Monday, June 27, 2011

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part LXXXIII): State and federal funds flow (or trickle) into county

Several issues of the Newton County Times have arrived while I've been writing about other topics, and a common theme among stories from my hometown paper is the county's link to state and federal funding sources. Here's a smattering of headlines from May and June issues.
  • The state has awarded a $135,000 grant to the county for restoration of the county courthouse. The grant is from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Dept. of Arkansas Heritage.
  • The Kingston School, part of the Jasper School District, has been awarded two Joint Use Agreement Grants totaling $25,800, through the Arkansas Dept. of Education Grant Program. Kingston is in neighboring Madison County, and is not a Census Designated Place. The grants, one for the elementary school and one for the high school, will allow the high school's weight room to be open for community use and finance new playground equipment that will also be available to the community. The Joint Use Agreement Grant is a collaboration of the Arkansas Dept. of Education, Arkansas Dept. of Health, and the Arkansas Dept. of Health Improvement.
  • The Arkansas Dept. of Rural Services presented a grant of $4026 to the Jasper Fire Dept. so that it could purchase Class A foam, an intake valve, helmet lights, and an SBCA testing device. This grant was part of $166K in grants to 20 rural communities during the Fiscal Year 2011 cycle.
  • The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) announced approval of a loan for up to $51.5K from the Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Fund to the Marble Falls Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Disposal SID No. I, Phase II. The loan is for 20 years at 5 percent interest. Also approved from the same fund was a grant for up to $129K. The funds will be used to make wastewater plant repairs and upgrades and to pay other expenses associated with a consent judgment against the District.
  • The Jasper School District Board of Education is asking voters to approve "0.9 new debt service mills through 2041 to finance construction projects" at the District's three campuses. "There is also a request for extension of existing debt millage, 10.9 mills, through 2041, which is 10 years beyond the current commitment. The new millage rate would be 36.8 mills. The state average millage rate was of the 2010 election is 36.99 mills. The story notes that the District "has also been approved for a federal Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) of $925,000 which will have little or no interest cost to the school district." Read about a similar bond issue for other Newton County schools, along with its link to federal stimulus funds, here.

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