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First Impressions

First published in the Lincoln Sentinel August 4, 2016

As the saying goes, ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ and that chance usually takes just a couple seconds and that impression usually lasts a very long time.

Lincoln County has a lot of houses on the market right now, some of which seem perfect for a young couple getting started in life and others perfect for a larger family needing a bit more space.

And Lincoln County has a lot of job and business opportunities right now ranging from welders to nurses to daycare providers to contractors.

But how the heck are we supposed to attract potential home buyers, employers, business owners, or visitors when the first impression is marred by poorly maintained homes and junk in yards?

We may not realize what kind of first impression we make because we have been around long enough we don’t even see it or think about it.  We don’t even know it’s not normal or a problem.

But we definitely leave an impression and it’s not always a good one.

Case in point, last year when Sylvan Grove applied for a $300,000 housing grant to go for housing improvements and demolitions, they fell short of being awarded funding because of the impression left on the grant reviewers.  What these reviewers saw was a lack of pride in homes and yards giving an overall impression of a lack of pride in the community.  We may disagree with this but to the reviewers, outsiders who are looking at us with the same eyes as any visitor,  their impression is one they will  remember and one for which they will (and did) base their decisions… just like any visitor.

We (we being all of us who have any stake in Lincoln County) have got to change this.  I am very hopeful the tide is beginning to turn and very happy with the City of Sylvan Grove and the City of Lincoln for making some big steps in the last few months to reverse this.

The City of Sylvan Grove has revised and strengthened their junk vehicle ordinance and hired a code enforcement officer to start enforcing the ordinance. They are intending to reapply for a housing grant in 2017 and are determined to give the grant reviewers a much more positive impression of the community by beefing up the expectations of property owners who want to take advantage of the grant program.

For those who want to know how these changes could affect you or your neighbor, the City of Sylvan Grove is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, August 16, 2016, at 7pm, at the American Legion, to go over the new ordinance and the expectations of property owners who want to participate in the housing grant.  Property owners have a little less than a year to meet the grant requirements.  Some need to start now to meet the ordinance.

The City of Lincoln has hired a code enforcement officer and is actively enforcing ordinances already on the books.  Several houses have gone through the abatement process which has either led to property owners doing clean-up or ownership being transferred to the city.  The city has demolished several homes that have been a sight for sore eyes for far too long.

I hope these clean-up efforts are just the beginning of major improvements because without major improvements the first impression we give potential new residents and business owners will not do our local economy any favors.

If you have questions about housing or community clean-up, please feel free to stop by the LCEDF office in the county courthouse basement at 216 E. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln, give me a call at 785-524-8954, or email me at

Kelly Larson

Executive Director

Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation


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