MADISON – A group representing the Boone County communities of Brushton, Ashford, Ridgeview and Nellis approached the Boone County Commission last week requesting a new community center and nutrition program for the area.
“We are the only area of Boone County that does not have some type of senior community center and nutrition program,” said Joe Tagliente, speaker for the group he called “The B.A.R.N. Group.”
Tagliente said the B.A.R.N. name comes from a popular newspaper column that appeared in the Coal Valley News written by Judy McComas, “News From The B.A.R.N. She was also at the meeting as a member of the group.
Tagliente pointed out that the “B.A.R.N.” area has contributed very much to the county.
“We are a very large voting block, we have lots of mining activity and a new plant and more deep mines are coming,” he said. “We pay as much taxes as any area in the county and we are in need of a community center and nutrition program for our area.”
Tagliente said the B.A.R.N. area has a high number of senior citizens and also has a high poverty rate.
“A nutrition program is desperately needed,” he said. “According to school system statistics, students in our area rank high in the county for free and reduced meals. Our seniors also need some place close and not several miles away.”
Tagliente asked the commission to consider funding the plan with excess monies in the county budget, grants and even levies.
“We believe there are also state and federal funds available for these type of projects and programs,” he said.
Boone County Commission President Mickey Brown said the county would take a look at the proposal, but cautioned the group to be patient.
“Coal Severance money is the key to our funding and state auditors have warned us that it will decline for the next few years,” he said. “We know this would be a good project, but we must be fiscally responsible with our budget.”
Tagliente pointed to other projects in the county, however, Brown said they were mostly paid for by state and federal grants.
“We just put in our small percentage match to get large amounts of state and federal dollars,” Brown said.
Boone County Commissioner Atholl Halstead said Boone County is no longer number one in the state in coal production.
“Marshall County is now number one in the state,” he said. “We are hopeful that things will turn around.”
Some members of the group said they might approach state officials and inquire about grant money available.
Commissioners said the cost to the county is a key factor.
“When you have a project that is 80 to 90 percent funded by the state or federal funding, then that does make a big difference,” Brown said.
• In other county commission news, the county announced that it was approved for a Court Security Fund Grant in the amount of $22,680 for the purpose of enhancing the county’s court security. The grant will pay for an emergency standby power supplies for access control doors; security cameras for the magistrate’s records room and the Main Street parking lot; 25 emergency panic devices; cell transmitters for fire alarm and emergency panic systems; and additional camera in elevator that travels from magistrate court to circuit court.