By Debby Woodin
Another round of grants from the Joplin First Response Tornado Fund will be offered later this year.
Members of the fund’s board agreed Tuesday to open the application period next month for a second round.
Chairman Phil Stinnett asked City Councilman Jack Golden, a liaison to the board, how well he thought the first round, awarded in July, went. Golden said “I think the process is good and we ought to use the same one again,” with perhaps a couple of small changes. One is that Stinnett discovered the application forms used last time did not require mailing addresses.
The trustees agreed that should be changed.
There also was a discussion about whether the board should name a grand total to disperse. During the last round, the board agreed to give out $350,000.
Stinnett suggested that the board refrain from specifying a total so that the trustees would not be obligated to give out more money than they felt the applications warranted. The fund has a balance of roughly $450,000 if all the recipients of the former round use all the money awarded to them.
Timing of the grant cycle also was discussed. Stinnett asked the trustees when they wanted to give out the next round of money.
Board member Gary Duncan asked if the city was still waiting to receive the concrete storm shelters that the Federal Emergency Management Agency may give to the city for reuse after FEMA has shut down the temporary trailer parks.
The board had previously discussed whether it might need to make some grant money available for moving those shelters to new locations.
The city’s finance director, Leslie Jones, told the board that the City Council had decided that organizations that are given the shelters will have to move them at their own expense.
Stinnett said there could be time between grant awards because those awarded funds in the first round had not used all of them yet. It also may take agencies time to get the details of a program together before filing a grant application.
The board was appointed in February, and had to develop and put in place bylaws and guidelines before any work to give out the money could begin.
Duncan asked whether winter will create needs if the board waits a few months.
Two members said they were under the impression that the City Council intended for all of the money to be distributed by the end of the year.
Stinnett said the money was given to the city with the intention of it being spent to help people, and the board could determine the timeline it felt is necessary.
Board member Ron Darby said he favored going forward and suggested that the board allow applications to be filed within 30 days.
The board agreed to update its application forms and to put out a call for applications by mid-0ctober. It is the board’s intention to make awards early next year.
Fourteen agencies and programs received money from the first round of tornado grants. The fund also was used to provide free weather radios last spring to Joplin residents who wanted them.