The city of Jasper is entering a contest to be one of the best communities in the country.

City officials announced this afternoon that the city has assembled a group of leaders to enter Jasper into the America’s Best Communities Contest. The contest is being sponsored by Frontier Communications along with DISH Network and CoBank.

Now a total of $10 million in prize money will be given away to small towns and cities in 27 states where Frontier has customers. The money goes toward supporting growth and revitalization plans. Jasper is 1 of 18 Indiana communities that are entered in this contest.

In a news release, Jasper mayor Terry Seitz says the program serves as an opportunity to work towards the implementation of the Downtown Riverfront Master Plan. Seitz says members of the team have been recruited from the public, private, and charitable sectors for this effort. The team includes members from the Japer Office of Community Development and Planning, the Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition (ROJAC), the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Dubois Strong, the Dubois County Community Foundation, and the Vincennes University Jasper Campus. 5 area businesses will also be represented on the team. These are Kimball International, Finishing Touches, Matrix Integration, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, and German American Bancorp.

Now the process is spread out over about 2 years. Contest judges will select up to 50 qualified communities from across the nation. Each of the 50 will then get $50,000 to develop plans and proposals. Final proposals will be due in September of this year.

In November of this year, judges will select up to 15 semifinalists to present proposals at the America’s Best Communities summit in January of next year. After the presentations, 8 finalists will be selected and will get $100,000 to implement plans. A total of $6 million in grand prizes will then be awarded to the top 3 contestants in October of 2017.

Major hiring is set to take place at NSWC Crane this year.

Yesterday, Crane officials announced that the base will be hiring more than 350 new employees during the current fiscal year. The base says authorization to hire more employees was granted by NAVSEA due to a rise in workload demand and the need to have enough employees to fulfill the base’s mission.

The hirings will also add a few government employees to the base. The base will be hiring people in several different career fields, which include Acquisition/Contracting, Business, Chemistry, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Project Management among several others.

To apply, you can go online to usajobs.gov. Crane officials say several jobs are already posted there and the site will be updated throughout the year.

NSWC Crane is the 3rd largest naval base in the world. The $1.5 billion business base supports the Navy by leveraging technical capabilities to support warfighters in the ever changing combat environment.

Town officials in Holland are preparing for a major project along Kentucky Street to get underway.

In a news release, Holland town board president Tom Thacker says signage has now been put up in the area and silt fences are being installed. Thacker says project contractor Blankenberger Brothers is also set to bring in equipment this week. However, he says the work will not begin until next week.

The project, which has been in the works for about 5 years, aims to widen Kentucky Street between Holland Road Southwest and State Road 161 in order to get heavy truck traffic off of other town streets including Main Street.

Now utilities work on the project began in February of last year. At that time, Thacker outlined the future impacts of this project on Holland:

Thacker says the project will take the entire summer to complete. He says once work begins next week, Kentucky Street will be closed to all traffic except for residents living on that street.

20 percent of the work will be funded by the town of Holland and Dubois County. The remaining 80 percent is being funded through grants from the Federal Highway Administration.

Flexibility is the new buzz word for Jasper city officials when it comes to selling property for development.

Earlier this year, the Jasper City Council and the Board of Public Works both ordered city attorney Renee Kabrick to begin preparing the 30th Street park area for sale. Kabrick has now proposed a planned unit development (PUD) for the 30th Street park to leave all city zoning options for the property on the table once it is sold.

Mayor Terry Seitz says a PUD is the best way to resolve concerns about how the land might be used:

Seitz says the biggest concern thus far to come from homeowners in the area is how a wooded area near the park would be used in future plans.

Now city officials have scheduled a public meeting for those homeowners to hear more about what the 30th Street park property might be used for in the future. That meeting will take place tonight beginning at 6:30 in the Pfaffenweiler Room at Jasper City Hall.

The 30th Street property is one of three properties that the city is looking to sell. The others are located on Lechner Lane and Truman Road. The 3 properties are being sold to recoup just over a million dollars that the city used out of its rainy day funds back in 2013 to buy the Parklands property.

The Rotary Club of Jasper will be presenting its 4th ATHENA International Award later this year.

The award ceremony is set for Thursday August 20th. It gets underway at 6 o’clock that evening at the Huntingburg Event Center with Deaconess Health System President and CEO Linda White as the guest speaker. White won an ATHENA Award herself in 2001 from the Evansville Rotary Club.

Since the program was founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz, more than 6 thousand ATHENA Awards have been presented in more than 500 different communities. Those communities span the United States, Canada, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK.

Now the Rotary Club of Jasper is accepting nominations for this year’s ATHENA Award. The Rotary Club is encouraging all county business leaders to consider nominating an outstanding local businesswoman for this award.

Forms can be downloaded by going online to jasperrotary.com. The deadline for nominations is May 1st. This year’s finalists will be announced by July 1st. All finalists will be honored at the August 20th presentation dinner.

As mentioned, this is the 4th year for the ATHENA Award in Dubois County. Kathy Tretter was last year’s winner.

Jane Chappell won the inaugural ATHENA Award in 2012 and Brenda Stallings was the 2013 winner.

The town of Ferdinand is gearing up for it’s annual spring cleanup.

The dates for this year are Monday, April 6, through Wednesday, April 8, with specific items scheduled to be collected on specific days.

Regular trash pickup will take place for the entire town April 6th. All bags with trash stickers are to be curbside no later than 7 am.

Town officials say large items on the west side of State Road 162 will be picked up April 7th and large items will be picked up on the east side of town on April 8th. If necessary, additional pickup will take place Thursday.

Items picked up at no charge include electric or gas ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers, deep freezers, water heaters, lawn mowers and bicycles.

Items to be billed to residents if picked up include televisions, computer parts, mattresses, box springs, and other furniture and tires. Other items not mentioned may carry a fee to be determined by the street department.

Free-flowing liquids, such as oil and paint, will not be picked up because the landfill does not accept these items. Also, doors must be removed from dehumidifiers, refrigerators and freezers. No units containing Freon will be collected without a technician’s certificate stating the Freon has been removed.

Any questions call Ferdinand Town Hall at 812-367-2280 or the Ferdinand Street Department at 812-367-2282.

Officials in Jasper will soon begin looking at budgeting for work on the Downtown Riverfront Master Plan.

The city is looking to start work on the downtown courthouse square later this year. Mayor Terry Seitz says the project will include replacing water lines, utility work, and repaving the streets. He says though construction may not start this year, it is time to find the funding for the downtown square project.

Seitz says city leaders have several other budgeting priorities for the plan as well, including work on re-purposing former factories such as the Hoosier Desk and Jasper Cabinet buildings. Seitz says money for implementing the plan will come from sources other than general fund tax dollars:

Seitz says the city has roughly $4 million of economic development income tax funds in reserve. He says Jasper also gets an additional $1.4 million a year in economic development income taxes that could be used to fund these projects.

Seitz says money will also likely be set aside for potential work at the Parklands property. He says the city can afford to put more into the Parklands if need be:

Seitz is also thankful for the community support for the plan. He says more than 300 residents participated in public meetings for the plan. 75 others gave input in private interviews.

The Downtown Riverfront Master Plan was formally adopted by the Jasper City Council last year. It features 5 areas of emphasis, which are the courthouse square, connecting the downtown and riverfront areas, reusing former industrial property, connectivity downtown, and the integration of art.