Monday, December 19, 2011

Buy Local This Holiday Season

Holiday shopping-time is winding down. But if you're still looking for a great gift idea, look no further!  Why don't you give your friends or family a "Buy Local" gift certificate?

The Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce has Buy Local gift certificates available right now, and they can be redeemed at one of nearly 100 area businesses.  These companies offer everything from apparel, automotive supplies and services, technology products and services, entertainment, flowers and gifts, health and beauty supplies and services, home and garden items, and lodging.  Restaurants and other specialty stores are also on the list of gift certificate participants.

You can purchase a gift certificate, in amounts of $10 or $25, by going to the Chamber's offices at 16 S. Jackson St., or by calling 765-653-4517.

The Chamber is also partnering with local businesses to offer "24 Days of Buy Local Savings" through this Saturday.  This week, deals are available on appliances, home decor, restaurant meals, clothing and the local newspaper.  Click here to see the calendar listings of Buy Local savings for Dec. 19 through Dec. 24.

Thanks for all you do to support Greencastle businesses.  We appreciate your efforts to keep local dollars in our community.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Night Stalkings…Er, Stockings…

The “Night Stockings.”

If you’ve been on the courthouse square, you’ve seen ‘em. If you’ve stopped by City Hall, you’ve seen ‘em.

Someone has been stalking the City of Greencastle at night, to find just the right spots for their knitted creations.

It remains a mystery who’s behind these colorful adornments, but they are certainly pleasing to the eye.

Others have blogged about the stockings, too, of course – one blogger even helped us learn a new term: “yarn bombing,” which is described as a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth, rather than paint or chalk.

Still, no one knows the intrepid knitter’s identity.

Anyone care to guess who’s leaving the Night Stockings around town? Any hints at all?

Let us know in the Comments section below!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Greencastle Community Garden: Major Progress and Moving Into Phase Two

This summer, the Greencastle Community Garden has been rebuilt, thanks to a number of DePauw students and local residents.

Project Coordinator Michael Verbeek, a DePauw junior and Bonner Scholar, has led the community garden project over the past few months. He and members of the university’s Spanish Immersion Program, which is made up of both incoming freshmen and upperclassmen leaders, ensured that the garden was tilled, composted and fenced. They even helped build the ten 8-by-4 foot plots that are featured in the space.

Local volunteers lent a hand, as well. Bruce Sanders, the primary manager of the garden, was pivotal to this summer’s progress, and Brian Cox provided fencing expertise. Matt Brauer, a recent graduate of DePauw, also helped out.

Financial support for the most recent community garden efforts came from a generous grant by the DePauw University Bonner Program Community Fund. The grant not only made it possible for the plots and fence to be constructed, but it also allowed for the inclusion of an ADA-accessible bed.

These combined efforts mean that phase one of this year’s project is now complete . Phase two will begin at the end of the season. Tires and cinder block plots will soon be removed and replaced with new wooden plot dividers. By the end of the project, Verbeek estimates there will be about 30 plots in total.

Future plans for the garden include a picnic table and a sign designed and colored by elementary school students.

The Greencastle Community Garden is located on the City Hall reserve parking site off Franklin St. First launched in 2009, it is a culmination of the hard work of community members, DePauw students, and the Greencastle Sustainability Commission.

*Please note: All of the compost for the Greencastle Community Garden was donated by DePauw University. Next spring Verbeek plans to organize a composting day where local residents can utilize extra compost from DePauw to further promote home gardening.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Putnam County Playhouse!

We are nearing the end of what Mayor Sue Murray officially proclaimed "Putnam County Playhouse 50th Anniversary Week."

Yes, this week, May 22-28, 2011, has been all about celebrating the Putnam County Playhouse's big milestone!

Above are some photos we took outside the playhouse recently, as well as a shot of the banner hanging near City Hall commemorating the anniversary. The Banner-Graphic has put together a great series of stories on the history of the theater -- you can read the first installment of the series by clicking here.

Don't forget: the playhouse is having an open house tomorrow, May 28, from 3 to 5 p.m. There will be refreshments and, of course, entertainment.

What's your favorite memory of the playhouse? Be sure to share it below! And here's to 50 more years of fun at the Putnam County Playhouse!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Putnam RISE earns well-deserved attention

We thought you'd enjoy this story from the Herald-Times in Bloomington. It's a great article about Putnam RISE, a broad partnership that's bringing energy savings and investments to schools, homes and businesses across the county.


Putting the ‘green’ in Greencastle
Putnam RISE involves whole county in saving energy

By Dawn Hewitt331-4377 |
April 8, 2011

An initiative is under way in Putnam County that encourages residents, civic organizations and governmental units to cut energy use and support the local economy. Energy challenges are heating up homes and schools, with cash and prizes valued at more than $40,000 at stake.

