By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
June 19, 2013 — The City of Olive Hill is engaged in negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance in relocating its fire station and maintenance building out of the Tygart’s Creek flood plain.
FEMA extended an offer of $462,000 to the city in April as a contribution to the demolition of both buildings.
Receiving that money, however, is contingent on the city coming up with other funds to relocate those facilities, obviously a tall order for the cash-strapped local government.
In a recent work session, City Council discussed several options of where the money might come from, one of which was the re-allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds previous awarded for renovation of the old Olive Hill High School.
“We’ve been held up for two years because they haven’t been able to move on that project. We’ve essentially lost out on two grant periods in which we could have applied for funds, said Council member Glenn Meade. “That’s potentially a million dollars we’ve missed and we could have used that money to repair sewer lines, rebuild infrastructure and many other projects just like this one.”
Meade believes a waiver can be obtained to repurpose the CDBG funds from what they were intended – renovation of the old high school into a community center and a branch of the public library.
One unknown element in the Council’s plan, however, is the recent application to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for additional funds to complete the renovation project.
At its Dec. 18, 2012, meeting, City Council approved a resolution to apply for the ARC funds on condition that the project come back before the Council for final approval before the money is distributed.
As of yet, no information regarding the status of the grant application has been presented to the Council.
Regardless of where the money comes from, however, the fire station and the maintenance building will have to be relocated to higher ground.
Mayor Kenny Fankell said Tuesday that he would have new information to present to Council at the meeting later that day.
“We likely will be looking for new funding sources,” he said. “I am hopeful that we can find a solution we can afford and that flooding of our buildings will become a thing of the past.”
Joe Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 286-4201.