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June 20, 2018 10:25 PM

Empowering Canton

Canton, SD

From the ball fields, to city parks, the downtown or restaurants, there's likely at least one aspect of your town that you love. Of course these places don't just spring up, or stay running, without attention and money. Familiar scenes found across KELOLAND give small towns their heart and soul.

"What I love about Canton is it has everything you need in a small town, and has so much to offer as a small community," Dave Dixon of Canton said.

Dixon wants to keep it that way. He's part of Empower Canton.

"I got involved because I wanted to make the most of what we have here, and give myself, and my family, and others a better place to live," Dixon said.

Lisa Alden, director of the Canton Chamber of Commerce, is also involved. 

"It's different groups of...concerned citizens that want to see things happen, and figure that if we're going to make things happen, then we have to do it ourselves," Alden said. "We can't always depend on our city to fund every single project that we think needs to be done."

After all, this isn't a major city. Or even a medium-sized one.

"A small town like Canton, we've got 3,100 people, with our tax revenue, we just can't do all of it, so how are we going to do this?" Alden said. "Well we need smaller groups, maybe taking baby steps on working our way up to doing these projects. And then maybe the city down the road can fund one project at a time." 

Empower Canton started in 2017; it forms part of the city's strategic plan.

"Several hundred people turned out from the community, we kind of talked about what our hopes and dreams are for the future of the community, and then we all kind of separated into different groups that we felt kind of ownership for," Dixon said. "And for me that was trails, having recreational trails within the community, having a safe place for kids and grown-ups alike to get around the community." 

"We have very active, a pool initiative group that is very active in meeting on a monthly basis, we have a sports complex group that's meeting on a monthly basis, our summer rec program which has already started and they've doubled the amount of kids that are in the summer rec program from what they had last year," Alden said.

Empower Canton includes 11 "initiative teams," including Dixon's.

"It's mostly been kind of research, and planning, meeting together, trying to shore up enough involvement from the community, so still in our kind of infancy," Dixon said.

"This is going to be an ongoing process. Hopefully we'll still have people excited about it over the next few years," Alden said.

"I think when we moved to town we saw Canton as a gem with untapped potential, and this community gathering I think was sort of a way to get buy-in from the community to kind of reach its potential," Dixon said.

Dixon believes Empower Canton will mean a better Canton.

"I think so, yeah," Dixon said. "I think with all the different initiative groups it's been fun kind of seeing what those groups are doing to improve the community."

All the more reason to make a community a home, too.

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A word was omitted in a prior version of this story



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