Champion of the Month

Michelle Wagoner Share

Feb 13, 2020  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Iowa native, Michelle Wag­oner, moved to Mar­i­on, Indi­ana in 2002 to be near her husband’s fam­i­ly. Wag­oner took the oppor­tu­ni­ty lat­er in life to get her GED through Tuck­er, now Mar­i­on Region­al Career Cen­ter. She worked most­ly in retail through­out her life, and is now retired, but remains quite active in her neighborhood.

In Oct. 2017, crime and vio­lence spurred Wag­oner and some fel­low neigh­bors to form a neigh­bor­hood watch which evolved into the West Mar­i­on Home­own­ers Watch Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion. Wag­oner start­ed talk­ing to more neigh­bors and began com­mu­ni­cat­ing with prop­er offi­cials to find sources of crime activ­i­ty to help make a dif­fer­ence in the 12-block area.

More than two years lat­er, they have seen suc­cess. It has been awe­some work­ing with the City…having them as a tool,” Wag­oner stat­ed as pres­i­dent of her asso­ci­a­tion. We have a good start to see crime go down.”

Last year, Wag­oner led a num­ber of cit­i­zens to hold signs show­ing sup­port for the Neigh­bor­hood Preser­va­tion Ordi­nance which helps hold land­lords account­able for their rental prop­er­ties where many code vio­la­tions crimes can gen­er­ate. Until that time, I had nev­er done any­thing like that before,” she added. Wag­oner has even bought and is fix­ing up prop­er­ties around her home to improve the neighborhood.

The asso­ci­a­tion has held three neigh­bor­hood cleanups so far in its existence.

30 indi­vid­u­als have joined their pri­vate social media group — anoth­er proven tool for crime aware­ness and reac­tion among many uses.

It has tak­en a long time, but I’m see­ing more neigh­bors vis­it­ing neigh­bors. They are start­ing to care more,” expressed Wag­oner. She hopes to recruit more active neigh­bors this year.

Wag­oner also vol­un­teers at the Mar­i­on Sal­va­tion Army and dur­ing month­ly 2nd Har­vest Food Bank tail­gate’ distributions.

The City’s over­all coor­di­na­tor for neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tions, Kay­la John­son, stat­ed Wag­oner has the per­son­al­i­ty for a good leader. She gets to know her neigh­bors, and knows their sto­ries. She’s build­ing the fab­ric need­ed for peo­ple to feel wel­come and safe,” John­son said.

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