MILROY, Ind. — Driving into the tiny town of Milroy, Indiana, community pride is larger than life.
That is now evident in the shape of a massive mural downtown.
"We're just a little bit off State Road 3," said Dr. Rob Jackman, president of the Milroy Economic Development Committee," but you're coming up a hill, you're crossing a river, and that's the first thing you see. It's kind of wide open, and we want it to get people's attention."
"We wanted it to be a community project that would be something that people are really proud of and last for a long period of time," said Jackman.
Jackman is a Milroy native, growing up in the small Rush County town. He has since raised his family here.
The artist behind the project is Lance Woskobojnik. He has the task of bringing the mural to life.
"I've been doing it so long," said Woskobojnik, "and I've never gotten this much feedback ever."
Organizers say the mural supports the town motto of "focus on the future." The mural, from left to right, represents the community's past, present and future.
Even though Woskobojnik is the one holding the paintbrush, the mastermind behind the mural is the entire town of Milroy.
Lisa Benjamin works with the Rush County Communication Foundation, which worked with the town to get grant funding for the project.
"The community voted on some of the elements you'll see in the mural," said Benjamin.
Even elementary students pitched in, with more than 100 kids slapping on their own paint.
"Oh, that was awesome," said Woskobojnik. "125 kids and they just killed it."
That list of students included soon-to-be sixth grader Zach Hamos.
"We kind of were a bit excited, I feel like," said Hamos.
Also excited about the town's new artwork is building owner Joseph Bell.
His wife, Cameron, is opening a coffee shop inside later this year called White Water Coffee. She has been a barista for 16 years and plans to bring unique coffee and food options to the downtown area. Cameron expects the shop will open around October.
"I think for me, what makes Milroy special is the people," said Joseph. "We have some of the most unique, giving, talented people in our community of anywhere that I've traveled."
Laura Jessup serves as secretary for the Milroy Economic Development Committee. She has also lived in Milroy most of her life and is now raising her family here.
"I actually live in my family homestead house," said Jessup, "so my kids are the fourth generation to live in that house. I just have a lot of pride for this community. That's why I like to give back."
Jessup, along with Rush County Art Council Board member Darilyn Bedel, hopes this project will inspire other nearby neighborhoods to do the same.
"We are hoping the other communities in our county will do murals too," said Jessup. "And it would be nice if eventually, you could do a mural tour when you come to our county. Go to each of the communities and see the murals and what's important to them."
Despite Woskobojnik's obvious talent, it may surprise you to learn he doesn't exactly enjoy painting murals.
"The hyper focus is like the blessing and the curse," said Woskobojnik. "I just don't like it when I get in the zone. It takes a lot out of me emotionally. Usually, every project... I'm usually crying by the end, wanting to be done so I can eat and sleep again. So yeah, I mean, it's a curse, but it's also a blessing."
Woskobojnik hopes this project will "fuel the fire" of art in other people, especially the children who participated.
"There's a lot of good things that are here," said Joseph, "and I've told her many times, we could move anywhere we wanted, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here."
If you're interested in stopping by, the mural is located at 300 W. Main St. in Milroy.
"Come on down and see it," said Hamos.