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Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Celina loses out again on state grant for downtown revitalization

By William Kincaid
Celina's application for the Ohio Department of Development's Small Cities Community Development Block Grant was rejected for a second year in a row, Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue notified city council members on Monday evening.
City officials had submitted an application for a $400,000 grant to be used for downtown revitalization.
During the regular council meeting, LaRue said the city now will attempt to find out what went wrong with Celina's application in order to have a better chance of securing the grant next year.
Kent Bryan, the city's community development director, had told The Daily Standard in late May that he felt this year's application was more complete than last year's rejected application. Some changes were made to more fully comply with what state officials are looking for from applicants, he said.
Last year's application focused on linking the downtown area with the lakefront. The state program is focused solely on redeveloping downtown areas, so emphasis on the lakefront was dropped from this year's documents, Bryan had said.  
If the city had been successful, downtown building owners would be able to use a combination of their own funds and state grant money to pay for improvements. Van Wert and Greenville have both qualified for the program in recent years.
Council members earlier this year appointed Celina resident Tom Saddler as the city's downtown manager; the position is a requirement by the state for the grant program. Council members approved the transfer of $10,000 from the contingency fund to the community development department for contractual services of the downtown manager.
If Celina would have been awarded the grant, the costs of the downtown manager - who was required to coordinate with downtown business owners and state officials to gather necessary information for the application - would have been reimbursed to the city through the grant funds. During Monday's council meeting, Councilman Ed Jeffries Sr. asked if the city now would have to allocate another $10,000 to retain Saddler for another year, as the city once again will seek the revitalization grant.
"That I can't answer right now," LaRue said.
LaRue did say she felt Saddler did an excellent job communicating with the business owners and is an asset to the city.
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