PARKERSBURG - The Wood County Commission received news Monday that federal grant funds had been approved, but will need to be used by the end of the month or be lost.
In other business, the commission agreed to provide some financial support for a proposed new music festival in Vienna this summer.
County grant coordinator Toni Tiano and T.R. Smith, with the Wood County Sheriff's Office, told commissioners Monday morning that a port security grant the county applied for several years ago was approved in April but has a May 31 deadline for use. Initial plans at the time of the application had called for using the grant to cover the costs more than three years of a bomb-sniffing dog and handler, but that no longer qualified under the new deadline.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Local musician David Wells appeared before the Wood County Commission on Monday to seek support for the inaugural Vienna Jazz Festival in August. Commissioners approved $2,000 for the event, which also has received support from the city of Vienna.
Tiano said the timing problem is a result of issues at the federal level, and a number of departments that applied for the funding are experiencing the same deadline pressure.
Smith and Tiano presented a proposal to use the $209,196 from the grant to purchase a new S.W.A.T. vehicle, allowing the sheriff's department to get rid of two Humvees and some other excess vehicles. Due to how they were acquired, the Humvees cannot be sold but can be given to other law enforcement agencies or returned to the federal government, Smith said.
The grant funds would also be used to purchase 25 radios, which would be inter-operable or compatible, with other radio systems throughout the state. In addition to its local radio network, Smith said the department has 20 of the inter-operable radios, and the new ones would allow every cruiser to have the additional radio unit.
Tiano said no matching funds are required for the grant, but $7,700 would be needed to cover all of the proposed costs for the new vehicle and radios.
During Monday's meeting, Commissioner Steve Gainer questioned whether the county could make such purchases without going out for bids, even with the May 31 deadline before the grant funds are lost.
Commissioner Blair Couch also expressed concern about the bidding issue, but thought the commission could give commission President Wayne Dunn authority to sign the contract for the purchases, pending approval from the Wood County's Prosecutor's Office on the validity of doing so. A motion to that effect was approved unanimously by the commission.
The commission also approved a request for $5,100 in local matching funds for a grant to purchase protective vests for the county's corrections and probation officers.
Local musician David Wells and Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp asked the commission Monday for support in developing a new music festival in Vienna.
Wells said the inaugural Vienna Jazz Festival is planned for Aug. 24 at the Fishbone Grill in Vienna. The event has already received a $10,000 donation from the city of Vienna in support of the event.
"We want this to be successful," Wells said, adding the organizers are working with area tourism officials on scheduling to make sure it doesn't clash with any existing events.
Rapp said when he looks throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, there are a number of public events, from fairs to festivals to homecomings. He would like to see Vienna develop its own signature event and he believes the jazz festival is a step in the right direction.
Gainer said he was concerned about providing public money for an event at a private business, but Wells said he is working to move it to a public venue in the future, such as one of Vienna's parks. At the current time, cost is an issue since it would take $5,000 to set up an outdoor stage in a park, while the Fishbone has an existing outdoor stage area.
"If we had an extra $5,000, I would move it immediately," Wells said.
Rapp and Wells are hoping the jazz festival can grow and move in the future.
"I think this is an investment in the community," Rapp said.
Following a brief discussion, the commission approved a $2,000 donation for the Vienna Jazz Festival.