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Art school awaiting final state grant

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By Shaina Stockton, Staff

It has been a busy year for Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, as staff has worked tirelessly with Galax grants administrator Brenda Marrah to secure enough funding for a woodworking studio in the downtown district.
As the school draws close to submitting its final request to the Virginia Tobacco Commission for $125,000, CCSA Executive Director Chris Shackelford approached the members of Galax City Council on Aug. 12 to request their support one more time.
“This is an exciting time for the school and the city,” Shackelford told council. Since the beginning of the year, the school has continued to secure funding for the woodworking studio, which will continue a long history of wood crafting in the area. The facility would offer classes in instrument building, furniture making, wood-turning and other wood-related crafts.
Shackelford highlighted the money that has already been received for the project. The school received a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission in January. The grant required a local match of $75,000, which the school managed to raise through local donations.
Recently, the school received a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) of $75,000 to cover equipment costs.
According to a statement from Marrah, the money received so far accounts for 86 percent of the studio budget.
As the final round of applications draws to a close, Shackelford requested next that council consider a joint resolution that would allow the school to receive the funding for this fiscal year.
“The CCSA Woodworking Studio grant application through the ARC is being reviewed at the federal level,” City Manager Keith Barker explained. “They have asked that we verify all funding resources by early September, h including the tobacco commission funding request.
Although the funds need to be accounted for in early September, the final approval for the tobacco commission grant will not take place until Sept. 26.
“If we don’t [receive approval], then we can’t prove the $125,000, and it will throw us into the next fiscal year,” Shackelford said. “It won’t kill the project, but it will put it off until next year for resolution.”
Barker confirmed that the response from the tobacco commission has been favorable, and city officials have spoken to state Sen. Bill Carrico to seek support as chairmen of the funding committee.
“This does not commit the city to provide funding from our budget, but says we will work with CCSA to secure the remaining funding necessary to complete the project,” said Barker.
Feeling positive about the outcome, council voted unanimously to approve the joint resolution and stand behind CCSA as school enters the home stretch.
In addition to the joint resolution, Shackelford brought the RBEG grant to council’s attention, and requested that the city approve the final documentation necessary to receive the grant money.
Council unanimously approved this request, as well.

In other action at the Aug. 12 meeting, council:
• recognized former Galax Police Sgt. Chris Brown, who retired last month after 26 years of service.

• recognized the Galax Police Department for its third accreditation under Chief Rick Clark. This re-accreditation “represents compliance with 180 standards that have varying levels of compliance, over 6000 pages of documents and numerous staff hours,” said Barker.

• congratulated Galax-Grayson EMS, which recently received the award for Outstanding EMS Agency for the Southwest Virginia Region, making the agency one of 11 statewide agencies that are eligible for this same award at state level, Barker said.

• was introduced to Mike Ayers, the new recruitment and retention officer for the Galax Fire Department. The position was provided as part of the SAFER grant recently received by the department.

• approved the publication of the city’s delinquent real estate tax list.

• approved a budget amendment to increase revenue and expenditures by $40,000, to reflect Safe Routes To School’s (SRTS) funding in FY2014. The city recently received a SRTS non-infrastructure award of $54,750 that will pay for a part-time safe routes coordinator; 30 bicycles and helmets for a bike safety training and a bike “lending library;” consultant services to develop a Galax School Zone Plan with a uniform traffic control plan; and traffic vests and lighted wands for police crossing guards.

• heard of four grants awarded from Mount Rogers Planning District Commission for construction and improvements to the wastewater treatment facility. The grant was for $57,625, and required an equal cash match. Council budgeted for these projects and expenditures in this year’s spending plan, Barker said.

• appointed Council Member Bill Webb to the SREC board, filling the vacancy left by Bob Kirby, who left the seat when he was hired as the new SREC counselor in the Wythe/Bland offices.

• approved a “Day of Service” resolution that will encourage individuals within the community to assist the hungry, protect and enhance the environment and strengthen their localities. These activities will be encouraged from Sept. 15-29 this year.