of Ghent closer to receiving
a building for multi-purpose use
Helen E. McKinney
GHENT, Ky. (April 2005) Citizens of Ghent
have decided a multi-purpose building would benefit the entire community.
They have patiently waited for the last several years, hoping to see
this plan come to fruition.
by Don Ward
call for restoration
of historic church for public use.
A citizens committee submitted a grant application
in 2001 for a federal TEA-21 (Transportation Enhancement Authority)
grant, which would aid in restoration efforts of the former Ghent Christian
Church. The committee asked for $350,000, with the aid of Stacey Dietrich,
a representative of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District.
On Oct. 15, 2003, then Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton presented a check for
$200,000, not quite the asked for amount. The TEA-21 grant money is
derived from the states gasoline taxes and used for similar projects
within the state.
Plans call for restoring the former church as an historic building for
multi-purpose use, said Ghent Mayor Bob Sundermeyer. Uses will include
museum space, a welcome center facility, a location for weddings and
parties to be held and space in the rear of the building for city hall
Until recently, the city had been kept in the dark as to where the much-needed
funds went. Were just waiting to get the word, to pass along
to the citizens, said commissioner Joey Beall, who compared the
process to being in a state of limbo.
Located at Fishing and Union streets, the Ghent Christian Church was
built in 1872. When the church dissolved in 1985, an Amish group purchased
it. The city eventually bought it from the Amish.
After the city paid down a certain amount of the loan, life-long Ghent
resident Evelyn Sanders paid off the remaining amount. Sanders was a
former city commissioner whose generous monetary donation ensured the
citys ownership of the building.
The city of Ghent purchased the building with several goals in mind,
one of which was to convert the rear exterior portion to house City
Hall offices. Renovation efforts on this area began in February 2005,
and city officials hope to be moved in by April, said mayor pro-temp
Bill Harmon. Work is being accomplished piecemeal, to stay within a
budget and not incur any debts.
Using city funding, the renovated portion will contain a meeting room
and bathroom in addition to city hall offices. As to the issue of staffing,
once a museum-welcome center is installed, The city clerk will
be a facilitator for this, said Beall.
As a museum, the building will be a useful tool for genealogy researchers
who wish to learn more about their family history, and the river and
tobacco history of the area.
Its a shame the building is deteriorating the way it is,
said Harmon. When the building was in the possession of the Amish, they
removed the church steeple after it fell into disrepair. The old steeple
posed a danger, and it is hoped a new one will be constructed when funds
In an effort to facilitate matters, Harmon said the city was, In
the process of securing another one (grant).
Since the city has applied for the grant and received it, they are now
at the stage to sign a contract, said Sundermeyer. Within the contract
are limitations of what to do and not do with the building. The city
was given 1 1/2 years to sign the contract. Many things must be taken
into consideration since the final signature will make the contract
A final letter must be written to ensure that the contract is accurate
and acceptable. By early summer, Sundermeyer hopes to have all issues
Ghents State Representative, Rick Rand, facilitated a meeting
last fall with state officials in Frankfort to discuss possible funding
resources. Rand and Magistrate Mark Bates, who helped with writing the
grant, have been instrumental in moving this project forward. Without
Rand, we would have got the grant, but not the money, said Sundermeyer.
A state registered architect will be hired to ensure that the renovation
work is done property, once funds are received. The architect
will run the show as far as spending the money, said Sundermeyer.
Experts have estimated that a half a million dollars is needed to complete
Sundermeyer said in addition to the $200,000 grant, some pledges have
been made, and $300,000 more is needed. Local companies that have pledged
support include North American Stainless and Warner Ladder of Carrollton.
Craig Construction of Carrollton offered free use of construction equipment
for this project.
The city must provide 20 percent of the grant money, which they already
have. The building was assessed at the needed amount of $50,000. An
official state advisor must reassess it, but Sundermeyer is confident
this will not be a problem. It is just a matter of time before
we move on, he said.
A steering committee comprised of Ghent citizens may be formed in the
future to make sure the communitys goals are met for this project.
Beal wants to keep citizens up to date, but so far, theres
nothing to pass along yet, he said. Like everyone else, he is
still waiting for the official word form Frankfort to continue this
For more information or to contribute to the
museum-welcome center fund, contact the City of Ghent at (502) 347-9706.
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