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Hopkins County Officials Seek Hazard Mitigation Assistance, Pandemic-Related Grant Funding

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Hopkins County is submitting multiple hazard mitigation assistance grant applications, with County Judge Robert Newsom authorized as representative for DR-4586 (February’s winter storms) funding. Hopkins County Commissioners Court agreed to provide local matching funds required to secure and complete FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant projects, if the county’s requests are granted.

Beth Wisenbaker, local grants advisor/coordinator

Beth Wisenbaker, local grants advisor, said entities are allowed to apply for Hazard Mitigation funds to help take care of drainage issues. Those approved for a hazard mitigation grant receive up to 75 percent of their funding request from the federal government and the grant recipient is responsible for the other 25 percent. Typically, these grants are for about $500,000.
“We’ve got a grant a grant out there right now requesting $1.8 [million], and we’ve received generators for a little bit of $300,000. It’s a preventative grant. You can also be proud to know that my salary comes from these grants. So, while it’s not local taxpayer dollars we want you guys to realize it is your taxpayer dollars. They’re just so far up the line you kind of forget about it,” Wisenbaker said.

“So we would be responsible for the 25 percent of the over $1 million you’ve applied for?” asked County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook during the regular Commissioners Court session Monday morning.

Wisenbaker affirmed the county would be responsible for 25 percent of the grant match, and the grant funding would cover drainage projects at five different locations, including one on Pipeline Road and some projects in Precinct 1 as well.

“Right now, we’ve been selected as an alternative. This was through a text message. This is not a hardcore letter. I don’t believe FEMA until they send us letters that have got somebody’s signature on it,” Wisenbaker said.

Often, the county is able to match quite a bit of their portion of the grant funding with in-kind labor. For instance, Wisenbaker said, when she serve in office as the Precinct 1 Commissioner, the contract noted the county would supply the labor then hired a contractor to do other more specialized tasks such as box culverts. While the county did have to pay a small amount, most of the county’s portion came from in-kind labor.

Additional FEMA funding entities may apply to receive have to do with the pandemic, and cover 100 percent of the cost.

A recent grant the county plans to apply for would provide a mobile trailer with the most recent technology, which could be driven to rural areas to supply vaccinations or virus or other medical testing at schools or large community events, bringing the necessary medical technology to residents instead of making residents travel into town where they are offered at other locations

“It’s a wonderful facility. It will be with the most recent technical equipment that we can put in it,” Wisenbaker noted. “And that one is 100 percent.”

“We’re still trying to get the final numbers on it. We’ve actually visited the plant. They are a sole source provider because of a tent system that we can connect to this trailer to make it even larger. So it’ll be a sole proprietor vendor on that side of it,” Hopkins County Fire Marshal Andy Endsley noted.

The vendor builds “all the NASCAR and professional drag race trailers.” The trailer that would be constructed for Hopkins County, Endsley said, should last for quite a while – “hopefully, 25 years plus” or longer. The trailer would be available not only for Hopkins County Emergency Management use but would be available regionally for surrounding counties, law enforcement, EMS and fire department uses.

“I’d like to commend former commissioner Wisenbaker for all the work she’s done throughout this process. From beginning to end, she’s been right there. She’s taken a tremendous load off of me to do this, Shannah as well,” Endsley said.

Aulsbrook concurred that Wisenbaker’s work has take on quite a bit of work that would have fallen to her office as well, and extended her thanks to the local grants advisor. Endsley

“You guys are very welcome. You know after having worked with me for many years, 20 years that I was here, there’s nothing better I better than making the system work for the people that we serve. So, that’s why I am here. I’m here to use the right words and stuff to make sure the courts’ decisions, that we can get the best money for our buck,” Wisenbaker said.

Author: Faith Huffman

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