The Washington Times-Herald

April 10, 2013

Loogootee focuses on grant

Tim Pinkham
Washington Times Herald

LOOGOOTEE —

Mayor Noel Harty and city council members believe Loogootee is a stellar community.

They hope state officials will agree next year.

The main topic of discussion during Monday night’s council meeting was the state’s Stellar Community Program. Explaining it was Matthew Crouch, Bloomington, regional representative for the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

This is the third year for the competitive program, which awards a $10 million grant each to two cities. The first year Greencastle and North Vernon were selected, while the second year Princeton and Delphi were chosen.

Petersburg is one of six cities competing for two grants this year. Each of the six cities received a $10,000 planning grant.

Crouch said March 1 is the deadline each year to apply for the grant, with the application officially called submitting a letter of interest. Harty said a lot of planning is required beforehand, which is why he invited Crouch to Monday's meeting.

About 30 people packed the council chambers for the meeting, including business and community leaders.

Crouch said community involvement was essential for any city to be seriously considered for the grant, including the local economic development council and Chamber of Commerce. He also said the city's comprehensive plan must have been updated within the last five years.

“To be successful, it has to be everybody’s vision, not just Mayor Harty’s vision,” said Crouch, referring to the letter of interest.

Harty said it is “wonderful for small communities like us” that the state has no set criteria which must be met to qualify for the grant. “They want us to show our dream, not only for Loogootee but also for Martin County.” Describing the grant selection process as extremely competitive, Crouch suggested cities like Loogootee “think outside the box” in developing project plans which are uniquely different from those submitted by other communities.

In answer to a question from City Councilman Fred Dupps, Crouch said city zoning was not a requirement to be selected for a grant. Loogootee does not have zoning.

Crouch said some cities have paid up to $50,000 to hire consultants to prepare their letters of interest, but that does not guarantee those cities will be chosen. He said if a city brings together the right group of people, hiring a consultant would not be needed to write a five-page letter of interest.

In other business

*Accepted the low quote of about $22,600 from Street’s Contracting, Loogootee, to put a new roof on city hall.

*Chose the bid of $2,375 from Yard Sharks, Loogootee, for mowing various city-owned properties throughout the year. The low bid of $2,178 was submitted by Ellen’s Lawn Service, Loogootee. Harty had recommended the contract be awarded to Yard Sharks, but did not give a reason. No one on the council seemed to be familiar with Ellen’s Lawn Service or its work history, and no one from the company was present at the meeting.

*Agreed to sweep the streets of Montgomery one time during the year. The town will pay $35 per hour for the sweeper, as well as pay the operator.