MUNCIE – It's difficult to appreciate shade at this time of year, but Muncie Village Trustee Mark Seimer believes that's just one advantage of planting more trees in town.
"I think everyone likes a shade tree," said Seimer, who assisted in a project to plant several new trees along Muncie streets this past summer. "It's something tangible that you can see and everyone can enjoy."
That was the goal of Keep Vermilion County Beautiful's minigrant program, enabling cities, villages such as Muncie, organizations and individuals to do projects that make the county more beautiful for everyone.
"Everyone feels good when they see something pretty," said Lynn Wolgamot, who helps lead Keep Vermilion County Beautiful as the county's recycling coordinator.
This year was the first year that KVCB distributed the mini beautification grants, and it was "wildly popular and successful," Wolgamot said.
At the suggestion of a board member, KVCB set aside $5,000 for the grants and received 29 applications. They funded 20 of them with awards that ranged from $100 to $400.
The grants were mini, but the countywide impact was major, with projects in Muncie, Georgetown, Sidell, Catlin, Danville, Hoopeston and more.
At the Vermilion Manor Nursing Home in Tilton, for example, about 13 volunteers planted 900 flowers in different areas around the building.
Members of the volunteer, nonprofit organization, which was founded in 2002, realized this was something they should focus on.
Next year they want to expand the number of grants by raising additional funds, Wolgamot said.
They will again have a pool of $5,000 available, but they'd like to double it through a fundraiser.
By March, KVCB members want to sell 200 raffle tickets for $25 each to raise an additional $5,000. Ticket buyers will have a chance to win a $2,000 gift card from Schultz Nursery, a $500 gift card from Berry's in Danville or a $500 gift card from Danville Gardens or three seven-gallon potted trees from Schuren Nursery.
The drawing will be March 1, and they hope to have all the grants awarded by May 1, in time for spring planting for flowers, trees or whatever each project entails.
Seimer said the mini grants are a good idea, and came at a very good time for Muncie, which had just cut down some of its older trees that were either dying or unsafe.
"We thought it was time to replace them. They're all planted right along the streets," said Seimer, who thought Muncie would probably apply for another grant in the future.