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Jackson considers grant requests

Jackson County commissioners are weighing the merits of several municipal grant applications that will allocate a total of up to $20,000 for projects across the county.

The purpose of the municipal grant program is to assist the municipalities of the county with the implementation of worthy projects that will directly benefit not only the citizens of the town but all of Jackson County.

Applications were received in October, and commissioners were supposed to make a decision about awards this month. However, that decision has been delayed until January to give commissioners more time to review each application.

The Village of Forest Hills applied for an amount unlisted on their application to go toward an entrance at the intersection of North Country Club Drive and Highway 107. The entrance is designed to feature four-foot high stone walls, back-lit lettering, landscaping, and a sidewalk to one day hook in to the county’s greenway.

“Estimates of completing this entrance are running in excess of $50,000,” states the Village’s application. “We here in the Village are requesting consideration by the Commissioners to consider this a worthy project to give us ‘Presence’ in the county, so that county residents will know where The Village is!”

However, commissioner Roberta Crawford questioned the county-wide importance of the project.

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“I know they want a really elaborate entrance to their village, but I don’t see where that’s going to help Jackson County,” Crawford said.

Last year, commissioners approved a $3,000 grant for the project, said county manager Ken Westmoreland.

Crawford said that personally, she would rather see projects such as Dillsboro’s Monteith Farmstead preservation and restoration efforts funded, as it would provide an attraction for visitors.

Dillsboro’s application for $20,000 — the entirety of the municipal grant funds — would be used for repairs to the historic farmhouse, located between Sylva and Dillsboro. Plans are for the farmhouse to tie in with another site, Monteith Park, which will include town parking and an auditorium for the community theater group the Kudzu Players. The town also applied for $20,000 to help obtain a matching grant from the N.C. Clean Water Trust Fund to further the site’s development.

Crawford also said she supported Sylva’s efforts to improve Poteet Park, located just behind town hall along Scotts Creek. Sylva applied for $8,250 to resurface the park’s basketball court and purchase and install a water fountain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other Sylva project applications included $20,000 to assist with repaving and signing the municipal parking area on Railroad Avenue and $6,575 to purchase a personal identification terminal for the Sylva Police Department that would allow for access to criminal records.

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