Grant applicants double check their grant application number prior to the CCCDC meeting Monday night

There was an air of anticipation and preparation as representatives of local non-profits and government entities waited for the quarterly meeting of the Cullman County Community Development Commission (CCCDC) to be gaveled to order. With money running out before the needs do, organizations were hoping their number got called before that happens.

David Ozment of the Foundry Ministries was among them. They submitted their grant application for an all-terrain vehicle last September. They attended the CCCDC meeting in January, and he, Farm Manager David Hall and General Manager Eddie Wilson were back again Monday night (the spring meeting of the CCCDC was canceled due to COVID-19.

Shortly after CCCDC Chairman Champ Crocker gaveled the meeting to order at 6 p.m., and asked if any of the representatives wanted to speak, Ozment spoke up. “We need this all-terrain vehicle that’s described in our application,” he said. 

He was followed by others, who explained how they would use the funds for a free food pantry, educational materials, equipment for a fire department, and a new ambulance. 

“We’re in dire need,” said Cullman Regional Foundation Executive Director Maria Stanford of the Foundation’s request for a $12,000 grant for a new ambulance. “We have 10 in the fleet, but it’s an aging fleet. We put over half a million miles on the ambulances in a year and we make over 15,000 calls a year.”

Each quarter, the CCCDC meets to approve grant requests. The grants are limited to a maximum of $12,000 and requestors can only submit one application in a 12-month period. The grants must fall in the categories of education, economic and community development, conservation or fire protection. The CCCDC keeps $100,000 in reserve.

Because the board did not meet in the spring, they started the meeting with a balance of $317,195.49.

Members go down the list in the order of application, tabling some (more information needed), denying others (doesn’t fit into one of the four categories) and approving the rest until the money runs out.

Those familiar with the process know it takes several meetings before their grant number comes up.

“We’ve got grants out there that are almost a year old,” said Board member Joe Gold. “This list is long so you’re going to have a waiting period of at least nine months to a year.”

Crocker keeps a running total of how much the board has awarded. Less than 30 minutes into the meeting, he announced they had granted $91,500, with $120,000 left to approve.

The Foundry’s grant application came up shortly after that. Ozment spoke again on behalf of the request for a vehicle to get visitors to and from areas on their 60-acre property, and noted “It’s a tremendous program, it helps a lot of people.”

The request was approved.

Also among those getting approval for their grants were the Cullman Library, several community centers, schools, volunteer fire departments, educational programs and the free food pantry in Cullman. The last grant awarded was a $12,000 grant to Battleground Volunteer Fire Department for a generator and storage racks for turnout gear.

In just under an hour, the CCCDC had awarded more than $217,000 in grants. “It’s the most we’ve given out since I’ve been here,” said Crocker. There were more than 20 applications that the commission had not gotten to.

But they will have their opportunity to make their case when the CCCDC meets again in a couple of months.

Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 Ext. 216.

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