ESTO — A representative from Summit Professional Services, Dennis Dingman, came before the Esto Town Council to explain to them why they did not receive the Community Development Block Grant to update their water system during their regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 5.
“There were 260 communities applying for that grant and all of them scored higher points than you, to be blunt,” said Dingman. “I assure you though, there was nothing you could do to score any higher then you did. I must say that the time and effort that you did as a town was impressive to raise your scores, it just wasn’t enough.”
Dingman explained that scoring was based aspects such as the income of the population, number of minorities employed by the town, health and safety of the water supply, and so on.
“For the income of the population it is still based on the census done in 2000 and I have a feeling that the residents exaggerated on their income on that census,” said Dingman. “The 2010 census results won’t be used until September of this year, however I don’t think the trend will have changed.”
The minority employment rate for the town would have to be above a certain percentage in comparison to the county’s for the points to make a significant difference, he said.
“Another way to increase your points was to get a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection stating that you’d have to update your water system for the health and well being of your residents,” he said. “However, since your water is still at safe drinking levels and you’re only replacing existing pipes that was not an option.”
Dingman said that it was still at the town’s advantage to continue applying for the grant, especially since the engineering plans have already completed and would be valid for a couple of years.
Council member Darlene Madden told Dingman that the town was recently able to make contact with their legislative representatives Representative Marti Coley and Senator Don Gaetz when they came to visit Holmes County.
Dingman praised them on knowing their representatives and to continue an open line of communication with them.
“They are such down-to-earth people,” said Madden. “They seemed to know us and remembered all of our issues and all of our activities. They really seem to care about us.”
Madden also informed the council that there was a concerned parent about the playground equipment and how close it was to the pond.
The council discussed the possibility of looking into acquiring funds to build fence around the play equipment to discourage children playing the park from going to the pond unattended.
“We’ve also got to remove the motorcycle from the playground,” said Town Council President Danny Powell. “The handle broke off and it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to fix it. We’ll also inspect the rest of the playground equipment to make sure they’re still safe too.”
Madden informed the council that if they go with Ultimate Production for sound equipment for $800 the Holmes County Health Department could give them a $600 grant, or $600 off for designating several areas as “smoke-free zones.”
“We should also see about getting some items to raffle off, like a flat screen T.V.,” she said. “Items like that will pay for themselves in raffles.”
Town Attorney Jeff Goodman said that he had finished the waiver to be signed by Ray Reynolds, representative for E. W. Carswell, in order for the town to use the plates to have more “This is the Place” books printed; the letter to property owners who have not started cleaning up their properties per their clean-up ordinances; and the town’s mobile home ordinance to be ready for signing at next month’s town council meeting.
“What I need to know is what do you want me to do about this garbage collection ordinance,” said Goodman.
After much discussion the town council explained they want a unified collection agency in Esto that the town could make money on with minimal risks.
Goodman asked that the town give him time to research ways of doing this and he would try to get a proposal to the council at the next town council meeting.
The next regularly scheduled Esto Town Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 at the Esto Town Hall.