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Top leading stories of 2009 - Grants worth millions en route to Tell City

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By The Staff

TELL CITY - Mayor Barbara Ewing is promising Tell Citians a 2010 filled with turning shovels, demolition and new construction. The community received millions of dollars this year in federal money for a variety of projects. Funds will help expand the city's wastewater-collection and treatment system, demolish abandoned and foreclosed houses and build new homes in some of the oldest areas of the community.

The largest grant, worth $4.4 million, comes from federal disaster-recovery money given to states. It will help the city eliminate its combined sewer overflows, a project years in the planning, and expand the capacity of the city's wastewater-treatment plant. Bids were opened last week for the project. Construction will begin in 2010.

<b>Neighborhood Stabilization Grant</b>

A Neighborhood Stabilization Grant worth more than $1.8 million was awarded to Tell City earlier this year and will allow the city to purchase abandoned and foreclosed homes, demolish dilapidated structures and redevelop vacant lots in areas that otherwise would see little or no new development.

Mayor Barbara Ewing called the grant a tremendous opportunity for Tell City to strengthen its neighborhoods.

"This funding will allow Tell City to address a specified area of our community with focus being placed on abandoned and foreclosed properties, with some demolition followed by new construction."

When preparing its application for the funds, the city designated areas of the community west of 12th Street as its target area for improvement. "These are some of our most-established neighborhoods and they offer the best opportunities for us to make a difference," Ewing added.

Funds for the grants come from last year's federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which awards grants through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Other Grants

Tell City received hundreds of thousands of dollars in other grant funds this year, including nearly $500,000 for a planned riverwalk along the Ohio River north of Sunset Park. A $483,000 grant will fix a drainage problem along Pestalozzi Street. Tell City was also the lead applicant in a grant for funding for River Road. That project received $620,400. The city was also awarded an Indiana Department of Transportation grant for sidewalk improvements worth $212,000.

Tell City wasn't the only entity receiving money.

The Perry County Port Authority, doing business as Hoosier Southern Railroad, is getting a $740,000 loan administered by Southern Indiana Power for rail upgrades.

"Our co-op has the ability to apply for zero-interest loans on behalf of agencies like the port authority," said Southern Indiana Power President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hammack.

Cannelton

Cannelton was one of 33 communities reaping more than $15 million in Community Focus Fund grants Dec. 14 in Indianapolis.

Cannelton's share was $254,700, and will help the city improve its storm-water infrastructure.

City Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth and Nathan Held, a project assistant with the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, attended a Statehouse ceremony where Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman presented the grants. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs administers the grants, which are funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

Schools Grants

Cannelton is one of six southwestern-Indiana cities selected to get shares of nearly $1.5 million in federal Safe Routes to School funding. Cannelton will get $246,439 to improve sidewalks, curb ramps and drainage at all three of the city's schools.

A far-reaching  federal grant to Perry Central Community School Corp. will promote healthy childhood development over the next four years. The $729,132 grant will be awarded annually for four years, has delivered an economic stimulus by creating several new jobs.

Perry Central is being awarded the grant under the Safe Schools-Health Students Initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Education. However, the funds will be shared with Tell City-Troy Township School Corp. The two districts partnered in the application for funding, with Perry Central serving as the lead sponsor.

The scope of the four-year program is broad, Mary Roberson said, with money supporting new and expanded programs to prevent violence and illegal drug use and promote safety. Money will support efforts to help at-risk students.

"There are so many ways this grant will benefit both our school districts, students and communities," Roberson said. "Our goal is to fill in the gaps in the services we already offer, to use the expertise we have and promote healthy development of all students."

Funds will help expand already-existing programs. As an example, a bullying-prevention program already under way in Tell City-Troy Township schools will be introduced at Perry Central while substance-abuse programs already in place at Perry Central will be shared with Tell City students.

Other money will support efforts to help students with an incarcerated parent and the program will build ties between juvenile-justice officials for the county. Other programs will partner with groups such as Head Start.

Roberson said the grant, which will provide more than $2.9 million over four years, could create 10 to 15 positions, including social workers and a probation-department liaison. Though not a part of federal stimulus spending, Roberson said there will be economic benefits.

Troy

A $40,000 planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will allow Troy to prepare a mater utility plan, an important first step in determining where future investments will be needed and will analyze the current condition of the water, wastewater and storm drainage infrastructure.

News of the grant was received in March.

Other Grants

Tell City and Cannelton police departments received grants for new cars in 2009 but were turned down for requests for money that would have allowed them to hire new officers.