Plans for the Batesville Area Resource Center, which will house nonprofit organizations that are supportive of the less fortunate, are underway. 

Committee member Ham Struewing said, "The whole thing started back in July when we were offered the chance to buy" the former Ivy Tech Community College building at 920 County Line Road "at a tremendously low price, $67,500, from owners Ron Fledderman and Doug Bessler .... It was appraised for over $250,000. 

"We put together a committee of 10-12 people made up of representatives from the Kiwanis, Southeastern Indiana YMCA, the city, Batesville Area Ministerial Association, Margaret Mary Health, Project T3 (Totes for Tots and Teens) and other nonprofits .... Since the offer was so great, we didn't want to pass it up.

"We started a fundraising campaign, and an anonymous donor offered $50,000 if we would match it .... Thanks to private donors, we met that goal." In addition to purchasing the building, that money will be used for the initial cost of relocating the food pantry, he revealed. 

Committee member Mayor Rick Fledderman, pointed out, "We are working with the ministerial association because they are in desperate need of a new space for the food pantry .... The (current) building is too small and in desperate need of repair."

The next step for the BARC Committee is to raise about $125,000 in additional funds to do some remodeling and reconfiguring in the building. "The building is in really good shape, but we need to make some changes," Struewing announced. 

"Within the next six months, we hope to raise that money .... We are in the process of submitting an application to the Ripley County Community Foundation for a $20,000 Sally Morris Community Impact Grant .... We will know around the first of March if we received it."

Phase 2 of the project will involve moving the Southeast Indiana Health Center into the structure. "Then we're hoping to be a service to other nonprofits, such as Project T3 and River Valley Resources, who also help those who are less fortunate."

The concept of this resource center "is not unique to Batesville. Other communities have tried this, and it's been very, very successful," he noted. 

"The BARC will not be owned by the city of Batesville, and it will have it's own board of directors .... It is being paid for by private donations, not city funds," Struewing stressed.

"We've come a long way in a relatively short period of time, but we still have a long way to go. There is great enthusiasm for this. Initially, we only contacted maybe 30 people, and they donated some really good sums of money .... (In addition), Kroger is donating all the shelving for the food pantry."

The project is "an absolute win-win for everybody. The people using it don't want to be in that situation, but we want to be there for them."

Committee member Sarah Lamping observed, "It's all about people helping people. That's the driving force." 

Fledderman reported, "We will have a neighborhood meeting after the first of the year when we will invite people who live in that area (where the resource center will be) to be informed firsthand of what's going on. We have communicated with several of them already .... There has been some concern as to who would be the new occupant and how that would affect the neighborhood. With the plans for the BARC, that should alleviate that concern."

Donations for the BARC can be made to the Batesville Area Resource Center, City of Batesville, 132 S. Main St., Batesville, IN 47006. Checks can be made out to the Batesville Area Resource Center with BARC Project 2014 in the memo. 

For more information about the project, persons can contact Struewing at 812-212-0577.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.

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