While on paper it may not seem like much, Noblesville's Hispanic community is dramatically increasing in size, and people like Paula Montano say it's because they find acceptance in Noblesville and opportunities for work.
The city's Hispanic population more than doubled in the past five years. While the 2000 census found 398 Hispanic residents, the special census taken in 2005 showed the population had jumped to 1,163.
The latest figure shows that Hispanics represent 3 percent of Noblesville's total population. The fastest growing group of residents in town is not just represented by people from Mexico, said Montano, who manages La Charreada Restaurant. There are Spanish-speaking people from Honduras, Guatemala, Cuba, El Salvador and other countries who now make Noblesville their home.
“Seven years ago there were no Mexican people, only me and the La Charreada people,” she said. “More jobs. And these are nice people. My customers are all nice people.”
Montano, who is originally from Mexico, said when La Charreada moved into its larger facility a few months ago she hired more people to work in the restaurant for a total of 13 employees. She said many of the city's Hispanic residents also are finding jobs in Fishers and Indianapolis.
Next door to La Charreada, Luis Gutierrez helps his aunt run La Costeñita Supermercado y Carniceria store owned by his grandmother. The start-up grocery has only been in existence 10 months. “Business is good,” Gutierrez said. “We get lots of support from the Mexican community. We're doing well.”
Ken Waldron, a volunteer with the Hispanic ministry at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, teaches an English-Spanish class on Tuesday nights in the church's adjacent school.
“I'm teaching a combined class,” he explained. “I've got Latinos in there learning English and I've got some folks interested in picking up some Spanish in there, as well. So I'm taking all comers.” Waldron said the mix of the two works well in teaching the languages. He added about 45 to 50 people attend the Spanish language mass held on the first Sunday of each month at 7 p.m. “We've seen that slowly increase over the last five years or so,” he said.
After the mass, a speaker from the community is invited to speak to parishioners about such issues as immigration, banking, the IRS and available legal services.