Some lucky resident of Putnam County — Greencastle is the county seat — will win a “Green Home Makeover” that includes four new energy-efficient home appliances; 100 homes will receive free energy audits; and 21 homes will get weatherized — for free.

Schools are competing, not only to cut their March and April electric and natural gas bills relative to the same months in 2010, but also to get households to sign on to an Energy Saving Pledge, in which residents promise to take any or all of dozens of actions to cut energy consumption and to save money on utility bills.

The project is called Putnam RISE — Renewal, Investment, Savings and Efficiency — and is funded by the Putnam County Community Foundation and the Vectren Foundation. Partners are numerous, including all 16 schools in the county’s four public school corporations; the Greencastle Chamber of Commerce; Greencastle Presbyterian Church; and Shuee & Sons Great Buys Plus, the local store that will donate the four appliances.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken or are under way in Monroe County — examples include free home energy audits from the city of Bloomington , the Earth Care interfaith coalitions’s energy conservation program and Indiana University ’s own campuswide energy challenge competition. However, Putnam County ’s approach is to reach multiple constituencies with a single, comprehensive program.

As of Tuesday, 1,005 homes have taken the Energy Saving Pledge in Putnam County , which counted only 12,374 households in the 2000 Census. That means 8 percent of the county’s households are participating.

And for reasons Greencastle Sustainability Commission Chairman Steve Setchell can’t explain, 21 households in Indianapolis , Terre Haute , Bloomington and elsewhere have signed the online pledge as well.

“Our interest is, on the most broad level, to help households across county to secure energy savings from efficiency and conservation efforts represented in the pledge,” Setchell said. “Greencastle schools, for example, have been working on this since 2006, and have secured well over a half-million dollars in savings at a time when budgets are streamlined. That’s money we can reinvest in teachers, students and instruction.”

The Greencastle Chamber of Commerce is on board, too, organizing a buy-local campaign that will offer “Buy Local Bucks” — coupons given with certain purchases at local retailers that are good for discounts at other local stores. That component of Putnam RISE is expected to kick off May 1.

“We realized we wanted to strengthen the value of local consumption, realizing that local business are the red, beating heart of the community,” Setchell said.

Setchell said Greencastle’s mayor, Sue Murray, is an enthusiastic proponent of Putnam RISE.

“Efforts to make our greater community more energy efficient are a benefit to all. Not only can it help individuals, households, schools, and municipalities save money, the benefits of learning more sustainable practices are good for the planet and last a lifetime,” Murray said in an email. “Sustainability is something I have been interested in before taking office, and as a city, we have worked hard to improve our practices, and are very proud to be the only city in Indiana to receive Indiana Association of Cities and Towns’ Green Community of the Year award each of the three years that the state evaluation competition has been offered.”

The Greencastle Sustainability Commission says in its mission statement that “it will take a village to achieve environmental solutions to strengthen our community, economy, culture and quality of life.”

Putnam RISE has invited not just the village, but the entire county to reach together for that common goal.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stellar Communities Success

We received some outstanding news today! The City of Greencastle was selected as one of the two pilot communities for the state's new multi-year, multi-million-dollar Stellar Communities program!

We are so proud of the hard work that so many people put into our proposal for this program. There's no doubt that our strong partnership with DePauw played a huge role in this positive outcome. THANK YOU to everyone who did their part to ensure that Greencastle came out on top.

We'll share more information soon on what this new state funding will mean to the city's strategic plans for the next few years, but in the meantime, click here to read Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman's news release on the Stellar Communities program, or click here to check out the Banner-Graphic's story.

One last note -- Lt. Gov. Skillman will be here on Thursday herself, to make the news official! It will be a great day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

2011 State of the City

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray shared her thoughts on the "State of the City" in the Banner-Graphic this week. Below you can read the entirety of her remarks. Please feel free to start your own discussion on Greencastle's successes and challenges in the comments section at the end of this post. Thanks!


When asked, “How are things in Greencastle?” my response is, “We are paying our bills; we finished the year in the black; and we have continued to provide the services our citizens expect.” In these times of economic challenge I am proud and relieved to be able to make that report.

Without a doubt we are in such an enviable position because of the hard work, efficiencies found, and fiscal diligence of our employees and their supervisors. To all of them, I again, say thank you.

