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Junction City receives FEMA grant, hopes to use it for new city hall shelter

The little town of Junction City had a really big day on Thursday with a surprise announcement of a large grant from FEMA and the donation of brand-new, in the box playground equipment from Boyle County Fiscal Court.

During Junction’s regular meeting Thursday evening, which was held outside at the city park, Mayor Jim Douglas said earlier that day, he had received a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency stating that Junction City had been awarded a $750,000 grant to construct a storm/relief shelter for the town’s residents.

He said he’d applied for the grant five years ago when the city council first discussed constructing a new city hall where a shelter would also be used as a multi-purpose area. However, the council got tired of waiting to hear from FEMA and recently decided to go ahead with the $1.6 million building project, “on our own and construct the building that we needed,” Douglas said.

The news from FEMA on Thursday “absolutely surprised me,” Douglas said on Friday. “I got a letter and then called the League of Cities. It’s legit,” Douglas said with a big smile on his face.

He will meet with representatives of the League of Cities and FEMA sometime next week to discuss the implementation of the grant, he said.

“Hopefully, they’ll let us use the money for the new building” because the city had already incorporated the shelter into the design of the new city hall, Douglas said. “We’re already committed.”

“Now’s the best time to do it,” since construction hasn’t begun and design plans can be tweaked.

The shelter will be for the town’s residents to use in case of a natural disaster or emergency situation, such as during an ice storm or tornado, Douglas explained. In the past, “If there was any kind of emergency, we’d have no place for them to go,” he said.

Magistrate Ronnie Short made the announcement that $20,000 worth of new playground equipment was being donated by the county for Junction City Park. He said four years ago fiscal court had purchased the equipment to replace the old playground at White’s Park, next to the Boyle County Fairgrounds.

However the county’s plans have changed and the fiscal court voted to give the equipment to Junction City.

During the meeting, County Engineer Dwayne Campbell passed around a drawing of what the playground will entail. He will also help decide the best spot to erect the playground set — which will probably be near a ball field that is currently being refurbished for games to be played on this summer.

In other news:

  • The council voted to have the city fireworks display at the park on July 2.
  • Voted to purchase three dashboard cameras for the Junction City Police.
  • Approved the second reading of the 2020-2021 budget where the total revenue is projected to be $930,850; and expenditures of $526,190; leaving a surplus of $404,660.

On Friday, Douglas said, “We did have a big day!