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New Castle Main Street gets a boost

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Decorative flower pots. Nicer, cleaner-looking trash cans. Special events.

Led by Carrie Barrett, the non-profit New Castle Main Street organization was more than praised at Monday night’s City Council meeting. It was given $25,000 from state-riverboat-gambling money to use for future projects, with a pledge by council members to find regular budgetary funds in the future.

Councilman Lynn Perdue indicated giving the organization a riverboat-fund boost was anything but a gamble.

“There’s a lot going on downtown and Carrie and her volunteer group do a fantastic job, but they are limited with what they can do with their funding,” Perdue said. “The Christmas decorations, the decorative-flower pots, it’s expensive.”

Perdue said they currently have about $20,000 to $25,000 to work with through fundraisers and donations. “And that just doesn’t go very far.”

Perdue made the motion to commit $25,000 out of state-riverboat-gambling proceeds to New Castle Main Street.

“Then in the new budget, I’d like to see the finance committee try and find a way to put that $25,000 line item back in there again,” Perdue said.

City Attorney David Copenhaver, who led a similar downtown group several years ago, said there once was a non-reverting fund that had about that much in it every year.

“We’re not able to put anything in the budget for 2019,” Councilman Rex Peckinpaugh said. “But if we can get her started this year with $25,000 out of riverboat money, then we can work toward including it in our budget down the road.”

Barrett and her volunteer group are still looking into a possible transformation of the former Castle movie theatre for community events. Food truck Fridays and concerts in the new 1400 Plaza when completed are other goals.

“There are so many things we could do and get people downtown,” Barrett said “Typically, we have an idea, then we have to figure out how to get the money. “We have a banner program right now. Flowers cost a lot to maintain. Upgrading downtown WiFi. Some marketing and promotion ideas.”

Councilman Peckinpaugh said New Castle Main Street’s efforts don’t go unnoticed, particularly by visitors to the city.

“We could have something different for every major holiday,” Peckinpaugh said. “I think people notice that when they drive through your town. Keeping things up like the flower pots and the clean-looking trash cans is going to be a big plus, not only in making people attracted to New Castle in general but to the downtown area.”

“I think you’ve done a great job with the funds you have had,” Councilman Jeff Hancock said.