By NATHAN GREGORY
With approval from the Starkville Board of Aldermen, the Healthy Starkville Committee recently awarded seven grants to area organizations for projects designed to spread health and wellness to the community.
The committee held two rounds of grant application reviews from groups who applied before awarding a total of $24,986 in funding to four organizations in its first round along with the seven awarded in the second round. Some of the awardees received grants of $4,100 while other groups received what the program labeled “mini-grants” of up to $1,000.
The organizations awarded in the latest round are Starkville Natural Parents, Organic Mothers, Emerson Preschool, Sudduth GoPlay Team, Starkville Parks Commission, Starkville Soccer Association and Pilot Club of Starkville.
HSC Grants Committee Chair Ron Cossman reported which organizations would receive funding at the board of aldermen meeting Tuesday.
“We funded Starkville Natural Parents ... Sisters/Organic Mothers, which is a 12-week child and birth preparation class for teen mothers; Emerson Preschool Fresh Start will be implementing FarmToSchool program including an Emerson School Garden,” Cossman said. “The Sudduth Elementary Playground project ... which places special emphasis on access to children with disabilities. Patriot Park play area (will) include play equipment and activities that are appropriate for 2- to 5-year-olds ... the Tom Lindsay Memorial Soccer Pavilion at the Sportsplex for shelter during storms, especially during tournaments ... We will be funding expansion of the existing Music Trail at McKee Park.”
Representatives of many of the organizations receiving funding expressed their thanks to the board in the citizen comment portion of the meeting.
Starkville Pilot Club Project Chair Ellen Boles said the music trail currently has three of nine melodic and rhythmic percussion instruments the organization wants to have in place on the trail by the end of 2013, and the grant money awarded will be helpful in reaching that goal.
“With the money we received through the Healthy Starkville initiative, we will be able to order three more instruments,” Boles said. “We feel like this is going to be something that will benefit the community, ... continue to expand and provide great opportunities to help the brain and provide enjoyment.”
Past President of Starkville Soccer Association Robert Leach said because of the board’s support and collaboration with the Starkville Parks Commission, the organization will be able to build a pavilion to protect athletes during inclement weather.
“(This will be) a facility that will provide shelter in times of storms ... for our kids’ tournaments (and) visit(ing athletes) from out of town,” he said. “When you build comments for literally 15 years since we built the Sportsplex, (we have had people say) we need to have a pavilion. The Starkville Parks Commission authorized positioning of this facility so it can be shared by Starkville softball activities and the churches that play youth softball will have access.”
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said he was pleased to see the funding reach so many organizations.
“I didn’t think the mini-grant idea was the best case for the program, but I stand firmly corrected,” Dumas said, “because I think this is a fantastic testament of how that money has been distributed to really impact a number of organizations that are doing great work in the city of Starkville.”
The board also heard a report from Mississippi State University John C. Stennis Institute Associate Director Jeff Markham on the status of the survey the college is conducting for Starkville city employee salaries. Markham said there is a need to update job descriptions that were put together by the institute in 1997.
“You have a lot of job descriptions that are simply out of date. You’ve got a lot of descriptions that don’t exist. We’ve added a lot of positions here in Starkville over the past 10 or 15 years that we need to look at. Once we get all the job descriptions put together we can use those as a basis for looking at how your salaries compare to not only comparable cities throughout the southeastern United States but also ... we want to know what all the cities and counties in the Golden Triangle are compensating their employees, so once we get all that data put together, we’ll have a pretty good idea of how competitive you are externally,” Markham said. “We (also) want to see if (internal) positions throughout your city are getting comparable salaries. We’re looking at having job descriptions completed (in) mid-to-late summer, and then at that point we’ll be able to begin the salary survey process ... and hopefully we should be able to ... have this to you by late fall and give you something to look at for budget for next year.”