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LaGrange group has just one focus

 Focus LaGrange is working for one goal – to improve the Town of LaGrange.

As part of that goal, the group is holding its first fundraiser as it works to raise matching funds for an Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) revitalization grant. The grant can be for up to $50,000, but requires a 10 percent local funding match.

The group’s first fundraiser is the Chili Shuffle, slated for 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, in LaGrange. The community is invited to enter their best chili, or get a ticket to sample each chili entry and vote on the best in LaGrange.

The group is working hard toward having monthly events in the downtown LaGrange area, according to Sue Pipher, one of several LaGrange residents and business owners who make up the group. “We’re looking at different ideas from other towns that we can do here,” Pipher added. Ideas being considered include a car cruise-in, music events at the courthouse gazebo, and more food cookoffs, including barbecue and burgers. “We welcome ideas from anyone and everyone,” Pipher said.

But it’s the future of the community that the group is focusing the most on as they move ahead. And the revitalization planning is key to that. “We want someone from outside to come in and see what the community wants for a viable downtown,” Pipher said. The process would include public meetings, similar to those held during the planning process for the county library a few years ago. Pipher noted that a lot of the comments made during the public meetings for the library ended up being a part of the finished building. “We want the same here,” she said of the town’s desire to improve.

Even before the grant is awarded or public hearings are held, the group is looking for as much community involvement as possible at its meetings, held the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. “This is an open group that wants the whole community to do well,” Pipher stated. “It’s not just business owners that are involved.”The meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month are held at 7:30 a.m. in the LaGrange Town Hall. The meetings on the 4th Thursdays are held at noon and at different locations around town. Those wishing to attend the 4th Thursday meetings should contact Pipher at 336-0456 to get the next location.

Meanwhile, everyone can be preparing their best chili recipe or smacking their lips in anticipation of the Chili Shuffle on Feb. 4.