CHIPLEY — The Chipley Redvelopment Authority board members discussed grant programs for the coming year during Thursday’s workshop at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce building.
“We have been discussing offering special electrical grants to the downtown property owners for electrical repair,” CRA Director Ted Everett said. The grants would be for $6,000 and would be used to bring the wiring in the historic downtown district up to code.
“This is one of the biggest issues we face in downtown according to the fire chief,” Everett said. “The old wiring in these buildings could become a fire hazard.”
The grants would require a 25 percent match from the building owners, which would mean $1,500 from the owner gets $4,500 from the CRA toward electrical repairs.
“How much electrical work would that really pay for?” asked CRA Chairwoman Amy Wiwi. Member Zenna Corbin said that she had paid $16,000 to update her building, but added that she had requested some extra work done as well.
Wiwi asked if the grant could be used for the electrical work needed for adding a new office to an existing building or running cable for internet or phone lines.
“My thought would be first lets get the buildings up to code,” Everett said. “And just strictly electrical.”
“If the building is still on fuses, then it needs to have its electrical wiring updated,” Member Debbie Goulding said.
The CRA plans to set aside funds for 26 grants of $6,000 each, which will be available for properties within the CRA district.
The board also discussed setting aside funds to offer $1,000 residential grants for private homes within the CRA district, which is something the CRA has not offered in the past.
The board discussed requiring a 10 percent match from the homeowner, and decided the work that the grants would cover could be any work normally covered in a CRA façade grant — windows, door, painting, wood replacement.
The grants are not available yet, but are still in the planning stage, Everett said.
The CRA also discussed working with the Washington County Arts Council to get the city’s fire hydrants painted as well as one day getting a mural painted in downtown Chipley, both projects which are still in the planning stage.
In the meeting, the CRA approved a grant request from Seamus O’Neill for $1,636 to replace the awnings at 1384 N. Railroad Ave.
The board also voted to accept Chipley resident Angela Grantham as a new member of the CRA board.
“She has lots of energy,” Corbin said. “She works at Regions Bank and also helps with the Habitat for Humanity store. And she works nights as a waitress at Skins and Bubbas.”
Everett said he will prepare a letter for the Chipley City Council recommending Grantham’s appointment, which goes before the council for final approval.
“She’s a nice young lady,” Everett said.