By Jackie Gorski
MENTONE – Mentone Town Council approved Monday for Michiana Area Council of Governments to move forward in sending out surveys in relation to Community Development Block Grant the town may receive.
In May, the Kosciusko County Commissioners and Council selected a scenario where each of the communities of Mentone, Milford and Pierceton may receive CDBG funds to match the minimum 30% American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investment required plus a split of 100% ($1 million) of the remaining CDBG funds.
Kosciusko County was one of three communities selected in 2021 by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to participate in the first round of the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program. HELP assists and equips rural communities with developing strategic investment plans, resulting in a legacy project for each community. The three communities agreed to participate with the county in the program. Of the CDBG funds, Mentone would receive $272,369; Milford, $440,349; and Pierceton, $287,282, if found eligible.
Monday, Amy Roe, Kosciusko County community coordinator, said there are three potential projects Mentone could use the money for: updates to Mentzer Park, the downtown master plan and updates to Bell Memorial Public Library such as getting new computers.
Zach Dripps, director of community development at MACOG, said one of the surveys to be sent out is an income survey. In order to be eligible for the funds, Mentone has to have at least 51% in the low- to moderate-income range. It is estimated Mentone has 50.8%.
Dripps said surveys will be sent out to addresses to get a random sample of the service area for the projects that are being done. Whoever is living in the house will have to do the surveys. After a certain time, if the surveys are not returned, either MACOG or town staff will go around and knock on doors to get responses, he said.
If 51% or more are found to be at or below the necessary income rate, “we’re ready to go,” Dripps said.
Roe said if a town is found ineligible for funding, they will go in front of the county again and the funds will be redistributed to the towns that are found eligible.
A master utilities survey will also be sent out for customers within the service area. The two surveys will ask many of the same questions, but cannot be answered by the same people and will get a different sample of people answering them.
Dripps said he hopes to get started with the surveys in the next two weeks and it will take one or two months for everything to be completed. He said a letter to OCRA will have to be sent to get OCRA’s permission to move forward with the surveys before the work can be done.
In other business, the council:
• Awarded Phend & Brown’s bid of $407,769.55 for the repavement of 23 roads.
• Approved plans for a public hearing for the water rate increase for July 5 at 6:30 p.m. before the town council’s regular meeting.
• Learned the town’s website is up. It is mentonein.gov.
• Learned the clerk’s office will be closed June 9-16.