Chamber gets USDA grant for renovation

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 25, 2003

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce has beenapproved for a $29,330 agricultural grant to improve the chamberbuilding, Congressional officials said Thursday.

The grant, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s RuralDevelopment, will be used to assist in the renovation of thehistoric fire station as a meeting facility, said U.S. Sens. ThadCochran and Trent Lott and Third District Rep. Chip Pickering, inannouncing the grant.

Chandler Russ, the chamber’s executive vice-president, expressedappreciation to local and state Rural Development officials, statedirector Nick Walters and the congressional delegation for theirassistance in securing the grant.

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“This money will be used to help restore the fire house,” Russsaid. “The main focus of this money will be to stop deteriorationof the fire house.”

Russ said a new roof and windows and minor cosmetic improvementsare needed in the effort toward converting the space into a meetingarea. The USDA funds will be matched with approximately $24,000,which is coming from the Brookhaven Trust, the Krewe of Ceres andthe chamber’s capital improvement fund, for the estimated $54,000project.

In a statement, Cochran said he was pleased the chamber wouldhave the funds for the fire station work.

“I hope the refurbished building will benefit the entirecommunity,” Cochran said.

Pickering agreed.

“A professional meeting center assists with economicdevelopment, civic involvement and societal unity,” Pickering said.”This will help citizens create a better Lincoln County.”

Russ said a quirk in the chamber’s bylaws needs to be changed inconnection with the grant funds and the money received before therenovation work can begin.

“As soon as we get that changed and get the money from RuralDevelopment, we’ll start the process,” Russ said.

Russ said architect Larry Albert has been contacted to get hisinput on building plans. Russ said chamber officials want to makesure the building’s historic integrity is kept intact during therenovation work.

“I expect and hope to get started on the project in 30-45 days,”Russ said.