Mayor-elect Bill Dory talks inclusion, the bubble and the future of Greencastle

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The DePauw (TDP): What do you think makes Greencastle great?

Mayor-elect Bill Dory: The fact that we have two universities here [DePauw University and Ivy Tech]. College communities are special places.

TDP: What are your thoughts about “The DePauw Bubble”?

BD: I don’t know if that’s unusual on any campus. I went to Miami of Ohio, which is a bigger campus, but it was in its own little bubble anyway. I don’t know that there’s a gap, per se. There may be a feeling of a gap from the standpoint of maybe a student that is new to campus may not know how to engage the community, but I think there are certainly lots of opportunities once a student becomes aware of them on campus, if they so choose to become engaged with the community. My kids went to Greencastle schools, and they had students coming into class for enrichment programs and things like that. So if a student wants to become engaged I think there are a lot of welcoming ways they can become engaged.

TDP:  How do you think your current roll [as Executive Director of Greencastle and Putnam County’s Economic Development Center] prepared you for your new role as mayor?

BD: Over the last twenty years I’ve worked with several great mayors. I’ve worked with city council bringing projects forward. As a result of this position, I’ve been asked to serve on various committees over the years, asked to work on special projects, and asked to research things on behalf of the city. So I’m familiar with the operations that govern at the city level and what goes on at the city level, but I’ll be the first to admit, there are a lot of the small details that I’ll need to learn. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with the department heads as we’ve talked about economic development projects. We have a great team of both department heads and employees so I’m looking forward to working with all of them.

TDP:  What do you think Sue Murray (Greencastle’s current mayor) has done well, and where do you think you can improve?

BD:  [Murray’s] signature project for Greencastle is the Stellar Communities Project that resulted in significant partnerships with DePauw and significant investment here. It’s an ongoing effort to capitalize on this investment. Brad Kelsheimer, for example, is on my board of directors. We’ve had numerous discussions about various projects that may come to the downtown. So now we need to take advantage of the foundation that Mayor Murray’s administration has built.  

TDP:  Are you working on any grants similar to Stellar?

BD:  Just on Friday, the city submitted an application for America’s Best Communities Program. We were a quarter finalist. Now we’ll find out if we’re one of the finalists. The proposal involves DePauw, Music on the Square, the School of Music, arts in schools, The Castle–project-based learning in the schools, etc. If we’re successful, the community will receive another $100,000 to prepare an application to be one of the finalists. The prize money could be as much as $3 million.

TDP:  What do your think your biggest challenges are as mayor?

BD:  One of the biggest is fiscal related. Cities in Indiana do not have a lot of wiggle room in how they employ their financial assets. We establish a budget, but we’re only allowed to go up a certain percentage each year by the state. There’s no guarantee that the budget will be fully funded due to property tax caps. It’s likely that our budget, on an annual basis, is not fully funded. So as the year goes on you have to make adjustments. One challenge unique to Greencastle is housing. I believe we need to bring additional housing into the community. We were fortunate that we didn’t have a lot of houses empty during the recession, but we’re in need of a land developer or a housing developer to come in, and develop some additional lots. I think we have people who would like to live here, but we don’t have a lot of inventory from which to choose.

TDP:  Diversity and inclusion are both important topics on campus. How do you as mayor think you can help people that might not feel like they’re included on campus or in Greencastle?  What would you say to them?

BD: Greencastle, to some degree, reflects the broader nation. As a community we need to strive to make it as warm and welcoming to all sorts of people—regardless of their backgrounds, religion, race, etc. Because we’re reflective of the broader nation there will always be people who may be less welcoming than others unfortunately. But, I think if we strive to invite people in, invite people to participate in the community, I think, over time that effort will continue to make the community welcoming. There is no easy answer here, but I think if we set our mind to asking people to participate, and if they’re willing to do so whether it’s in some small way or just making others feel welcome I think that’s a good starting point. We’re going to continue to look at the issue.

TDP:  What are you most excited about?

BD:  I think the thing that I’m most excited about is that Mayor Sue Murray, and her team, are leaving the city on a strong foundation that allows us to do some things, and build on that. This next item the relationship that’s been building between the university and our local residents. Several people asked me, ‘What’s going to happen with Dr. Casey moving on to a new opportunity? What’s going to happen with the outreach that DePauw is doing?’ I tried to assure them that it’s going to continue. It surprised me that our citizens are engaged in that, worried about that and it’s important to them. I think it’s a result of DePauw’s efforts to reach out, and participate in the community. To me that’s exciting.

*Dory’s answers were edited for clarity