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Fiscal Court approves $125K for Stearns project

By Greg Bird

The first official order of business saw the court approving the first reading of a revision to the ordinance establishing the Industrial Development Authority Board, expanding the number of Board members by one.
When the Board was established last year seven members were appointed, but the Board wished to add an eighth member to add more diversity to the group. According to KRS statutes, such a board can have up to eight members.
When asked about the potential for tie votes among an even-numbered Board, Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene said he was assured by Board Chair Randy Kidd that they felt any such differences would be overcome.
A second reading of the revision would have to pass before taking effect, and after such time a new member can be appointed to fill the spot.
The next order of business was passing a resolution supporting the filing of a Regional Development Agency Assistance Program (RDAAP) by the Fiscal Court to request an allocation of $125,000 for the Historic Downtown Stearns Revitalization Project.
Deputy Judge Executive Nathan Nevels II explained the County had about $300,000 in economic development funds from a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority from a settlement over an ash pond spill.
Judge Greene stated the money from the TVA is slated to be used for economic development, and the Stearns project satisfies the conditions of the funding.
Heritage Foundation CEO J.C. Egnew was on hand to say the grant would allow the foundation to begin work on the rail replacement project for the historic railway, prior to the start of tourist season this spring.
Last fall the Heritage Foundation was awarded more than $3 million in federal grants for the revitalization of downtown Stearns and the railway, but the funding has yet to be released. The RDAAP grant will allow the Foundation to begin paying for the repair work sooner. Egnew said a significant portion of the work should be completed before the season begins sometime in April.
Egnew further stated that the Industrial Authority was awarded a $1 million Community Development Block Grant in December to purchase knitting equipment for OVC as part of their expansion project. That equipment will be leased to OVC over a 10-year period, with all payments and interest going back to the Authority. Over the next decade over $4.8 million will be paid back to the county, which will be re-invested in economic development.

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