Member News

Community meetings scheduled in September on future of Tolson Center

Thursday, August 23, 2018

(Elkhart, Indiana) Four community conversations are planned in the coming weeks to give the public a chance to discuss the future of Tolson Center in the City with a Heart.

The meetings, open to all members of the public, will happen from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 6, 11, 13 and 18. Philip Thomas, who has more than 25 years experience in conflict prevention, transformation and peacebuilding, will facilitate the events to foster conversation.

The conversations on Sept. 6 and 13 will take place at Pierre Moran Middle School, 200 W. Lusher Ave. The events on Sept. 11 and 18 are scheduled for IUSB Elkhart Center, 125 E. Franklin St.

“We want to hear from everyone who is interested in assuring Tolson Center is an asset that helps our community in the best way possible,” said Levon Johnson, president of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. Johnson is co-chairing a 10-person committee with Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, to focus on Tolson’s future.

The center closed this summer after a majority of the Elkhart City Council voted not to continue funding through the end of the year. Prior to the vote, dozens of people voiced their hopes to the city council for its continued operation. The city of Elkhart has operated Tolson for 25 years, primarily as a youth center.

Members of the committee are meeting with dozens of local people to gather information about how Tolson can continue to be an asset for the community. McCown said, "We are hopeful that based on feedback, we’ll be able to create a public-private partnership to invest in Tolson.”

Joining McCown and Johnson on the committee are Isaac Torres, Amish Shah, Clarence Thomas, Krista Hennings, Cindy Lopez Bonner, Rick Newbill, Eric Ivory and Jill Sigsbee. Members of the committee represent the Chamber, Community Foundation and other non-profits and neighborhoods that could be impacted if Tolson remains closed.

The group has met several times and is having wide-ranging conversations to examine all potential uses for the city property to meet needs in the community, particularly for youth and senior citizens. It hopes to make a recommendation to Mayor Tim Neese on findings and potential uses by October.


Contact to arrange interviews with committee leaders or members
Marshall King, communications director for the project, 574-238-3307 or

About Community Foundation of Elkhart County
Community Foundation of Elkhart County partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives. Since 1989, the Community Foundation has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by providing scholarship opportunities to local students and making grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve Elkhart County. The Community Foundation strives to be a local entity known for inspiring good and impacting success.

To learn more, go to

About Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce represents and serves our member businesses and the community. We will promote the interests of our members and the community in the areas of business, government, education and the professions through direction and leadership of our investors and the Chamber staff.

To learn more, go to

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