Clay County qualifies for the Small Municipality Limited Population County Grant from the Mississippi Development Authority, which will be used in the restructuring of the old Daily Times Leader building into a public service building for District 4.
The grant allows Mississippi counties with a population of less than 30,000 people up to $100,000 to be used for the improvement of a downtown area or public building. The Clay County Board of Supervisors chose the old DTL building for the project to be used as a voting precinct and training center for District 4 county employees.
Project Analyst for the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District Phylis Benson said this grant is important to the county because it allows them money for projects that would otherwise be difficult to fund through the federal government.
“There are a limited number of programs that we can tap into for a project of this nature,” Benson said. “Funding opportunities are limited as federal dollars become tighter and tighter.”
The board, who will have to provide matching funds for the money they receive from the grant, will discuss the cost of the project Sept. 7 in their board meeting. The deadline to submit applications for the grant is Sept. 10.
With help from Bell’s Demolition and Environmental Services out of Delta City, Mississippi, demolition to DTL building has began and should be completed by next week.
Benson said it is great that the county is able to use the old DTL building that will improve downtown West Point and also be a service to its citizens as well as county residents.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea that they’ve been able to purchase this building,” Benson said. “I’m sure they’ll want to retain the historical character while modernizing it and making it work for the public.”
District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes said the demolition is going well and he hopes that the new building will provide citizens with a more spacious area to vote and will allow for more poll workers.
“Future plans are still unfolding, but this will give us a better way to serve our people,” Deanes said.
Approximately 70 poll workers would be needed during election time and the new building is a great place to house them and voters comfortably, Deanes said.
Benson said in order for the county to receive the grant, the county must own the building.
The city of West Point does not qualify for the grant due to a population of more than 10,000 for the city, but Benson said she hopes the city can qualify for other states grants since downtown improvement projects have already been proposed by them.