County gets $500K grant for jail, van

Jail GrantBy Wayne Gates –

Brown County will receive half a million dollars from the state for use at the Brown County Jail.
The money will be used to purchase a new 15 passenger transportation van, to fund replacement of two HVAC units and to help pay for a proposed 20 bed dormitory style addition to the facility.
The money is coming from the Local Government Innovation Council as part of a Safety Capital Grant.
$9.5 million dollars was awarded statewide, with Brown County receiving the maximum amount.
State Senator Joe Uecker and State Representative Doug Green joined the Brown County Commissioners on May 23 to discuss the grant.
“This is a way that we’ve started giving some of that revenue back into the hands of local governments by coming up with these programs that become competitive and are used for very worthy projects and programs,” said Uecker.
Green added, “We are trying to reach out from the legislative standpoint to help local governments.  In doing so with House Bill 64 for this biennium, we included an opportunity to establish a public safety grant program the local government fund process.”
Without local governments working together, Brown County would not have been eligible for the $500,000, which was the maximum awarded.
“That’s pretty exciting when you have local entities bind together and do unified front to make application and then be awarded the maximum amount from those grant dollars because of working together,” Green said.
“Programs are far more successful when you have local buy-in and this is a perfect example of that,” Uecker added.
The local entities that were listed as cooperating  on the grant included the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, the Brown County Criminal Justice Task Force, Lake Waynoka, Georgetown, Higginsport, Ripley and Sardinia.
Brown County Commissioner Barry  Woodruff had high praise for Brown County EMA Director Beth Nevel and Commissioners’ Clerk Sarah Prebble.
“They did the work. We felt that we might get a portion of that grant, but we never dreamed that we would get the full $500,000,” he said.
“They did above and beyond what we hoped they would be able to accomplish. They had to get the data, put it together, write and rewrite the grant and finish it all in a 30 day window.  They did a super job.”
Woodruff said that the money will leave the county on a firmer financial foundation.
“This now leaves us the opportunity that when we have an HVAC unit in the jail go down, we now have the money to fix it without putting a strain on the county general fund,” Woodruff said.
“We are no longer having to struggle to pay for items that we were just fighting to maintain.  It gives us a breath of fresh air and gives us the ability to get our heads above water.”
Woodruff said that he expected the county to receive an award letter for the grant money sometime soon.