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Stories Added - February 2009
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Going ‘Green’ might save some ‘Green’ in new Jail Construction
Tyler County Booster - February 2009
Tyler County Commissioners heard an interesting presentation during a special meeting held Friday. Kimberly Fontenot, representing Steller Grants, a business that assists government entities, corporations and non-profits in finding funding through grants of various kinds. Friday she was talking specifically about the increased availability of grants for funding “Green” building. Her presentation is timely because the County is facing spending millions of dollars on a new jail facility. Fontenot said that the county might be able to tap into significant funding by building the new facility “Green.” Environmentally responsible construction is, she said, a major initiative of the Barack Obama administration, who will make available major funding for these efforts. “With the Economic Stimulus plan under the Obama Administration there is a tripling of the money that was available for Green Construction under the Bush Administration,” Fontenot explained. “Almost a third of his economic stimulus plan is in Green construction, green energy, waste water...anything you want to do with a public property you can tap into those funds, either matching or as an or an outright grant.” This could be for land acquisition, building acquisition, or capital campaigns to build facilities. Commissioner Jack Walston told the court that he had asked Fontenot to talk to the court after he and Woodville Police Chief Scott Yosko had talked to her. Steller Grants is the company David Dachner works with pursuing grants. Dachner is the Oil Company president who has expressed interest in funding a Family Life type center in Woodville. Walston said that what he heard from her sounded interesting, and perhaps the court would want to know more about what the company could do for the county in terms of a feasibility study and grant assistance. Of course, these services always cost money, and that would be at the county’s expense. “What we do is do a geo-demographic study,” Fontenot said. “We look at the crime rate, at your need, at the rate that it’s increasing and at your growth capacity for the next 20 years. Then we consolidate all of that into how much you need to spend on it, how much matching grants are out there, how many RP’s can be applied to it, and how many beds you’ll be able to service in the next 20 years.” She added that her company only does Green construction. “Our biggest bang for the buck, whenever you are doing a municipality building, is to do Green,” she said. Fontenot said that these grants are available to jails, and the available funding has increased triple fold with the passing of the economic stimulus bill. “With Green, we build conservatively to give you the best benefit to your environment, the best benefits to your bills, you have wastewater that is recycled, you build solar as much as you can, sheet rock is treated to absorb the heat in winter and reflect it in summer, etc.” She also explained that the incentives and the tax benefits to the county are tremendous from the Federal side. Fontenot also noted that the county could even rehab the courthouse historically green and be able to get tax incentives for doing it that way. The presentation was informational only, but does offer another direction the Court might go in finding the dollars to build a new jail.