Michelle Williamson, CEO of Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan updated Barry County Commissioners on its programs for Barry County residents on Tuesday.
Williamson said the agency is working to find funding to renovate the former Ponderosa on Market Street in Hastings to consolidate intake of its Head Start programs and other programs in one accessible location with room to expand its GED program. “It’s been empty for a few years and is an ideal location,” she said.
The cost is estimated at $600,000 for the building and to make it eligible for state licensing. Working with the owners, they have $400,000, which they will have to pay back, so are looking at fundraising through a GoFundMe page, grants and donations from individuals and businesses for the remaining $200,000.
A pancake breakfast Saturday, Dec. 1 at American Legion Post 45 in Hastings from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. will benefit the effort.
Commissioner Heather Wing represents the county on the CAASCM board and said she “has never been as excited to be part of a thing, ever,” noting Williamson has a team of board and staff members who have benefited from her mentorship. //
Williamson listed several agency programs; Utility Assistance for heating bills, Weatherization services to reduce energy use, Foster Grandparents for seniors 55 and older with children for mentoring, Commodities, giving seniors boxes of food through the Commodities Supplemental Food Program and for those 19 and up, the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
CAASCM also has the Head start and Early Head Start programs, providing quality education for children from infants to up to four years old. The agency has 250 staff, including 35 in Barry County. The total spent in Barry County in 2017 was $2,712,334. Its $18 million budget is a combination of federal and state funding.
Most referrals are from word of mouth, Williamson said, but they have a number (877- 422-2726) to call, and take referrals from other agencies. They serve St. Joseph, Calhoun, Branch and Barry counties.
In other business, the commission approved:
*reappointing Frank Jesensek and Douglas Klein to Citizens at Large positions on the Parks & Recreation Board for three year terms.
*reappointing Rick Moore and appoint Deana Powell to the Charlton Park Board in Citizens at Large positions for three year terms.
*an agreement with VERIPRO for Short Term Disability administration for one year.
*budget amendment B-18.
*autorization for auditors to make final year end appropriations and transfer general fund surplus funds to various internal service funds.
*a resolution opposing Senate bill 396.
*a resolution to transfer the release of a right of way from Barry County Board of Supervisors to the Barry County Drain Commission.
*adoption of MERS defined Benefit Plan amendment increasing BCCEA employee contributions.
* form K-4402 to allow Barry County to collet winter taxes.