Grants help pay for county projects

Warren County continues to take advantage of grants and use the mostly free funds to build major projects.

The county received $406,261 in grants awarded in fiscal 2014, according to a recent report by Brandy Rosser, grants and special projects coordinator. The county spent $58,220 in matching funds required to receive the grants. Rosser presented her report to the Board of Supervisors last week.

Grant amounts awarded this year range from $700 to $262,000. Funds went to pay for a domestic-violence prosecutor in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, trees and shrubs along the U.S. 340-522 corridor, pet waste containers, recycling receptacles and trashcans, CPR chest compression systems, funding for the Blue Ridge Arts Council, an inundation study for the Lake of the Clouds dam, improvements to Myer’s Drive and Farms Riverview Road and a sign and driving-tour brochure for the Battle of Guard Hill.

Rosser’s work continues. Since May, she has applied for an additional $770,000 in grants for projects such as the first phase of the Appalachian Trail Connector on U.S. 522, the restoration of the Fairview or Thomas McKay House and to pay for a victim-witness coordinator in fiscal 2016.

The county hired Rosser in 2009. She earns $43,891 a year. Since March 2009, the county has spent $562,687 to receive $3.077 million in grants. Most grants go toward public safety, parks and recreation projects and road improvements. The school system usually handles its own grant applications, Rosser said.

Without a grants coordinator, Rosser said the county’s departments would likely have to submit applications on their own.

“It would be a lot more taxing on the individual departments that were going after the grant money,” Rosser said Monday. “I think we’ve found it really streamlines the process to have one person that really is a liaison between the department that needs the funding and the county itself so that we know that that money is being spent properly. We know the projects are going along properly and everything’s being handled the way that it should be.”

The Board of Supervisors must approve any grant request that requires a local match, Rosser said.

Supervisors Chairman Daniel J. Murray Jr. praised Rosser for her ongoing work in the “niche field” of grant writing.

“Personally, I feel that she is probably the best of the best at what she does,” Murray said. “She’s excellent for the county because she digs and finds and she’s very successful and we need her efforts. I don’t know how anybody would find the time to do what she does.”

Grant requests aren’t written, submitted and received overnight. Some applications require collaborative efforts by local and state agencies before Rosser can submit the requests. Trail projects, for example, might require that the county conduct environmental reviews to determine if such a path would negatively affect the surrounding area.

“So that’s pretty labor intensive,” Rosser said.

A complete application doesn’t guarantee an award, especially for grants in highly competitive programs.

“We’ve been turned down on several applications before, whether it didn’t conform to their priorities for that funding cycle,” Rosser said. “We always make sure we follow up with those agencies to see what were the weak points on our applications, to see how we can improve them, because usually we come back and submit again.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com