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Supervisors to seek HOME repair funds

Lincoln County supervisors Tuesday voted to begin pursuinggrants to assist homeowners and authorized county employees toaccept applications for the competitive HOME InvestmentPartnerships Program.

The county is pursuing a maximum of $375,000 to reconstructapproximately six homes in Lincoln County through the program,which is offered by the Mississippi Development Authority.

The grants can be used for assist low income homeowners toreconstruct their houses, new construction of rental units and forhomebuyer assistance.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson has mentionedapplying for the program for several months.

“I think it will help people,” he said. “These people can’tafford to move or to restore their homes to livableconditions.”

Applications to participate in the program are available at theChancery Clerk’s office.

Applications will be competitive and those most in need will behandled first, said County Attorney Bob Allen. Supervisors hope tobe able to assist six candidates, but may be limited byfunding.

A public hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. March 19 in thecourthouse to outline the rating system used to evaluate theapplications and to obtain input from citizens about theprogram.

In other matters, supervisors briefly debated a request by NewHaven Recovery Center for an additional $10,000 for this year’sbudget.

Gary Walker, board president, said in further discussion withFred Calcote, a member of the center’s board representingBrookhaven, he learned state allocations to the center were cutafter the county had approved its 2007 budget.

Steve Ellis, director of the center, had met with supervisorstwo weeks ago seeking the additional funding to offset a tightbudget and to initiate a new program. The pilot program would usethe $10,000 in additional funding to assist Lincoln County patientswho could not otherwise afford the treatment.

The program would be expanded to include other counties in thecenter’s service area after an evaluation period, Ellis said.

Wilson’s motion to immediately allocate the money to the centerdied for a lack of a second.

“I think we ought to wait until the new budget year and bring itup again,” Walker said.

Although supervisors supported the program, they did not feelcomfortable funding it under the constraints of the present budget.However, they said they would certainly take a second look at therequest this fall when preparing the 2008 budget.

A decision on whether to enter into an agreement with SouthwestMississippi Planning and Development District for elderlytransportation was delayed until the March meeting.

Supervisors elected to wait until more information could begathered on how the program was working in other counties in thearea.

“The old people want it,” Wilson said. “I’ve heard from a lot ofthem who would benefit from this.”

However, District Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts countered thatothers had contacted him who were not in favor of it.

“I’ve had people to call me and say they don’t want it,” hesaid.

The proposal would allow the elderly to call a central telephonenumber and arrange for free transportation for medical services, toget groceries, visit the courthouse or Department of Human Servicesand other locations.

There would be no cost to the county for the service this fiscalyear, but would cost approximately $32,000 annually in future yearsto pay the driver’s salary and operational costs.

Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District wouldcontinue to supply the 17-passenger bus and keep its insurance andlicensing up-to-date.

Supervisors also planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to meetwith Mississippi’s congressional delegation for March 12-14.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said supervisors had stressed theimportance of completing Homochitto Road and a lighting project atthe intersection of Interstate 55 and Brookway Boulevard duringtheir last trip.

Those projects, however, were likely lost during the Democratictakeover of Congress, he said, although the delegation has pledgedto continue to work for them.

Supervisors decided emphasis on the March trip would be placedon an attempt to secure Community Development Block Grants for theLincoln County-Brookhaven Multi-Purpose Building and a proposedbaseball complex there.

Watts, Wilson, County Administrator David Fields and CountyEngineer Carl Ray Furr will represent the county in Washington inMarch.