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Supervisors hear about May 2019 flood damage repairs, grants

Pearl River County’s long-term recovery committee is still assisting families whose homes were damaged by flooding in May of last year.

Jameye Martin from Manna Ministries updated the Board of Supervisors on the recovery progress for families whose homes were affected by flooding in the county during a May 2019 storm.

Martin leads the long-term recovery committee that was created in July 2019 to manage a $250,000 disaster housing and assistance grant from MEMA. The funds were designated to assist families who could not recover their primary residence without assistance if it was damaged by the flooding.

The committee has done extensive case management for the 17 identified families in need. Of the 17 families, only four still need to secure housing, said Martin. As of Monday, $202,000 of the grant money has been spent and the rest will be used to ensure the remaining families have safe, secure and sustainable housing, said Martin.

The committee has worked with Encore Ministry and Catholic Charities, which paid for furniture, labor costs and appliances for the affected families, said Martin.

In a separate matter, Matt Busby was appointed the new Pearl River County Public Defender at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Busby is moving from Houston, Texas to take the job, and plans to take up residence in Poplarville.

“This is a dream job for me. This is not a stepping stone job for me,” Busby told the Board.

In a separate matter, Nuria Arias presented the county’s progress on grant applications. The county was at risk of losing various grant funding for the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department to support DUI prevention and prevention of violence against women. The grant funding also paid for the purchase of equipment for law enforcement, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.

Arias began working with Lumpkin to pursue current and new grant opportunities in October. The county was behind on submitting and collecting information for a federal grant for stopping violence against women. Arias submitted the information for the 2018-2019 year, and rewrote the grant application and submitted it for the 2019 to 2020 year.

Along with working on applications for grants the county already receives, Arias told the Board she has been looking for new funding opportunities, including grants for reducing recidivism rates, supporting community policing and creating a rural police academy.

So far, by submitting reports the county has been able to recoup $87,374, said Arias.

Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman asked Arias to look for federal grants to fund additional mental health services in Pearl River County. Bowman said that as of Feb. 26 her office already had almost 30 people committed in 2020. There is no annex or holding facility in the county for people to use while they wait for a hearing to determine if they will be committed due to mental health, alcohol or drug addiction. Instead, they have to wait in the county jail for a hearing, said Bowman.

Arias said she would begin looking for grants that could assist with that issue immediately. The Board also directed her to work with the county’s new economic developer to see what grant opportunities could benefit the county’s economy.