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Nashville/Brown County not Stellar this year UPDATED 12:11 p.m. Thursday
Updated on: 08.14.14

Wabash and Huntingburg were named the Stellar Communities for 2014 at a ceremony at the Indiana State Fair this morning.

Nashville was among the six finalists, but did not make the top two.

Those two communities now have access to a pool of federal funds from three state agencies to complete community development projects. In past years, awards have ranged from $9.9 to $20 million.

This was Nashville/Brown County's first try for the designation. Nearly every applicant in the award's four-year history has been a city.

"It's unfortunate," said Town Manager Scott Rudd from the state fair.

As the application process wore on, "We didn't expect to win," he said. "It was hard to compete with some of the larger cities."

In addition to hurdles because of its size, government structure and inability to raise matching funds from large, local corporations, the local Stellar committee faced skepticism and opposition from hundreds of town and county residents and property owners.

Up to 70 of them began meeting regularly under the name Concerned Citizens of Brown County.

Because early meetings of the local Stellar committee were not advertised, residents said they did not have adequate opportunity to give their opinions on the projects. Some of them, group members said, were downright wrong for Nashville.

They also did not agree about the ratio of local "match money" that would be required to complete the entire, four-year Stellar plan, compared to the federal dollars the projects might earn.

Concerned Citizens, through attorney Wanda Jones, filed formal complaints about Open Door Law violations against the town and Stellar committee, and won, the day before the state Stellar selection committee visited Nashville July 11.

Local Stellar committee members and Concerned Citizens participated in that meeting.

At its conclusion, state Stellar committee member Jacob Sipe commented on how many residents obviously care about the future of Nashville and Brown County. "I hope that you can continue to have some good dialogue about where Nashville is going in the future," he said.

Jones issued a statement after today's announcement. "We congratulate the Towns of Wabash and Huntingburg," she said. "We look forward to continuing the exchange of information and ongoing dialogue created by Concerned Citizens regarding future application for grants and the expenditure of public tax monies so that we have the best possible outcome for Nashville and Brown County."

Whether or not Nashville will try again for Stellar is up to town council, which acted as the lead government entity in the application.

Rudd said that decision might be on hold for a little while, as three spots on the council are up for election in November. At least one of them will change hands; incumbent council President Bob Kirlin is not running for re-election.

Read more in the Aug. 20 Brown County Democrat.

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    4 p.m. Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • January 28
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    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
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