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Hill advises County Commission on storm shelters

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission will make a decision on county funded storm shelters at its next meeting.

The commission heard a report on Monday from Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Walter Hill on federally funded grants available to both private citizens and the county to install storm shelters.

Hill said the deadline to apply for funding is Oct. 27. He said the shelters could be above or below ground. The least expensive would house eight people underground at a cost of $7,000-$9,000.

He said larger shelters to house 200 people would cost about $35,000.

However, Hill explained, the federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost while the individual (for private shelters) and the county (for the public shelters) would pay 25 percent.

Hill said all applications must come through his office with due diligence done on the locations.
Commission Chairman Charlie King Jr. pointed out anything over $15,000 would have to be bid by the county.

Hill said a decision has to be made as to where to locate the shelters: on private or public property. He said those where storm sirens are located could include public property in Hayneville, Fort Deposit, White Hall and Mosses.

He said one at Tawassee Point would be located between private property and right of way. One at Dutch Bend would be off the road on private property. And one in Calhoun would be on right of way into private property.

At 25 percent, the cost to Lowndes County would be roughly $60,000, said Hill. He said the grants would be federal from from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) under the mitigation plan.

Hill said depending on the shelter, an individual could stay inside for about 35 hours.

Administrator Jacquelyn Thomas was asked to check to see if a grant could be sought for the county’s match so that a decision could be made at the next meeting.

Hill said anyone applying for a grant for the shelters must be able to show proof they can pay the matching funds required.

Hill also reported all county buildings will have an evacuation plan in place and posted no later than Oct. 31 to meet insurance requirements and that drills will be held.

He said a grant was applied for from the Department of Homeland Security for 10 radios for sheriff’s department vehicles for a total amount of $40,000 with a $7,000 county match.

Hill said the Lowndes County Department of Homeland Security Office, under his direction, received a clean audit from the state Department of Homeland Security for the third straight year.

The commission also heard a report from AIDT (Alabama Industrial Training Program) representative Patsy Richards and Joanie Stephen of Smart Work Ethics to seek support to train employees for the work place in Lowndes County.

Richards said this is a pilot program.

An institution of the Community College System, AIDT encourages economic development through job specific training.

The commission set a budget work session for Thursday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.

Actions taken included:
•Approval of the Southeastern Community & Economic Redevelopment contract for one month.
•Tabling of the approval on bids for tires and herbicides for the Highway Department pending the approval of the county engineer.
•Approval of consent agenda with King abstained.
The consent agenda included approval of the following:
•A contract with the Lowndes County Board of Education for school security by the sheriff’s office.
•A conference for enforcement officers.
•A contract with S & W for computer maintenance and software for the tax office.
•August invoices.
•Minutes.
•A budget revision for the appraisal office.
•Authorization for the administrator to sign off on invoices.
•The payoff old trucks, finance new trucks and refinance motor graders with Bancorp Bank.
•OCAP to distribute FEMA money.
•A cooperative agreement for EMA for reimbursement on Hill’s salary.
•A Title III grant award for senior citizens programs.
•A long-term subsidy contract with Mt. Meigs for youth services.
•A corporate authorization resolution for King and Thomas to sign checks.