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Southeast side excited to soar to new heights

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The southeast neighborhood hosted their 2nd annual family picnic on Saturday. 

The picnic celebrates the area's diverse community and bright future. 

"It's basically to celebrate our neighborhood and to bring people together," said Conrad Damian, SOAR president.

The Southeast Organized Area Residents, Inc. group put on the event hoping to show, according to Damian, that the southeast side is a viable neighborhood.

"They shouldn't be afraid to come here and this picnic is an example of that," Damian said. 

Booths from all over South Bend were at the picnic on Wenger Street. Some provided information on upcoming area projects, including an update on Bowman Creek. Others gave information on upcoming changes to water and electricity prices in St. Joseph County. And finally, some provided tools for families, such as lead level testing for children and adults. 

SOAR, Inc. is a fairly new organization on the southeast side. Damian said its purpose is to enhance and revive the neighborhood.

"And to hold on to what's really good," he said.

The group dedicated art in the park that was installed earlier in the year, painted by a SOAR member and students from the Girls and Boys Club. 

And also moving forward, away from the area's past. 

"We've been through some bad times, we thought it was crime infested but that's really not true we had some problems but we're working on them," Damian said.

He said over the years, crime and rude neighbors had turned the neighborhood into a bit of an eyesore.

"It's been a neglected neighborhood in many ways," Damian said. 

Jimmy Scales has lived on the southeast side with his wife for more than 50 years. They and 12 others were honored for their long time residency that, according to Damian, shown the positives of investing in the community.

Scales said he has definitely seen how the neighborhood has grown but does not believe it's a bad neighborhood at all. 

"It's not a bad place, we've had a few characters do stuff in our neighborhood," he said. 

But Scales said he would not want to live anywhere else. 

"The families are strong and we live here and pretty much we control the neighborhood," he said.



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