HOPE — A little town in northeast Bartholomew County has big plans for the new year.

Town manager J.T. Doane discussed downtown revitalization plans, infrastructure upgrades, efforts to stimulate business growth and preparations for two milestone community events during his State of the Town address attended by more than 50 people Thursday at Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School.

All the town’s plans, which were bullet-pointed during a 30-minute address, are intended to improve the quality of life for Hope’s residents, Doane said.

Infrastructure improvements

Now that a $3 million water project has been completed, efforts will turn toward repairing up to 2,000 lineal feet of sewer linings as weather permits, the town manager said.Also, sections of seven streets in Hope will receive a new blacktop this spring: Jackson, Harrison, Washington, Harrison, Butner, Midway and Hitchcock, Doane said.

Funding was obtained last fall through a $57,000 grant administered by the Indiana Department of Transportation, the town manager said.

In either the spring or the fall, a $265,000 interior and exterior renovation of the Hope water tower is expected to take place.

Downtown developments

The town council is expected to examine the feasibility of a new town hall at its Jan. 17 meeting, Doane said. RQAW Associates of Indianapolis was hired earlier this year to developing initial plans and specifications for the proposed building.Meanwhile, a planning and design studio in Indianapolis is developing a plan for downtown revitalization. That plan from Storrow/Kinsella Associates, which is being paid through a $40,000 grant, is expected to be presented in August, Doane said.

Doane repeatedly assured residents that proposed changes from Storrow/Kinsella will utilize or emphasize Hope’s historic value and not detract from it.

A new executive director of Main Street of Hope, an organization that is dedicated to the revitalization of the town square, is expected to be hired in 2017, Doane said.

Also, efforts to reinvigorate the recently-reformed Hope Town Chamber of Commerce should be enhanced when Doane joins the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors in January, he said.

Milestones

Work on Hope’s first official animal shelter is expected to be completed early in 2017. About $14,000 is being invested into converting the former well house on West Jackson Street, near the city limits, into the Paula Pollitt Memorial Animal Shelter.

Hope also is planning for two major milestone celebrations: the 50th anniversary of Hope Heritage Days and the 30th anniversary of the Hope Ride.

Reflecting on past year

Besides the replacement of 14,000-square feet of water lines and newly-paved streets, Doane cited other reasons why some feel 2016 was “a historic and phenomenal year for progress and development” in Hope.

Two new businesses opened south of the town: Green Light Auto Sales and a new NAPA auto parts store next to Major’s True Value Hardware.

The creation of a new emergency services committee that will form a regional plan for emergencies such as floods and tornadoes.

The awarding of a $492,000 federal grant to the Hope Volunteer Fire Department for a new fire truck.

The formation of the Hope Student Enrichment Committee that provides teens the opportunity to have input into community planning.

The eighth annual Hope Cops Christmas for Kids, which raised almost twice its goal and provided holiday gifts to 14 young people in northeast Bartholomew County.

The inclusion of the Hope Police Department in a computerized data bank used by other law enforcement agencies.

During Thursday’s formal presentation, Doane also included 2016 accomplishments at Hauser High School, which include a 100-percent graduation rate, and volleyball and softball teams that advanced to semistate tournaments.

New meeting time

Beginning in January, the regular meetings of the Hope Town Council will be conducted at 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month, Town Manager J.T. Doane said.

That’s a change from 2016, when the monthly meetings were conducted on Mondays.

The next meeting is Jan. 17 at Hope Town Hall, located at the northeast corner of the town square.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.