Board OKs Regional Cities funding for Huntington trail
By Bob Caylor | News-Sentinel
After getting a closer look at a proposed trail project in Huntington, the members of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority voted to help the work along with more than $250,000.
The board, which met in Huntington Tuesday afternoon, also heard a request for $620,000 to help build a new Manchester Early Learning Center in North Manchester. At least four of the board’s five members praised the project, but they tabled the request, as the board typically does after hearing presentations.
Some in the Regional Development Authority, or RDA, had expressed reservations last month about funding such a short section of Little River Trail – about .78 of a mile – in Huntington. A tour of the proposed trail before the Tuesday meeting allayed their concerns.
“It’s clear that this is part of a larger trail network,” said Jeff Turner, chairman of the RDA board. “It’s a big step forward in regional trail development.
”The board recommended providing $255,748 in Regional Cities funding to the trail project. That’s 20 percent of the $1,278,741 project.
That money is part of $42 million in Regional Cities funding earmarked by the state for work within 11 counties in northeast Indiana that are part of the RDA. Projects that receive Regional Cities funding are supposed to improve the “quality of place” of northeast Indiana to make this a more appealing place to live.
All the funding recommendations from the RDA must be also be approved after a review by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Turner assured those at the Tuesday meeting that the IEDC review is more a close scrutinizing to see that projects and applicants meet the technical requirements, rather than an opportunity to second-guess the RDA.
Supporters of the expansion and relocation of the Manchester Early Childhood Learning Center asked for $520,000 toward a $2.6 million project.
Board members tabled the request, but those who ventured a reaction to the request praised it. Among the features of the project that impressed:
*The youth group of the Manchester Church of the Brethren took on the expansion and relocation of the learning center more than two years ago. Since then, young people in the church have raised $700,000 in private donations for the project.
*The waiting list for 45 positions in the learning center has extended to 145 children, executive director Janet French told the board. The expansion would increase its capacity to 100 children.
*Although the child-education facility is in Wabash County, it cares for children whose families live in Huntington, Kosciusko and Fulton counties as well. In the past, children in the center have come from Allen and Miami counties, too, French said, so it has a regional influence and impact beyond North Manchester.