A public meeting was held on the courthouse steps Thursday afternoon to discuss and determine if an application for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) should be developed. The purpose of the meeting was to identify and prioritize the community needs of Hempstead County due to certain criteria that must be met in order to apply for the grant.
CDBG funds are federal assistance from the State of Arkansas and are administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The funds are available to cities and counties according to their need and may be used for community facilities, but they must address one of the following objectives:
1. Provide benefit to low and moderate-oncome families
2. Aid in the prevention of slum and blight
3. Meet other community needs, which poses a serious, immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community where no other funding is available to meet such needs.
Steve Harris, with the Hempstead County Economic Development, began by saying that the number one need is job creation for low to moderate income people and that the Tyson project will help the largest industry in the area as well as be a large capital investment for the taxing districts in Hempstead County. Harris also stated that recreational options and housing for low to moderate people are a good common need. He then opened the floor for comments to list and prioritize the needs of the community.
City Council Director, Mark Ross, was present as stated that economic development, community efforts and involvement are of importance and he supports this and thinks that the Tyson project should be the number one priority.
Hempstead County Judge Jerry Crane brought up the need of a behavioral unit. He stated that the Sheriff has mentioned numerous times the availability of the old migrant center that the governor gifted to the county. This would be a big asset due to education being provided to the juveniles to better them and get them on the right road. Crane also mentioned that this will be a huge help to the young people, but it would also save thousands of dollars by not having to transport them out of town. Sheriff James Singleton stated that this facility would eliminate parents taking off work for visits and would also be a good economic boon to Hempstead County. At present, the plan would be for a 25 bed facility with a kitchen and laundry, employing around 30 individuals, but there are 96 beds out there already, so there is room to grow. In addition, the facility could be used for mass quarantine should we ever have another crisis. A lot of work would need to be done and funding is needed for that.
Singleton also stated that he agreed with the Tyson project, the more jobs we can bring to the community, the better off we will be. Tyson is a good community partner and this project should move forward to the benefit of the citizens of Hempstead County.
Judge Jerry Crane took the podium, stating that the funds are available to meet the number one need, which is job creation for the local industry. Hempstead County will now move forward with the application to meet the needs discussed.