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County to assist Douglass Community Services with grant

by Patty Cheffey

Marion County not only approved financial assistance, but agreed to submit a grant for Douglass Community Services.

The approvals were given during Monday’s Marion County Commission meeting, at which the commission also approved changes to the Planning and Zoning Commission and heard updates from the sheriff.

Stephanie Cooper, CEO with Douglass Community Services, was present at the commission meeting to not only update the county on the work that organization does, but to also ask for assistance for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), for which they are applying.

“This is our 50 years of existence, and during that time, we have seen quite a bit of growth,” said Cooper, adding that last year alone, the program saw a 48 percent increase mostly because of COVID-19.

Because of the growth in programs, which include utility and housing assistance, early childhood education and a couple of feeding programs, the organizations has outgrown its current facility on Grand Avenue in Hannibal.

“We have 60 individuals working in that building, and we’ve just outgrown it,” Cooper said, noting the plan is to use the grant to renovate that facility and continue to use it for the various services, but to also purchase a second building, which will be used for administration. “We want to make the Grand building a one stop place for all services.”

While the organization did consider a larger grant to build a new facility for potential future growth, Cooper noted the price tag of a new building and the fact Douglass had not made long-term financial plans, put that out of reach.

“This will not be an end all be all, but Douglass is not in a position financially to build a larger facility,” she said.

In order to apply for a CDBG, the organization has to do a feasibility study which will cost between $10,000 and $20,000, Cooper said.

The commissioners approved paying up to $10,000 towards the feasibility study and also gave Douglass Community Services permission to use the county to submit the application.

In other business, Teya Stice reported Karl McElwee had resigned from the Planning and Zoning Commission, but that Andrew Lehenbauer had moved into Liberty Township and is willing to stay on the board to cover that township.

In addition, Lehenbauer had visited with Denise Damron, who lives in South River Township, and she has agreed to serve on the board.

The commission approved the changes to that board.

Sheriff Jimmy Shinn reported all equipment for the fire suppression system at the jail had been ordered.

He and Presiding Commissioner David Lomax also reported the financial paperwork for the new vehicles had been signed at the bank.

The county also reviewed sales tax revenue, which was down again for April, but remains high for the year to date than at this time in 2020.

General Revenue sales tax came in at $157,658.35 for April for a total year to date of $743,148.72.

Comparably, April 2020 saw $165,612.58 come in on sales tax, for a total at that time of $709,411.68.

Capital Improvement and the quarter cent road funds sales tax were also down for April, but up for the year overall.

Local use was up for the month at $68,282.53, compared to $42,261.48 in April 2020.

The county also:

• had a picture taken for National Community Action Month, which will be in May;

• learned from Highway Superintendent Mike Schaeffer that while some roads had been closed due to flooding over the week, all were back open; and

• heard information from Hickman Agency concerning health care insurance.