Quest for development grant sparks infighting in Nashville

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The popular tourist town of Nashville, Ind., could get millions in federal money for community development. But not everyone there is happy with how the application process to be a Stellar Community has gone.

Nashville is one of six finalists for the designation, which brings money and support to help spur economic development. Since 2010, six Indiana communities have received awards ranging from nearly $10 million to $20 million.

Residents say they support the program, but some contend local leaders pursued it without input from the community. The Herald-Times reported petitions are being circulated in Brown County asking the state to table the application until next year so the entire community can weigh in on which projects to pursue.

"It all sounds great, and we are very much in favor of the Stellar program, but it is supposed to involve the whole community," said Marilyn Rudd, a longtime merchant.

Rudd contends a core group of people directed the proposal that was submitted to state officials without consulting many shopkeepers and residents.

Nashville attorney Wanda Jones has filed two complaints with the state public access counselor claiming the Stellar committee meetings violated the state's open meetings law. She said the door to the county annex was locked during one meeting so no one could gain access.

Nashville Town Council President Bob Kirlin says no one was left out and denies decisions were made in private meetings.

"We are comfortable in everything we have done. This has been a very open process all the way through," he said.

The town's application identifies nine projects the town would pay for with Stellar funds. They include completion of trails, upgrades to the Brown County Playhouse, rehabilitation of 14 houses that detract from the town's quaint flavor and making the county courthouse accessible to the disabled.

Residents who oppose the application process question a plan to develop a streetscape that would affect the historic 1872 building that houses the Hob Nob Corner restaurant. Rudd's family has owned the building for 85 years.

A petition that seeks to retain the area's eclectic charm says there is no need to revitalize the area because its sidewalks already comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Nashville's unique character is based upon its history, the kaleidoscope of old homes and shops which make up the shopping districts, the quaint alleys, and the overall sense that time has passed us by. We believe this atmosphere is the heart and core of Nashville, and do not want to lose that unique aspect of our town," the petition states.

Alex Harker, state spokesman for the Stellar project, said concerns about the process are handled at the local level "and do not affect a community's chances of being designated Stellar."

Awards are expected to be announced in early August.

The other finalists are Decatur, Huntingburg, Marion, Mount Vernon and Wabash.


  • Actions Reinforce Perceptions
    This reinforces the prevailing perception that Nashville is a somewhat closed culture and outsiders are deemed 2nd class citizens. I have heard this from several people who settled in the area only to be disillusioned by the local attitudes, which border on arrogance.
  • The Shadow knows...
    The Truth...the microphone trick is one used by many a Council...turn down the mics, turn up the ventilation system...how clever...
  • Truth
    They lock the meeting room door to keep citizens out, then claim they did not. They turn the microphones down so the citizens cannot hear what's being said.

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    1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

    2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

    3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

    4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

    5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).