to good use
opens in remote area of Henry County
Crowes Chase, center will
now serve individuals with disabilities
Helen E. McKinney
DEFOE, Ky. Mike and Jeanne Crowe have shared
the same dream for the last 20 years: to turn the property they once
owned into an educational tool to be used by those with disabilities.
Their vision has been to share with others a natural environment that
is soon to become a national model for future similar projects.
by Helen E. McKinney
Educational Center was made possible
with the help of Mike and Jeanne Crowe,
former owners of the land.
They are the previous owners of a parcel of land in Henry
County formerly known as Crowes Chase. Six-Mile Creek flows through
the property located on Hwy. 421 south of Defoe. The state of Kentucky
purchased 300-plus acres from the Crowes in September 2001 with a $530,000
grant provided by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund.
The property is comprised mostly of hardwood forests, with some areas
containing growth more than a century old. Originally, the Crowes owned
400 acres, but because of Mikes progressive muscular dystrophy,
they had to sell three-fourths of it when he could no longer take care
of the land. They envisioned the outcome to be a place for others with
and without disabilities to share, with education being the top focus.
Although the property is state owned, management duties fell at first
to the Kentucky School for the Blind. When the project was not moving
along fast enough, the Crowes and the propertys advisory board
decided a change was necessary.
Dr. William Martin, chair of the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation
Fund Board, contacted Kentucky State University. The college, which
is only 15 miles from the property, had the same mission statement
we had, said Crowe.
Martin called the Crowes stewards of this land. They understand
the vision and commitment such an endeavor entails, said Martin. Through
the sustainability of their vision, the property will be enjoyed and
used as an educational facility for years to come.
The Crowes provided the resource to make their dream a reality, and
KSU will become a leader on a statewide, region and national level,
This project is a vision of environmental education in this state,
The property is now managed by KSU through its Land Grant Program. The
university had a disability related program that attracted the Crowes
attention, but offered no center for their environmental education studies.
That is, until now.
As of Nov. 11, the property was renamed Kentucky State University Environmental
Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said, Anytime land
can be preserved in its natural state, that certainly has a value for
the county and for future generations. Once its developed, you
can never go back.
Brent pointed out that the property is in a remote area and is best
in some entitys hands like a university that has the funding to
keep it up. Kentucky State University has a great reputation when it
comes to sustainable agriculture, he said.
Pat Wallace, executive director of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce,
first became involved with this project on a tourism level. Because
the property was in her county, she first viewed it as a potential tourist
attraction, but it has become much more to her since then. Mike
and Jeanne got me involved. Theyre such caring people, said
She sees its remoteness as a plus. This is what it should be,
said Wallace. It is an outdoor classroom with endless possibilities
for educating children as well as adults.
It is amazing what Kentucky State has done in such a short amount
of time, Wallace said. In the past, this project lacked money
and manpower. Wallace said she is glad to see that the property is finally
being utilized, and not just setting there.
Home Depot has been one of the biggest supporters of this project, said
Crowe. Regional District Manager Deedee Quinones and her husband, Tom,
have made a commitment to see the project through. Home Depot supplied
all of the necessary lumber and supplies to build a handicap accessible
ramp and deck overlooking a lake on the property.
This is a unique project for the community, said Crowe.
He said he thanks God everyday for the unique opportunity that has been
given to him and his wife.
When a friend asked what was the one thing he wanted to get done in
his life, his reply was, This is it.
To learn more about this project, contact Kentucky
State University at (502) 597-6000 or Mike Crowe at (502) 458-5258.
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