Missed grant deadline may be costly for Kenton

Missed grant deadline may be costly for Kenton

The Messenger 02.10.12

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
A missed deadline has likely cost Kenton a chance at a $395,511 state grant, which would have been used to make upgrades to the city’s sewer system.
Because an engineer missed the deadline, city officials are now working on an alternate plan to secure a Community Development Block Grant. Two options are being pursued, as recommended by the city’s grant advisor, Shannon Cotter of Rossville.
She will attempt to submit the original grant application for sewer system improvements, even though a consulting engineer missed the deadline for the project.
If that plan doesn’t go through, the city will apply for another grant to purchase and install a new tornado warning system.
Discussion of the grant blunder took up a large portion of Thursday night’s near two-hour Kenton mayor and board of aldermen meeting at City Hall.
It was apparent at the board meeting that several board members were irritated at the engineer’s mishandling of the grant application.
“I can’t tell you why it happened. I don’t know,” Ms. Cotter said.
Trying to make the best out of the situation, though, the board moved on and will try to secure funding for three new tornado sirens that would be strategically located across town. The city currently relies on a single siren that apparently isn’t very effective.
The board formally approved a pair of resolutions, one for the sewer system grant and a second resolution for the tornado siren grant. Whichever application has the best chance of being approved will actually be submitted, and at next month’s meeting the board will rescind the other resolution.
Also during Thursday night’s Kenton meeting, a proposal to start a downtown farmers market was brought up and nearly $2,500 in funding was approved to renovate the city’s police department.
Tim Brady appeared before the board to solicit support for a new downtown farmers market, which he said would be an asset to the downtown business community. He recommended starting with a Saturday farmers market.
However, his proposal was met by a lukewarm reception from board members, who voiced their concerns about the impact such a market would have on the business community and also questioned whether a better location would be more suitable.
“As towns struggle to do more with less and people everywhere cry out for places of meaning and beauty, we have to find fast, creative, profitable ways to capitalize on local ingenuity and turn public places into treasured community places,” Brady said as part of his proposal.
He stressed farmers markets are “not just places of commerce. Successful markets help grown and connect urban and rural communities.”
Brady’s passionate and well-prepared presentation touched on the economic and aesthetic appeal of farmers markets, and he said such a market would certainly benefit Kenton. He said he has already talked to several farmers interested in participating in a downtown farmers market.
“Successful farmers markets are the heart and soul of a small town, infusing them with new energy and social and economic activity,” Brady said.
“I’d like to see something up and running by the first of June,” Brady said.
His proposal raised several questions from board members, who after several minutes of discussion decided to forward Brady’s plan to the city’s planning commission.
“Let’s let the planning commission handle this and report back to us,” Mayor Virginia Davidson said.
The board did approve spending nearly $2,492.32 to upgrade the offices at the Kenton Police Department.
Board member and police commissioner Angie Choate said it will be the first time in more than 20 years any renovations have been made at the police department.
Mrs. Choate described the floors at the police department as “horrible” and said “It (the police department) needs some upgrading.”
Volunteer labor will be used to do some of the work, which will involve installing new linoleum flooring, new Sheetrock for the walls and painting.
In a related move, the board was informed the two-ton air conditioning unit at the police department is no longer working. The board agreed to seek bids for a new unit for the building.
 In other action Thursday night, the board:
• Used the meeting as a public forum to air complaints about such problems as blackbirds in the city, tree trimming brush not being properly disposed of and the dilapidated condition of the John Lee Mitchell residence.
The board decided to have state building inspector Royce Aker of Obion inspect the residence as a preliminary step to having the house condemned.
• Voted to seek bids to mow the city park and ball field, using the same specifications as last year’s contract.
• Discussed at length several issues relating to the Kenton Volunteer Fire Department. Fire Chief Ed Sims indicated he will work with board member Wade Simpson, who acts as the board’s fire commissioner, and will present a list of items needed by the fire department.
Sims said the department needs a computer and copier to help with training sessions, and there is also a need for such items as flashlights and tools. Simpson is expected to present the fire department’s wish list at next month’s board meeting.
Sims also engaged in a lengthy discussion with the board concerning the proposed switchover to a new emergency radio system. Although no action was taken, the discussion focused on a federal grant that has been submitted to purchase the new radio equipment.
There was a general sense of confusion over the grant process as well as how the new radio system would work for the city.
Thursday night’s meeting was opened in prayer led by board member Sarah Skinner.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

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