Roachdale community members held an initial meeting Thursday evening to explore ideas on ways to preserve and improve life in the small rural town located in northeastern Putnam County.
Initiated by the Delta Theta Tau Sorority, a group met to begin the process of finding ways to secure grants and beautify Roachdale.
"We determined we needed to find good people to spearhead ways to improve and preserve Roachdale's Identity," claimed Sorority member Bonnie Yahraus who served as the moderator for the meeting.
"We are looking for people who want to play a role in keeping Roachdale a great place to live. This is just the first initial meeting to help us plan for a larger community-wide effort. We thought it would be easier to start with a small group before we invited the whole community," said Yahraus.
The group did decide to hold a community-wide meeting on Thursday, May 29 at 7 p.m. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in the gymnasium of the Roachdale Elementary School pending approval to use the school from the school board next week.
"We want the community's input and help in determining what we need and in finding ways to accomplish that. We hope everyone will come forward with ideas and help," added Yahraus.
Representatives from local banks, business, school and community broke into groups to look at the good and not so good in the town and brainstorm ways to improve or add to what is already established.
The group also heard from Jill Rateike from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and Elaine Peck, director of the Putnam County Foundation, regarding grants and ways to procure money for planning and projects.
In their discussions, the group determined that the key words for any projects which come out of the new Preserving Roachdale's Identity Enthusiastically (PRIDE) organization should include community cooperation, communication, networking and goals.
Discussions among the groups resulted in setting some short-term goals including beatifying downtown Roachdale and setting up a tox away day. The group hopes the community meeting on May 29 will provide input about raising monies, applying for grants and developing other projects as well as volunteers to head committees.
Rateike gave the group some examples of what other communities of similar size are doing.
"Dugger is building a community center with a large gymnasium and kitchen. Thorntown has created a new community organization to go after planning and construction grants," she related.
"Planning grants help you decide what you need and to prioritize your projects. It can also include preliminary designs for things like community centers, senior centers and parks," added Rateike.
She explained that a community is allowed to have two open grants at one time with OCRA. She also told the group that they might need to update their census information, as one of the requirements in applying for grants is a 51 Percent population of medium to low income.
Rateike also described what is required in matching grant money.
"If you have a $30-50,000 grant you will need a ten percent local match. That is up to $5,000 for a $50,000 grant," she advised.
"You receive bonus points if you are working with the Community Foundation to raise your match money," added Rateike.
Putnam County Foundation Executive Director Elaine Peck next spoke to the group and explained what the Foundation offers.
"You have a lot to celebrate in Roachdale," said Peck who is eager to work with the group.
She talked about a Non-Profit Learning Series offered by the Foundation which has an upcoming seminar on event planning which several PRIDE members will be attending.
Peck also described some of the grant programs available such as Main Street and Community Block Grants.
She explained about investing in endowments and how to use the money earned as seed money for community projects.
North Putnam Community School Corporation Board President Debbie Sillery offered to start the process of applying for grant monies by writing a formal letter to the Putnam County Foundation. Sillery has over 16 years experience in grant writing.
The group determined the letter should be written but not sent until after the community meeting on May 29 in order to have more input from residents.
Other ideas tossed out included a clean sweep of the downtown area along with planting flowers.
"There are things we can do that don't cost anything more than our effort," Yahraus told the group.
"We hope everyone will join us on May 29. Roachdale is a great place to live and we want to keep improving it," she concluded.