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Clay Times Journal | County receiving grant for airport land acquisition

July 11, 2013
In The News

County receiving grant for airport land acquisition
By Ray Stansell | Clay Times Journal | July 11, 2013

 

The Clay County Commission met Monday morning with Chairman Wayne Watts (District 1) and Commissioners Roy Johnson (2), Ray Milstead (3), John Wheeles (4) and Ricky Burney (5) present.

Minutes and expenditures were approved unanimously.

The Clay County Airport Authority is expected to receive a grant for approximately $240,000 for land acquisition with all but $24,000 coming from grant funds from the Federal Aviation Administration. The state will also put up five percent of the grant amount and the county the other five percent of the match, approximately $12,000.

The grant is for land acquisition for the airport. This will allow for instrument approaches and other safety features, both for planes using the local airport and any that could encounter emergencies during flight.

Carlton Wolfe of the Clay County Airport Authority said commuter airline lanes cross this area and at some point in time, some of their aircraft are bound to need to use this airport. 

 

During the regular meeting, the Commission agreed to give the landowner a 10 percent down payment of $24,000 that he had originally requested on several occasions.

Administrator Mary Wood had some questions as to where they would get the money for the down payment which will be replaced by the end of the fiscal year when the grant is funded.

The funds will likely come from a capital projects fund with the money being paid back from the grant.

Varner said there is no problem with paying this, but recommended the money be placed in an escrow account in case the deal falls through. He said he would not recommend it, although they can do it legally.

After a lengthy discussion, Wheeles made a motion to pay that down payment. Milstead seconded. Vote was unanimous to make the down payment to landowner Alton Ogles.

He was asked if he would return the down payment if the grant fell through, and he said he would not because he had been waiting nine years for the deal which was promised by some previous commissioners and the airport authority.

In another grant matter, $165,000 in USDA Title III grant money is in a county account that has been accumulating over several years. They just received $29,254.38 for this year. The reason it has not been used is there are so many restrictions on its use as related to National Forest lands.

The funds can only be used to carry out firewise community programs or reimburse search and rescue efforts in the National Forest, but only on the privately-owned portions. It was noted there is still a lot of privately owned land in the National Forests, such as Talladega.

Some of the approved programs for expenditure include: cleanup days in National Forests; assisting in removal of vegetation around homes with youth crews, parolees, etc.

The Commissioners were in favor of utilizing the funds, but they have to choose a project and publish the intentions in a local newspaper, no later than August.

The matter was tabled until August when a project will be chosen and publicized before the end of that month.

The Department of Human Resources Board of Clay County has a vacancy from the Hollins area. Clay County DHR Director Kaye Robertson recommended Joe Milam as the new member.

The Commission unanimously approved Mr. Milam as the DHR Board members.

Jimmy Patterson, representing Mrs. Martin on Martin Road in the Millerville area, spoke. That road is in bad shape and is in Burney’s district.

Mrs. Wood addressed the Commission regarding a couple of line items that are overdrawn. She said the Commissioners need to move line items around so there are no negatives at the end of the fiscal year, and that they need to plan their budget items to last until September 30.

Mr. Curtis Blankenship spoke regarding Sleepy Hollow Road. He said ditches are running across the road because of the recent heavy rains and it hurts his back to even drive on it. Engineer Jeremy Butler said a crew will be on the road soon.

Strickland also reported the application for funding the water line extensions through the U.S. Department of Agriculture are in Anniston and should be forwarded to Montgomery, soon. This is where the final evaluations will take place.

He estimated the earliest answer could come sometime this fall, in response to a question by Chairman Watts.

Commissioner Johnson went to Washington, D.C. and met with Senator Richard Shelby. Shelby is supporting the project which is helpful, although the scoring will also have to be considered.

The request has also been sent to Congressman Aderholt who is a liaison with USDA.

Because of the large size of this project, it could be a target for federal budget cuts by some who do not see the importance of rural water.

The $9,908,215 project would be funded by a combination of a loan and a grant, both from the USDA Rural Water. The grant portion would be $4,458,697. A loan of $5,449,515 would be repayable over 30 years at a low USDA interest rate.

If funded, this project could bring water lines to some 1,400 additional homes in Clay County when completed.

 

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