North Vernon shelter asks city for help with renovation

A shelter that provides emergency housing, food and clothing to those in need in, and around, North Vernon is reaching out to local government for help.

Representatives from Wayside Inn approached the North Vernon City Council Monday night to ask for a donation to help bring the building it operates out of up to code. The building, located at 304 Hoosier Street, needs renovations to bring it up to date with fire regulations, says Coleen Malone, who is the head of the shelter. She explained that the shelter has received estimates for work to install a sprinkler system, as well as update fire alarms. Documentation provided to the council put the cost of the sprinkler work at $16,194, while the updated alarm system would run $8,042.

Councilman Jack Kelley asked Malone if the request for funds was time-sensitive. She explained that the building was already technically in violation, but state officials granted a waiver to allow the charity to continue operation. Malone says that waiver runs out in August. She said that the charity is hopeful to at least have the work underway by the time the waiver runs out.

Malone told council members that the shelter does much good for the community. She said that the help provided to those in need has increased dramatically over the past few years. Malone says that in 2014, Wayside Inn helped 25 people, providing 494 nights of stay in area hotels. In 2015, she says that increased to 201 people helped, with 2,584 nights of stay. So far in 2016, Malone says that the shelter has helped 86 people with 1,099 nights of stay. In addition to the shelter assistance, Malone says that Wayside Inn has distributed 887 food boxes, along with clothes shoes, hot showers and toiletries for those in need.

Councilwoman Connie Rayburn expressed gratitude for the work done by the shelter. She also asked Malone if they have considered approaching the county for help. Malone replied that she will be talking to them in the near-future.

The council voted unanimously to table the request for assistance. Council members say that this will allow city officials to determine if there is money available to help. It will also allow Wayside officials the opportunity to talk to Jennings County officials and determine if any funding is available on that end. Council members will reconsider the request at their next meeting on May 9th.