Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program core committee recommends the county spend more than $5.8 million from its American Rescue Plan Act dollars to projects developed during the HELP process.

Commissioner Jeff Plasterer shared the recommendations with commissioners and Wayne County Council members during the June 21 combined evening workshop. The county was allocated about $12.78 million in ARPA money.

The Purdue Center for Regional Development is developing the recommendations into a Strategic Investment Plan. They will then be vetted by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs before returning to commissioners and council members for final decisions about expenditures.

Project ideas were collected through community involvement, and four pathway committees — health and wellness, quality of place, economic vitality, and broadband connectivity — developed 33 project ideas for the county and its HELP partners. Cambridge City, Dublin, East Germantown, Economy, Milton, Richmond and Spring Grove are participating in the HELP process.

The county’s recommended expenditures cover a mixture of county projects, collaborations with Richmond and contributions to town projects. Elected officials in each community will receive the core committee recommendations and make final decisions on how to spend their ARPA dollars.

Each participating entity committed 30% of its ARPA allocation to HELP projects. For the county, that was about $3.83 million. The county also committed $500,000 from the county EDIT fund, and the core committee recommendations distribute those funds as well.

The county has already committed $2.3 million of its ARPA money, and the $5,869,856 in core committee recommendations would leave about $4.6 million to spend elsewhere.

Identified projects include emergency communication radio towers, improving child care access, senior housing infrastructure, single-family housing infrastructure, a countywide mural project, public Wi-Fi in parks and Main Street corridors, and countywide blight elimination. Collaborations with Richmond include a Family Resource Center and activation of the Whitewater Gorge. 

The gorge recommendation includes a $1 million county contribution. Plasterer said that the project is considered an important piece in attracting and retaining workforce.

“It really seems like it has some wow factor,” he said.

Deed sale

Commissioners talked during their June 21 morning meeting about conducting another deed sale for 14 properties that were not sold during an earlier sale.

Winning out-of-area bidders, who attended the sale to sabotage it, did not pay for those properties. Another in-person auction would likely include extra restrictions for potential bidders. The sale would also recess after the gavel falls on the final property for winning bidders to pay for the properties. If any bidders do not pay, the auction would reconvene to sell the unclaimed property.

Public hearing

Commissioners scheduled a public hearing for 9:30 a.m. July 26 about changes to the county’s subdivision ordinance that will make subdivision developers responsible for making necessary certifications. The change would shift liability from taxpayers to the developers.

No one spoke about the issue during the June 15 Wayne County Advisory Plan Commission public hearing. Plan commission members recommend 6-0 the commissioners approve the ordinance.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 28 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.