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.