Leaders from Culver and Madison were at the Statehouse today to celebrate their designations as 2017 Stellar Communities. Culver Town Manager Jonathan Leist says the Marshall County city’s plan focuses on making it a better and more affordable place to live year-round. Madison Mayor Damon Welch says his city’s pitch centered on leveraging assets like the Ohio River, and the renovation and reuse of historic locations. The communities are now eligible for funding and state resources to support substantial quality of place projects.

Leist says Culver is a popular spot for people to own vacation homes. While that benefits the town, Leist says it makes cost of living expensive and creates talent issues because companies have trouble finding housing for their employees. He says community, school and business leaders worked for years on Culver’s pitch. The town was a finalist for last year’s Stellar designation.

Welch says Madison is working to make better use of its assets. That includes adaptive re-use of historic buildings, improvement of a riverfront park and the creation of the Madison Connector, a bike and pedestrian trail connecting Madison destinations. He says the city will also work to overhaul its community gateways, revitalize neighborhoods and take advantage of a growing reputation as a "festival city."

Madison and Culver were chosen from a group of six finalists. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch will lead a team making visits to each community to participate in local Stellarbrations.