Brittney Lofthouse — Staff Writer
After revamping and redefining the role the Macon County Community Funding Pool, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the community funding pool’s recommendations to award 13 local non-profit agencies $75,000 set aside in the county’s current budget.
This year, 17 agencies submitted grant applications for funding of projects in Macon County totaling $129,623. With only $75,000 set aside in the current budget for non-profit funding, the community funding pool had to make some tough decisions as to the best way to disburse the county funding. Through a process of reviewing the applications and discussion with task force members, 13 agencies were recommended to receive funding.
The 13 agencies which were selected to receive funding from the county included:
Arts Council of Macon County requested $5,000 for artists’ fees and other direct program costs such as marketing and materials. The organization was granted $3,804.
Community Care Clinic of Franklin, Inc. requested $10,000 to fund the contracted salary of the nurse practitioner who works on Monday evening in the clinics. The clinic was awarded $7,739.
Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers requested $10,000 for funds to purchase medications for patients visiting the clinic and to pay for diabetes supplies for the clinic diabetics. The clinic was awarded $6,726.
Highlands Community Child Development Center requested $15,000 to fund the completed renovation to the center’s nursery, which allowed the center to accept eight additional infants. The center was granted $5,713.
Kids InterDisciplinary Services, Inc. (KIDS Place) requested $10,000 for operating expenses for the children’s advocacy center. KIDS Place was awarded $9,518.
Literacy Council of Highlands requested $5,000 to fun the organization’s in-school tutoring program that is provided in the Franklin area. The organization was granted $3,544.
Macon County Humane Society requested $10,000 for funding for the low-cost spay/neuter clinics, a sprinkler system, and sick room cages for pets. The agency was awarded $5,635.
Macon Program for Progress requested $10,000 to fund the agency’s Parents as Teachers program. MPP was granted $7,718.
Mountain Mediation Services requested $6,000 to fund mediation and restorative just services at Macon Middle School. The program received $4,497.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) requested $950 to fund the agency’s peer to peer services program as well as educational materials. NAMI was granted $945.
REACH of Macon County requests $10,000 to fund a local match for federal funds for the organization’s victim services project. Reach was awarded $9,175.
Read2Me requested $5,000 to fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for Franklin residents. Read2Me was granted $3,546.
Teen Challenge of the Smokies requested $10,000 to help fund the organization’s residential addiction recovery program. The organization was awarded $6,440.
The four agencies who requested funds, but were not approved inlcude the Macon Fair Association which requested $10,000 to replace roofing on structures at the fairgrounds. Community Funding Pool board member Karen Wallace noted that the task force believe the project was worthy of funding and encouraged the county to consider the project as a separate expense outside of the community funding pool. The other three agencies included Macon County Art Association $4,000 for art adventures, Macon New Beginnings $10,000 for homeless housing and the Scottish Tartan Museum $3,673 for exhibit protection.
Wallace informed the board, that she, along with other members of the community funding pool, would like to see the county consider directly funding the agencies that apply for and receive funding every year. It is the recommendation of the task force that these agencies be funded as regular budget items rather than be considered in the community funding pool. Agencies such as KIDS Place and REACH apply for grant funding each year and provide essential funds to the county.
“There are a couple of agencies that apply every year for funding through the community funding pool, and we would really like to approach the commission that you consider funding some of these agencies directly and not through the community funding pool task force,” said Wallace.
“There is a wide discrepancy of non-profit agencies in our community; some are very established programs and very valuable programs with a long track record, and we think they have the earned the possibility for the commission to consider funding them directly through special appropriations,” she added. “There are other non-profits that are really just getting started, they have no paid staff and don’t have a long track record or if they do, they have a lot of turnover because it is a volunteer staff and board; those folks need the assistance of the community task force dollars to help them get established and accomplish their projects.”
“For the years I’ve been here, it is never easy, and it seems to get tougher,” said Macon County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Ronnie Beale. “I read the recommendations of the community funding pool, and I agree that at budget time we need to have the discussion that agencies that are placed in the funding pool year after year and basically end up getting funded need to be a line item in the budget.”