Main Street Centerville was awarded a $75,000 grant for their “Putting back the Ritz“ project. The funds, along with a local match, will fund a significant stabilization project on the square building.

For the second time in four years, Main Street Centerville has been successful in securing a major grant for its “Putting Back the Ritz“ project. Recently, the Business Committee Development Chair Dustin Harvey, Treasurer/Secretary Judy Dorman, and Board President of Appanoose County Coalition for the Arts (ACCA) Nancy Bennett were on hand to accept the $75,000 grant at an awards ceremony held in Des Moines.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority hosted the evening’s event at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. One million dollars in grants under the umbrella of local improvement projects were awarded to 13 other Iowa communities, including nearby Ottumwa.

This award has a two-year cap for construction on the Ritz Building’s exterior, including the stabilization of the east and back wall, stabilizing the foundation and the parapet. The parapet is the portion of the front wall that continues above the edge line of the roof surface.

The ACCA had to show proof of a dollar-for-dollar cash match when applying for the Challenge grant. Mary Wells, Executive Director Main Street explains, “A Challenge grant means that local money must first be raised to match the amount of the grant applied for. City and county businesses, local individuals, local economic development, and Appanoose County Coalition for the Arts (ACCA) raised $88,000 toward the project’s $163,000 estimated cost.”

The challenge grants are only available to Main Street communities. Centerville is one of 53 such communities in Iowa. Part of Wells’ job function is to assist with the grant applications, which can be done once per year. The Ritz project received the maximum amount of $75,000.

In the Daily Iowegian’s Oct. 22 feature story “At The Ritz,” ACCA’s Nancy Bennett spoke to the importance of the 206-year-old building’s latest grant.

“I first became involved in the restoration because of my love for the theater’s art and culture,” she said. “I thought we can not let this fall into the street. Right now it’s in danger of falling out into the street.”

Holly Brink, the Republican representative for District 80 of the Iowa State House, was also on-hand to present the Centerville group with the award.

“This group worked extremely hard and put in a tremendous amount of hours to earn this grant for this amazing project,” Brink said.



Dann enjoyed a 16-year career with Casey’s General Stores. Centerville’s wayward son uncomfortable with success, returned home to own and operate the 88-year-old Blue Bird Family Restaurant for 23 years.

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