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City Hall, churches to get hurricane funding

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times

It was a mixed picture for Franklin County when it comes to securing portions of more than $8 million earmarked by the National Park Service towards preservation projects in Florida impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

Four projects, including repair to Apalachicola City Hall, appear to be ranked high enough to qualify for a piece of about $8 million in grant monies being awarded through the Division of Historical Resources, Florida’s state historic preservation office. These monies are available for subgrants for recovery, repair, and disaster mitigation activities directed at historic properties damaged during Hurricane Michael in Oct. 2018.

Apalachicola City Hall

Former city planner Cindy Clark authored the grant for the City Hall repair, which will draw on about $400,000 to help in restoring the building to its pre hurricane status. The city’s plans to sell the building, which has not been used since the hurricane, have been shelved for the time being.

The project ranked sixth, while a grant application put in the St. Paul AME Church ranked 14th, making it likely to receive the roughly $369,000 it is seeking for repairs.

A grant application authored by Mayor Kevin Begos, for repairs and resiliency improvements to the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and the Arts, ranked 18th, and is expected to receive the roughly $282,000 it is seeking for what is technically known as the “Harrison-Raney Warehouse.” The proposed work includes installing roll-down shutters, flood-proofing and repairing the roof and downspouts.

Ranked 19th, and also likely to receive a portion of the funds, are repairs to Mount Zion Baptist Church, in the amount of about $201,000.

Four other projects from around the county also were among the 56 applicants, but do not appear to have ranked high enough to qualify for funding.

The city of Carrabelle’s repair of damage to its old City Hall, now the history museum, sought $29,000 but it ranked 33rd. The rehab of the Crooked River Lighthouse and Keeper’s House Museum, which sought about $118,000 for rehab, was ranked 36th.

A grant application authored by Caty Greene, president of the Apalachicola Area Historical Society, to help boost hurricane preparedness for the Raney House, sought about $367,000 but it ranked 41st, just ahead of an application for repairs to Chestnut Cemetery, for about $37,000, also authored by the historical society.

 It must be remembered that the grants were principally for repair of hurricane damage, and the Raney House essentially had no damage,” Greene wrote, in an email to the board. “Our significantly deferred maintenance issues were woven together to justify for ‘hardening’ for the next storm.

“I believe this would have been sufficient if it were not for the unexpected number of applicants, and therefore the more intense competition,” she said.

In Gulf County, repair of damages to the Port Theatre, which has been shuttered ever since Hurricane Michael, was top-ranked and is set to receive $500,000 of the money,

The Pre-Columbian Archeological Research Group, Inc. also is set to receive $500,000 for a project, ranked eighth, entitled “Assessing Significant St. Joe Bay Archaeological Sites Following Hurricane Michael," The not-for-profit research group, which has been excavating in the Huaro Valley of Peru for over 20 years under the direction of its director, Florida State Archaeologist Mary Glowacki PhD, will be working closely with staff at the T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park on the project.

The city of Port St. Joe is set to receive about $328,000 for a project ranked ninth, to repair hurricane damage to the Cape San Blas Lighthouse Complex, and a little more than $497,000 for a project ranked 12th, to restore the Centennial Building.

The University of Florida Is set to receive $83,000 for drawing up a rehabilitation and adaptive use plan for the George Washington High School gymnasium, in a project ranked 10th.