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New benches appearing downtown

Brian Pollitt, left, of the Connersville Street Department, and Brad Wilson, Discover Connersville president, place one of the nine new benches at the downtown municipal parking lot Wednesday morning.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

When walking in the downtown, stop and take a rest.

New benches are now available along Central Avenue from 4th Street to 8th Street and in front of the Fayette County Public Library.

The Connersville Street Department delivered the benches Wednesday morning. Brad Wilson, president of Discover Connersville, and Sharon McQueen, executive director, helped decide where to place them.

Business and individuals who donated the nine benches are FCN Bank, Union Savings and Loan Association, city of Connersville Mayor’s Fund, Brenda Nick, Don Handler, Judy Reynolds and Karen Reisinger. The Fayette County Farmers Market donated two.

Plaques have been placed on the benches recognizing the donors. The heavy benches will be anchored in their locations after Apple Dumpling Days this weekend.

“Hopefully others will donate after seeing these benches,” McQueen said.

Discover Connersville is a member of Indiana Main Street. Its goal is improving the downtown area.

Wilson said the group began talking early this year about ideas to enhance the downtown, which is considered 3rd Street to the 900 block of Central and Eastern to Western avenues.

The word went out about the benches seeking donors and they came forward. Some donors requested specific locations, he said.

“Collaboration is very important to us,” Wilson said. “We want to work with any group that has an interest in the downtown.”

The Street Department also improved the look of the 400 block by placing pavers in the areas where trees were removed a few years ago. Those spots had just been filled with dirt. In the center of each location will be a larger paver with the imprint of a steam locomotive. 

Wilson said future plans call for developing and marking downtown walking trails, working with Purdue Extension and Community Voices to alleviate the food desert in southern Connersville and reviving a revolving loan fund.

He also said people with time on their hands would be encouraged to become an Uber driver for those lacking transportation. Other transportation options are being sought.

“We also want to take some open spaces and put in some benches, maybe a picnic table, possibly a raised garden bed so if someone wants to eat lunch outside on a nice day, there would be a place,” he said. “It would make the overall appearance better.”

Discover Connersville is not reinventing the wheel, he said, but bringing some things into being that have been discussed in the community for years and even decades.