Major grant awarded to Greencastle

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Church bells all around Greencastle rang when a committee announced at 1 p.m. that millions of dollars will soon be donated to the Greencastle community. 

Greencastle, along with North Vernon, Ind., have been selected as the pilot cities for the Stellar Communities Grant, and will receive an estimated combined $31 million over three years to fund comprehensive community development projects, according to a news release distributed Monday by Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman's office. 

Funding for the grant will come from federal funds directed to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency (IHCDA) and the State Revolving Fund, the release said. 

"Stellar Communities will allow us to improve our city in ways that wouldn't otherwise be possible," Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray said in the release. "With this help, we will create the next, great college town in Indiana." 

Greencastle and DePauw share lofty goals:

— Strengthening the connection between DePauw and Greencastle.

— Revitalizing the central business district and courthouse square and also moving the university bookstore to the main commercial district downtown.

— Making DePauw's Green Center for the Performing Arts a "second home" for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

— New campus signage.

President Brian Casey was also ecstatic about winning the grant money, celebrating at Murray's house Monday night with other campus administrators. 

 "I've said that DePauw is at its best when the city of Greencastle succeeds, and that is certainly the case today," Casey said in an e-mailed statement. "The Stellar Community program offers an incredible opportunity to further enhance the connection between our university and the town we call home. This is the beginning of an incredible journey and we simply could not ask for better partners than Mayor Sue Murray and her team." 

Casey said the city does not know exactly how much money will come to Greencastle, but said the city should have a firm dollar amount later in the week.  He said one city will receive full funding for the project, while the other city will have their projects partially funded. 

Casey and Murray have worked closely on the proposal for a lomg time. Last month, representatives from INDOT and OCRA came to Greencastle to meet with Casey and Murray among others. Both Casey and Murray presented a plan to utilize the funds, and then the representatives toured the community with town and university leaders.  

Skillman will travel to Greencastle on Thursday for a news conference and a celebration ceremony. Then, Lt. Governor Skillman will announce the exact amount of money that the project will receive, and more concrete plans for what will move forward. 

– Chase Hall and Andrew Maddocks contributed to this story.