by Eric Stearley
Downtown Wabash buzzed with activity on June 25 as community members prepared for the arrival of 18 very special guests who comprised the Stellar Communities Evaluation Committee. More than 300 community members did their part to showcase Wabash as the best choice for this year’s designation.
According to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), “The Stellar Communities program is a multi-agency partnership designed to fund comprehensive community development projects in Indiana’s smaller communities.” Along with OCRA, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation participate in the selection process. There are currently six Stellar Communities in Indiana: Bedford, Richmond, Delphi, Princeton, Greencastle, and North Vernon. Wabash hopes to add its name to that list this year, which would open the door to future project grants.
The day began with a presentation at Eagles Theatre, the restoration of which is a cornerstone of the strategic investment plan.
“Stellar takes a lot of planning and a lot of work by a lot of people,” said Mayor Vanlandingham as he welcomed the community and committee members. “When you plan, you’ve got to know your tradition, and you’ve got to know your history, where you’ve been.”
Vanlandingham spoke to the progress he’s seen during his time as mayor as groups and citizens began to cooperate and create a common goal of restoration and revitalization, particularly downtown.