Kim Dunlap column: Ode to small towns

Mar. 16—I was a young journalist when the Delphi murder story was handed to me to cover. I had been in newspapers a little under a year, and it was the biggest story I had covered to that point.

It's still the biggest story I've covered.

And because I've covered this story for the past seven years, I've spent a lot of time in Carroll County.

If you've never been to Delphi, it's the quintessential small town.

It's roughly 2,900 people.

People there seem to know each other because they've been born in the same neighborhoods and raised in the same schools.

Then there's the courthouse square, with its successful mom and pop shops, quaint diners and grandeur of old brick buildings like the Delphi Opera House.

And what always strikes me when I show up there is the great pride people who live there have in their community and each other.

That sense of community is also one of the biggest things I remember from Feb. 14, 2017.

Two girls — Libby German and Abby Williams — went hiking on a warm February day, a completely normal activity, and they were killed while doing so.

Their deaths rocked the community, and it felt like a cloud fell over Delphi.

Even now, some people say the girls' deaths still feel like yesterday, that cloud still hanging over the community's head.

But now people living there say that cloud has sort of changed into, "We want closure."

"We want justice."

"We don't want what happened to define who Delphi is."

"We want good over evil."

"We want the families to know we loved their girls too."

In recent weeks, I've talked with pastors, community members and residents, and they all have sort of shared the same message.

The new ballpark that was built on the outskirts of town and named after the girls, the motorcycle rallies and food drives over the years, those all showcase the way the community has not forgotten what happened that day, but residents there are trying to honor the girls in any way they can.

Delphi is still a very proud community.

It'll likely never be the same, but people there believe it's stronger because they have rallied around each other and around the families.

And perhaps that's the real beauty of small-town life and those who live it.

When tragedy strikes, you know they have your back.