Local optometrist Dr. Nate Otte incorporated some paintings as artwork for a book he has written about dogs walking around downtown Seymour.
He now hopes to get the book published and has partnered with the Leadership Jackson County youth project team in hopes of getting signage placed in five locations to coincide with the story.
The idea is to have families walk from place to place while reading the book as a downtown scavenger hunt.
During the Feb. 13 meeting of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department board, LJC youth project team member Karen Dringenburg asked for permission to place concrete pads and signage in four downtown parks — Steinker Platz, Burkhart Plaza, Crossroads Community Park and the area near the John Mellencamp mural.
The fifth location is outside the Jackson County Public Library, and Dringenburg said the project team already received approval to place a concrete pad and sign there.
After nearly 20 minutes of discussion, the board decided to table the topic until more details were available, including a rendering of the sign, what the sign would be made of, how big it would be and how the parks department would be involved.
For the March 13 meeting, the board was forwarded an email from project team member Melanie Burgess with proposals for the signs from Seymour High School’s Owl Manufacturing. That included a rendering and the dimensions, 7.5 inches high and 8 inches wide.
After more discussion, a decision was made to have board members share their questions with Parks Director Stacy Findley and Program Director Chad Keithley so they could meet with the LJC project team to get them answered.
The team hopes to get the project in motion soon so they can present during project presentations and graduation in May.
Dringenburg said the idea is to have a dog paw imprinted in 12-by-12-inch concrete pads and have those near the signs at the five locations. Each sign would include health information. Walking around downtown would promote reading and health benefits.
“We would like them to be permanent. We tried to find something that would withstand weather but also not be something very large,” she said of the signs. “Then what we want to do with the concrete is have a dog put a pawprint into the concrete and have a little sign with it and health facts on it.”
Findley said the concrete pads would need to be in a place where mowers wouldn’t run over them such as a flowerbed and for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance purposes, they couldn’t be sticking out of the grass.
“I can’t have people tripping over it for accessibility reasons,” she said. “It’s going to have to be somewhere where people aren’t going to trample flowers, either. We have flowerbeds that we haven’t planted flowers yet for the season, so we would just have to know in advance so we don’t plant flowers there.”
With the signage, the board expressed concern particularly around the Mellencamp mural because there already are other signs in that area.
There are two QR codes placed by the parks department for people to access an online guestbook and share where they are from, another is a sign with a QR code placed last year by an LJC project team linking to a Jackson County Visitor Center website with information about things to do in the county and another is a map of downtown placed by Seymour Main Street.
Keithley said one idea is to attach the sign to an existing sign pole and putting the concrete pad near it, but board President Monica Riley said that could take away from the existing sign if they are in the same place.
“There’s kind of a taboo in the parks about having tons of mismatched signage,” Findley said. “Another thing would be if we took down some of the current signage, then that would be a spot and we wouldn’t have to bring in something different, like we could put the new signage where the old signage is and we wouldn’t be making additional poles.”
Dringenburg said the project team wants the signage and concrete pads to be in place for as long as possible since they tie into the book.
“I would feel bad for Nate if we do all of this work to get this book published and get all of this accomplished and then three years from now, it may or may not happen anymore,” she said.
She explained how a Mice on Main scavenger hunt in Greenville, South Carolina, has brought many people to that city.
“I know it’s different scales but still the same aspect in terms of we would like it to be something that’s longer-lasting than just a couple of years, especially since there’s a book involved that we’re trying to get published,” Dringenburg said.
The team also would like this to expand to other Jackson County communities.
“We want it to be all-inclusive of Jackson County — a Brownstown book, a Medora book,” Dringenburg said. “We’re setting that project up to go into the future, as well.”
In terms of funding for the project, Dringenburg said if the city could help with providing concrete for the pawprint pads and manpower to place those, the project team could seek donations for the signs. LJC provides funds for each project team, and Dringenburg said they are looking into grant opportunities, too.
“If people are welling to help, great. If not, then we’re happy to ask for more donations and get a grant, as well,” she said.
Findley said since she didn’t have all of the answers to the board’s questions, she couldn’t advocate for the project until it was discussed further. That’s when the board members agreed to have Findley and Keithley get their questions answered during a meeting with the project team.
The board’s next meeting is set for 4 p.m. April 10 in the council chambers at Seymour City Hall.