May 8, 2003

NEMO Regional Planning Commission Highlights Projects At Annual Meeting

Representatives from cities and counties across northeast Missouri gathered in Memphis April 23 for the annual meeting of the NEMO Regional Planning Commission.

Janna Cline presented a report on the RPC's micro enterprise loan program to the more than 30 officials gathered for the meeting. The program has provided six loans for a total of $96,000 to businesses in the area. The loans provide working capital, funding for inventory and equipment for the businesses that are either expanding or are transferring ownership. The loans target workforce expansion and job opportunities for low to moderate-income employees.

Oleva Riney presented the housing and rent assistance programs report. She indicated the program was 100 percent full last year with expenditures totaling more than $1 million.

Dave Davidson reported on the community and economic development grants. He indicated applications were in the works for housing rehabilitation grants for Queen City, Revere, Memphis, LaBelle and Wyaconda.

Davidson stated the next cycle for CDBG funding for streets and bridges will be June 15.

"We need to begin now to start working on these applications," Davidson said. "If you have a project that will score well now's the time to get the grant application rolling."

He also discussed the Comprehensive Industrial Development Surveys that cities and counties will be asked to complete by the end of June. He indicated the RPC group will be working with the communities to get the CIDS completed through a series of meetings scheduled for the middle of May.

The solid waste management district recently topped the $1 million funding mark over the past decade. D.B. Shoush said the program, which is funded through tipping fees charged at area landfills, has spent $942,000 on area projects with local matching funds sending the total over the $1 million mark.

Current projects approved for funding include $32,770 for expansion of the Industrial Opportunities Inc. recycling program.

An $11,305 grant was given to Truman State University to set up a glass recycling plant. Shoush said currently most recycling places are not accepting glass. The TSU project is funding a glass aggregating machine to process glass into safe aggregate material to be used in place of sand for ice control and construction fill material.

An $8,365 grant went to NEMO Recycling in Millard to fund a Freon recovery system to allow recycling of appliances at the site.

A $6,500 grant was given to the city of Memphis in a test project to purchase park benches for the new city swimming pool. The materials will all be made from recycled products.

More than $50,000 was earmarked for waste tire collection days in all six counties served by the district.

In all a total of $118,699.54 was approved for funding by the waste management district.

Dan Niemeyer gave a presentation on the USDA Rural Development programs affecting the region. He stated that the program has spent $420 million statewide funding such improvements as sewer lines, housing and fire hydrants. The organization has assisted 42,000 first time homeowners while making more than 14,000 grants or loans to help fund community facilities such as water treatment plants, fire stations and more.

During fiscal year 2002 the USDA Rural Development provided a $693,000 loan and a $831,700 grant to the Consolidated PWSD #1 in Scotland County to allow the rural water district to connect to the Lake Rathbun water shed and also to build an elevated storage tank.

The Knox County PWSD #1 received more than $600,000 in combined grants and loans for a sewer project in Newark.

The Wayland Volunteer Fire Department earned a $12,000 grant and a $4,000 loan to purchase an early warning siren system. A similar grant of $9,000 went to the Knox County Promotional Council for a weather-warning siren in Knox County. The other funded project in the RPC region was a $97,900 grant to the City of Kahoka to extend water and sewer lines.

Unfortunately not all of Niemeyer's news was good. He reported a vacancy concern in many of the region's housing projects. He said there are vacancy rates of 25-percent or higher in the housing units in Downing, Memphis Senior Housing, Memphis Apartments, Wyaconda, Baring, LaGrange and Greentop.

Some options being discussed are the conversion of some of the units from one-bedroom to two bedrooms to meet multi-family housing needs.

Niemeyer noted that the 12-apartment unit in Lewistown has been offered for sale.

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