Butler Discusses Main Street Project

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Article by Jeff Jones | KPC News | June 8, 2018 
BUTLER — A Main Street program isn’t just about finding grants for projects, it’s about community pride and partnerships.
At Thursday’s Butler vision meeting, former resident Jeremiah Otis, owner of Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings in Auburn, said some of the most popular ideas in Auburn’s Main Street program didn’t require a grant, but an investment in people’s time and interest.
Using the annual yarn bombing event as an example, Otis said that endeavor has generated so much conversation and interest, but noted that it emerged out of a meeting for a completely different topic.
“Some projects don’t cost any money,” he said. “It’s about using the resources you already have. It’s so much about your community and how you can leverage it.”
Having a successful Main Street program requires an emotional attachment of wanting to make a community better, and that means having a community on board with ideas, which will spur more ideas. As attractions begin to draw interest, investors see residents taking pride and ownership in the community and may choose to bring businesses to that community.
Andrea Kern, Northeast Community Liaison with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which administers Main Street, said community size doesn’t matter. Coatesville, with a population of 546 and Evansville, at 119,943, represent opposite ends of the scale.
Any community wanting to start a Main Street program needs to have a great spokesperson, someone with a design eye and another with contacts, she said.
In other discussion topics, Anton King of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership said he anticipates results of an 11-county housing survey in the near future. When the results of that are known, he hopes to talk with developers to potentially expand Butler’s housing inventory. A DeKalb County-specific study could follow.
Zach Washler, director of the United Way of DeKalb County, said there are no projects in Butler for the June 22 Day of Caring event, but he said projects could be accomplished later.
“Day of Caring doesn’t have to be a single day,” he said, noting some industries aren’t able to do projects on a designated day but participate at other times.
“We want to be over here,” said Washler, an Eastside graduate. “We want to be part of the solution.”
Eastside Junior-Senior High School Assistant Principal Shane Conwell said a poll was taken among this year’s sophomores about their future plans. He said 74 percent plan to stay in the area or return after college, mostly due to family ties. Most students expressed an interest in helping to clean up the community and want to be involved, Conwell said. He added there are plans to survey additional grades in the 2018-2019 school year.
Conwell said the school would be interested in adopting a park or area and maybe partnering with a business or industry in a fashion similar to adopting a highway.
“I don’t want this to be one and done,” he said. “For me, it’s good to know that the majority of our kids want to stick around and they want to be involved.”
The comments made by Conwell and Washler followed a report by Butler Public Works manager Dan Hudson about the number of recurring high weed lots in the community. To date, Hudson said, 40 notices have been issued, with nine being ongoing concerns. That doesn’t include the mowing of the cemeteries and parks.
Some of the options discussed included hiring a private contractor to help with the mowing, having neighbors of a vacant lot “adopt” that lot for maintenance purposes or having Community Corrections individuals mow for community service. One Butler industry expressed interest in sponsoring a lot.
The next Butler vision meeting will take place July 12 at 10 a.m. at the City Hall council chambers, 215 S. Broadway. 

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