On May 20, workers gave the light poles in Corydon a fresh coat of black paint, covering peeling, faded green exteriors. The Corydon & Allerton Chamber of Commerce is currently raising money for the light poles on the square and around town. Fundraisers are upcoming. Please send any donations to Corydon City Hall. Photo by Jason Selby
Recently, the light poles around the Corydon square have turned from drab green to black, the flag poles to white. This didn’t happen overnight. It took sacrifice, dedication and strategy. It is all part of the Corydon & Allerton Chamber of Commerce’s plan to beautify the town and attract new businesses to the area.
People such as chamber members Mike Thomas and Lee Peck, both employees of Wayne County Hospital, sacrifice their personal time to make Corydon a better place to live. Peck and Mark Nessen kick-started the project in a brainstorming session a few years ago, and are now seeing it come to fruition.
“We want to figure out a way to make the square more attractive to entice businesses to come into town and fill our storefronts,” Thomas says. “We really care about our town and how our square looks.”
One fundraising idea, in the early stages of conception, is allowing donors to give a certain of amount of money in exchange for a plaque on a pole with their family’s name. Thomas got the idea while visiting Branson, Mo., where bronze plaques are cemented at the base of streetlights. The chamber is still determining the price of placing the memorials. They are also still deciding how to design the plaques and where to situate them.
“In the near future, we’ll probably do something like they did for the Wayne Pride Project,” Thomas says. “We were thinking of it as the eternal light of your family. You can name that pole after that person. We’re trying to figure out the true cost of that pole, so we can know how much to ask to donate for that.
“We are renovating the entire pole. They’ve been repainted. We’re currently working on a new, more decorative light fixture—they’ll go from the type they are now to all LED.”
Some of the ideas are coming from Indianola, which Thomas says did a nice job on their community betterment project.
“Corydon Development has helped us a lot,” Thomas says. “We’re leading the project as the chamber, but we have some partners.”
Another partner is the City of Corydon, which owns the light poles.
Thomas estimates having raised around $10,000 to this date, and that there are 41 light poles that are structurally sound enough to be refurbished. Phase one was painting. Phase two is triage—some of the poles are leaning, and Peck says that depending on where they are located, they will probably come down. They are still getting painted because they could be used at another location. The poles themselves are not the problem—it is their bases.
“We don’t know until we get in there how cost-effective it will be to put a new base down for them,” Peck says. “Part of it will depend upon how much money we raise.”
One factor on the city’s side is the quality of the existing light poles, which should not be understated. Peck says that they could not buy a pole today of the same quality.
“You can’t buy poles like this anymore,” Peck says. “They don’t make them that sturdy and that strong. So that’s why Mark [Nessen] got online and found this company out of Minnesota to maintain them. The cost saving was just phenomenal. It’s hard to find vendors to come for a smaller project like this.”
“In the end, when we start getting light fixtures on there, people will say, wow, this is very nice,” Thomas says. “It will have a different globe or glass. As soon as we finalize which fixture we want, we will make sure to get that information out there to people so that they know what they’re donating towards.”
The main expense will be from the lighting fixtures, but in the long run, this will save Corydon money on its electric bill.
“It’s amazing how much it’s going to save the city on lighting costs by putting in the LEDs,” Peck says.
“What we didn’t want was to add any extra burden to the city’s budget,” Thomas says. “There is a financial crunch. What we wanted to do, as the chamber, is to help fundraise and be able to give the money to the city.”
“We started the project because we knew the city didn’t have the funds to do it,” Peck says. “Somebody had to. We’re very fortunate in that we don’t have a lot of empty storefronts, but we don’t want it to get any worse. We’d like to fill the couple that we’ve got empty.”
Upcoming fundraisers remain tentative. Peck would like to place a streetlight sign on the square marking their progress, and when they reach their goal, the streetlight would light up.
Donations can be made at Corydon City Hall. Please call the Corydon & Allerton Chamber of Commerce at 641-872-1338 for more information.