Economic Development Office & grants

By John Miller

PRESCOTT – Since its inception in the 1990s,  the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office has helped the community by working on grants totaling more than $22 million.

Recently the EDO finished a grant for the Prescott Police Department and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. Mary Godwin, executive director of the EDO, said these are local law enforcement block grants obtained through the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (ADFA). Both of these are non-matching grants, meaning the city and county doesn’t have to come up with funds to complete the projects

Godwin worked with Alicia Page at the PPD. This grant will be used to purchase a window barrier for one the department’s vehicles, which is a safety issue. This barrier will separate the front and back seats so those being transported in the car won’t be able to assault the officers in the front. The funds will also be used to buy a thermal laminator for tickets and other paperwork, along with a printer for the department’s Charger so tickets can be printed from it when stops are made.

She worked with Chief Deputy Larry Miller for the NCSO grant, which is a non-matching. The NCSO will be buying six nine-foot long stick kits. These are the strips placed across a road or highway to flatten tires.

However, these aren’t the only grants the EDO had helped the city and county obtain. Prescott was approved for a grant totaling $300,000 to address drainage issues. The EDO worked with the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District (SWAPDD) on this non-matching grant. The areas that will be the focus of the repairs will be Hays, Arnold, East 3rd and East Laurel streets.

Godwin said the city is aware there are other areas with drainage issues and these will be addressed. The current project is in the design phase with AL Franks doing the work.

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver said the reason these areas are being targeted is because of erosion over the years. He said a lot of water goes through that part of town when it rains.

Depending on the weather, Godwin said, this project should be done by the end of the year.

“It’s been neglected over the years,”Oliver said, “and is a long-standing issue. There are a lot of service lines in the area more than 100 years old and made of clay. This will help, especially preventing water from backing up in people’s yards and will help reduce flooding.”

“The (Prescott City) Council talks with me on a regular basis,” Godwin said,  “on the different needs in the community. One of my jobs is to find grants to help with these problems. Small towns need to leverage grants because of limited funding and we’ve been  successful.” She added the EDO has a list of other projects she’s trying to find grants for. When grants require matching funds, the city sales tax is used.

Working with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, and the SWAPDD, grants have been obtained for McRae and Prescott City Park in the amount of $73,372. This is a 50-50 matching grant, meaning the city has to come up with half of the funds, or $36,686.

At McRae Park, funds will be used to install a chain link fence around the basketball court, upgrade the concession stand and put in a gravel parking lot, which will be 110 feet by 220 feet. The playground equipment at the city park will be getting a cover to help reduce the heat from the summer  sun as the plastic gets too hot for children to play on. Additionally, basketball goals will be installed on the asphalt area at the park.

Everything done, she said, must meet ADA requirements. These projects should also be finished by the end of the year. Godwin said these projects began when Steve Crow was the Parks Director and continued under Carlos Van Hook.

One project nearing completion is the sidewalk project, which saw sidewalks installed on both sides of Hwy. 67 from the DHS office to Hale Drive and from Family Dollar to Baptist Clinic. Godwin said this was the longest project the city has been involved with as it began in 2018 with the project being awarded in 2019. However, COVID hit, delaying construction until late 2022. She said this grant had a 30-step process.

The primary reason for the sidewalks is safety as Godwin said, this is a heavily traveled road and there have been a lot of near misses with people walking on the shoulder. Oliver said he’s seen people in wheelchairs using the sidewalks.

The grant was a $129,000 matching grant with the council opting to do both sides at once. Godwin said this is one of the heaviest traveled areas in town and a lot of water flows through when it rains. The project was designed to work well with the rain and keep the sidewalks from being flooded. The work was done by Wooster Construction of Wooster, AR.

“They brought a crew in and supported the town,” Oliver said, “They rented Hamilton Haven, shopped locally and had good things to say about Prescott.”

“Right now,” Godwin said, “we’re looking for grants to help local businesses and enhance the community.”

Oliver pointed out the EDO can’t talk about every project being done because of confidentiality issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *