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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Economic development head reports on status of grants

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

MOUND CITY – Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower updated the commissioners on grants received and grants given to individuals in the county on Tuesday, May 30.

Hightower told the commissioners that the county was one of 19 Kansas counties that had received the High Risk Rural Roads grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). The county has until July 1 to accept the $351,000 grant, which the county will have to match with $102,000.

Hightower is checking to see if the match can be taken from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The grant will address some of the issues that came up in the local road safety plan for 1095 Road from 1650 Road to Kansas Highway 7. That road rose to the top as far as a safety risk, and this grant was designed to address some of those issues.

The funds will cover the preliminary engineering costs and the installation of striping, signage and other safety devices like rumble strips on the road.

She said that this project would have to be completed by June 2025, so she will talk to the county’s asphalt foreman to see if that road could be overlayed before then.

The commissioners will make a decision on the acceptance of the grant when she brings more information to them.

Hightower also announced the grants given out by the Linn County Economic Development Department:

• The City of Parker will receive a $2,500 sidewalk grant to put in sidewalks along a corner lot with two stretches of sidewalk where school children walk. The city is working with the property owner to repair or replace the sidewalk in this area. The project will be a partnership of the county, the city, and the property owner.

• Haylee Beckmon is opening a childcare facility in Blue Mound and will receive $250 to purchase car seats and outdoor toys for the new facility.

• Melody Crooks, who operates a childcare facility in Pleasanton, was awarded $250 for sensory and balance toys that assist with development and education.

• The organization Grady’s Kids will receive $250 for their motorcycle ride on July 8 to pay for food or advertising supplies.

Hightower asked to be appointed to the Southeast Technical Academy for Rural Students (STARS) board as a representative of the county. She said she felt that as economic development director, she could be really helpful on that board with workforce development.

The commissioners appointed her to that board.

Hightower told the commissioners that the state had still not gotten back with her about what would be involved if the county sold the airport. Due to the county receiving its last grant funding in 2019, they are obligated to pay back a portion of the grant funds if the airport does not remain a public access airport for 10 years or until 2029.

Discussion was held on selling off parts of the land but County Counselor Gary Thompson said that they might want to wait on dividing it up just in case someone is interested in the whole piece of property.

Hightower said that people had reached out to her about buying the land around the airport.

Other discussion centered around what to do with the fuel in the fuel tank at the airport. The pump for pumping out the fuel is broken. Hightower will check to see if the fuel can be sold.

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