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Last updated on Wednesday, June 19, 2013
(BEDFORD) - All Bedford city offices will be closed today at 3 p.m. in order to participate in the Stellarbration at the courthouse this afternoon.
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and Mayor Shawna Girgis will kick off the celebration on the west side of the courthouse, along with the Summertime Band.
"There will be food and fun and activities for the kids," says Girgis.
Bedford is celebrating being designated one of the newest Stellar Communities.
The city learned in March they were among six finalists contending for the grants designed to fund comprehensive community development projects in Indiana's smaller communities.
The finalists were Angola, Bedford, Frankfort, Petersburg, Richmond and Wabash.
This is the third year for the Stellar program. Bedford was a finalist in 2011, but failed to advance in 2012 when 40 communities applied for the highly-competitive grants.
Twenty-four sought the awards this year. Richmond was named the other Stellar Community. They will hold their Stellarbration on Monday.
Girgis says the grant money will ensure Bedford and Lawrence County a trained and ready workforce; promote economic development; cultivate a vibrant downtown district; and enhance the city's quality of life and transform the city's hub into a popular gathering place.
The plans are to refashioning the old JC Penney Building, which once served as the Downtown Convention Center, into the Stonegate Arts & Education Center. The old Milwaukee Depot will be moved to the lot on J Street once occupied by Cherio Liquors. The renovated rail station will serve as a trail head leading to an urban trail, public plaza, festival space, and senior rental housing. And hopefully in the future when the city secures a deal with CSX to purchase the railroad it can be used as a connection from Bedford to Mitchell.
The Indiana Department of Transportation would provide the city with an estimated half a million dollars to move the depot.
Hoosier Uplands would spearhead development of the senior apartments, facade restoration, and downtown business development by renovating retail space and offering it to businesses at "below-market lease rates that will gradually increase over time and allow for the purchase of the building."
The total cost estimate for their proposal is $19.8 million.
Girgis says, the Strategic Investment plan for Bedford's Stellar Community application was carefully crafted for the transformative impact it will have on a concentrated area of Downtown Bedford. The plan was created from local planning efforts that resulted in the first comprehensive plan in 25 years, followed by a detailed and focused downtown revitalization plan. Bedford's commitment to future growth with determination to protect their most precious asset, youth, along with creativity, tenacity, and determination comprised the driving forces behind the Stellar proposal.
The stellar project is a joint endeavor between the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
Mayor Girgis thanked Lieutenant Governor Ellspermann and the Stellar Communities team for this designation and shared that "to be designated a Stellar Community is truly an honor and will bring investment into Downtown Bedford that will help create a greater sense and quality of place that will attract new residents and visitors to our community.
In addition, the partnerships that have been leveraged with the Bedford North Lawrence Community Schools, IU Chinese Flagship Center, Ivy Tech - Bloomington, Oakland City University, Radius Indiana, and the WestGate Academy will grow our education and workforce development efforts that will create additional job opportunities in our community and this region, which is of the greatest importance. In short, this designation brings significant state and local investment that demonstrates our commitment to hometown values and growth for future generations".
The City of Bedford led the Stellar Community Proposal but Mayor Girgis shared that the Stellar Designation was the result of a team effort.
"I am so grateful for the support of the Bedford City Council and Bedford Redevelopment Commission because without them this effort would not have even started. The hard work of the city employees to assist with preparation for the site visit was amazing. You all made me so proud. I am also thankful for the extraordinary efforts of Jamie Medlock, President of the Bedford Chamber of Commerce; Susan Gales, President of BRI; and Marla Jones, Assistant Director of the Lawrence County Growth Council that were critical to the completion of the final application and preparation for the Stellar Presentation. I just can't thank them enough."
The city received assistance from Milestone Ventures and CWC Latitudes to develop the city's Stellar proposal and letter of intent. Technical assistance was also provided by Administrative Resources association, Bernardin, Lochmeuller & Associates; GAI, Rees Alexander Architects; Kovert-Hawkins Architects, and Christine Matheu Architect.
Other strategic partners for Bedford's Stellar proposal and presentation include Steve Fergusson, Chairman of the Board of The Cook Group Inc.; Bill Spreen, President of the Lawrence County Commissioner; Bedford Historic Review Board; Bedford Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA) for their donation of the JCPenney Building and the Milwaukee Depot; Creative Environments; Hoosier Uplands for their work on the senior housing component of the project; Indiana Trail Fund; IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Professor Frank Nierzwicki and his Master's Planning Students; Johnny's Signs; Lawrence County Concert Association, Lawrence County Tourism; and White River Port Authority... Special thanks to Andie Redwine, founder of By the Glass Productions, who produced the We Are Bedford video that can be viewed on YouTube. Thanks to Clayton Anderson for letting Bedford use your original song, What You're Missin' in the video, all of those that appeared on film, and those that helped behind the scenes. You all truly captured the heart of Bedford.
While many man hours went into preparing the application local investment in this endeavor was critical to Bedford's success. The City of Bedford worked with Hope Flores, Director of the Lawrence County Community Foundation to establish a Bedford Community Development Fund that started a local fundraising campaign. The goal was to raise $1 million of non-city funds.
When the Lawrence County Commissioners and Lawrence County Council pledged Bedford an Indiana Stellar Community $500,000 toward a dollar for dollar matching fund for all non-city investment, fundraising efforts exploded. The result to date is $1,195,000 committed in non-city funds.
The City of Bedford and all the Stellar partners thank the following individuals and organizations for their financial
commitment toward Bedford's Stellar Community Investment Plan.
"Today is a day to celebrate and a milestone that is just the beginning of a three-year project that will transform the heart of our community, Downtown Bedford, and bring unique opportunities for partnerships and endeavors that will boost our local and regional economy," Girgis. "The best is yet to come."
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