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July 19, 2013

New Albany council OKs funds for church

Coffey questions fire museum meeting

NEW ALBANY —

Historic Town Clock Church is set to receive a new steeple. 

On Thursday, the New Albany City Council voted 8-0 in favor of releasing the previously appropriated $75,000 in funds for the ongoing church restoration project. 

In order for the funds to be released, the council stipulated in January that Friends of the Town Clock Church had to match the city’s contribution. 

The organization has met that challenge, and then some. More than $98,000 in private funds have been raised, and on Tuesday the four restored clock faces of the church were replaced. 

The city’s funds will be earmarked to replicate and replace the circa-1852 church steeple, which was viewed as an important symbol when the structure served as a link in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. 

“Trust me, we will be good stewards of your money,” said Alice Miles, president of the Friends of the Town Clock Church. 

The building is now home to Second Baptist Church, but Miles said the project isn’t just about helping a religious institution. 

“Once these buildings are gone, that’s part of our history of our community” that’s lost, she said. 

Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti was absent from Thursday’s meeting. When the money was appropriated in February, Councilmen Greg Phipps and Scott Blair voted against the measure. 

Blair said at the time he had reservations about whether matching funds could be raised to complete the initial phases of the project. 

Phipps cited his belief in separation of church and state matters as his reason for voting against the appropriation. 

But “once an appropriation has been made, it needs to be released,” Phipps said Thursday before voting in favor of the resolution. 

The entire project, including exterior improvements to the building, has been estimated to cost about $400,000, and Friends of the Town Clock Church is still seeking donations for the effort. 

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