Northern Jackson County PSD requests portion of county American Recovery Act funds

Suzette Lowe

The Jackson County Commission received a sizeable request for funding from the Northern Jackson County Public Service District (PSD) at the March 24 meeting.

Jerry Stephens said that the water line from Ravenswood to Sandyville, which was built in the 1970s, needs complete replacement. Because of leaks that can’t be located, due to part of the pipes running under Sand Creek, the PSD loses almost $3,000 a month.

“We have to purchase water from Ravenswood,” Stephens, a member of the Northern Jackson PSD board, said. “We need to upgrade the line from the original plat to the right of way on the four-lane.”

The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.6 million dollars, which does not include the projected administrative cost of $50,000.

“We know you received over $5.5 million from the American Recovery Act to address infrastructure,” Stephens said. “This would fit right in the focus area of those funds.”

When Commissioner Mitch Morrison pointed out that the Recovery Act funds were for the entire county, Stephens said the board hoped that the commission would take under consideration any portion of the request. She stated that funding was being sought at various sources but hoped that a loan would not be warranted.

A second proposal by the PSD was for far less money. Extending the water line to the end of Sarvis Fork Road would cost approximately $725,000. Stephens said it is hoped that this funding will be provided by a grant.

“What we are asking the commission to consider is the addition of fire suppression which the grant we’re seeking won’t cover,” she explained. “That cost would be $125,000.”

Commission President Dick Waybright said these proposals would be taken under advisement.

Detective Sergeant Gary Baldwin also requested the commission’s approval to move forward on grant proposals for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

If the department receives sufficient grant money from non-government sources, an industrial drone will be purchased.

“This drone will be instrumental in reconstructing accident and crime scenes,” Baldwin said. “We will be applying to CSX, Walmart and Love’s. Since none of these grants require matching funds, there is no cost to the commission.”

Sheriff Ross Mellinger said that a crime scene team is going to be established and the drone will be a vital addition.

Office of Emergency Services Director Walt Smittle gave his monthly report which also included a number of grant proposals he is seeking. Smittle, who has seen past success in receiving grants from the Department of Homeland Security, is focusing on upgrades in technology and digital diagramming equipment. Emergency generators for the Greene Center and the fairground kitchen and dining hall are addressed with the grant requests as well.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Approved a proclamation declaring March as Red Cross Month, recognizing that more than 1,000 units of blood had been collected in Jackson County in 2020.
  • Authorized Waybright to execute Victims of Crimes Act Grant (VOCA) application for federal fiscal year 2021-2022 in the amount of $40,213 which helps fund the Jackson County VOCA advocate.

After a closed-door executive session to consider budget items for OES and security issues from the sheriff’s department, no further action was taken.

The next meeting will be March 31 at 9:30 a.m. in the courthouse.