Amy Roe, Kosciusko community coordinator, said Wednesday’s presentation was to determine two things: projects that will use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to complete them and a wishlist of projects to put on the town’s strategic investment plan, where the goal is for Mentone to use additional funding for the projects that don’t use ARPA funding.
There were four pathway committees where the project ideas came from: advancing e-connectivity (working with Purdue University), quality of place (working with Ball State), community wellness (working with Indiana University South Bend) and strengthening local economies (working with Ivy Tech).
Roe said the town could go foward with all the projects presented in some capacity or some of them.
The Council decided to move forward with all the projects presented, with upgrading Mentzer Park as the project to use ARPA funds.
Roe said the projects using the ARPA funds have to be done by 2026. She said the town has a 30% match for the ARPA project at about $65,000.
Two groups suggested the park upgrade: the quality of place pathway, presented by Chris Treber, and community wellness, presented by Lee Ann Rock.
Rock said her pathway’s goal was to provide the community a safe and fun environment for children, adults and families. She suggested new and upgraded play equipment, adding a disc golf course and adding a splash pad.
The Council decided to put the splash pad on a separate list as a project to possibly do at a later date.
The Council also approved projects to be put on its strategic investment plan. Rose said the strategic investment plan projects could take five to 10 years to complete.
Treber presented ideas that included creating a sidewalk from the Dollar General to downtown Mentone. Councilman Tim Croy said creating the sidewalk was considered before, but it has never gone past that.
Other ideas Treber brought up included having Hometown Heroes banners that honor veterans and a Main Street facade project and murals.
Rock said the community wellness track recognizes the community and state have high obesity and diabetes rates. Besides fitness opportunities, there’s a need to help the community with food access and education. She presented the ideas of creating community gardens and greenhouses, food preparation and preservation classes, transportation to farmer’s markets and a combined community food pantry.
Stephen Boggs presented the econnectivity pathway project ideas. The project ideas he presented included having computer classes for seniors and others who need it, and larger screens on some of the computers to help reduce eye strain.
Aaron Zolman presented the project ideas from the strengthening local economies pathway. The projects he presented included trying to obtain more land for the town for businesses and housing and starting an entrepreneurial idea program, which could help encourage youth and community members to bring new businesses to Mentone.
Roe said all the projects the Council wanted to do will be looked at to see if any organizations like the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce or the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation could absorb those projects.
Roe also said additional funding will have to be looked at for the projects the town puts on its strategic plan.