The City of Indianola has made the most of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Since the 1980’s Indianola has been continually moving forward with community development projects in numerous ways. In recent years, the City of Indianola has installed a new water system, a new medical clinic, sidewalks and streets, a new fire and rescue department as well as leveling deteriorating buildings for a more pleasant view along popular highways.
Indianola received CDBG funding for a housing rehabilitation project in mid 1980’s that renovated ten homes and repaired public sidewalks. Indianola city council wanted to make the project cost-effective so the cost of the project was split to include half CDBG funding and half funded by loans. According to City Clerk Ona Malleck “both projects were a complete success.” The homes were modified to uphold housing standards and still remain in excellent condition today. The public sidewalks are now handicap accessible to serve the local community. Participants of this housing rehabilitation program still express much gratitude for the CDBG funding and loans alike that allowed them to complete the necessary repairs to their homes in a affordable way.
Indianola was approached by the State of Nebraska Health Department to find new wells for drinking water. Nitrate levels were too high in the current system. With the help of CDBG funding the City of Indianola discovered two new wells with lower levels of nitrate. These two wells are still providing safe drinking water for the city. However, due to Federal mandates the larger of the two wells will be taken out of operation. Indianola partnered again with the CDBG to form a regional water system to solve the recent mandates.
Since the greater part of the population in Indianola is of retirement age, there was a growing need for a medical facility. With the nearest clinic located fourteen miles away transportation became the main concern. The City of Indianola consulted with the Department of Economic Development to find a way to purchase a land site that would house a medical clinic. It was decided the City of Indianola would purchase the land with money from the housing rehabilitation repayment fund, and the medical foundation agreed to construct the clinic. Today the medical clinic is still operating and serving the local area persons.
In more recent years the City of Indianola began demolishing unwanted buildings. One in particular was an old-fashioned, neglected hotel that had seen better days. In 2002, the hotel was dangerously close to crumbling onto a near by highway. Action was needed. CDBG housing rehabilitation funds totaling $48,000 were used to knock down the aged hotel. The City of Indianola is now the current owner of the property.
In 2003, demolition of other deteriorating buildings along U.S. Highway 6 & 34 was done, making room to build a new fire/rescue station. The rebirth of the Indianola Fire and Rescue Department was successful due to smart money management. By spending the CDBG funds and loans wisely money was still available from the housing rehabilitation project to raze the previous building. The Mayor of Indianola, Clifton Lord, donated the neighboring building to be demolished as well. This allowed for additional land space for the new structure.
The Fire and Rescue Department needed more funding to complete their new facility. The City of Indianola was awarded with another Community Development Block Grant totaling $239,600. However, that would only cover half of production cost. Further funding was received from the Indianola Volunteer Fire Department. Money was raised from the Fire Department Volunteers who had collected throughout the years always keeping this project in mind. CDBG funds only accounted for half of the total cost. The local Fire Volunteers raised $45,000.00. The balance of cost was borne by City funds. This money allowed Indianola to rebuild a spacious and functional Fire Department.
Just as the new Fire Department began to take shape tragedy struck the City of Indianola. Ironically the City Hall and Shop, which has been used to house some utility equipment, and all utility inventories, was burned down. Fire took down these two important city structures and a City Council meeting was held to discussion the future of the CDBG funds. “Should we cease the process of the Fire/Rescue Station in case they need funds to replace City Hall and the Shop?” Unanimously, the City Councils response was “No”. In the words of Mayor Lord, “It is a time for looking forward, not backward.”
August 14, 2005 marked an annual town celebration. It was during this weekend the new Fire and Rescue Station held its grand reopening. Compliments continue to pour in from area travelers who have noticed the dramatic change this project has had for the popular intersection. The Fire and Rescue Station now fulfills a community obligation in addition to beautifying a popular corner in Indianola. While the City is now trying to find solutions to re-build the City Office-Shop, the old fire-rescue facility is being used to house utility supplies, and some utility equipment.
The City of Indianola has done a great job of implementing Community Development Block Grants. They see a problem, find a strategy to manage the problem, and carry out their goals to the fullest extent. Projects like those in Indianola are great examples of how to use the CDBG funds as a resource for success.