ELLSPERMANN TOUR: Clearinghouse Project Director Molly Dodge, left, talks to Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann during a tour of the project site Tuesday. Ellspermann was in Madison as part of her statewide Listen and Learn Tour. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
ELLSPERMANN TOUR: Clearinghouse Project Director Molly Dodge, left, talks to Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann during a tour of the project site Tuesday. Ellspermann was in Madison as part of her statewide Listen and Learn Tour. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann visited Hanover College, Ivy Tech Community College and The Jefferson County Clearinghouse on Tuesday as part of her Listen and Learn tour that will span Indiana's 92 counties.

Ellspermann had discussions about business and agriculture at the two schools she visited.

"We were really assessing what's working and what's not," she said.

Ellspermann said her tour is about finding out what the state government is doing well, how it can improve and how it can step back, if necessary.

"I expect (the tour) to inform how we move forward administratively, as well as our legislative agenda going into next year," she said.

Ellspermann also toured the unfinished Clearinghouse. The food pantry located in the lower half of the building at 100 E. Second St., will serve patrons from 12 counties in southeastern Indiana.

Of the more than $2 million raised to renovate the Clearinghouse, $500,000 came in the form of a Community Development Block Grant issued by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA.)

"OCRA is one of the agencies that reports to me," Ellspermann said. "So we have a vested interest. We want to see the outcome of that work which is going to launch in the foodbank in a couple months."

Clearinghouse Project Director Molly Dodge, along with others involved in the project, gave Ellspermann a tour of the building.

The tour covered the bottom floor that will be the food pantry , and the top floor that will have agencies to help low-income families or those living in poverty by enabling them to become self-sufficient. It will also help provide workforce training, education and computer classes. The first floor food pantry should be open in the coming months, while the second floor is scheduled to open in January.

"We almost can't anticipate all that will happen here," Dodge told the lieutenant governor during the tour.

After finishing the tour, Ellspermann called the facility "fabulous."

"The overall project of this building and bringing all these services and service providers together to meet the needs of individuals in the community and to help them move toward jobs and work and employment is all super."

The Clearinghouse is a project of River Valley Resources.