Home > Article from newspaper > Group Planning Town For Deaf In S.D. Moving To Indiana

Group Planning Town For Deaf In S.D. Moving To Indiana

February 8, 2007


 A group that had planned to start a community for the deaf in eastern South Dakota says it is moving to Indiana.

Developers of the town that would have been called Laurent near Salem persuaded county commissioners to change zoning laws, but the project has struggled financially. The Laurent Institute now says key members of the organization are leaving the area and relocating to Indianapolis.

One of the organizers, M.E. Barwacz said the Laurent Institute will not have an office in Indiana nor does it mean the town would be built in Indiana.

“We will operate from there, and we will be able to take advantage of Indianapolis competitive air fares to continue to reach many places within the U.S. for presentations, meetings, and conferences,” said Barwacz.

The group says it is moving because of a failed funding package. The Institute also blamed the move on declining enrollment at the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls.

It cited a rapidly declining deaf and signing population in Sioux Falls due to changes at Communication Services for the Deaf.

Marvin Miller, executive director of the Laurent Co., and Barwacz had planned to create the town in an area near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 81 just south of Salem. Planners had said the town could have reached 2,500 people or more within 15 years.

“This has been a very difficult decision for us,” Miller said in a statement posted on the Laurent Co. Web site. “The two most important factors that contributed to the change of direction are the failure of our angel supporter to close our funding package and the immediate educational needs of my four deaf children.”

Miller said the Indiana School for the Deaf is widely regarded as one of the top deaf schools in the nation.

In October, project supporters reported trouble. Documents showed the Laurent group was nearly $600,000 in debt. At the time, McCook County Commission members said they were running out of patience and that it looked like the project was at a standstill.

In May, Barwacz said 158 people or families had made nonbinding housing reservations for Phase I of the town.


On the Net:

The Laurent Company: www.thelaurentcompany.com

  1. Blair LaCrosse
    April 14, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I am deaf, I am interested to learn about deaf town. Give me the detail pls. Blair

  1. August 6, 2007 at 10:52 pm
  2. August 7, 2007 at 1:34 am
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