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Commissioner seeks grant money for Falkville Senior Center

By Michael Wetzel

For the Enquirer

The Falkville Senior Center needs upgrades to comply with health department regulations, and the Morgan County Commission hopes a $250,000 state grant plus $170,000 in local money will help pay for the improvements as well as a new activity center, according to District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher.

“The center was built in 1993 and has served a good purpose but needs an upgrade for health department standards for feeding meals,” he said.

If the federally-funded but state-issued grant is approved, he said, a 60-by-80-foot activity center will be added to the east side of the facility.

“The senior center is so small, and the activity center will give the seniors more room for their quilting frames and arts and crafts,” Stisher said.

He said the activity center will accommodate basketball practice and other Parks and Recreation Department events, as well, being designed to have two basketball goals on smaller-than-regulation courts. He said the building could be rented out for family reunions, church groups and private and corporate parties.

The plan is for seniors to use the activity center from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Stisher said, with Parks and Recreation events taking place after 1 p.m.

The 1,400-square-foot senior center will be expanded about 2,200 square feet, not including the proposed activity center, Stisher said. The center will upgrade cabinets, kitchen sinks and bathroom sinks to comply with health department regulations, and the addition of a canopy outside the kitchen is included in the Community Development Block Grant program.

Stisher said the District 3 county shop workers will perform in-kind site preparation work to build the activity center pad, if the grant is approved. He said if the grant is not approved, plans for the activity center will be put on hold.

Stisher said citizens wanting the improvements at the center can help with the grant application by writing a letter of support.

“The improvements and expansion are long overdue,” he said.

At last week’s county commission meeting, the commissioners agreed District 3’s capital improvement fund will pay the $170,000 that would allow both the activity center and other improvements to be made if the county receives the grant.

Stisher said about 20-30 seniors use the senior center daily at the county’s South Park athletic complex.

Kevin Kessler, grant writer and project manager with Community Consultants in Huntsville, said if approved, the $250,000 CDBG grant and local match money will be spent on a pay-as-you-go process. Because of COVID-19 issues, the application deadline for the grant has been extended from July 10 to Aug. 10.

“The grant process is very competitive,” he said. “In a normal year, there might be 40 applications for the money that is enough to fund about 15 applicants.” He said the Falkville money will come from the $3.2 million community enhancement fund of the CDBG.

Kessler said grant winners should be notified by October or November, and work on the Falkville project could take 12-18 months, including design work and awarding the bid to a contractor.

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