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Stories Added - December 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company
DETCOG to hold hearing on Ike funds Friday in Livingston
Polk County Enterprise - December 2009
LIVINGSTON – The Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) will hold the first of two public hearings to allow the public to comment on a plan for making available a second round of Hurricane Ike Recovery funds at the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce in Livingston at 10 a.m. Friday. The Texas Department of Rural Affairs has allocated $208 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster relief funds to the 12-county DETCOG Region. DETCOG Executive Director Walter Diggles said his agency has drafted three proposals for a method of distribution of Hurricane Ike Relief funds and continues to try to negotiate an impasse between HUD and the Texas Governor’s Office that resulted in HUD’s rejection of the statewide plan to distribute the second round of disaster relief funds. “The most important thing to understand is that HUD is still waiting on that 45-day deadline for us to get back with a plan that reflects the target population,” Diggles said. DETCOG is charged with developing a method for equitably making the funds available to the cities and counties in the region for infrastructure and housing projects. “Damages reported to FEMA show that Polk County had more damage that any other (DETCOG) county — right at $27.4 million,” Diggles said.
“It would be good for the public to come listen to how we came to the method of distribution and the process we had to go through with HUD.” The distribution plan that seems most likely to gain HUD approval gives Polk County just over 22 percent of the funds, based on a formula that adjusts for the number of low-to-moderate-income families in each county as well as the damage reported. Under that plan, $11,117,300 would be ear-marked for infrastructure and $3,286,337 for economic development. The proposal also includes $13,202,823 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation/reconstruction. Another $14,403,637 would fund rehabilitation/new construction of housing under HUD’s Section 8 housing program. The Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce is at 1001 Highway 59 Loop N in Livingston.
The second hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. that afternoon in the Lufkin City Commission Meeting Room (RM102) at 300 E. Shepherd in Lufkin. In addition to written and oral comments taken at the public hearings, written comments may be sent to Rusty Phillips, Director of Regional Services at the DETCOG office at 210 Premier Dr., Jasper, TX 75951. Those comments must be received before 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. The draft method of distribution is posted on DETCOG’s internet web site, www.DETCOG.org. It will also be available for review at the Deep East Texas Council of Governments offices at 210 Premier Drive in Jasper and 118 S. First, Lufkin. For information about the hearings contact the Deep East Texas Council of Governments at 409-384-5704.