Highland Supervisors Approve Grant Funding for Highland Inn Renovation & a School Resource Officer
At it’s monthly meeting on December 6, the Highland County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved funding for the Highland Inn Revitalization Project. At the Board’s work session last month, the Blue Grass Resource Center, the Inn’s owner, requested $176,000 for the project, to come from American Rescue Plan Act grant funding that the county will receive. On Tuesday night, the Board voted to provide $150,000 of that grant to the Highland Inn project. During discussion, Betty Mitchell, representing the Blue Grass Resource Center, explained that using grant money for the renovation will provide a renovated building with no debt attached to it when completed. She also explained that taxes and other county fees are currently being paid by the Inn and that the tax base will go up when the building is renovated and in operation. She also explained that the completion date is dependent on funding, but actual construction is estimated to take twelve months. Mitchell said the investment in the Inn will come back to the community with a positive economic impact. There was discussion among the Supervisors that since the entire amount of the grant, $176,000, was being requested for the Inn renovation, nothing would be left from the grant to help other county entities.
Supervisor David Blanchard said it was hard now to see the tangible components, but he was in favor of supporting the project. He said this was an opportunity to do the project without using taxpayer money and it was a good investment in the community. There was agreement among Board members that the project should be supported, but uncertainty about the amount of support. With the Board approving $150,000 for the Inn renovation, $26,000 from the grant is left for other projects.
The Board also approved accepting a grant to pay for a full time School Resource Officer for the remainder of this school year. The grant is for $61,274, which includes salary and fringe benefits. It will be prorated and it ends June 30, 2023. Sheriff Ronald Wimer said at the Board’s last meeting that the grant is renewable for four years, but he is not sure it will be at 100% funding. Previously the Board expressed concerns about paying for a School Resource Officer when the grant expired. School Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz and County Attorney Melissa Dowd both spoke in favor of hiring a School Resource Officer, saying it provides lots of benefits for students. Dr. Maerz said Highland is the first school system he’s worked in that didn’t have a School Resource Officer. Dowd said it is worth it, even if the county is stuck later paying for a School Resource Officer when the grant expires. She said the presence of law enforcement in the schools is important.
To hear more from the Highland County Board of Supervisors December meeting, stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.