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Projected overage has county scrambling for changes to FEMA road projects

HOLMES COUNTY – With a projected budgeting overage looming on the FEMA paving project of 13 roads, the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners voted to remove one of the roads from the project when they met in special session on Monday, November 8. 

The county says the previously proposed projects would leave a shortfall of more than $750,000 in the FEMA funds. 

In 2015, FEMA awarded the county $22 million in funding from Hurricane Sandy damages. So far, 29.4 miles of roads have been paved county wide. This summer, there were 13 roads remaining on the entire project:  Old Mill Road, Valee Road, Peak Road, Bradley Road, Steverson Road, Flowing Well Road, Beall Packing Road, Hoover’s Mill Road, Sand Path Road, Hathaway Mill Road, Oak Grove, Coursey Road, and Bush Road. 

Of those roads, all that remain are Beall Packing Road, Flowing Well Road, Steverson Road, and Bush Road. Facing a projected overage of $778,000, commissioners voted to take a portion of Beall Packing Road off the list. 

The portion of the road from Highway 177-A to the back entrance of Dogwood Lakes will be paved using funds from the Road Department Contingency fund. This move allows the county to keep from spending $337,206 thereby lessening the projected overage. 

Another $100,000 will be put toward covering the overage with commissioners opting not to purchase a large water pump they had previously approved. 

The remaining balance of $348,169.67 will be paid out of $2 million in validated FEMA funds. Chairman Earl Stafford says it is the best choice they could make in the situation. 

“We didn’t want to touch the validated funds just in case we needed them after FEMA audits the finished project,” said Stafford. “But what better to spend the validated funds on than FEMA roads.” 

Commissioners intend to replace the funds with the sale of 58 acres on Deacon Road which they approved to be marketed for $600,000 in a 4-1 vote. Stafford was the only vote against the measure. 

The entire project is set to be completed by November 30. 

The Holmes County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 9 a.m. on November 16.

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