By Daniel Brunty
The Winston County Journal
The Winston County Board of Supervisors discussed with FEMA representatives the option of a new pilot program regarding repair of the Teeters building during
their July 28th meeting held at the Winston County Courthouse.
Addressing the supervisors to open the meeting was FEMA representative Mary Smart. Smart began by informing them that she would be discussing the Teeters building in regards to a pilot new program FEMA is implementing titled “Alternative Procedures.” She explained how the program is similar to a CAP grant, and that FEMA had workers at the Teeters building over the past four to five days to assess the damage and documenting it. The next step in the process would to bid the contract out for repair of the building.
Smart then introduced Patrick Ruland of the Jackson Field Office to explain the program in detail to the supervisors. Ruland explained how the FEMA grant program is traditionally a method of repairing a structure to its original dimensions, making no alterations or variances from the original design. Ruland explained how the “Alternative Procedures” program is FEMA’s recognition that communities would prefer to use the grant monies to recover to the best of their ability, and also projecting forward to upgrade structures.
“The pilot program allows you to take an agreed upon cost estimate for your individual sub-grants, and then you can move forward with a scope of work that is more fitting of your recovery efforts,” Ruland said. Ruland went on to detail the process of how grants are written by FEMA, followed by informing the supervisors under the pilot program, they can move funds around under the program to other projects that are included to make repairs or upgrades to those as well.
“I don’t know if you have recently gone through a federal declaration process, but it is starting to remove the limitations of what you can use your funding for, for your recovery,” Ruland said. “Also, one stipulation is all the donor projects have to be large projects, which is $120,000 or greater for the current year. Once you agree to have a pilot project you cannot back out, meaning going back to the traditional large project reimbursement based on actual recovery cost.”
After an explanation of the program, the supervisors had questions for both Ruland and Smart regarding what this program could do for the county. After a lengthy discussion filled with questions and answers, the board informed Ruland and Smart that they would take the program under consideration after more review. Smart said they would be back to address the board in a future time regarding the Teeters building assessments.
Next to address the board was Jim Coleman of FEMA and Mike Ferdinand of MEMA regarding the National Disaster Recovery Framework. Ferdinand began by informing the supervisors that they had a meeting previously regarding the program, and mentioned that Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy was present at the meeting as well.
Ferdinand then introduced Coleman to the board. Coleman informed the supervisors how he had previously worked with Smithville after their storm on their plan of recovery, and how they would like to do the same here in Winston County. Coleman stated that what they are looking for are steering committee members that are going to be stakeholders, as well as looking for people that could be representatives to these committees and technical ability to help with strategic planning. He said it would be important to have this structured before they leave the area around the end of August.
“We are looking at a steering committee, and people can be on more than one committee,” Coleman said. “The steering committee people will probably branch off and get into their sub-committees of economic development, housing, and health & human services.”
Coleman wanted to make a point of telling everyone that the plan would not be FEMA’s plan, but it would be the community’s plan. “We are going to facilitate it, bring some ideas and maybe suggest some direction,” Coleman said. “But again, it is the community’s plan.”
Coleman stated that they would need to meet for the next four weeks, around 60 to 90 minutes a meeting at a certain location. Coleman then asked the board for suggestions for a location to hold the meetings. After a few suggestions, the board ended their session with both men.
In other news, the board:
Tabled discussion regarding Beaver Control program
Approved signature of board president to sign C-Spire contract for cell phones
Recognized notice from EMEPA on Dean Park Bill
Approved to hire Joe McCrary to assist with county budget and instruct Chancery Clerk office on budget at a rate of $1,500 a month for two months
Approved resolution of Small Municipalities Grant Program’s 10 percent match of total grant. (The grant is $150,000. The county will match $15,000.)
The Winston County Board of Supervisors held their next meeting on August 4 at the Winston County Courthouse.