By CARL SMITH
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvell Howard officially said the county will not apply for a Community Development Block Grant seeking funds to construct a new county health department building Monday.
The grant would have funded only $600,000 for the proposed $1.66 million, 8,500-square-foot building. Final costs were uncertain even at the time of a public hearing last month because plans did not factor in parking construction or a potential land purchase.
Supervisors said the additional costs could have pushed the project’s price tag over the $2 million mark. The county would have been responsible for making up the remaining costs, and acquisition of those funds was deadlined for July.
In March, health department officials presented supervisors a letter outlying the need for a new facility. The department is experiencing growth-based issues which contributes to a lack of patient privacy, increased fire hazards and inadequate space. Supervisors and grant writers from the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District worked quickly on the project in an attempt to meet the May 18 state CDBG deadline.
“Because of the uncertainties with the final cost, we decided to table the grant application until next year,” Howard said. “We’re going to keep working on it through the year so we can have everything taken care of in anticipation of a future application.”
The county last applied for a $450,000 CDBG in November 2002 to pave 3.15 miles of New Light Road, GTPDD grant writer Phylis Benson said in April. The most recent CDBG-funded projects include Blackjack water improvements and the construction of the county education building.
In other business, supervisors took a road hazard request out of the Sunset community under consideration and approved the placement of “Children at play” signs in the area to slow speeding drivers.
A citizen from the community asked the board to consider placing speed bumps in the area and replace missing stop signs and street signs. After Board Attorney Jack Brown said the county would assume liability to any vehicles damaged by potential speed bumps, supervisors agreed to send County Road Manager Victor Collins and his crews to the area to assess potentially installing rumble strips.
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said a work order to replace the missing signs and install the “Children at play” signs was approved by the board following discussion.
“From the time the school bus brings kids there around 3-3:30 p.m. and when people get off work at 5 p.m., that’s the most important time to make people aware of their speed when they’re passing through the Sunset community,” he said. “We’ll replace about 11 stop signs and 18 road signs, and then put up about nine ‘Children at play’ signs. That’s just one way of keeping the neighborhood as safe as possible.”
The board also approved a DUI grant application which could provide the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office with additional funding for overtime pay. The grant could provide up to $20,000 for overtime, portable blood alcohol content testers and fringe benefits, which OCSO Chief Deputy Chadd Garnett said would be utilized to increase manpower during busy weekends in the county. The grant could be finalized as soon as next week, he said.