POWDERLY, Ky. (10/14/13) – Earlier this month SurfKY News reported the good news that Powderly, with a population of around 800 citizens, was selected by the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) as the Number One City in the state in the category of City Revitalization. The city received $1,000 during a ceremony at the league's annual Conference & Expo in Covington.
The Enterprise Cities Awards, given since 1999, go to municipalities that have demonstrated entrepreneurship, innovation and excellence in local governance. Entries are judged in seven key areas: innovation or creativity of the project, long-term value to the community, adaptability to other cities, use of public/private partnerships, ability to achieve project benchmarks, community-citizen participation and program efficiency.
Mayor Bobby Creager gave SurfKY News a short tour, and explained that the city won the award through its "hands on" approach to dealing with the challenges every town of any size faces.
With help and cooperation between the city, the Felix Martin Foundation, Judge-Executive Rick Newman, and Rep. Brent Yonts, along with others, Powderly's transformation can be seen almost daily.
For example, Creager noted, the city's highly successful use of the Scattered Housing grant program. According to Creager, Powderly has constructed more than 30 new homes in the past 5 or 6 years, replacing dilapidated houses and rusted trailers with small, but energy efficient and well-built homes to last a lifetime.
"It just thrills me to know that some of the people are getting the houses." Creager said. "Rep. Yonts helped out a great deal in securing the grants for these. Once the program was in action, I called him one day and said, 'You really need to come over here and see what an impact this has had on our community. I took him to the home of a man that had been living in a trailer that was just about ready to fall down. One of the Evansville T.V. news teams was there and they asked him, 'What will it feel like to move into a brand new home?' He broke down and just started crying. He has been tickled to death. He keeps that home sparkling. He has roses planted around it. It's just put a whole more pride in the people of the community, and that's what I'm most proud of."
Another example of revitalization is Powderly Park. This beautiful park was, Creager notes "once a pig pen”. The area was, literally, complete with live hogs. Now the John T. Rice Park, located across the street from Powderly's city hall and bordered by the Rails to Trails hiking path, offers residents of Powderly, and the county a large beautiful grassy area complete with playground equipment for various ages, and a well-kept fenced in basketball court.
The mayor noted that Rice went to talk to Judge Robert Draper several years ago to transform the "pig pen” into a park.
Creager's hand-on approach also applies to some of the smaller projects that still mean so much to many in the community, like the drive through window at the city building.
"Some of the elderly people in town mentioned they would really like to have a drive through window to pay their water and various other bills, so we put this in for them. They just love it. It's just an example of doing a lot of little things, day by day, week by week, and over the years, we've seen these changes affect the way citizens of Powderly take more pride in their city," Creager said with a smile.
Another example of Creager's "Hands-on" approach was inspired by a phone call he got from a resident.
"A resident called and informed me that there was an old railroad signal light just lying in the bottoms area near the city, rusting in the mud."
Rather than ignore the phone call, or sell the relic for scrap, Creager noted, "We had it dragged out of the mud, cleaned it off, sand blasted it, repainted it, installed new lights and had it mounted next to the Rails to Trails' path. Now rather than being an eye sore on the edge of town, this piece of Muhlenberg County history stands as an excellent reminder of what every city can do with a bit of imagination and by listening to the people of the community.”
This past weekend, Powderly celebrated its 3rd Annual Fall Festival, complete with live Gospel music, karaoke, and it's first ever car and truck show and swap meet.
"We've built a new stage in the park, and plan to have karaoke throughout the summer months, beginning in 2014." Creager said.
Over 30 classic car owners participated, with several noting that they were delighted and somewhat surprised at the fantastic turn out for this first time event in the community.
Creager noted that, with the opening of the new Pogue Automotive complex inside the Powderly city limits, "we'll have an increased tax base to work with."
So don't be surprised to hear about more "Hands-on" improvements yet to come in Powderly... a community where revitalization and cooperation have made it a shining example for other communities to follow.