By Stephen Smoot
Like most communities in the Potomac Highlands region, the Town of Franklin struggles to find means to fund critical services and maintenance projects. In last week’s meeting, Rick Gillespie discussed with council the potential of federal, state, and other funding opportunities.
First, however, the council approved minutes from the May meeting. Then discussion turned to the 18-page financial report. The council accepted the report “as presented.”
Next, the council heard from Gillespie on “water systems and fire system capabilities.” He praised the council’s efforts, saying that “you guys have done a bang up job considering the resources.”
Gillespie came to the meeting “as a resident of the area and a resident of Entry Mountain” to “encourage you all” to find ways to access “billions of dollars in grant infrastructure opportunities.”
While the federal and State of West Virginia governments issue grants to help communities every year, larger communities with more resources have a built in advantage. They can employ both grant “hunters,” as well as grant writers who have experience in the process of finding and obtaining such funds, as Bruce Minor, Franklin town councilman, explained.
Other local governments have the good fortune to have residents with grant experience willing to give time to help navigate the Byzantine methods of getting assistance.
Gillespie urged the town to “get aggressive” in their pursuit of additional grant opportunities, but repeatedly explained, “I’m not here to be critical. I know how hard it is. It’s not easy.”
Mayor Bob Horan responded, saying, “We respect you very much and we listen to you. We will make a concerted effort to go after some of this.” The mayor added that it’s essential for the town government and council to find expertise in the field that can help the town find and apply for funding.
Gillespie then shared that he had observed that some street lights had stopped working, then noted that the town loses money paying for power that does not get used. Minor replied with “we’ll work on that because that’s money down the drain.”
Gillespie added that “I’m a firm believer in the ‘broken windows’ concept.” This ideal, most often identified with the successful New York City administration of Rudolph Giuliani, expresses that governments should focus on fixing even seemingly minor issues. Ignoring minor problems will often lead to a slippery slope in which decline becomes inevitable.
He finished with “I’ve taken more of your time than I deserve, and if I can help you, let me know. I know everybody’s trying.”
Minor then proposed that the county and town governments could save money through collaboration on issues of mutual interest.
The Town of Franklin is also gearing up for its third annual Summer Fun Fest in the Park. Elizabeth Scott shared that the celebration is a “board of parks sponsored event that has something that day for the entire family.”
The Fun Fest always takes place on the third weekend in July. This year, it falls on July 15.
Scott stated that “we do need some help with the raffle table, bounce house, and working in the concession stand.” Those who wish to volunteer, sponsor, or want more information can call Scott at 304-358-7525.