After failing in its first attempt, Oconee County is going to try again to get a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for expansion of the Senior Center, located in Oconee Veterans Park.
Commissioners gave tentative approval at their agenda setting meeting last week to an agreement with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission for assistance in making the grant application and, if the county is successful, in administering the grant.
In other action at the unusually short Commission meeting last week, the commissioners tentatively agreed to allocate $60,000 from interest earned on funds collected from the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for farmland protection.
The total needed for protection of 40.8 acres on the Randy Wilkes farm on Greensboro Highway is $121,000, and $61,000 will be taken from SPLOST funds collected for that purpose.
The Commissioners are scheduled to take final action tomorrow (Tuesday) night on the Memorandum of Agreement with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission for the Senior Center expansion and on the funding for the protection of the Wilkes farm.
Senior Center Application
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell announced at the Commission’s Town Hall meeting on Oct. 8 that the county had not been successful with its application for funding for the Senior Center.
|Kirouac With County Clerk Kathy Hayes|
The application had been for federal funds administered by the state through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The county had asked for the full $750,000 allowed for the grant.
The proposal was to expand the Senior Center to add a 2,400 square foot health and wellness center (with restroom and shower facilities) and additional space for arts and recreational activities. The building at present is about 11,000 square feet in size and was built in 2008.
The new space would be at the rear of the existing building and would replace the pergola, or outdoor garden.
According to the grant application submitted last year, the goal of the grant was “to provide a higher quality of life to all aging residents in the community.
“The project will serve the most at-risk seniors, living in substandard housing and rural areas of the county, as well as residents of assisted-living and age-restricted neighborhoods,” the application stated.
“The primary purpose of the project is to provide low- and middle-income, aging residents a higher quality of life, through reliable access to food, mental and physical exercise, and a community-support system,” according to the application.
Nature Of Agreement
The agreement, on the consent agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting, calls for the county to pay the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, of which the county is a member, for assistance in making the grant application.
The county also will agree to pay 5 percent of the grant, up to $37,500 for a successful $750,000 grant, for the NEGRC to assistant with administration of the grant.
In the application submitted last year, the county also agreed to contribute $22,500 in matching funds.
The county would develop the grant between now and submission on April 1, 2020.
A public hearing on the application is to be held this month. A hearing was held in February of this year prior to submission of the unsuccessful application.
County Administrator Justic Kirouac told the Commission the county had “a strong application” this year and “hopefully it will be even stronger next year.”
County Communications Manager Diane Baggett told me in an email message on Oct. 14 the county had not received any feedback on the reason why its application had been rejected.
Oconee County Finance Director asked the commissioners at last week’s meeting to allow him to use $60,000 in interest earned on SPLOST monies collected to contribute to the purchase of an easement on the Wilkes farm.
Total cost of the easement, which will protect the land from commercial development, will be $121,000.
The remainder of those funds will come from the monies allocated in the SPLOST for farmland protection.
The Athens Land Trust will hold the easement.
The use of the interest funds is on the consent agenda, with the NEGRC agreement, which means it will be approved without further discussion unless a commissioner asks it to be removed.
The video below is of the Oct. 29 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
Daniell began discussion of the Senior Center grant at 8:55 in the video.
Discussion of the farmland protection program begins at 10:00 in the video.