Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 13, 2012

Pumpkinvine group receives Shipshewana Quality of Life Award

SHIPSHEWANA — “It’s very gratifying,” said Friends of the Pumpkinvine President John Yoder. “It was the first award we received.”

Yoder is talking about the Quality of Life Award given to the group from the town of Shipshewana for the work done on the section of the rails-to-trails project between Middlebury and Shipshewana.

“This award really recognizes the value of the trails for tourism, for the local economy and residents. Shipshewana has taken the lead in the recognition of this fact,” Yoder said.

For the past 12 years, the town of Shipshewana has given the award to a person or group that has made a significant contribution to the quality of life for Shipshewana residents, businesses and visitors.

To make the cut, the project of the group or person nominated must enhance the quality of life in the community, improve the community and encourage the involvement of the wider community.

Town Manager Sheryl Kelly feels the Friends of the Pumpkinvine met all the criteria.

“They made something wonderful happen,” Kelly said. “It was more than we could have hoped for. We never anticipated the level of support and interest from the community.”

Groundbreaking for the Middlebury-Shipshewana section of the Pumpkinvine began in September of 2010 and was completed a year later.

“It’s hard to say how much we appreciate these guys,” Kelly said of Yoder and the Friends of the Pumpkinvine.

Yoder also wanted to thank Friends of the Pumpkinvine Jim Smith and Bob Carrico, as well as Elkhart County Parks Department Director Larry Neff and former Shipshewana Town Manager Norm Kauffmann.

“We made an honest projection that this would be a great asset to the community,” Yoder said. “To see the heavy use confirms the fact that it has been embraced by the people.”

Yoder remembers Labor Day of last year when he and his wife went biking from Goshen to Shipshewana.

“There was quite a bit of traffic,” Yoder said. “You couldn’t see the end of the line of people in front of you and there was so much traffic coming the other way, you couldn’t pass!”

Middlebury Town Manager Mark Salee told Yoder the only problem he could see with the trail was that it wasn’t wide enough.

“That’s a nice problem to have!” Yoder said.

The Quality of Life Award was presented to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine by Town Council president Roger Yoder Feb. 21 during the Shipshewana Retail Merchants Association annual dinner.

Past winners of the award have included the SRMA, Lake Park Industires, West End Soccer League, Lion’s Club, Shipshewana Area Historical Society, Warrrior Youth Baseball Program, Cletus Lambright of Lambright Woodworking, LaGrange County Council on Aging, King Corp and K-Z Inc.

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