Meetings scheduled for all participating communities

How would you spend $10 million to improve life here?

Planning has begun for Wayne County communities participating in the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program, and they’re ready to hear from their residents.

Meetings are scheduled for the county, Richmond and the six towns participating in HELP, which is the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ program that assists identifying projects for spending American Rescue Plan Act dollars. 

“We want ideas from the public, we want ideas from the local governments and we will use the input to create the plan for each of the communities and then an overall plan for Wayne County,” Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said.

The meeting schedule is: 

  • Pershing: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 in the town hall, 206 S. Milton St.;
  • Milton, 6 p.m. Feb. 14 in the town hall, 101 N. Central Ave.;
  • Spring Grove, 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Quaker Hill Conference Center, 10 Quaker Hill Drive;
  • Richmond and Wayne County, 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in First Bank Kuhlman Center, 861 Salisbury Road;
  • Dublin, 7 p.m. Feb. 28 in the fire station, 498 N. Johnson St.;
  • Economy, 7 p.m. March 8 in the town hall on West Main Street; and 
  • Cambridge City, 6 p.m. March 13 in the town hall, 127 N. Foote St.

Anyone unable to attend a meeting but wishing to share ideas should contact the county’s HELP coordinator, Beth Fields, at 765-973-9236 or

Residents will be encouraged to share their ideas and priorities for their communities and the county as a whole over the next few years, Plasterer said. The format will include questions for attendees to answer as well as group discussion.

Plasterer warned that residents should not assume someone else will present their same idea, an idea that might receive strong support.

“If you don’t offer it up as a possibility, maybe nobody else will either,” Plasterer said.

The Strategic Investment Plan resulting from HELP will continue to influence community development after ARPA dollars are exhausted. Remaining projects could be funded and completed later.

“It still provides us with information of where people are interested in going, what their vision is for five years, 10 years from now and gives us a road map of things we should be considering,” Plasterer said.

In addition to identifying ARPA projects, the HELP group is searching for projects that might fall under the Indiana Housing Community Development Authority’s Creating Places “crowd-granting” program. That program provides a match to local online fundraising efforts for projects that are free for public use, such as parks, playgrounds or farmer’s markets.

Qualifying projects must set and meet their fundraising goals, then they will receive dollar-for-dollar matches up to $50,000. It’s an opportunity for the county to help the communities, possibly through contributions, but also through connections to potential donors.

“What I’m tying to engineer is a process that will help these small communities in particular get at least one project that can be funded by helping them line up donors,” Plasterer said.

The county has committed up to $10 million to projects identified during the HELP process. The other communities committed 30% of their total ARPA shares, providing about $12.5 million overall. Each community retains control of how it spends its money, and the county could choose to support community projects.

“We’re building, hopefully, from the bottom up and supporting from the top down where we can, because all of these communities are part of Wayne County,” Plasterer said. “We want them to be successful; we need for them to be successful.”

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