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IDEM should clean up grant-awarding process

After being denied a grant for stormwater improvements for a second time ‘ without the application even being reviewed ‘ the Harrison County Regional Sewer District board wanted to know why.
So, a few board members and consultants made the trip to Indianapolis to visit with Indiana Department of Environmental Management representatives to try to find out the reason the grant was trashed before it was even considered.
Not long into the meeting, board members heard an unexpected word from the panel: riverboat. This caught the board members off guard and caused them to speculate that the grant never really had a chance because Harrison County is home to Horseshoe Southern Indiana, and it receives the benefit of gaming funds.
While it’s true that Harrison County is fortunate to have a riverboat and the funds that come with it, it shouldn’t mean any and all grants submitted from the county should be denied.
If that is IDEM’s policy, then they should at least be up-front about it from the beginning before the county pours money, preparation and planning into the grant application process.
The grant that was twice denied took quite a bit of effort and nearly $9,000 just to prepare.
If funded, the board would have received $100,000 to resolve runoff issues at the southeast corner of the Lanesville Junior-Senior High School parking lot. The grant would have allowed the district to install a Best Management Practice pump that would treat runoff from the parking lot in an underground basin before discharging the treated water. Catch basins on the south side of the parking lot nearest to the school would be improved to increase capacity, then treated and untreated water from both catch basins could be tested and compared by students.
The stormwater demonstration project would have served as an educational opportunity for students throughout Harrison County, not just Lanesville.
The sewer district board also went to the trouble of securing multiple partners, including the Harrison County Soil & Water Conservation and Corydon Central High School.
It was a strong application and a good project, and IDEM officials even said so.
But for some reason, it didn’t even get a serious look. The grant selection committee should be ashamed, not because it denied the project but because it couldn’t even be professional and give a good reason why.
Board representatives stood before the Lanesville Community School Corp. Board of Trustees and spoke with confidence that the grant would be funded, since all indications were that it was a fairly strong application.
However, it seems confidence in IDEM officials is something the board should not have taken for granted.