quizno's, KFC, Subway, several pizza joints, and three locations of our home-grown sensation, Penguin Point (ever get a hankerin' for a pork tenderloin sandwich?). And as for sit-down chains, we have Applebee's, Bennigan's, Bob Evans, Golden Corral, and the favorite default of the Dragonfly and me, Ruby Tuesday. Plus, we have four more-than-respectable locally-owned fine dining restaurants that can compete with anything the big cities have to offer. And did I mention our symphony orchestra? (No Starbucks at this time.)
So...you want small town? I'm not sure we qualify. But I'll tell you what does. About four or five miles up State Route 15 from the northern edge of Warsaw is the tiny town of Leesburg. It's actually older than Warsaw (incorporated 1833) and in the 2000 census had a population of all of 625 souls. It has brick streets lined by mature trees and vintage homes. The local grocery store sports a meat market that attracts in-the-know shoppers from all over the county.
But Leesburg apparently has aspirations to bigger and better things. They no longer want to be in the backwash of Claypool, Etna Green, and Atwood. They've gone high-tech. Very 21st century. The headline from yesterday's edition of the Warsaw Times-Union put Kosciusko County residents on high alert:
Leesburg Upgrades to Computerized Accounting System
It's been the subject of every water cooler conversation in every county workplace all day, I'm sure. Here are the details (courtesy of Jen Gibson, Lifestyles editor of the Times-Union):
Thanks to a new computerized accounting system, the Leesburg Town Council will receive a simpler printout of the town's accounts.Until now, all the town's accounts were figured by hand, and all invoices and accounts were listed on hand-written ledgers.Monday night, Town Clerk Melissa Robinson explained the new printouts to council members and told them how the system works. "It makes (paying invoices and tracking accounts) much, much easier," Robinson said.
I'm so energized by this that I'm considering recommending to my Vestry that they think about putting our church finances on a computer. We don't quite have 625 members, but I can see several advantages to following Leesburg's lead. Just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be cutting edge.