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Commission to explore different uses for COVID relief money

By ZACHARY SEIFTER/ Staff Writer

 

The Chilton County Commission discussed a variety of ideas for how to use its funds from the American Rescue Plan Act during a meeting on July 27.

The Commission received $4,314,897 in relief funds from the federal government.

Commission Chairman Joseph Parnell began discussions with his idea for how the funds could be used. He wants the commission to put together a request for proposals for improving broadband in the county, and send it to every telecommunications company in the area.

“[It would] ask them to take the broadband study that was put in place by the IDA last February and see if we can work with them in some way, whether it be a subsidy or something from the county, to complete that … throughout the county,” Parnell said.

Many of the commissioners agreed that improving the broadband in the county would be a good use of the funds. The study put together by the IDA estimated that a project of that scope would cost close to $2 million.

Following Parnell, Commissioner Jimmie Hardee suggested that the funds be used to build a new courthouse. However, a project like that would not be an eligible use of the funds, as only certain infrastructure projects can be funded by the relief money.

Finally, Commissioner Allen Williams suggested possibly using the money to purchase radios for the police and fire departments. He also suggested looking into enhancing the ambulance service in the county. However, the county is currently in negotiations with RPS for continued ambulance service, so that may not be how the money is used.

Also, during the meeting Lt. Ann Davis was promoted to the rank of captain. Davis will now serve as the warden for the Corrections Department of the Chilton County Sherriff’s Office.

Commissioner Matthew Mims also gave an update on the Alabama Farm Center. He said that everything is on schedule and that heavy equipment should be arriving on the site in late-September or early-October should the weather permit.