Survey may boost grant chances

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WESSON – The next person going door-to-door in town may not be asalesman or spiritual enthusiast.

The Wesson Board of Aldermen approved a request by Mayor AltonShaw during its Tuesday meeting to hire four people forapproximately one week to perform a head count and survey in hopesto securing grants for town projects.

Shaw said he believes the results of the survey should qualifythe town for a Community Development Block Grant through theMississippi Development Authority.

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The MDA is holding an American Recovery and Reinvestment Actstate lottery to determine which projects will receive $8,071,701in funding. The maximum grant request is $350,000, which will allowat least 23 projects to be funded.

Currently, the town does not meet CDBG requirements becausestatistics based on census data show 48 percent of residents fallinto the low to moderate income bracket. CDBG grants require 51percent, the mayor said.

However, Shaw said the town could qualify because the MDA onlyrequires 80 percent of the population be included in a validsurvey.

“We’re only 3 percent short (of CDBG requirements), so if we canknock out the top 20 percent (of our higher income population) wecan qualify,” he said.

Although the MDA has not announced a deadline for applications,the funds must be obligated by Sept. 30. The town must move quicklyto get complete the survey and determine which project of thoseunder consideration to apply for, Shaw said.

“We need to get this done in the next couple of weeks,” he said.”It’s more time-consuming than it is labor intensive.”

The survey would be valid for three years, the mayor said, andallow the town to apply for other CDBG grant opportunities. Townofficials did not discuss any specific projects Tuesday night.

The board also approved a request from Shaw to take advantage ofa timely opportunity.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is currently pavingHighway 51 from Hazlehurst south to the Copiah County line andcrews are working in Wesson.

Shaw said bids to pave Factory Street were ranging from $110 perton and up on materials. However, while Blaine Companies wasconducting the MDOT contract they could do the work at $90 per tonbecause they were already in the area with their equipment.

The Factory Street paving project will cost approximately$13,000.

In other matters, Susan Alsbury, Wesson librarian, informed theboard the library is offering free beginning computer classesstarting Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

“It will continue as long as we have interest,” she said.

Shaw informed the board that city hall would participate in theDave Ramsey Town Hall for Hope live Web cast on April 23. City hallcan accommodate 60 people for the 7 p.m. event and interestedresidents will have to register.

“It doesn’t cost us anything to host it,” he said.

The board also hired George Holcomb to fill a vacancy with theWater Department. Holcomb has been filling the vacancy since March10.