April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Finishing touches made on Town Square project

By HSJ Online [email protected]

The first phase of work on the Hope Town Square came close to completion Thursday, as a new clock and pillar were installed on the northwestern side of the square.

The clock is the capstone to a $172,286 project that improved the electrical power, added concrete pads for artwork installations, installed a brick walkway honoring residents and donors and built terraced seating around the bandstand.

According to records from Clerk-Treasurer Diane Burton, the funds included $50,000 from a state grant and $122,286 in local money including donations and money from the town itself.

This year has also seen other major changes including the removal of the rural postal carrier museum building and its contents.

Randy Sims, with Heritage of Hope, said one of the most important components has been the addition of electrical capacity in the square. He said the new capacity includes more than 20 junction boxes throughout the square.

"We had the electricity by Heritage Days and there was not one plug that tripped," Sims said. "We have got plenty of power. I don't know what kept it from melting down. We only had about 200-some amps at the shelterhouse and that was for the whole park. Everything was running in a straight series, where everything was running together in a continuous circle."

He said there was not enough power to safely run events which required a lot of electricity and the wiring would get hot enough to potentially cause fires, especially for events that required a large number of high-power items like turkey roasters. And it became especially challenging when bands took the stage to perform during events like Heritage Days.

"We had to constantly cut back on what people would use over there so it didn't melt down," Sims said. "It was amazing."

Sims said that the idea for the project was originally Larry Simpson's. It involved a partnership between Heritage of Hope, the new MainStreet organization and the town itself.

Simpson, the owner and editor of the Hope Star-Journal newspaper, died last year on the last day of Hope Heritage Days. Town officials didn't find out that the community had received the grant until after Simpson died.

"It was all through Larry, his persistence, wanting to make the town better," Sims said. "Larry was involved in everything. He would just kind of pull different people in groups together and make things happen."

The Place-Based Matching Investment Grant is through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Indiana Department of Tourism. Sims said there as a challenge in getting the grant because the agency generally wants to see more physical construction of infrastructure, rather than building something like electrical capacity.

The last components for this phase of the project are finishing the final level of the terraced seating around the bandstand.

Future projects could include the addition of modern restrooms and a brick walkway on the square, Sims said.

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