Council backs pursuit of grant to fund position

BROWNSTOWN — The Brownstown Town Council threw its support behind the pursuit of a $75,000 grant to fund a position for someone to help improve the quality of life in the county seat and Brownstown Township.

Jane Ellery, a local businesswoman, discussed the Together We Will program with council members during their meeting Monday at the town hall.

Together We Will is a mini-grants and technical assistance program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the Indiana Department of Health. Its focus is on funding community projects impacting eight public health priority areas of infant and maternal mortality, environmental justice, substance use disorder, mental health, COVID-19 hesitancy, access, violence and structural and systemic barriers.

The state received more than $5 million from the CDC to distribute across the state to help reduce the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic among racial and ethnic populations that have been disproportionately affected, according to the IDOH website.

Ellery said the person hired for the position would work with the town, township and Brownstown Ewing Main Street on the efforts of those organizations to improve the quality of life in the community.

She said Brownstown Ewing Main Street has agreed to act as the fiscal agent for the grant and asked the council to act as the hiring agent for the 1099 contract position.

Ellery said the ultimate goal would be to put in place a five-year funding plan to continue the work of that person and potentially have that person become a full-time town employee at some point.

She and her husband, Peter Ellery, are planning to operate their business, E2 Praxis LLC, out of the former Twin Town Drug Store in Ewing and will provide space for the contract position and a working community space there.

Ellery said the hope is to have the grant application ready within three weeks and funding in place in time to create the position before the Jackson County Watermelon Festival so an information booth can be set up. The festival will be held at Heritage Park and around the historic Jackson County Courthouse the first weekend in August.

The plan is to use $40,000 of the grant to pay for the position through a contract with the town, Ellery said. The remainder would be used for special projects and administrative costs.

The Ellerys both are retired professors from Ball State University in landscape architecture. Jane said their company is involved in healthy placemaking internationally.

The council voted 3-0 to act as the hiring agent for the new position. Councilman Tim Robinson was absent.