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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission approves moving forward on housing, road grants

The Linn County Commission decided to follow a recommendation to contract with the regional planning commission to write a grant application for moderate-income housing. (Journal file photo)

MOUND CITY – Following discussions over the past few weeks, the Linn County Commission on Monday, June 26, decided to contract with the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) to write a Moderate Income Housing (MIH) program grant. The commission also accepted a High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) grant from the state that had already been awarded to the county.

County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower proposed that the county contract with SEKRPC to apply for the housing grant earlier this month. She said that agency had more expertise and was more likely secure funding for the county’s fledgling housing program.

Susan Galemore, the regional coordinator for the Southeast Kansas Economic Developers Coalition and staff member at SEKRPC, explained the complexity of the requirements for the MIH grant application.

Galemore told the commissioners that the SEKRPC usually wrote grants free for its members like Linn County when they were community development block grants (CDBG) and other common grants. However, the MIH grant required that the grant writer work with the developers, who are on the application, and also help them gather information and resources that they need.

She said that the developers’ experience and reputation was the key to being awarded the grant. The concept of the grant is that the developer has a huge investment in the program by the time the application is turned in.

Galemore did tell the commissioners that the nonrefundable $5,000 fee for writing the MIH grant was discounted because Linn County was a member of SEKRPC. Also, that grant application base could be used later without charge if the county did not receive the grant this round.

Galemore said, as the grant writer, she would also act as liaison for the county as an outside third party.

When asked what kind of litigation could arise from being involved in this grant, County Counselor Gary Thompson said anything had a chance of litigation, but if the county follows the rules and covers all bases during the process, they would be covered if there was litigation.

Hightower said that the MIH grant would be $650,000. The county’s match would be $102,000.

This grant would add much needed moderate-income housing to the county, she said. In addition to the $5,000 fee, SEKRPC would charge $18,000 to administer the grant from the project’s start to finish.

The two developers that own property here are interested in investing here but do not want to take all of the risk themselves, said Hightower.

After more discussion about the specifics of the grant and if there would be any long-term issues, the commissioners unanimously approved SEKRPC writing the grant application for the county.

Before making the decision to accept $351,000 HRRR grant from the state, the commissioners met with road foremen, Tod Moeller and Mike Nation and Hightower to see if the asphalting rotation in the county would be negatively affected.

This year, 5.5 miles of Wall Street are being asphalted on the rotation plan, the rest of Wall Street was scheduled for next year. But if the HRRR grant was accepted, that project would start in 2025 and rumble strips and highly reflective striping would be installed.

In order to get the most use out of the striping and rumble strips, Hightower suggested that the road, County Road 1095 from 1650 Road to Kansas Highway 152, be asphalted in 2024 instead of the second part of Wall Street.

Moeller said that section of County Road 1095 was patched and chip sealed in 2020. But as far as the full overlay, he said could have been done in 2016 or before.

Moeller said that would not be a problem to resurface County Road 1095 next year as the worst section of Wall Street was being done this year. In 2025, Wall Street could be finished.

The commissioners unanimously approved accepting the $351,000 grant and investing $102,000 match to the grant.

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