Various local organizations are joining to secure financing for a new branch of the Texas County Library in Houston.

An update came Monday night during a meeting of the Houston City Council. Leading the effort are members of the Texas County Library Board, Texas County Library Foundation and the City of Houston. The Texas County Commission also is considering assistance with a distribution from its American Rescue Plan Act allocation (ARPA).

The nearly $1.8 million project would be constructed as the top level of the Houston Storm Shelter, which was built in 2007 at First and Pine streets in Houston. Plans call for about 7,200 square feet to be built as the top floor, as was originally planned. The county library board has retained a Rolla engineering firm to work with it as it prepares several applications for funding under a multi-prong approach:

•The City of Houston will sponsor a $600,000 application to the Missouri Department of Economic Development for funding under the Community Revitalization Grant. It was made available through federal funds acquired through the American Rescue Plan Act.

On Monday night, the council approved a 50-year lease with another 50-year option for use of the shelter building. The document was needed as part of the grant submission.

Janet Fraley, a member of the library board and foundation, explained the process.

•The Texas County Library Foundation will offer an application under the Neighborhood Assistance Program administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, which signaled last week the project was eligible. As the local government entity certifying the application, the council authorized it. Donors receive generous state tax credits and are able to write off on their federal tax returns, as well. It has been successful in past efforts, including the construction of the Melba Performing Arts Center in downtown Houston.

•Funds are being sought from the Texas County Commission through ARPA. A delegation met last week with commission members.

•The Texas County Library board will commit $600,000 to the project.

The library board has successfully upgraded or built new branch facilities at Licking, Cabool and Summersville. The last remaining project on the drawing is the Houston branch, which is the main hub for the system.

In other matters, members:

•Heard from Ross Richardson, president of the Houston Community Foundation, who outlined the group’s plans to participate in a Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO)program that will plant 1,000 daffodils locally this fall and provide a $1,000 grant that will go to the youth arm of Houston Community Betterment and Arts Council to plant them. Next year will be CFO’s 50th anniversary.

Community Foundation of the Ozarks logo

The city will provide input on possible sites. Among those suggested were a flag display overlooking U.S. 63 at Pine Lawn Cemetery, Emmett Kelly Park and the site of park that is planned at Lilly Avenue and West Highway 17.

•Approved the mayor’s recommendation to appoint Richardson as a member of the City of Houston Industrial Development Authority. He replaces Chris Strickland.  The term expires in 2026.

•Approved an ordinance with its wholesale electric supplier as a 13-member group works toward additional sources of generation that would create a more stable rate environment. Should the city ever abandon its relationship, it would be required to give five years notice.

•Authorized seeking bids for a  truck for the parks and recreation department. Ford’s state bid will open next month.

•OK’d the purchase of fiber totaling $25,542 for its fiber-to-the-home project to avoid a delay in delivery .

•Approved entering into an agreement with the South Central Council of Governments in an attempt to tap American Rescue Plan Act funds for broadband internet. The mayor also was authorized to sign the agreement.

•Heard some of the Houston Park Board say it would provide minutes to the mayor outlining its hopes for a board member replacement.

•Adjourned into a closed session.

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