Representatives from the East Arkansas Planning and Development District and the United States Department of Agriculture attended Wednesday's meeting of the Mississippi County Animal Rescue Shelter project's board to discuss the possibilities of grant funding.
The shelter project has approximately $45,000 -- $20,000 from private donations and a promise of $25,000 in GIF funds from Sen. David Burnett. The Poinsett County Shelter, which is being used as a loose model for the Mississippi County project, was built for less than $200,000.
Ross Allen of the EAPDD said the group could apply for a Department of Rural Services General Improvement Fund grant. The grants are awarded in amounts of up to $150,000, but Allen recommended that they apply for $90,000, which was more likely to be awarded.
Justin Ladd of the USDA said that his agency could offer a grant of up to 30 percent of the project's total cost -- which cannot be applied for until a complete plan has been submitted, along with estimates and plans from an architect. He added that not much funding is available for projects at the present, unless they are somehow related to public safety, which the group agreed a shelter was, because of the rising incidence of rabies and attacks by strays county-wide. The USDA also offers a loan program, but Mississippi County Judge Randy Carney said the county was not at all interested in taking out a loan or making any financial commitment other than giving the board the land where the shelter will be located.
Blytheville Mayor James Sanders said since the shelter could be considered a quality of life improvement project, he and Carney should contact leaders at the Delta Bridge Project, currently underway in the county, to see if any funding could be provided to help with the construction or operation of the shelter.
The board agreed on two next steps: contacting Jim Little, an architect in Jonesboro who has done work on other grant-funded county shelters, and planning a visit to tour the recently completed shelter in Poinsett County. Also in the works is a meeting between attorneys and representatives for both the shelter board and the county to further negotiate the terms of the land lease. Conneally said she had some concerns about a clause regarding insurance which the county included in its first draft of the agreement.