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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Economic development director persistent in seeking help on housing grant

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

County Ecoomic Development Director Jessica Hightower continues to push for help on a grant that could mean construction new homes in Linn County. (Wix file photo)

By Charlene Sims, Journal staff

MOUND CITY – Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower did not give up on getting Linn County Commission approval to hire the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) to write the the application for the Moderate Income Housing (MIH) grant.

That request by Hightower did not get commissioners’ approval last week, however, she pointed out in her meeting with commissioners on Monday, June 19, that SEKRPC’s track record in securing grants gave the count a better chance of it winning a grant. Hightower applied for the first-round grant but did not receive it.

She said that having Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) writing the grant would help the county’s chances of receiving the highly competitive $650,000 grant. SEKRPC would charge a $5,000 non-refundable application fee for writing the grant.

The grant money would help contractors who built MIH homes – $160,000 to $230,000 according to the federal government guidelines – with material expenses and homebuyers with down payment assistance.

At last week’s meeting, the commissioners had asked Hightower to check into how previous MIH grants were working. This week she told them that the program completely changed at the end of 2022, so there are not any communities that she can reach out to at this point.

She said that Susan Galemore from SEKRPC could not be at this commission meeting because it was a federal holiday at her office but that she would be able to come and talk to the commissioners next week. Hightower will schedule that for next week.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Received a resolution from County Counselor Gary Thompson that was requested by Commissioner Jim Johnson about opposing EPA effluent limitations rules.

• Scheduled a special meeting on July 5 at 9 a.m. for the purpose of approving the zoning and subdivision regulations after hearing from Planning and Zoning Director Darin Wilson that the attorney working on the regulations, James Kaup, would not be available again until late July if they could not meet that day.

• Agreed to let Linn County Health Department Director Amanda Snyder get bids for remodeling a portion of the health department into a classroom.

• Learned from Fire Chief Randy Hegwald that the Prescott fire station was not mowed by the county’s contractor last year and this year. Hegwald said that all of 2022 the city of Prescott mowed around the fire station. This year, it was noticed that the old fire station was being mowed but not the current fire station.

Hegwald said that it concerned him that the contracted company was paid $45 last year for each time it mowed but it did not mow the correct location.

County Counselor Gary Thompson suggested that the county write a letter asking for a refund from what they were paid last year or it would be deducted from their pay out this year.

Jessica Hightower who worked on the contract for the company said that when she spoke to the mowing contractor they said it was a previous employee who mowed there last year and they would correct this mistake.

• Rejected the only bid for the former Pleasanton Senior Center building. It was from Faithful Steward Properties in the amount of $65.

• Approved advertising for proposals to list the property for sale. County Counselor Gary Thompson said that since the county had followed the proper procedures for selling the property, it was now acceptable for it to be sold by a Realtor.

• Approved a quote from Murphy Tractor and Equipment to repair repairing the Parker maintainer blade for up to $15,000.

• Approved a request from Public Works Director Shaun West to spend $20,000 to $30,000 for asphalt repairs and resurfacing on the roads in front of the cabins and Marina at the Linn County Park.

• Discussed the juvenile detention center contract. Thompson said that if the commissioners wanted to cancel it for next year they needed to do it by July 1. McCullough said he had reached out to the Wyandotte County juvenile detention center and they did not have any beds open. Sheriff Kevin Friend said that was because they were short on staffing. McCullough, who is on the juvenile detention center board, said he was going to talk with the director there to see if there were other options.

• Approved a resolution for stop signs for eastbound traffic on the southeast corner of the intersection of 1175 and Scott roads and for northbound traffic at the southeast corner of the intersection at 1525 and Flint roads.

• Approved a policy letter regarding assistance to other governmental entities in Linn County. This policy letter sets forth guidelines for cities to follow when applying for assistance for roads, streets or other projects from the county.

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