By Terri Ferguson Smith
Lauderdale County supervisors approved in a 5-0 vote Thursday to apply for a $600,000 grant to partially fund a new building that could house a satellite Boys and Girls Club building near the Velma Young Community Center.
The vote came after District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood said the city of Meridian has committed to helping with the matching $600,000 cost the county will have to come up with to meet the terms of the Community Development Block Grant.
"The city has committed both money and in-kind," Norwood said. "They are willing to do what they need to do. They have been looking for a project to put in that area. When you go around the city, the county; that is one of the areas that has the greatest need."
Contacted Thursday afternoon, George Thomas, Ward 1 Councilman and Meridian council president, said he was not aware of the project and the city has not committed any dollars to it.
Mike McGrevey, chief administrative officer of the city of Meridian, said the mayor supports the project.
"With the county, we are both bringing all the partners to the table for a meeting to develop a plan to move this important project forward," McGrevey said. "The mayor is committed to making this project happen."
Bland, however, cannot allocate funds. That is the responsibility of the city council.
Thursday afternoon, Norwood scheduled a meeting for this morning to meet with representatives from the city to discuss the project and subsequent grant application.
Another project suggested was by District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell, who proposed they seek funds for a new fire house and fire truck in the east central part of Lauderdale County. However, Newell's project lost out when a motion to apply for funds for Norwood's project passed unanimously.
Newell said he is disappointed because he has been trying to get a fire department for that area for years.
Newell said he didn't vote against Norwood's project because,"It's a no-win situation for me."
"I didn't vote against it. I'm going to tell them I tried, but unfortunately, the board decided they needed a recreation center more," Newell said.
Jennifer Buford, community development director for East Central Planning and Development, told the board that the deadline to apply for the grant is May 16 and that action was needed Thursday at the special called meeting in order to get a public notice published.
There is no guarantee that the county will get the grant, Buford said, and the county will be competing with other counties and cities throughout the state for funding.This public facilities grant must benefit an area with at least 51 percent low or moderate income families and it requires a dollar for dollar match, although some of that can be contributed through in-kind services, Buford said.
Norwood said in addition to the county and the Boys and Girls Club partnership, he is seeking input and support from Meridian Public Housing Authority, city of Meridian Parks and Recreation, and Meridian Public School District.