FILLMORE -- It isn't official, but the Town of Fillmore appears to be a step or two away from a major reason to be thankful this week.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, town clerk Wanda Seidler received word from grant administrator Kristy Jerrell of West Central Indiana Economic Development that the town is being considered for a $654,453 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).
The surprise news from OCRA brought a bit more excitement to a special council meeting that evening, called otherwise only to sign an accounting contract.
"It was kind of a shock," Seidler said.
The council met again on Monday in yet another special meeting, this time to move closer to making the proposed grant a reality. Councilmen Alan Jones and Curt Leonard gave their 2-0 approval to the adoption of a Fair Housing Ordinance.
Seidler added that councilor Tami Van Rensselaer, who could not attend on Monday, had also expressed her approval of the ordinance.
The ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in any housing-related transactions, must be in place for the town to be eligible for OCRA funding.
The news that OCRA is now interested in the Fillmore project came as a surprise to Jerrell as well as town officials. The town applied for the program in April 2010, and officials had since forgotten about it.
That was, until Jerrell's surprise email from OCRA program manager Laura Nading.
The OCRA official informed Jerrell the project scored highly in the previous competitive scoring process for DR2 Stormwater Program Round 3, but did not quite make the cut.
With OCRA now on to Round 4, Fillmore has been identified as a potential grant award.
"This is crazy, coming out of the blue two years later," Jerrell told the Banner Graphic. "It's definitely a holiday miracle."
After approving the Fair Housing Ordinance on Monday, the councilmen and clerk spoke at length with Lori Young of engineering firm Robert E. Curry and Associates.
The discussion addressed some of the specifics of the project, including changes to the project proposal required by OCRA and those that the town may want to make.
The council also considered the revised costs of materials, updating 2010 costs to expected 2013 costs. The increases take the project from a $661,908 project to a $732,348 project.
Young assured the council these are only estimates and that the final grant amount approved by OCRA could reflect the changes in material costs.
The timing of the announcement is fortuitous for Fillmore, as the council began working with Curry and Associates recently in the interest of pursuing grant money for stormwater, sanitary sewer, water and road projects.
With the likelihood that this grant will address the need for storm sewers as well as repave Main Street, the efforts can focus more on the utility issues.
While nothing from the state has been officially approved, Tuesday's ordinance appeared to be one of the final hurdles on the way to OCRA approval of the grant.
If all goes as hope, Fillmore's 500 or so residents may have two more things to be thankful for: dry basements and a smooth ride on Main Street.