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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Madalyn Sade-Bartl, clerk-teasurer for Churubusco and project manager for the Stellar Communities Designation Program, places a flag in a flower pot along Main Street in Churubusco on Friday. Churubusco is one of three finalists in the program. One city will be selected to receive a prize of $6 million for community development.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Library director Rachel Eyermann works on straightening books that are part of the book sale at the Churubusco Public Library on Friday. 

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Jill Beach of Jill's Vintage & Thrift works on painting a chair in her shop in Churubusco on Friday. Churubusco is one of three finalists in the Stellar Communities Designation Program.

Friday, June 16, 2017 6:20 pm

Churubusco one of three finalists for Stellar Communities program

Cody ThompsonThe Journal Gazette

CHURUBUSCO -- In Churubusco, Indiana, everything is within walking distance. The funeral home is just down the street from the bank and only a few minutes from the local antique store.

The town, with a population of about 1,800 people, is one of three state finalists for the Stellar Communities Designation Program. If chosen as the winner, the city will receive $6 million for planned community renovations.

"I really think we're on the verge of making something great," said Madalyn Sade-Bartl, Churubusco clerk-treasurer.

Sade-Bartl is also the project manager of Churubusco's Stellar Designation Program and was one of the people who spear-headed the application process, which included detailed renovation plans.

The program consists of 10 state agencies but was originated by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Department of Transportation. Each of these three departments gives $2 million to the winning city.

Churubusco's first use of the money would be a $1.3 million library renovation the town has wanted for a while. She said that price is hefty for a library with a roughly $200,000 budget.

"I think libraries are a very important part of the community," Churubusco Library director Rachel Eyermann said. "They provide a space that isn't home and isn't work where people can learn, socialize and have different activities."

She said their library is small but with the funding they hope to gain from the program, they would be able to open a larger resource to the community. They want to add a children's area, more technology and more space.

The library is in the middle of its book sale, which has caused the small building to be cluttered and full up to the walls. She said the library regulars are excited about its potential expansion.

"I think any good community has a good library," she said.

In addition to the library, Sade-Bartl said they intend to continue improving the overall look of Main Street, a process that started about two years ago. That includes fixing sidewalks and placing more lamp posts in addition to other improvements.

Jill Beach, owner of Jill's Vintage & Thrift, can see Main Street from the window of her shop. She was originally from Fort Wayne and now lives in Albion, but she decided to open her shop in Churubusco because of how friendly the people are, she said.

"Everybody here sticks together," she said. "I've never really seen anything like it."

She said it would be nice to see the money poured into programs for children in the community and was pleased to hear about the library renovations. She said she hopes the new renovations will bring more people to the city if they receive the money.

The city also plans to use the money to repave South Mulberry and Pleasant streets and their feeder roads, many of which are dotted with potholes.

The city's final use of the money will be for an owner-occupied grant rehabilitation center for citizens. This will allow low-income citizens to apply for up to a $25,000 grant to repair and upkeep their homes.

"There's definitely a need for it," Sade-Bartl said. "We have a lot of older homes, and they're definitely showing their age."

The city is competing against the cities of Culver and Union City, which has been a finalist twice. Sade-Bartl said Churubusco has a 33.3 percent chance of bringing home the money.

"We want to make it clear that, hey, this is not a for sure thing," she said. "If we don't get it, we'll try again next year."

cthompson@jg.net