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Rural Development Explains Programs To Commission

By Staff | May 11, 2010

Alan Harris, area director, and Jesse Gandee, area specialist, presented information on several programs available from the United State Department of Agriculture Rural Development to the Wetzel County Commission during their May 4 meeting.

“We don’t do a lot of marketing. We don’t have a lot of money for marketing, so we rely a lot on word of mouth,” said Gandee who works out of the USDA office in McMechen.

Working for USDA RD for almost two years, Gandee took the position vacated by Nelson Jennings. “Nelson knew every single person in Wetzel County,” said Gandee. Now Gandee is trying his best to get out and meet everyone.

One program, the Home Repairs Grant/Loan 504 Program, does just what the title describes, offers loans and grants for home repair. In order to be eligible a grantee must own their home, have a steady dependable income, have a decent credit history, and meet income guidelines. In Wetzel County, for instance, that means a household of one must make less than $17,100; two, $19,500; three, $21,950; etc.

The program provides one-percent loans for most any kind of repair over a 20-year period. Typically the payments are $5-30 per month.

Grants are available for home owners over 62 years of age. The repair must address a safety or health concern such as a leaky roof, electrical concern, or bad furnace. The objective is for people to live in a safe and healthy environment. Recipients must live in the house for at least three years after receiving the grant.

Area specialist Wendy S. Pagot administers a home mortgage loan program that offers 100 percent funding for first-time home buyers. Recipients must have a decent credit history and steady dependable income. The loans, said Harris, always allow a little room for repairs if needed. The loans can also be used to finance new manufactured homes.

Harris noted that since USDA RD employees do not work on commission, they don’t coerce anyone to take a loan from them.

Commission President Don Mason asked if the mentioned loans are through banks. Harris said they are not, but the guaranteed housing program does work with banks. That program is for moderate income families that maybe don’t have enough money for a down payment.

“With Rural Development we have a lot of different programs that can work with people,” mentioned Harris.

They also spoke of Community Facility Projects that are for non-profit or public entities such as hospitals, fire departments, and libraries. “That is primarily a loan program,” said Harris. The grant money is limited, but the loan money is fairly available.

That program is currently working with an application from Wetzel County PSD #1. There’s no cap to the amount, said Harris, just the ability to pay it back.

They also have a direct loan program, where they serve as the lender. Usually it is for a longer term and a fixed rate. If people have the ability to go through commercial lending, then they must. “We are designed to sort of fill in that gap, not replace commercial lending,” said Harris.

They currently have some stimulus money, so they have a bit more available for grants right now.

“There’s obviously more demand than there are grant dollars,” said Harris, so they choose the grant projects for people who pay more for the service, such as water or sewage.

Their programs are continuously running. “We accept applications at all times,” said Harris.

Their offices are located in McMechen. Gandee can be reached at 304-242-0576 ext. 115 or by e-mail at jesse.gandee@wv.usda.gov.

In another matter, the commission agreed to sign their 10-year franchise agreement with Suddenlink dba Seabridge. The coverage area is from Proctor to Paden City and out state Route 180 to the county line and out state Route 7 to the state Route 20 split. “It’s pretty much standard,” said Lemley of the agreement’s language.

New Martinsville Mayor Lucille Blum and Steve Hoagland, the city’s animal control officer, told the commission of a complaint about dogs on the south end of Main Street. “There evidently was an attack. Two dogs attacked a cat in the neighborhood,” said Blum. The complainant said the dogs are permitted to run loose in his neighborhood and are creating havoc.

Hoagland and Blum were going to visit the owners of the dogs and remind them of the leash laws. “It doesn’t make a difference if it is night or day, but dogs cannot run loose,” said Blum.

Even though Hoagland is assigned to cat duty, they said the city will pay attention to dog problems too.

Relatedly Rosy Cozart, who runs the county’s animal shelter, gave her monthly reports for March and April.

For March:

Dogs: euthanized, one; adopted, three; rescued, 24; returned to owner, zero; taken in, 28; approved/fostered, one; present impounds, zero; and present quarantines, zero.

Cats: euthanized, zero; adopted, three; rescued, zero; returned to owner, zero; taken in, one; approved/fostered, zero; present impounds, zero; and present quarantines, zero.

For April:

Dogs: euthanized, one; adopted, 10; rescued, 18; returned to owner, six; taken in, 36; approved/fostered, zero; present impounds, zero; and present quarantines, zero.

Cats: euthanized, one and four for New Martinsville; adopted, zero; rescued, three; returned to owner, zero; taken in, four; approved/fostered, one; present impounds, one; and present quarantines, zero.