By Michelle Key
East Alabama Food Bank Executive Director Martha Henk petitioned the Lee County Commissioners for a $25,000 donation to be paid over a period of three years to go towards the organization’s capital campaign during last night’s county commission meeting.
Henk spoke on food insecurity in Lee County and discussed how the organization has outgrown their existing facility since moving in to it in 2002.
The organization has purchased a new facility from the city of Auburn and has created a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds to renovate the new facility that would meet the food bank’s needs.
The new facility will give them a 41,000 square foot warehouse space, a volunteer work area of 12,000 square feet as well as a significant increase in cooler storage area.
“One of the things that was really highlighted for us (following the March 3rd tornadoes) was that we simply did not have to take in the disaster relief product that was being offered to us from all across the country. We did the best we could … but what it really made us realize was that we have got to step up, we’ve got to be prepared for the next disaster,” Henk said. “The food bank needs to be prepared for that.”
Henk explained that as to date they have raised 87.4 % of the anticipated renovation costs. They have already started on renovations and anticipate being finished by the end of October.
“We did take a bold step in stepping out in faith in this because we didn’t have all the funds in hand but we are confident that the community is going to step up and help us with this,” Henk added.
County Commissioner Richard LaGrand expressed his support of the organization.
“I strongly support the Food Bank of East Alabama. I know they have done some outstanding things over the years, and they’ve got some great board members,” LaGrand said.
July 5 County Holiday
The commission approved a request from several county employees to make July 5 a county holiday in conjunction with state offices and facilities being closed that day too. That move is expected to cost the county $80,000 but the vote to incur the additional expense was unanimous.
Hazard Mitigation Grant
The commission voted to authorize Lee County Emergency Management Director Kathy Carson to send letters of interest and intent to apply for a hazard mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Lee County is eligible for $383,782 in grant funds which could be used to help individuals purchase storm shelters.
The grant funds will be paid out to those that apply and are approved and will provide reimbursement of up to $4,000 or 75% of the cost of a storm shelter, whichever amount is lower. Carson stressed that it is important for interested parties to understand that they must apply and receive a letter of approval prior to purchasing and installing a shelter in order to keep from being disqualified.
In other business, the commission voted to:
• award the low bid of $1,606,712 to Whatley Construction, Inc. for renovations to the first floor of the Lee County Courthouse
• approved an educational reimbursement request for a county employee
• heard the first readings on the appointments of Barbara Patton to the Lee County Emergency Communications District Board and the reappointment of George Dyar and Lee Roy Kelly to the board as well
• discussed a request from Trey Thompson and Marshall Carter regarding the resurfacing of Lee Road 2119, which is located in the Rolling Hills Subdivision – according to City Engineer Justin Hardee who went out to inspect the roadway, the road does not currently meet the rating criteria to be placed on the list of roads to be resurfaced at this time, but did state that the road department will look at doing some repairs to the road
• heard from Calvin Bellamy of Lee Road 246 regarding a request to have that road paved as well – however, the paving of dirt roads in Lee County was suspended in 2010.
The next Lee County Commission meeting will be held on July 8 at 5 p.m. at the courthouse, which is located at 215 S. 9th St. in Opelika.