03/25/09 — Duplin waits on word on fed funds

View Archive

Duplin waits on word on fed funds

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 25, 2009 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County likely will receive notice soon that it has qualified for a federal loan for water and sewer improvements.

Rural Center President Billy Ray Hall told the county Board of Commissions earlier this month that he believes the county will get the $3.2 million intended to make water improvements around the county and sewer improvements in the Beulaville, Magnolia and Wallace areas.

Duplin has previously tried to get the money needed from the Rural Center but if it succeeds in obtaining the needed funds now it most likely will be through the federal stimulus package, Hall said.

Hall sits on the board of advisors that is helping Gov. Beverly Perdue decide how to allocate the money.

North Carolina is expected to receive as much as $6 billion in help from Washington. The money, Hall said, will be funneled through nearly 50 programs to help the state's economy. For example, he said, weatherization money will come through the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Hall urged Duplin leaders to be aggressive in applying for any money that might be available.

"Lots of people have already applied to those departments in anticipation of the federal money that's coming," he said.

Dempsey Benton is coordinating the federal money on behalf of the governor, who will be hosting meetings across the state in the coming weeks. Benton has created a Web site that will announce the federal money allotments as they come. The site is www.ncrecovery.gov.

"We're just following them," Hall said. "We deal mainly with water and sewer projects and do retrofitting of old buildings for businesses that want to move in an create more jobs.

If members of a local governing body have any doubt as to whether they should apply for a specific federal stimulus program, the League of Municipalities and the Association of County Commissioners can provide counseling and help with making the right decision, Hall told commissioners.

And if the decision is to go ahead with the application, Hall said the Rural Center might be able to provide local matches to some to some of the grants with loans using state and private money.

Hall said his organization spends much of its efforts lobbying lawmakers to help create job opportunities in rural areas. It is an economic tool, he said, sort of like a statewide chamber of commerce.

Hall said the federal government will put out criteria for how to use the money over the next week or so. Within the next three weeks, there will be a meeting in Raleigh to overview the stimulus funds, he added. Requests for proposals will be issued and then, any federal money used locally will need to be drawn down within 120 days, he said.