Thu, June 27

Jerome meets deadline for grant, qualifies for $557,000

Staff photos by Philip Wright

JEROME Mayor Jay Kinsella proudly held the certificate of occupancy that an independent building inspector gave the town.

Less than two hours later, Jerome's project was approved for the grant.

Margaret Keener, division chief for the Northern Arizona Council of Governments, said Jerome will probably see the money in September or October.

Although the grant approval was based on progress with the renovation of the old Clark Street School into a new civic center, the $557,000 will not be used to complete the project. Instead, the grant will be used to remodel and upgrade Spook Hall, the town's unofficial meeting place. The grant will also pay for fire hydrants, sewer work and a major project involving the town's sidewalks.

Money to complete the civic center will actually come from the sale of land that Jerome owns inside the town limits of Clarkdale, and which has been held up by subdivision ordinances in Clarkdale.

When the Community Development Building Grant money was first sought through NACOG, it was for a smaller amount and it was earmarked for the building renovation. However, over time, the expected sale of the town's property inside Clarkdale and the need to complete other public projects changed how the CDBG grant would be used. Even so, receiving the grant was still tied to the certificate of occupancy for the portion of the new civic center that will house the new library and the town council chambers.

The library is now open for business, and the first council meeting will be held at 8 a.m. Sunday morning in the new chambers. The agenda will be primarily ceremonial, according to Al Palmieri, town clerk, and Jane Moore, vice mayor.

"It's wonderful," said Keener, who works with Jerome to help the town meet federal compliance on the various CDBG grants it receives. "It's been lot's and lot's of hard work."

"They really had a vision for what this building could be," Keener said. She said Jerome earned a special award from CDBG several years ago for how the town used grant money to complete a new fire station.

Mayor Jay Kinsella remained optimistic that all of the volunteer work leading up to the deadline would result in a certificate of occupancy in time to receive the grant. Even so, he admitted Wednesday morning that he was nervous. "I didn't sleep at all last night," he said.

"For the first time in many years, Jerome has a handicapped accessible library," Kinsella said.

"We could not have done it without the volunteers," Kinsella said. "There were days when we had 15 to 18 people here working. Greg [Driver] and I would figure out each morning what needed to be done, and make a list. And each day it would get done."

"I'm glad I was able to be a part of it," Kinsella said.