During the first five months of the year, Mayor Doug Hammers and the Providence City Council have begun laying the ground work for some changes they hope will help bring more visitors and more money into the community.
One of the key projects on the city's agenda is to develop the 36-acre Providence City Lake and the surrounding acreage into an area that will give local
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residents something to do, while becoming something of a tourist destination.
The first step in the plan was the installation of a kayak launch in early April. The launch, which was funded through the Providence Tourism Commission, allows kayakers to easily enter and leave the water without getting wet.
The council voted unanimously earlier this year to allow Tara Childress, a Providence-native, to begin offering kayak and body board rental and training service at the lake.
Childress, who provides similar services in Hopkins County, plans to offer rentals at $20 for up to two hours, with additional hours available at $10 each. She told the council that the closest such rentals were at Kentucky Dam Marina, where the cost was twice as much.
The next phase of the project will be applying to the Department of Local Government (DLG) for a $61,000 50/50 Federal Land and Water Grant. If successful, the tourism commission would chip in $24,000 and the city would supply $47,000 of "in-kind" match, which could consist of labor, equipment and materials, bringing the overall grant amount to $122,000.
Those funds will be used to develop the City Lake area. Specific developments that have been discussed are a new concrete boat ramp, a fishing peer and hiking trails. Wilderness camp grounds have also been mentioned for possible future development.
The Green River Area Development District (GRADD) has been assisting the city with the grant writing process.
"GRADD has gone above and beyond," Hammers stated. "Its been a pleasure working with them.
Mayor Hammers told the council that he feels the city has a good chance at getting the grant funding, as the DLG is looking for projects that develop new "nature and recreation" opportunities.
A personal project of the new mayor has been the addition of new signs at the Providence city limits. Several have already been installed, with more in the works. The signs feature images of the "arch" and the old Providence Water Tower, as well as the message, "In God's Protective Hands Since 1828."
The signs were not funded by the city. They were paid for, instead, through private donations. The current list of donors include: Planters' Bank, Ryan Hammack, Steve Burns, Tiffany Conrad, David May and Todd Jones.
Signs cost $700 and Hammers would like to see at least five more installed around town. Anyone interested in donating to the effort can make checks payable to Gibby Wright of Gibby's Graphics in Wheatcroft.
Hammers was also instrumental in locating and beginning cleaning operations at the previously unknown Rudy Graveyard. Located in a wooded area between South Finley and Old Madisonville Road, the cemetery dates from the late 1800's.
He said the historic society is currently working on finding more information on the property. The city has also located an easement to the property and is working on constructing an entrance from South Finley.
Hammer has also taken a special interest in the city owned Legion Field. Crews have begun clearing foliage and growth from the property.
Reach MATT HUGHES at 270-667-2068 or firstname.lastname@example.org.