2010 was a year of other significant accomplishments also. I would like to share some of those with you.
• We held our first Youth Engagement Summit.
• We received two AARA grants totaling $99,767 that provided for the retrofitting of all remaining traffic lights to LED technology and a new energy efficient lighting system to the Greencastle Fire Department.
• We completed the Albin Pond and Safe Route to School pathway projects.
• We initiated a sidewalk cost-share program for property owners.
• We entered into a “Friendship City” agreement with Qianjiang City, China.
• 9 holes, of a disc golf course, were completed at Big Walnut Sports Park.
• We were named a Tree City for the 11th year and for the first time, received the Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation, for our tree planting efforts.
• We completed the North Jackson Lift Station.
• We were able to pave a second parking lot at the Big Walnut Sports Park.
• We extended the curbside trash contract with expanded recycling at no increase in cost.
• We conducted a second series of neighborhood community meetings.
• The city’s Sustainability Commission’s Putnam RISE proposal received the $100,000 Envision ’11 Grant from the Putnam County Community Foundation.
• We received a Disaster Recovery Grant from OCRA (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) of $530,000 for the needed renovations and improvements to the Albin Pond Lake Dam.
• We were named the Green Community of the Year by IACT (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns) for the third time in as many years.
• We were one of two Indiana cities in the final competition for the 2010 Award for Municipal Excellence given by the National League of Cities.
• We are one of twelve finalists for the Indiana Stellar Communities Pilot grant project.
• We are completing the transition to a radio meter reading system in the Water Department.
• We have received a Downtown Fa├žade Planning Grant of $46,620 from OCRA.

2010 found our population moving just over the 10,000 mark. (Our first census information has us as 10,326 strong.)

Looking to the future and securing our place in it, is a challenging responsibility. There are many influences, opportunities, and coincidences that are outside of municipal control, but have a profound effect on how we plan and how we do our jobs. We will continue to do the daily work of cities: to provide for the public safety, utility services, park and recreational opportunities, planning and building support, a resting place for our departed, and road and sidewalk rehabilitation. We will also continue to look for partnerships and chances for collaboration that will help us grow and enhance our human, social and physical capital. If we do these things, I am confident that we, as a community, will continue to thrive. 2010 was a good year. 2011 has the possibility to be even better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

City Workers Deserve Gratitude

Mayor Sue Murray wrote a letter to the editor, praising public service employees for their great work during the recent ice storm.

The letter appeared in the Feb. 4 Banner-Graphic -- here's a link to it, and the full text follows, as well.

To the Editor:
I have never been more proud of our city employees than I am today.

The challenges that the storms this week have brought have been plentiful and burdensome.

To a person their greatest concern has been how they can help to be sure that people in our community are safe; whether that's working extended shifts, taking on new responsibilities at the EOC (Putnam County Emergency Operations Center) or helping other departments.

City streets have been plowed and treated by the 24-hour work of our Department of Public Works.

Our Fire Department has responded to nearly one hundred calls and helped clear trees and branches from roadways.

Greencastle Police personnel spent three days working two 12-hour shifts patrolling our streets and answering the many calls from our citizens that came through Central Dispatch.

Our utility personnel have weathered the challenges of power outages and worked diligently to keep our water and wastewater systems operating at full efficiency.

Parks personnel are clearing walkways and cleaning debris and our cemetery crew has continued to provide services to families and their loved ones despite the weather.

All of this has been done without complaint, despite loss of sleep and time with their own families.

We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

What we have also learned is that events like this affect us all, regardless of township lines. Our ability to have a centralized, unified approach to dealing with emergency issues is our best response.

Our countywide emergency management team has done an outstanding job coordinating and tracking our responses. Duke Energy has brought in extra crews to restore power to the over 7,000 in this district that lost power and the National Guard stood ready to help with the response.

The meteorologists remind us that if we had received freezing rain rather than sleet our challenges would have been greater. For those of us now on the backside of the ice storm of 2011, we know that this challenge would have been greater if it weren't for the coordinated efforts of all involved and the dedication of the public service employees throughout the county.

Mayor Sue Murray

City of Greencastle

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Youth Engagement Summit survey: We need your input!

By Nathan Mullins, DePauw University sophomore and Mayor’s Office intern

Hi, I’m Nathan Mullins and I’m a sophomore at DePauw University. I’ve been interning with Mayor Sue Murray for the past three weeks of winter term.

The beginning of my time here was mostly spent researching community development corporations, as well as helping in whatever way I could with the city’s proposal for a Stellar Communities grant.

More recently, I’ve been assisting with the plans for this year’s Youth Engagement Summit (YES) -- set for Feb. 27 -- an effort aimed at getting the 16-22 year olds of our city involved in the community and informed about what’s going on where they live.

Though we learned many things through the city’s first-ever YES in 2010, it was clear that this age group represented an untapped resource. That’s why the city is organizing another summit in 2011, as well as a new survey that’s being conducted in conjunction with it.

The survey is a simple way to gather data on the trends of young adults in order to better implement government resources that cater to them. Though it’s short, the results will offer City Hall a better understanding of young people in the area, as well as a set of data that can be utilized well into the future.

When you have a moment, please click here and take part in our survey. We’d appreciate your input!

And please mark your calendars for the 2011 Youth Engagement Summit, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 27, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at City Hall. We hope to see you there!

Have any thoughts you'd like to share about the YES, or your experiences as a young person living in Greencastle? Post them below.