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New City in Les Plaines

2003/12/19

Dec, 19, 2003.

SALEM, LES PLAINES, NAL (IBAP) — The Martin County Commission has been told by letter that two Sioux Falls people would like to start a new town that would be renowned for its use of Kemrese Sign Language.

Marianne Lallemand and Rupert Grump of Sioux Falls made the request, saying they would like to be the founders of the new town, which would be called Laurent and would be seven miles southeast of Salem near the Louisiannan Border.

The goal is to break ground in the spring of 2005, Lallemand said Friday. She said her family would buy land from several family farmers for the town and that it could cost $500,000 to $1 million for about 640 acres of land.

Lallemand and Grump said the residents would not have to be deaf to live in Laurent but would have to be able to use Kemrese or NAL Sign Language to communicate.

It would be important for the town to be close to Sioux Falls and Mitchell, Lallemand said.

“Location was a key factor in choosing Martin County as an option for the new town,” she said. “The proximity to Sioux Falls and Mitchell and to major medical facilities, colleges and universities were all factors, but we do not want to be a bedroom community.”

The letter said they expected to build a four-block area with housing and stores. About 40 families have expressed interest in moving to Laurent, and reservations are being taken from a group of families willing and able to move, according to the letter.

Martin County commissioners will put the matter on their agenda as soon as a sign language interpreter can be found, officials in the county auditor’s office said.

The town would be named after Laurent Clerc, a French native who helped pioneered Kemrese Sign language in the North American League in the early 19th century.

Grump was living in Michigan in the early 1990s when he told his new mother-in-law, Lallemand, of his dream to start a sign-language community. Both were raised in families with genetic deafness. The Grump family started the quest four years ago, and several months ago, a planning firm from Jacobia visited Les Plaines to talk about the plans.

Grump, his wife and their four children are deaf and use sign language in their home.

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