JUDGE: Milam County doing well with grants
A grant is money that is made available to local government from our state and federal governments for a specific purpose. Once the money is made available, local government must go through a lengthy written application and qualifying process. If approved a “match” is required, meaning the applying entity must put up some percentage of the grant amount, which can be an “in kind” (some service) or actual money.
In recent months Milam County has been very successful in the grant arena. The first was a Texas General Land Office grant for flood mitigation. The county partnered with the City of Rockdale and was awarded a multi-million dollar grant to buy homes located in areas that habitually flood. Work has begun and applications are now being received from homeowners who want to sell their home and relocate. The homes that are bought will be torn down and the land will be reclaimed as “green space” to handle floodwater.
In May the county applied for and received a CARES Act grant in the amount of $610,000 that came about due to the COVID-19 virus. This was an unusual grant as no match was required. The money is being used to renovate a building for use as an urgent care/COVID testing facility in Cameron and for free COVID testing throughout the county. Due to the cities/County partnership, we are now providing COVID testing to any Milam County resident who has symptoms, using the CARES Act grant funds. The opportunity to provide a rapid diagnosis will help reduce the spread of this virus.
Recently Milam County applied for a $4,700,000 grant through the Economic Development Administration to renovate the former Little River Hospital complex for use by the county. Although we have not been approved, we learned last week that we have cleared the first hurdle. We have a long way to go and we may not know until the end of the year, but we are in the running to be approved. In fact, additional information was submitted for this grant this week.
We recently applied for a grant to map the entire county for flooding. We have no flood plain map for the county, and it is sometimes difficult to attract new business without knowing for sure which land is a flood plain. We learned this week that we are in the running for a flood plain mapping grant through the Texas Water Development Board. Our application was ranked number 4 out of 250 applications and thus we are on track to receive about $1 million in grant funding by the end of the year.
In addition, we have three grants that have been approved and projects are underway. We were approved by FEMA to replace a road bridge in precinct four and the project is underway. We were approved for a Transportation Infrastructure grant in the amount of about $600,000 for road improvements in the County and that is underway. Finally, we will meet with the mayors on Thursday to discuss another grant opportunity to repair infrastructure problems in the County.
Through the Milam County Historical Commission, we received a $120,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program for emergency repairs to the courthouse roof and drains to mitigate the water infiltration which has occurred for years.
Your county government is working hard to obtain as many grants as we can. Each application takes a great deal of time and effort to prepare. However, this enables us to make needed improvements in the county without raising taxes. The improvements provide a safer and better place for all of us as we move Milam County forward.