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Students receive $6,000 from LTC

By John Estridge, Editor

Liberty Town Council awarded Union County High School students $6,000 in the students' quest to beautify Liberty.

With the money, the Union County Foundation currently has a Beautification Fund where every $1 donated is matched with 50 cents. Thus, the $6,000 donation from the town equates to $9,000.

The students were part of My Community, My Vision program.

According to the students, they want to purchase new benches, planters and trash receptacles for Liberty's downtown. Also, a mural is planned for the town. However, LTC President Matt Barnhizer said the town should not spend taxpayer money for a mural, which will be placed on private property.

Organizers have talked about having a mural painted on the side of the Bertch's Building facing U.S. 27. The only bid the group has received to paint the mural is $10,000.

One of the organizers for the group, Melissa Browning, Union County Development Corporation director, said she is seeking more bids for the mural, but the group wants to go ahead with other aspects of the program such as the benches, planters and trash receptacles. Ashley Reister, an educator, is also another organizer for the group.

This program was initiated through a $5,000 state grant, which must be spent by October, the group said. Union County Foundation gave the group an additional $5,000 grant. Union County High School student council also provided some money.

Students researched the different types of benches available. Some of the benches would not be good for Liberty because of the snow and the subsequent salt used to clear roads and streets, graduating senior Travis Lang said. The salt negatively affects the benches.

One of the quotes for benches was $4,194.25 for five benches. Another quote for receptacles was $10,000 for 15. Lids for the 15 receptacles are $1,932.75. Planters were $2,388.50 for 10 planters. The bid not including shipping was more than $18,500.

Later, it was discovered the cost for the benches will be more because the benches must be bolted securely in place to make sure the benches stay where they are supposed to be and are not stolen.

Council members lauded the students' efforts. Reister said she has talked to the school administration about a possible course in how students' efforts can benefit the community.

Clerk/Treasurer Melissa Shepler gave council members several options for where the money could come from. In the end, the council members unanimously approved the $6,000, and they will have it come from the Beautification budget line.

At the beginning of the students' presentation, Lang talked about when the process was started, the students had big dreams. They talked about a pavilion. However, a pavilion costs $100,000, and there is a need for property on which to put the pavilion. Then, the thoughts went to a greenhouse. However, that is a costly proposition also.

The students were helped in the process by an IUPUI graduate student. During the process, the students learned many facts about Liberty and Union County and underwent a SWOT analysis which mean strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

The Foundation program of donating 50 cents for every $1 donated is ongoing. Call (765) 458-7664 for more details.