Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch stopped in Kokomo on Wednesday evening to celebrate the General Assembly’s vote last month to make popcorn the official state snack.

And, she said, what better place to do it than at the Popcorn Cafe, which is a member of the state’s Indiana Grown initiative promoting local agriculture and products.

Crouch said she’s now working through the Indiana Destination Development Cooperation, which promotes tourism in the state, to create a new popcorn trail highlighting unique stops people can only find in Indiana.

“I’m taking it upon myself to visit popcorn places so we can know what to put on the trail,” she said. “I always try when I’m out visiting communities to stop by our Indiana Grown facilities.”

Indiana Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, was at the store with Crouch, and said voting to make popcorn the state snack was an easy call.

“It’s been a wildly popular decision,” he said. “Everybody likes popcorn.”

Popcorn Cafe owner Grace Jones said this is the second time that the lieutenant governor has stopped by her store to grab some goodies, but the visit Wednesday was the first time she came since popcorn became the state snack.

“How thrilled can I be?” Jones said. “She really is our friend. She likes to come and she’s so kind. It means a lot to us, especially as a small business.”

In fact, just Wednesday morning, Jones said, she signed an agreement with Weaver Popcorn, based in Van Buren, to exclusively buy their product to ensure every kernel at the store is grown in Indiana.

“This way, we’ll guarantee that it’s an Indiana snack grown by Indiana people and decorated by Indiana folks,” she said.

Crouch also took time at the store to tout the state’s two-year budget, which the General Assembly approved last month.

The plan increases base K-12 school funding by 4.6% in the budget’s first year, and 4.3% in the second, which adds about $1 billion to the total two-year funding of $16 billion.

The budget also has one-time investments to bolster funding for a slew of projects, including $250 million for broadband internet, $900 million for future infrastructure improvements, $100 million for mental health and $160 million for water infrastructure.

The plan will also provide $50 million in grant funding to 10 regions of the state to accelerate economic recovery.

Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore said he is meeting with regional partners Thursday to begin talks about applying for the funding.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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