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Community leaders learn how to be "stellar"

Vincennes, Bicknell, and Knox County leaders learn what they need to help earn them the Stellar Grant.

Posted: May 24, 2018 4:38 PM
Updated: May 24, 2018 7:03 PM

VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) - A room full of leaders from all corners of Knox County. They're at Vincennes University to find out how they can be a "Stellar" community.

Bicknell mayor Thomas Estabrook says, "One of the major pieces of this program is for the entire community as a whole to get together and figure out what are our strengths and of course what are our weaknesses and where do we want to focus most of our attention."

The room packed for one reason. To learn how to earn their community financial support.

Matt Crouch, deputy director of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, explains, "Each region will have available to them four and a half million dollars from the office of community and rural affairs, they'll have two million dollars from the Indiana Department of Transportation."

As one of the six finalists, the community must come up with a regional development plan. The plan lays out what each finalist will do if awarded the funds.

Crouch says, "Our partner at ball state was able to provide some data. Really to give a snapshot of the community. From indicators about the population, per capita income, workforce."

Data that community leaders will use to make the case.

Vincennes Mayor Joe Yochum says, "Making it regional gets the whole county involved and the city of Bicknell. I'm hoping we get out of this some fresh new ideas to move forward with."

But beyond the potential financial gain, both mayors already see this as a win for the community.

Estabrook says, "It's been great to work with the city of Vincennes and Knox County. I think this has been one of the first times in recent memory that all the units of government have come together for the same goal and purpose. And it's great to see all of us working together."

Yochum adds, "I think it'll be huge for the entire county. To see that, showing our residents that our elected officials can work together and do something like this."

The regional development plan is due in August. An announcement on the winners of the Stellar program are expected in late November.

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