MENTONE – An informal meeting was held at Mentone Town Hall Thursday for community input on how the town of Mentone could use its K21 grant funding.

Mentone Town Council Jill Gross said the $200,000 grant from K21 has no time limit and it’s for beauty, health and wellness.

“That pretty much lays it out. We just need some good ideas. It doesn’t have to be all $200,000 spent on one thing. We can divide it up on different projects. K21 has to approve it and we have to have a written proposal,” Gross said.

Councilman Tim Croy said the town is looking for additional grant money to add to the $200,000 K21 grant. Gross said Utility Superintendent Josh Shepard has a meeting Oct. 4 with the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

Croy said he received a text message from Rita Simpson on her ideas of how to use the grant money. Simpson thought part of the money should go to the Mentone Historical Museum due to the fact the museum is used a lot for education and education is part of wellness.

Simpson’s other idea was one of the biggest topics discussed during the meeting, which was using the grant money for additions to the park.

Croy said they’ve had people say they wanted another pavillion and more equipment added to the park. On the Mentone News Facebook page, there were several people who were saying they wanted disc golf in town or a skate park.

Shepard said some equipment at the park has been there since the 1960s and the insurance company has a list of things they don’t like about the park.

Billie Sexton said she thought of a skate park, but it’s a little bit more insurance. She wondered how much the insurance for a skate park would cost the town. Clyde Sexton said he saw suggestions for a SplashPad and as a business owner, he thought of the liability it could create for the town.

Honey Kuhn said the park is a hidden gem.

Shepard said the park is outdated. He said there has to be a sidewalk down to the pavillion so older people and people in wheelchairs can get to it.

“We’re just behind times on the park,” Shepard said.

Town Marshal Jim Eads suggested the park could be divided up and have different attractions throughout.

Gross asked about disc golf, wondering if there has to be 18 holes or 9 holes or how it would work.

Shepard said the town could put in whatever the park has room for.

Cornhole boards were another suggestion during the meeting.

Another suggestion that was brought up during the meeting was building a community building.

Honey Kuhn said when the Mentone alumni met, there wasn’t an enclosed building in Mentone for them to meet, so they rented the Atwood building.

Another suggestion was to update the sidewalks in town.

Shepherd said the K21 grant can possibly be used to update the sidewalks, but the town isn’t going to get a lot out of the money by using it for updating the sidewalks.

An idea Eads brought up was installing radar speed signs on either side of Ind. 25. They would be solar powered. It would be approximately $11,000 for four signs. There might be some further expense from the signs due to installation and the state would also have to approve where the signs were located.

Fire Chief Mike Yazel said the signs might make people think about their speed.

Eads asked if COVID money could be used towards the radar signs instead of the K21 grant.

Gross said she thought it possibly could.

Yazel said he thought the town needed to put people together to discuss a long-term plan.

Gross agreed, saying that in the Forward Kosciusko plan, the town is supposed to have a long-term plan when the collaborative effort is done.

Yazel said the community building might be a long-term project. He said he’s seen the people in Mentone come together and do a lot if they know what they’re working towards.

Gross said Thursday’s meeting was a preliminary meeting for input on the K21 grant. She will give the list of project ideas to Shepherd so he can take it to his meeting with OCRA. Gross said she will also have to talk with K21.

Croy suggested bringing the Boy Scouts to one of the community input meetings to see what they’d like to have in town. He also suggested incorporating the grant meetings with one of their Scout meetings