September 6, 2013

Twelve Mile residents "pitch in" to run the town

By Amie Sites

---- — TWELVE MILE — When a street light needs replaced in this tiny town, members of the Twelve Mile Lions Club go door to door and take a collection to raise the funds needed to replace the light until it is shining again.

The unincorporated township has a sense of community that might be nearly unparalleled in other areas.

Roger Strasser, who has lived in Twelve Mile since 1948, understands the sense of the "everyone knows everyone" community.

A core group of what seems to be 10 to 15 people on the Twelve Mile Lions Club have really taken an interest in the town and volunteer or "pitch in" where needed, Strasser said.

"We'd be in trouble if we didn't have them," Lisa Paul, owner of Small Town Brew, a coffee shop in town, says, speaking of the Lions Club.

Paul understands the importance of banding together. She opened her business in March and sells coffee, tea and homemade donuts from a family recipe and only accepts donations. She also makes her own flavoring for the coffee.

Paul knew she didn't want to open up a coffee shop and charge $4 per cup like a chain coffee shop would, she said.

Her favorite part of her shop is visiting with people. Paul said she wanted people in town to know each other again.

"I wanted this to be a gathering place where people could talk," Paul said. "And that is happening."

Paul said she has received a lot of support from the people of Twelve Mile and she tries to act similarly by displaying local business cards in her shop.

Everything in Paul's shop, from the coffee makers and counter to the refrigerator and coffee mugs, was donated or made.

"It's exactly as I imagined," Paul said. "The community came together and is still growing."

Another longtime resident of Twelve Mile, Elsie Strasser, said people volunteer to do things that need to be done. She said everything seems to happen by word of mouth around the town.

One man who doesn't live in Twelve Mile anymore comes back to the area to help by mowing any vacant lots, Elsie Strasser said.

“I think community is a big part of the town,” Elsie Strasser said.

People volunteer as they are able, she added.

“The people are friendly and hardworking,” Elsie Strasser said. “If you want to be busy, move to Twelve Mile. You will be busy volunteering.”

The town is also home to the Twelve Mile Christmas pageant and lawn mower race, both popular attractions for families in the area.

The lawn mower race fundraiser has been taking place for 51 years. These days, the race takes place in Plank Hill Park and draws large crowds of people.

Some refer to Twelve Mile as the biggest small town in Indiana. But others, like those volunteering and helping others, refer to it as their home.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or