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Preston to hold community ARPA meeting

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission will tentatively hold a community meeting on American Rescue Plan Act funds June 10.

“As part of the ARPA process, it’s important that you have community involvement,” County Administrator Kathy Mace said. “And if you remember, I’ve reported to you that I was soliciting some information on some current figures, because you have infrastructure, you’ve had tourism, you’ve had some historical requests.”

A definite time and location was not set, but using the election center was discussed and acknowledged as a good idea.

The commission also discussed ARPA requests, specifically, a February request by Extension Agent Bill Shockey for just under $400,000 to fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Stretch program for three years. SNAP Stretch is a program that doubles or triples benefits when used at a qualified farmers market. 

One of the concerns raised was who would take over funding after the commission’s funding runs out. Commissioner Don Smith said he didn’t think that should be an issue. 

“Because if you don’t do it at all, you don’t do anything,” Smith said. “So I’d just like to give them some kind of answer. … We should at least say yes or no so they can move forward.”

Commission President Samantha Stone said she agreed with that, but there are lots of requests for various needs from infrastructure to parks and recreation.

“And so that takes us getting our thoughts together on the amount of money that we have, because once we give it, it’s gone,” Stone said.

Smith said he wants to start committing because costs are just going up and up and the longer they wait, the less value the money has.

Mace said the number of requests is also why she thought they needed a community meeting after the second payment of the ARPA funds came arrived.

“Part of the process is to get the community involved. As soon as ARPA was announced, we got a plethora of things. And those costs are very different,” Mace said. “… And that’s why it was important to, now in June when we were at our second tier of funding, that’s why I would like to set that community meeting as soon as we can.”

Stone agreed, saying, “I really feel like before we do any approvals of any of these, that I think that me personally, I would like to extend an invitation to the 10th, to that community engagement so that we can just have a good, you know, bring it all to the table, and then at our next meeting, have an idea of a plan of how we would like to get some of that dispersed out.”

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