• Charlene Sims, Journal staff

La Cygne, mental health center submit requests for ARPA funds

MOUND CITY – Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower brought two applications for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds to the Linn County Commission on Monday, Nov. 21.

Hightower informed the commissioners that the county had approximately $800,000 left of the $1.9 million funds they had received.

The county had approved an application from Kwikom for $580,000 to install broadband service from Centerville to Blue Mound and told People’s Telephone that they would give them $50,000 to expand broadband on the north side of the county. The county also has committed $95,000 to the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) for the administration of the grant. The commission also voted to spend $300,000 to fund the employees benefit budget for 2023.

The commissioners are also looking at using the money to remodel the tipping floor at the transfer station and the possible purchase of a walking trailer to haul waste to other landfills.

Hightower told the commissioners that the first application was from Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center (SEKMHC) requesting $217,500. In the application’s brief description area for their project they state that:

“As a Community Mental Health Center, we conduct an annual needs assessment to determine community health needs in order to shape service delivery that is proportional to the community needs. We have currently assessed increased mental health needs related to covid and its economic impact and have significantly expanded the number of providers and increased services in response.”

No specifics were mentioned as to how the money is to be spent. Hightower said that this was how the SEKRPC told them to turn in the application.

Hightower pointed out that the mental health center had turned in this application for ARPA funds in June and the commissioners had not made any decision at that time.

In the SEKMHC June application, the funding was more specific. SEKMHC asked for $93,750 to replace an outdated health record system and $46,875 for the purchase of a new financial network system. The two systems come as one package at the cost of $500,000 and the request from Linn County was 19 percent of the total amount.

Other line items in the June application were $15,000 to bring the Pleasanton office up to American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, $13,125 for an after-hours crisis center and $15,000 for a combined additional full-time position of substance abuse counselor and crisis counselor.

Commissioner Danny McCullough asked if SEKMHC had applied for ARPA funds on their own. Hightower said she did not think so.

Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked if this was just for operating funds for Linn County. Hightower said she thought these would apply to Linn County.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said that the way he read it, it just applies to SEKMHC budget in general.

“On top of what we budget for them each year,” asked McCullough. Hightower said that was correct.

Linn County pays yearly as a partner in the SEKMHC. For the year 2022, County Clerk David Lamb said the budgeted amount was about $116,800.

Should we ask them if they have received funding from the other counties in the partnership, questioned McCullough.

The second application was from the City of La Cygne for $130,000 for help with their water treatment plant project. Hightower said that the total project was $225,000 and La Cygne was dedicating $65,000 to the project.

According to the application, the project is for the improvement and installation of a new hopper/feeder to establish and automated process in order to provide a clean and safe environment.

The La Cygne water treatment plant supplies water to the city of La Cygne, Rural Water districts Nos. 1 and 3, and has recently contracted to provide water service to the city of Linn Valley.

Commissioner Danny McCullough asked if La Cygne had received any ARPA money on their own. Hightower said she was not sure.

Johnson said that they would talk about it more next week. He said he would like to see what the costs of the changes at the transfer station are going to be.

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