DOWNTOWN’S FRESH LOOK

Seymour Main Street is the recipient of a state grant to help fund improvements to the downtown.

The organization, which works to preserve and promote Seymour’s downtown historic district, has been awarded $5,659 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday the six communities selected for the spring Downtown Enhancement Grant program. Besides Seymour, they are Aurora, Columbia City, Peru, Veedersburg and Vevay.

Another round of grants will be awarded in the fall.

Grants ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 and are to help small communities improve the local quality of life, spur economic development and advance avenues for increasing private investment and employment in downtown areas, according to a news release from Holcomb’s office.

Seymour Main Street will be adding historical markers and new wayfinding banner signage, benches, trash receptacles and bike racks into the downtown.

The project is a collaboration between Seymour Main Street, Schneck Medical Center, the City of Seymour and the Jackson County Visitor Center.

“We’re really thrilled to receive this grant, because it’s going to help us in a lot of ways,” said Julie Huff, director of Seymour Main Street.

Visitors to downtown should start noticing the changes this summer, she said.

The first phase of the project will be the purchase of 20 new black cast-iron benches to begin replacing existing benches downtown. Huff said the benches will be manufactured locally, and she hopes they will feature logos depicting historical aspects of the city such as trains.

Old benches will be relocated to the city parks.

To replace all downtown benches, Huff said Seymour Main Street is looking for area civic groups or groups wanting to get involved that may be interested in sponsoring a bench.

Another phase of the project is the installation of 10 new bike racks to be placed near Schneck Medical Center and throughout the downtown to encourage people to ride their bikes to work.

Main Street is working with the local bicycle club to design the racks and pick out the best locations for them.

“We have so many partners involved and that is what has led to our success,” Huff said.

Last year, Seymour Main Street invested $40,000, which was part of the money raised by the annual Dancing with the Seymour Stars event, to purchase and install new decorative, downtown street signs.

Seymour Main Street will begin conducting its annual membership drive in the next couple weeks, Huff said.

“We will be sending out donor forms and hoping to get some new members involved,” she added.

Seymour Main Street has several upcoming events it is sponsoring including Saturday’s Parking Lot Pickers, the annual Lawn, Garden and Patio Show in May and the new Downtown Shop Around Days.

Also, the Southern Indiana Model Railroad Association display in the former Knights of Pythias building, which is owned by Seymour Main Street, will have an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

During the event, children can enter to win a train set. The display only will be open for a few more weeks, Huff said.

Projects being funded by the state Downtown Enhancement Grant program in other communities include building facade renovations, a downtown park, wayfinding banners, a pocket park and a community cleanup day.

“Indiana’s rural cities and towns are every day developing vibrant main streets that welcome new businesses, visitors, and residents, and the Downtown Enhancement Grant program helps fuel those important efforts,” Holcomb said. “Together, we can ensure our hometowns are thriving as attractive places to live, work, and play.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.