Huntingburg agrees to help fund downtown group’s new director’s position

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

The Huntingburg Council approved a one-year $20,000 contract with the non-profit Destination Huntingburg during Tuesday’s meeting.

The $20,000 will be used to pay for a new director’s position with the organization.

Funded with Economic Development Income Taxes, the money will be disbursed in separate payments, the first of which will be $10,000 for the remainder of 2017. This amount was already included in the 2017 budget to go to Destination Huntingburg’s activities.

The remaining $10,000 will be disbursed in 2018.

As part of this agreement, Destination Huntingburg will report their activities to the council on a semi-annual basis. The council will receive their first report before any of the 2018 funds are disbursed to the organization to support the new director’s position.

Formed in 2014, Destination Huntingburg is an Indiana Main Street organization. It was formed as a necessary component for Huntingburg to be considered for the Stellar Communities program.

Indiana’s Main Street program is managed by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and was created in 1985 to help communities revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts.

Destination Huntingburg’s funding has been impacted by the city’s Stellar designation. Since Huntingburg is already receiving OCRA funds for Stellar projects, Destination Huntingburg is not eligible for grants through OCRA.

According to board president Crystal Buehler, seeking out and applying for new grants to support Huntingburg’s downtown will be among the new director’s responsibilities. Besides grant writing, Destination Huntingburg is also charged with developing events and projects involving Downtown Huntingburg to entice new businesses.

Since forming, the group has been responsible for the creation of Haunted Huntingburg as well as hosting Lunch on Market, a sack lunch picnic behind the Old Town Hall with live music that occurs in the late spring and summer. They have also taken over management of the Farmer’s Market.

Besides grant writing, Destination Huntingburg is also charged with developing events and projects involving Downtown Huntingburg to entice new businesses. They are responsible for the creation of Haunted Huntingburg as well as hosting Lunch on Market, a sack lunch picnic behind the Old Town Hall with live music that occurs in the late spring and summer. They have also taken over management of the Farmer’s Market.

A recent $3,000 grant the organization was awarded will be used to add artwork to the empty downtown buildings as a way to liven up Fourth Street. The artwork will be completed by local grade school children.

“A lot of what we focus on is to bring economic development downtown,” Buehler told the council.

With the continued development downtown, the group’s role in acquiring grants for new programs and supporting redevelopment will continue to expand. According to board president Crystal Buehler, the organization will need a paid director to lead those efforts directly.

She appeared before the council Tuesday to request support and answer questions. Mayor Denny Spinner stated he felt the organization’s efforts were important and the city’s support was necessary.

“The organization has run as a volunteer organization since its inception,” he said. “And like all organizations of that type, it comes to a point where they need some attention from a staff member.”

The council questioned how Destination Huntingburg’s efforts were different than the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce’s. “The chamber of commerce is not designed for economic development,” Spinner said. “The chamber of commerce is a tool to promote businesses and bring businesses together. In many communities across the state, there is a symbiotic relationship between the chamber of commerce and [groups like] Destination Huntingburg.”

Buehler added that the chamber has a seat on the Destination Huntingburg board.

Councilman Jeff Bounds said the Teen Outback took on a director and has seen the benefit of having an employee to help build the program.

The council approved the one-year commitment to support the organization with a total of $20,000.

Destination Huntingburg board president Crystal Buehler introduced the council to the new director, Sarah Flamion.

Flamion graduated from Southridge High School in 1998 and attended Ivy Tech Community College to study photography. She joined the Herbstfest Committee as chairperson in 2011, a role in which she served for three years. She is currently a board member of the Herbstfest Committee and Huntingburg Elementary School PTO. Flamion is married and has three children.

Flamion is married and has three children.