Grant Money Could Lead to Bright Future for Madison


Bergen Cornelius

Bicentennial Park

Bergen Cornelius, Staff Writer

Money being pumped into the Madison, Indiana economy is helping the community more than ever before with three new grants having been awarded in the last month. The Madison Regatta committee just received a $50,000 grant, and all of the money goes to the production of upcoming Madison Regatta hydroplane boat races. Also, the Madison community as a whole just received $6 million for winning the 2017 Stellar Community Designation Award. Plus, the owners of the former Elks Lodge on West Street in downtown Madison were just given an $81,000 grant to redo the building exterior.

The Madison Regatta committee was in need for money after recent years where they have been losing money throughout the production of the event. As of September 2017, the Regatta team was $41,000 in debt. However, the grant that they just received can not go to any debt that they have accumulated.

“In today’s age for racing of any kind attendance and revenue is down since the millennials are no longer wanting to sit down and watch an event like this for five hours at a time to watch cars or boats go in a circle,” said Madison Regatta President Dan Cole.

So far they do have plans to extend the Regatta to just from boat racing but to also opening up a weekend long concert in Bicentennial Park.

“The purpose of this grant is to grow it and expand the festival side, music and boat racing side, at Bicentennial Park,” Cole said.

This money will go a long way for the committee when planning and producing this event. Also the Regatta team is always welcoming new people in for new and fresh ideas to keep making Regatta better than ever before.

With very specific restrictions the grant places, the committee right now is jumping around to make sure they meet all requirements by the state and city. Since the state can not give a specific organization a grant, the give the city or town and then the city leaders pass that money onto their important organizations .

Cole elaborated, “Music festivals are the future, starting small and building yourself up is the new way to go. All bands in local area and some not even from this area are all on the table. The new goal for regatta is to bring a new and younger audience to this event every year. This new grant can only be used for infrastructure of this event, at this time there is no projects getting started since clarification is still needed for where the money can and can not go. Another hope is for the race on the Ohio River to be back to be a point system so the traditional boat racing fan is more excited and ready for the races next year. There will be a total of ten grand pre and eight unlimited boats are coming Madison this next year.”

The Madison Regatta wasn’t the only local organization to receive a windfall, though.

On August 25, 2006 a fire hit downtown Madison, Indiana and destroyed the inside of the former Elks lodge along with many different documents and important artifacts to the club. Ever since that fire, the building has remained stagnant with minor improvements done to it. Throughout the years since the fire, the former Elks building has gone through many different owners, including Cornerstone who had to take the building back since past owners were not keeping up with it.

The owner now is Valecia Crisafulli who worked for National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington D.C. along with her husband Larry Crisafulli. They received was $81,025 from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. This was just one of seven properties throughout the state of Indiana to receive funding form this organization. The money that Larry and Valecia Crisafulli received has to be used only on the outside of the building. Their plan so far is to fix the brick, walls, roof, and also the windows.

Bergen Cornelius
Madison Elks Lodge

The early speculation is that the project will mostly likely take two years for it to be finished and was supposed to go under construction this November. When completed, the former Elks lodge building, a structure that once was city hall, will be transformed into six to eight high quality apartments.

Over the next ten years Madison will have $6 million invested into the community, due to the 2017 Stellar Community award. Madison won the grant after many years of successes, training, and planning.

Andrew Forrester, Director of Community Relations in Madison said, “It has been a long process. Essentially this was one of the goals that Mayor Welch and myself discussed when we first started in 2012. Since that time, our community has done a lot of planning work to get us to this point, including an Active Living Workshop, Envision Jefferson County, the America’s Best Communities competition, and updating our Comprehensive Plan. Even though it has taken a long time, I think the work has paid off.”

The grant, given by  the Lt. Governor of Indiana every year, awards one town in Indiana to further prosper their community and people. Madison won the Division One 2017 Stellar Community Award. The division one distinction means the population is over 6,000 people in the community and has plans to further the community and economic growth.

Madison and Culver leaders met on Thursday, October 26 to discuss the future plans for the prize given to each respective community. Culver was the division two winner, meaning they have under 6,000 people in their town. The purpose for this award is to give to the rural areas of Indiana a chance to build their infrastructure and then, in return, will allow Indiana to reach limits that were dreamed of a few short years ago. Along with the funding given to the Madison community, the state of Indiana is also trying to help send resources to towns all over the state.

We had a great time working on all steps of this process, including people from almost every organization in our community. I’m grateful for their help and I’m looking forward to making everything happen over the next few years.”

Even though Madison did win on their first attempt for this prestigious award it did take years of planning and hours of working for many to make this happen. With all of the money coming into Madison, it could forever change the town in many of the best ways possible. From the local economy to the aesthetics of the town, Madison could be looking at a brighter future thanks to some hard work from all of the people who helped make winning the awards possible.