County Cuts Grant Checks

WINNSBORO – Exercising their new protocol for discretionary spending, County Council Monday night doled out $7,000 in community enhancement grants to organizations in five districts, with an additional $2,500 in districts 2 and 7 allocated for street lighting. With $2,500 budgeted for each district, however, Monday night’s allocations left $5,500 on the table, prompting Council to consider extending the application period.

Milton Pope, interim County Administrator, told Council that 12 organizations had applied for funding for community programs in districts 1, 4, 5 and 6. The Girls Scouts of America and the Winnsboro Lions Club had also applied for funds, Pope said, but without a specific district sponsorship. Pope said Councilman Mikel Trapp (District 3) had agreed to sponsor those two organizations under his district so they could qualify for funding.

Council voted unanimously to award $500 in District 1 to the Tiger Toes Literacy Program. The grant will be used to purchase 250 books to give away at free book distributions in Ridgeway, Simpson, Longtown, Centerville and the Lake Wateree area. In District 3, the Girl Scouts and the Lions Club were each awarded $500. The Lions Club will use their portion to provide eye exams and glasses for the indigent. The Girl Scouts will use their grant to help fund their Youth Initiative Program.

Council also OK’d $500 each in District 4 for St. Luke Baptist Church and Mt. Zion AME Church. St. Luke will use the funds to restock its food pantry, while Mt. Zion AME will use the grant to purchase school supplies for its back to school bash, to provide Thanksgiving dinners for the needy and to help fund its Christmas gift bag project for the homeless.

In District 5, Council approved $500 for St. Mark Baptist Church for school supplies for its back to school bash and to restock its food pantry; $500 for the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Foundation to update the walking track around the hospital; and $500 each to Blackjack Baptist Church, New Hope AME Church and River of Life Church to purchase school supplies for their back to school bashes.

Council approved $500 each in District 6 for Fairfield Behavioral Health Services (FBHS), Fairfield Medical Associates (FMA), St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and the Church of the Nazarene. FBHS will use their grant to fund their tobacco-free initiatives, while FMA will use their grant to help fund a health and wellness fair. St. Paul Baptist will use their grant to fund health and wellness initiatives for youth and elderly, and the Church of the Nazarene will use their grant to purchase school supplies and to help fund their Judgment House community education program.

Council approved the new discretionary spending policy last July and set a deadline to apply for the funds at Aug. 22. While Pope said the County contacted past recipients to inform them of the new deadline and advertised the grants through the local media as well as through the Chamber of Commerce’s website, Councilman Kamau Marcharia (District 4) said the window of opportunity for applicants was too narrow and suggested Council reconsider how the leftover funds are to be treated.

“I had only two people apply. That means $1,500 goes back into the kitty,” Marcharia said. “I’m thinking that we should have that money there for each district to use that money. We already voted on it. Just to kill it like that, I think is not a good idea.”

Marcharia moved that Council send the policy back to committee for reconsideration. After Trapp offered a second, Council unanimously voted to do so. Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) said the matter would be discussed at an upcoming work session.

Pope said the funds must be used and receipts turned in to the County by Dec. 28. Next year, he said, the grants will be allocated prior to the 2015-2016 budgeting process.