CHARLESTON -- The city's tourism board is attempting to generate support from the community for a $20,000 park grant through the National Recreation and Park Association.

The grant is decided by popular vote in a national contest. Anyone can vote on one of the 15 communities listed across the nation or by writing in a community to receive $20,000. The community with the most votes by the end of April wins the grant.

Laura Smallhorn, tourism board member, said the tourism board decided a couple of weeks ago to try and garner votes for Charleston in the month-long voting contest.

Charleston is not one of the 15 but can be a write-in candidate for the $20,000 Meet Me in the Park grant.

According to the NRPA, a person can nominate a city, town or county anywhere in the U.S. for a chance to win the grant specifically for a project in one local park within that community.

Smallhorn said a specific use for the funds has been decided should Charleston get it, however, it would likely pertain to the Lake View trails.

She noted she is unsure of the chances of the city getting the grant, however, thought it is was well worth a try.

The park and recreation department that governs the winning community will be contacted by NRPA at the end of April and then select a park project that fits within the three topic areas, according to the NRPA.

People can vote for their community every day in April. According to the NRPA, each vote cast or nomination submitted equals an entry into a sweepstakes to win a tablet outfitted for the outdoors.

People can vote at



Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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