Saturday, December 16, 2017

Johnson County to receive $1.7 million in infrastructure grants

Vienna-Target-Area-MapThe city of Vienna and the village of Goreville are each set to receive a $400,000 Housing Rehabilitation Grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) through the state of Illinois.

Governor Pat Quinn announced more than $6 million in infrastructure investments in Southern Illinois communities last week with Johnson County on the receiving end of $1,683,580 for four projects here.

In addition to the housing rehabilitation grants awarded to Goreville and Vienna, Belknap is set to receive a $450,000 grant for water plant and distribution system improvements while Vienna is set to receive a $433,580 grant for sewer system improvements.

“These grants are never assured, they are very competitive,” said Tammy Campbell, grant administrator with Shawnee Survey and Consulting who has been working with the state for home rehabilitation grants for the past 23 years. “Grant applications are turned in to DCEO in March and are reviewed and scored by housing staff in their office. Grants are awarded starting with the highest scoring down to the lowest scoring until they run out of money.”

Campbell said that depending on the amount of work each home requires, that it is likely the grants would allow for up to ten homes in each community to receiving rehabilitation funds. The grants allow Campbell to make needed repairs and/or replacement of appliances to help improve homes for elderly, disabled or very low-income residents.

“These grants will allow me to do a multitude of things to the homes, [such as replace] roofs, doors, windows, insulation, floors, bathrooms, furnaces, air conditioners and other items,” Campbell said.

While each home may receive up to $40,000 in repairs, not every home would require the entire amount, allowing Campbell to work with additional homes. She said she encourages people to still apply even if they are not located inside the target area because it is possible that when these grants run out they would use the applications on file to choose a new target area and apply once again. Campbell said she would be mailing a letter to everyone in the target areas with a formal application and a list of information required from each homeowner wishing to participate, which she would collect at the Vienna City Hall and Goreville Village Hall on the dates listed in the letters.

“We will continue to accept formal applications until the end of the grant period, which is two years,” Campbell said, adding that if a resident does not make the date listed for their town hall, that applications may be mailed to her office in Benton at: Lawrence A. Lipe & Associates LLC, 901 N. DuQuoin St., Benton, Ill., 62812.

“Once I receive applications they will be ranked by elderly, disabled and very low income,” Campbell said. “First priority will be in all three categories, Second priority will be in two of the three categories, Third priority will be in one of the three categories.”

“These projects are vital to Southern Illinois and support basic community needs,” Gov. Quinn said in a press release last week. “I am pleased to support this work in Alexander, Clay, Franklin, Hamilton, Johnson, Marion, Saline and Williamson Counties that will provide jobs and a foundation for community renewal.”

According to Quinn’s office, “Statewide, investments totaling $8.83 million were made in 23 towns or townships for improvements to water and sewer systems, and with the required local matching funds the total investment will be $13.94 million.”

“These investments are important to the quality of life in rural communities statewide,” DCEO director Adam Pollet said in the release. “Better public services and an improved housing stock will help these regions attract jobs.”

There is also an additional amount of grant dollars for emergency work in both Vienna and Goreville for homes anywhere within their city limits that would allow for the replacement or repair of critical infrastructure items such as roofs, furnaces, air conditioning or electrical work.

Campbell said she encourages homeowners to return their formal applications as soon as possible if they do not make the meetings listed in their letter they are to receive in the coming weeks. Once the paperwork is complete, Campbell said she would begin contacting homeowners to evaluate homes to be worked on, which is most likely to take place after the first part of the New Year.

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