Last Friday’s cool, crisp sunny weather was the perfect environment for the celebratory bookend to Rushville’s Stellar journey. As many speakers said, so much has been accomplished in the city since being chosen a Stellar Community Designee, yet so much work lies ahead.
More than 75 residents and guests gathered at Riverside Park to hear community leaders and state agency officials share their insights on Rushville’s team effort approach.
Rushville Director of Special Projects Brian Sheehan welcomed the crowd, sharing his thoughts on the city’s hard work to become a Stellar Community Designee and why Rushville always has meant so much to him. He, along with Rush County Economic and Community Development Corporation Executive Director John McCane and Mayor Mike Pavey, recognized various individuals and partner organizations in the crowd who were instrumental in helping Rushville achieve its Stellar success: Clerk-Treasurer Ann Copley, Rushville Board of Public Works, City Council, Area Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, and representatives from HWC Engineering, Administrative Resources, Milestone Ventures and Envoy.
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s Regional Director Melanie Douglas was welcomed to the stage and she shared a congratulatory message from Senator Donnelly.
State Representative Tom Saunders praised community leaders and thanked state agency representatives for all their hard work and expressed excitement for what is to come as the community pursues progress on its Stellar projects.
Former State Senator Robert Jackman attended to learn more about the excitement around Stellar and pointed out the prominent role the Durbin Hotel has in both Indiana and U.S. history as the site of Wendell Willkie’s presidential campaign. The hotel’s renovation is one of the city’s Stellar projects.
In his congratulatory remarks, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority Executive Director Jacob Sipe pointed out the Stellar initiative – both on the state and local level – is done for Hoosiers like the members of the Mayor’s Youth Engagement Team. The work is done so this next generation of leaders can inherit an innovative and progressive community they will want to return to following college to live, work and raise their own families.
The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Director Bill Konyha praised Rushville’s Stellar presentation during the competitive stage of the process for community officials’ focus on Community Performance Indicators and the many other state government programs Rushville has been awarded or is involved in, including the Hometown Collaboration Initiative and Place-Based Investment Fund.
Mayor Pavey shared background on Rushville’s Stellar designation pursuit, dating back to him taking office in 2012. Rushville’s initial Stellar application was rejected by state officials causing community leaders to regroup and re-evaluate their efforts, resulting in a stronger, more cohesive approach.
Combined with the importance of timing, Pavey cited the combination of opportunity, preparation, people and projects in the city’s successful Stellar venture. He thanked the state agency representatives who have become a part of the Rushville community family and been true partners with the local Stellar team. Emphasizing the importance of faith everyone demonstrated in the Stellar process, Pavey concluded the program by thanking the crowd for believing in Rushville.