Count ready to match federal grant for VFD

Friday, October 23, 2009

Money to match federal funding sought by a fire department and, separately, to help Rotarians improve the Goats Music and More Festival was approved Tuesday night by a committee of the Marshall County Commission.

The Economic and Community Development-Tourism Committee, led by Commissioner Jimmy Stitt, receives money from the county's hotel-motel room tax and makes decisions on how that money is spent to improve the county.

"We had three requests" to consider Tuesday night when the committee met in the Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's public square, Commissioner Tony White said. Two were approved. More information was sought for the third.

The Belfast Fire Department has applied for a $160,000 federal grant, White said.

"They need five percent immediately if they get that," he said. "We voted to have a letter sent saying that the county will provide $8,187.50.

"The letter says 'We've got the money if the federal government is going to award the grant,'" White said. "If the grant isn't awarded, nothing happens" to the county money.

A pumper truck and turn-out gear for the firefighters are to be bought with the grant and the county's matching money, White said.

Belfast Fire Chief Rick Cozart was at the committee meeting to answer questions about the request.

Commissioner Scottie Poarch, a member of the ECD-Tourism Committee, said there are enough funds in the county budget to pay for this match so the federal grant won't be lost. Poarch anticipates the approval from the county commission for the letter to the federal agency issuing such grants will be on the commissioners' meeting agenda on Nov. 23.

Also Tuesday evening, the committee voted to disburse $2,000 as previously approved to the Lewisburg Rotary Club for its BBQ Cook-Off contest conducted during the Goats Music and More Festival.

"We paid a very small portion of it," White said of the cost of running the contest.

White endorsed the third topic of discussion during the meeting. It's funding for an advisor who helps Marshall County students apply for scholarships.

"That was deferred because we want more information," the committee member said. "There was nobody there to answer questions... but it's a valuable program."

The Marshall County Education Foundation's Marshall Scholars Program has helped 776 students in the most recent four years, according to the foundation.

During 2009, 242 students out of 366 seniors were helped in Marshall County and that resulted in 206 scholarship applications being filed. More than $1,523,000 has been offered to Marshall County students who applied during 2009.

During the four years of the program, the students helped have received scholarships valued at more than $5.1 million.