Ask anyone in the City of Wabash, and they will tell you that Wabash is a Stellar Community.
It’s not just their opinion. It’s a fact. For in August, Wabash was one of two Indiana cities named Stellar Communities Designees for 2014.
The Stellar Communities Program is a collaboration between the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). It is designed to support comprehensive community development projects to make wide ranging quality of life impacts through the collaboration among public agencies and community partners. Wabash has nine initiatives with a price tag of $28,335,517, of which $15,640,999 is pledged from city coffers, private investment and other sources. That figure represents 55.2 percent of the total, meaning that another 44.8 percent, or $12,694,650.
“Wow,” an emotional Wabash Mayor Robert Vanlandingham said in August 2014 and the rest of the Wabash contingent took to the stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis after Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced Wabash and the city of Huntingburg were named the Stellar Communities Designees.
“I’ve been trying to think for some time about what to say. I thought I had it all figured out until I heard Wabash, Indiana, and I totally lost it,” the mayor continued. “I am so proud of my community, my people. I think it’s neat to be able to stand up here before all these winners – and we’re all winners.”
The mayor, as he did throughout the entire process, said Wabash’s success was due to a total community project. Over the last 12 years, cooperation among the City of Wabash, Wabash County and the Town of North Manchester has grown to proportions it has never been at before, he noted. “This here is the final step in that direction,” he said.He also praised the influx of youth that have returned to the city and who are helping to lead it into the future.
Ellspermann praised community representatives from both Wabash and Huntingburg, which is located in DuBois County.
“The committees from Huntingburg and Wabash prepared outstanding plans that impressed our selection team,” she said after the ceremony. “The transformational projects proposed by both communities are examples of the positive economic impact that can be achieved through thoughtful planning and broad-based public and private sector communities.”
The lieutenant governor later said, “This is what makes me have great confidence in our smaller communities around the state of Indiana are going to prosper just like our larger cities,” she said. “Indiana is going to boom not only in our urban centers. But in our rural communities and our smaller cities as well. I could not be prouder of Wabash and Huntingburg and the great Stellar programs they put together.”
Included in the city’s Stellar plans are improvements to the Eagles Theatre, creating an all-inclusive playground at the John Drook Memorial Park, a downtown façade improvement program, creation of an amphitheater at Paradise Spring Historical Park, continuation of the Streetscape improvement program, continuation of the Wabash Riverwalk, Charley Creek and Cultural trails, improvements to the Ind. 13-Ind. 15 Corridor on the city’s southside, a city-wide program with participants partially identified already, owner-occupied rehabilitation program, and creation of the Rock City Lofts in downtown Wabash.