“There can be some tension. But it doesn’t seem to be that way, especially in this northwest area up here.”
Produced by Rebecca Werner with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org
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Transcript for Division Road
It’s still an agriculture atmosphere throughout southern Porter County. You know, one stoplight in Kouts. No stoplights in Malden.
Malden has the grain elevator, a church, and a bar. That’s the extent of Malden. You’re only six minutes from Valparaiso, so where the big city hasn’t moved south, but you can still do what you want. Division Road is the marking point. Valparaiso’s north of Division Road, and it’s ag as soon as you hit south of Division. The current owners of that ground have kind of stopped the flow of the city heading further south.
Valpo is the city. So, you look at it, and you say, “No, I’d rather go to Kouts.” You know? They’re the—more of our kind of people, I guess you’d say. More of the agriculture community. There’s a lot of good people in Valpo. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think any less of them by no means, but this is home. South of Division Road is home.
There can be some tension. But it doesn’t seem to be that way, especially in this northwest area up here. It’s almost a synergy with Gary being close, and these mills, and it’s allowed agriculture to continue.
The biggest thing in ag period is consolidation. It’s tough for the small farmer to make it. A guy can’t make it on four to six hundred acres anymore. He needs a thousand acres to make it. He never did grow, so that farm gets swallowed up by that guy who does make a thousand. An average farm up here is probably closer to that thousand to twelve-hundred acres.
Because of that, and because of our geographic distance up here from some pretty good paying jobs in the steel mill industry, several farmers have been able to work an offsite job and allowed them to keep farming down here, so the consolidation has been much, much slower here. And having that opportunity to work offsite, whether that be in a steel mill, whether that’s—there’s several guys running excavation equipment, and it’s just, we’re very fortunate where we’re at, where what I’ve seen in southern Indiana where I’m from is that consolidation is happening a little faster because there weren’t good paying jobs somewhere else.
As we moved further north, things got real progressive, real cutthroat as I hit Pulaski County, Francesville-area. I had warnings, “Oh, you’re getting closer to Chicago. The hustle and bustle. You’re not gonna like it.” And it’s amazing, as you hit Highway 10, and Wheatfield, and Kouts, and Malden, it steps back a little bit.
We are so fortunate up here with Pratt, the mills, and these factories up here that I want them to continue booming. I would love for that growth and development just to stay on the north side of Division.