City gets $500K roof grant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NATCHEZ — Just when city officials grew skeptical of acquiring grant funds for roof replacements, the Mississippi Development Authority delivered more than half a million dollars worth of unexpected news.

Mayor Jake Middleton announced Tuesday the city will receive $552,885 for roof replacements at the Natchez Police Department, Carpenter School No. 1 Apartments, the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum and Natchez Fire Station No. 2 on John R. Junkin Drive.

Middleton and City Engineer David Gardner said the repairs were desperately needed after Hurricane Gustav storm damage in 2008. The city did not have the money to make the necessary repairs, and has since performed routine patch-ups.

Until now that is.

“This is a no-match grant, and (acquiring the grant) was a team effort,” Middleton said. “This is something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Middleton said the city previously applied for a grant through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, but the application was denied.

The city’s second attempt to acquire grant funding was a collaborative effort among Gardner, Allen Laird of Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District, City Building Inspector Paul Dawes and local architect Johnny Waycaster. The application was submitted in December.

Gardner said the four buildings suffer from leaks, which has led to interior damage.

“These roofs have been giving the city a lot of problems, especially since the hurricane,” Gardner said.

Police Chief Mike Mullins can attest to the problems caused by a leaky roof, and exclaimed just one word after learning the city’s good news.

“Hallelujah!”

“During a hard rain, we’ll have as many as six to eight buckets in the hallway to the catch the water, and it’s been that way for some time,” Mullins said.

Gardner said the grant also signals a boost for the economy, citing jobs for roofers and asbestos abatement professionals.

A tentative schedule has been set for the replacements, Gardner said. The planning and design phase is set to begin this month, and bids will likely be advertised in June. The work is slated for completion in September.