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by Patty Cheffey
While applications for American Rescue Plan Act funds were approved, the application from Loaves and Fishes in Hannibal has been put on hold.
The Marion County Commission made the decisions during Monday’s commission meeting, at which they also held a public hearing for the Douglass Community Services CDBG grant application, approved an update to the county’s local emergency plan, and approved a reimbursement and notice to proceed for the County Road 402 bridge project.
Requests for ARPA funds were approved for Grow and Learn Daycare, Wee Care Daycare and Kid’s Corner Daycare, although none were given full approval for what they qualified.
Like the CARES Act funds, the commissioners elected to award a percentage of the requests with those daycares being allowed to come back and request additional funds if they are available later.
The application for Loaves and Fishes, an entity in Hannibal that distributes meals to those in need, was put on hold as that application is for the building of a new permanent site, which is not allowed under the current ARPA guidelines.
However, Allona Kizer with the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments said there is a chance some regulations could change and new structures could be included. At this point, however, she was not sure of the changes or when they might be approved.
Several individuals were present to ask for clarification why the Loaves and Fishes application had been turned down and the one for Douglass Community Services was approved.
According to Kizer the main difference is that Douglass’ request was for matching funds for a Community Development Block Grant while Loaves and Fishes’ was for the building of a new facility.
She also noted Douglass Community Services not only provides food programs, but also education, job assistance and child care assistance among other programs.
Stating that Douglass Community Services gets federal dollars already for their program, Amy Vaughn with Loaves and Fishes noted a new building is required in order to make the program sustainable.
“We have lost volunteer groups because of our location not being handicapped accessible,” she said, adding the group also cannot serve hot meals to those disabled because of the same reason.
“We seem like a vital part of the community, and I don’t understand why we are not on the list,” added Jeri Graves, another Loaves and Fishes volunteer.
Kizer noted Loaves and Fishes can turn in any operating expenses which would be eligible for ARPA funds, but Vaughn noted that with the well-run volunteer program there are minimal expenses to the program.
Volunteers even contribute and cook the food, she said.
“We are doing a lot of things Douglass does, just on a smaller scale,” she added. “And ours is the only feeding program which provides hot meals.”
Both Larry Welch, Eastern District commissioner, and Steve Begley, Western District commissioner, said they would like to help, but do not believe they can at this point. Both noted, however, if regulations change, they will try to assist the program with ARPA funds.
In other business, the commissioners held a public meeting for the Douglass Community Services CDBG application.
During that they reviewed the community needs assessment and listed the top five priority needs, which included the two Douglass had already listed, expanded community services for residents and preschools.
John Hark was at the meeting to present updates to the Local Emergency Operating Plan, which has to be updated every two years.
The commissioners signed the update and the statement saying the county has a plan.
They also briefly visited with Steve McGregor concerning insurance, who said he would be back at a future meeting to go over the details with them.
He did note, there are some issues with the cyber security insurance, which he is trying to iron out.
In her report, Teya Stice, county improvement coordinator, presented the notice to proceed for the commissioners approval for the County Road 402 bridge project.
In addition, the commissioners approved a reimbursement request for design work on that project in the amount of $999.95 to Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates.
Stice also noted Tom Rupp is moving out of the unincorporated portion of Miller Township and will need to be replaced on the county planning and zoning commission.
She also reported the MTRCG will be doing a flow study, centering mainly on Monroe and Shelby counties to track hazardous materials traveling through the area.
Commissioners also reviewed the sales tax for 2021, with County Clerk Valerie Dornberger noting the county finished ahead of 2020 in all funds.
“I don’t expect that for this coming year, though,” she added.