Hardin Co. seeks to improve resilience, renovate courthouse and jail

Hardin County is looking to take advantage of two generous federal COVID response grant opportunities to make the county more flood resistant and update the courthouse and jail.

And instead of requiring local agencies to pick up 25% of the bill, the programs will cover 90% of approved projects, requiring only a 10% local counterpart.

“So previously unaffordable projects could very well become affordable under this program,” said Melinda Smith, grants administrator for Traylor & Associates Inc..

The Hardin County Commissioners Court has yet to decide how to use the funds, but eligible projects include purchasing hazard-prone homes and businesses, installing flood barriers and raising structures, among many other options.

“We have decided to give the commissioners time to consider eligible projects and submit what they would like to request as an action item at the April 12 regular meeting,” said Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel. . “I specified that I wanted to be sure that we applied for drainage studies on Boggy Creek and Black Creek, but we took no action to ask the grant administrator to go ahead with a specific project at the moment.”

Applications for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are due April 29.

The county plans to use American Rescue Program Act funds in the same way.

Half of the county’s rescue program dollars were distributed in 2021 and are already being allocated to a number of projects, including improving the ditches behind Parkway Life Church in Lumberton. The second half of the funding is expected to arrive in August, which the court plans to use for renovations to the courthouse and jail as well as the expansion of the courthouse annex.

“We will almost certainly come up with plans to renovate the courthouse, jail, and courthouse annex building, but that does not guarantee construction will take place,” McDaniel said. “Our thought process is to put together plans and budget figures for what needs to be done. Then we could use some of the ARPA funding we’re getting this year for some of that.

Potential renovations include making the courthouse restroom handicap accessible to ADA standards; replacement of HVAC systems in the prison; and the replacement of toilets, sinks and showers in the prison.

McDaniel said the court set aside about $1.2 million for the drainage project and estimates the architectural and engineering services will cost about $600,000.

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