By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
Financial help for Smithville is on the way.
Participants in a collaborative effort seeking to place the town on reliable financial footing during its recovery from a devastating April tornado announced key details of an aid package Wednesday.
Danny J. Spreitler, executive director of Monroe County’s Gilmore Foundation, said private and governmental agencies across the region have committed to cash, credit and professional assistance deemed essential for the town’s recovery.
Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy, who last week reported that the town would soon be unable to pay its bills, said Wednesday, “I am absolutely overwhelmed by what’s been done.”
Kennedy said he and the Board of Aldermen hope to act Tuesday to begin taking the necessary steps to qualify for the aid.
The package of loans and other assistance could be worth several million dollars.
The aid is certain to include:
* A $150,000 loan from Gilmore to help Smithville “over the hump”” of its cash-flow issues, plus an offer to pay for a construction manager for six months in the rebuilding ($30,000 to $60,000).
* A $1 million revolving fund administered by Cadence Bank, which has operations in Amory and Aberdeen.
* Coordination of all agency and institutional participation by the staff of Three Rivers Planning and Development District, centering on “maximizing” federal financial impact for Smithville, TRPDD Executive Director Randy Kelley said.
* Significant assistance through a federal loan facilitated by the offices of Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee.
* Postponed repayment of loans for infrastructure restoration like water mains, through the Rural Development Administration.
* Help from Gov. Haley Barbour and Appalachian Regional Commission state director Mike Armour in obtaining one or more federal grants and/or loans.
Major financial help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is anticipated, but FEMA funds are all on a reimbursed basis, after other funds have been spent.