Hebron gets offer to operate community center

2013-10-15T20:43:00Z 2013-10-15T21:50:22Z Hebron gets offer to operate community centerBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

HEBRON | Hebron is losing a councilman but could be gaining someone to take over the expense of maintaining the town's community center.

Councilman Travis Gearhart announced at Tuesday's council meeting he will be resigning by the end of the month because he received a promotion on his job that will require him to relocate to Wisconsin. A caucus will have to be called to pick someone to fill the remaining year of his term.

At last month's meeting, councilmen said the future of the community center was in jeopardy because the two groups that paid for its upkeep with their rental fees had been lost. The Geminus Head Start program lost is funding due to the federal budget sequester, and the seniors group also was moving out.

On Tuesday, Mitch Mullins of the Hebron Wilson Gates American Legion Post 190 said the post is willing to take over the care of the building in exchange for being allowed to use it as the legion post and the town taking care of the grass of the surrounding park and the snow plowing of the parking lot. The post would also take over management of the rentals.

Mullins said the site was originally where the post was located, and Town Attorney Ted Fitzgerald said the original building was a remodeled chicken coop. That eventually was replaced with the current structure, but the post got so small it sold the building to the town. The legion's 48 members continue to meet there.

Mullins said nothing would really change as far as the operation of the building. The senior citizens would be invited to use the building along with the town's Redevelopment Commission, as they now do, and the council meetings would continue to be held there.

"We are trying to save the town some money and help everyone," he said. "Some of the things the legion stands for are community and education. We will honor the contracts they have, and they will save on the man hours to maintain it. I think it's a win-win for the town and us."

Council President Don Ensign called the offer a "clear cut proposal," and added, "There are things that need to be taken a look at to try to keep the building running. We might need to sit down with your group and workshop something."

It also was announced the fire department received a $1,690 grant from REMC to buy an automatic defibrillator, and the police department got a federal Department of Justice grant of $6,102 to buy bulletproof vests. The town also received $7,000 in donations for the vests.

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