Minutes – August 2012

Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
August 10, 2012
Mt. Olive Baptist Church

The Rosenwald Project Planning Committee held its meeting of August 10, 2012 in the sanctuary of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Attending were:  Richard Dillingham, Fifi DeGroot, Charity Ray, Dorothy Coone, David and Willa Wyatt, Ray and Dorothy Rapp, Debbie Ponder, Fatima Shabazz, Omar McClain,  O’Neal Shelton, Darhyl Boone, Karen Kiehna, Ben _______.

Willa Wyatt, committee chair, opened the meeting at approximately 10 am.

Willa updated the committee on recent cleaning efforts.  There was a workday on July 28 that only three people attended.  She said that the brush piled beside the school had been taken aware by town staff and disposed of on the campus of Mars Hill College.

There was also a brief discussion about printing a flyer, made into a fan, for distribution at the Heritage Festival and similar events.  The fan would be printed with information about the Rosenwald Project and would drive interested people to the website for more information.

During the remainder of the meeting, Karen Kiehna, senior planner with the Land of Sky Regional Council, described a grant possibility to the committee.  Kiehna came up with the idea in discussions with Darhyl Boone, Mars Hill Town Manager, about the needs of the Long Ridge community.

Kiehna will apply for a $500,000 community block grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The money will be used for three major purposes:

1.      To renovate the Anderson Rosenwald School, not including furnishings or landscaping (worth approx $150,000);
2.      To update and improve the existing water line to the Long Ridge Community (worth approx $150,000); and
3.      To make repairs to homes that qualify, up to a value of $4,999 per home (worth approx $150,000).

The amount to be requested will also include a 10% administrative fee (worth approx $50,000).

According to Kiehna, the grant will require that the rehabilitation be done according to strict Dept. of Interior regulations.  Madison County will be the primary applicant on the grant, Kiehna said, but, because several entities will be involved in maintaining the structure, she recommends that the Town of Mars Hill, Madison County Board of Education and Mars Hill College send letters of support with the grant application.  She would like to receive the letters of support by October 1.

Kiehna answered questions about how the process of selecting houses for repairs will work.  She also said that the grant process will require that federal guidelines be met when hiring workers for the project.

Debbie Ponder, chair of the Madison County Commissioners, said that the commissioners would vote at its August 20 meeting on its participation in the grant process.

Assuming the grant application is successful, Kiehna said it would change the focus of the Anderson-Rosenwald Rehabilitation Project.  The committee will still need to raise money, but those funds will be directed at purchasing furnishings, landscaping and signage related to the project.

The next meeting of the Anderson Rosenwald Planning Committee will be at 10 am on September 14 at Mt. Olive Church.

Teresa Buckner