Huntingburg Looks Forward to Stellar Designation Benefits

Published 08/15 2014 05:24PM

Updated 08/15 2014 05:38PM

Huntingburg residents are focusing on the future after the town was named a Stellar Community.  They, along with Wabash near Fort Wayne, will get more than $10 million in state grants and tax incentives.

Some words have different definitions.

"It means good people, good working conditions," says Morna Amos, who works at a Huntingburg store.

"A new beginning," says Susan Engelbrecht, owner of an antique store in downtown Huntingburg.  Residents say the stellar designation can redefine their town.

"It is, to me, the biggest compliment that a little city could have," adds Linda Gehlhausen, the owner of Gehlhausen’s Flowers and Gifts

City officials say the more than $10 million in grants and tax breaks will help redevelop Saint Joseph's Hospital Complex, build dozens of new houses, a park and replace water mains.  It's just some of the nine projects the city hopes to start next year.

"A lot of little towns have been struggling, and we've been doing well," Gehlhausen says. "This is the actual little boost that we need to get to that next level, and for longevity for years down the road."

"Stellar means improvement for our city," says Sandy Ahlemeier, who owns the Old School Bakery.  She's seen the town's ups and downs.

"We've seen businesses go down and businesses being empty. And now they're getting full again," she says.  Ahlemeier adds the designation will let Huntingburg define its future.

"We're going to build a park over downtown here, where it's going to have a stage that's going to bring more tourists, and more events, and it's just going to be a wonderful thing for us," says Sandy.

"We've been doing a pretty good job recently of pulling people together, to come to Huntingburg, and with the revitalization plans that the city has right now, I think it's just going to multiply that ten fold or more," Engelbrecht adds.

Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner says most of the Stellar projects could be done in the next four years.

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