Corydon’s Stellar work a ray of sunlight
I went to the Fred Cammack Corydon Farmers Market on June 2 with my ‘mayor,’ Eva Bates North. I invited myself to join her on this Friday ‘summer’ ritual in Corydon for a couple of reasons. First of all, I like Eva and enjoy her company. But beyond that, I find her uplifting, smart, experienced, informative and inspirational.
As we left the Corydon Town Hall and crossed the street, we passed the limestone building on the corner that houses apartments. When I moved to Harrison County in 1957, this was the only apartment building in Corydon. Dr. Dillman had his office on the first floor, and there were two tiny apartments upstairs. I remember visiting Dr. David Dukes and his new bride, the former Margaret Robb, in their apartment there. One had to climb over the bed to get to the closet. In those days, there wasn’t the beautiful landscaping across the street surrounding the library that we admire today.
We didn’t go directly to the farmers market. Instead, North suggested we walk through the downtown in order to see all that was going on around the town square. I must admit that I was hot and focused on staying in the shade as much as possible. Not the mayor. She stopped and chatted with everyone we passed. She delighted in a family with children in a stroller, complemented men putting new glass in the back windows of The Beaver Street Tap Room and received a complement on her efforts from a man whose face was not familiar. I have to again admit that I felt more than a little embarrassed with my own concentration on the sun and hot sidewalk. I write about community, but am I personally helping to create it?
We stopped to see the old building on the corner of Elm and Chestnut streets. Many of you remember it as the recent site of Darrel Conrad’s furniture store and, before that, the Sears catalog store. Well, look again folks. It is being totally restored to its original sturdiness and beauty as the J.J. Bulleit LLC. Inside the solid brick walls, now stand new two X four-studded walls laid out for apartments extraordinaire. The Main Street Corydon program is the new owner and is getting it ready for enterprising renters. From the front apartment, a fortunate occupant will wake up in the morning to view the splendid new Bicentennial Park across the street. Wow, what they would pay in Indianapolis for such a sight. The back apartment gives a glimpse of the First State Capitol Building. Where but Corydon can a person find that!
We needed to get to the farmers market as it runs only from 4 to 7 on Friday nights. (This season, it also has Tuesday hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) I sure wish we could have seen the construction on the old Stonecipher Building on the south side of Chestnut. I hear apartments in this building will look right down on the new Bicentennial Park. Think of that, a yard that someone else mows and a park with beautiful locally handcrafted benches and tables and water features.
Yes, I know the emphasis recently is on the town of Corydon but it is our county seat and the new Stellar program is a Harrison County ‘ no, Indiana area ‘ redevelopment program. Eva stressed constantly that we are all in this together and that it will be successful if we all work together. She said the ‘public perception’ of us in the economic arena is different than it was in the past. Investors wouldn’t have been responding as they are now.
As an example, she noted that five contractors from throughout the state are interested in refurbishing or upgrading Corydon’s wastewater treatment plant.
On a hot summer day, the farmers market, developed by Main Street Corydon, is more a desired destination than the wastewater treatment plant and, so, on we went to check it out. A trio of musicians was playing in the open plaza between the two rows of stalls housing vendors. For sale were locally grown garden produce, baked goods, various sweets and hand-crafted items.
We saw old friends and even family members we hadn’t seen for some time. Over dinner, upon a new bright red table with an umbrella, we discussed the purpose, organization and success of this current community building adventure. It was a choppy conversation as folks kept coming up to meet ‘Mayor North,’ pass on some information or just visit.
During our chat, she said, ‘This is not a job to me. Every morning when I get up, I say to myself, this is an opportunity; this is an inspiration. What can I do to contribute to the county.’
She was full of praise and thanks for Catherine Turcotte, the Main Street Corydon’s executive director, and her well-organized troop of volunteers. Eva is in awe of those who are rebuilding our community with their time, money and hopes.
If you want a shot in the arm to your enthusiasm, I suggest you take a stroll around Corydon’s main street area. With all the complicated and often discouraging news out of our national government, it will be a ray of sunlight for you. And maybe, like last week in Harrison County, it will even ‘be cool’ in all senses of the word.