Clay supes look for other grant possibilities

Grant consultant Phyllis Benson speaks with Clay County supervisors Thursday.
Staff Writer

A Clay County water association won't be able to meet a May application deadline so it will wait until next year to seek grant money for improvements.

That leaves Clay County supervisors scrambling to find another potential project with a truck-worn road in the northern part of the county being one possibility.

"I talked to one of the board members and he says they aren't going to be ready, to apply for them next year," District 5 Supervisor Joe Chandler told his fellow supervisors Thursday, speaking of the Sun Creek Water Association which serves more than 500 customers in Pheba.

Phyllis Benson with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District told supervisors late last month to be putting together options for a CDBG grant application. At the time, Sun Creek was the leading candidate because it already was planning a new well and elevated water tank, a project that could exceed $1 million.

But its plans and surveys won't be ready to meet the May application deadline, especially since any matching money must be in place a week before the application is filed, Benson told the board Thursday.
Sun Creek plans to apply for federal Rural Development Administration funding first and have it in place for its matching money to apply for the CDBG money next year, Chandler said.

The state expects to have $11 million available to divide between two different groups of grants this year. Water and sewer projects traditionally are the priorities. At least 50 percent of the residents who will benefit must meet low- to moderate-income guidelines.  Matching the grant money dollar-for-dollar also increases the chances of earning one of the highly competitive grants, which max out at $600,000.
'I don't want the county to miss out on an my boss always says, if you don't ask, you won't get it," Benson advised the board.

While roads usually aren't at the top of the CDBG grant list, one of the nine projects funded last year was a $380,000 road project in Leake County. In that case, the county put up more money than the grant and 100 percent of the beneficiaries fell below the low- to moderate-income threshold.

That prompted District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes to suggest a 2.5-mile stretch of Lake Grove Road from Una-Brand Road to Moon Heard Road as a possible candidate. Deanes said the road was worn out from heavy truck traffic hauling gravel and other products. He said he was "almost sure" 51 percent of the residents would meet the income standards.

The supervisor speculated "80 percent" of the residents were elderly or handicapped. But Benson said that could be a double-edged sword, meaning the residents likely would meet income guidelines but at the same time, probably were in smaller households, reducing the number of people helped by the grant.

Benson promised to do preliminary research using Census data. That could determine whether Deanes needs to door-to-door surveys and county engineer Bob Calvert prepare cost estimates to get an application ready.