Welcome to SARPC's digital newsletter. Our goal is to publish a newsletter bi-monthly that provides highlights of projects and activities being undertaken at the agency. If you have any questions or would like to request additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In This Issue

A LETTER FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

TRANSPORTATION

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

EMPLOYMENT & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

AREA AGENCY ON AGING

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FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

As we enter 2021, your SARPC staff is filled with enthusiasm and determination that our numerous programs and services will only be enhanced in our three County Region. As Mother Theresa once said, “The miracle is not that we do this work but that we are happy to do it.” Each of our SARPC Departments (see website) are headed by experienced professionals who understand our three County Region and work hard to deliver the services and programs that positively affect each Municipality and County Government. Additionally, we work closely with State and Federal Agencies to enhance the quality of life in our Region.

We welcome our new Board members (Congressman Jerry Carl, County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, four Mayors and two members elected at large) and look forward to their talents and experience in helping us move forward.

Lastly, we hope and pray that as COVID-19 vaccines are administered that our Region will soon return to mostly normal protocols and lifestyles. GOD BLESS!!

John F. (Rickey) Rhodes
Executive Director
SARPC
C-251-421-9400
TRANSPORTATION

Mobile MPO Updates

The Mobile MPO Technical Coordinating Committee/Citizen Advisory Committee (TCC/CAC) will meet on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 at 10:00 am via GoToMeeting.com, to make recommendations to the MPO Policy Board. The tentative agenda is as followed:

  • Add project to 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) STPAA, Mobile County, 100044866 Gopher Tortoise Mitigation Habitat Development $300,000
  • Move project out of 2020-2023 TIP: 100059791 (CN) STPMB- New Alignment of CR-25 (McFarland Road) From CR-28 (Old Pascagoula Road) to CR-358 (Three Notch Road) $13,100,000
  • Approval of the FY2020-2023 Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan
  • Review report of the Mobile MPO Pubic Participation Process. 
  • Approve modification to the Mobile MPO Public Participation Plan (PPP), which outlines the public involvement procedures for the Mobile MPO transportation documents, to include the Limited English Proficiency Plan.
  • Modification of the 2021 Unified Planning Work Program to account for a Mobile Area Wide Major Road Plan, in regards to Mobile County and it’s connectivity to all municipal planning documents.
  • Approve updated performance measures for Transit Asset Management, Transit Safety, PM1 (Safety), and PM 3 (Congestion and Freight)
  • Review and approve the Program of Projects for the Mobile Urban Area FY2021 5310 funds to include:
  • City of Satsuma ($33,085 Federal/$33,085 Local); Via Health and Fitness Center ($38,400 Federal/$9,600 local) and the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission for program administration ($31,736 Federal/$0 Local)
  • Discussion on the I-10 Mobile River Bridge (guests Dr. Don Epley, Mr. Steve Russell)

Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Listing of Obligated Projects Available Online

The federal metropolitan transportation planning statute states:

“In metropolitan planning areas, on an annual basis, no later than 90 calendar days following the end of the program year, the State, public transportation operator(s), and the MPO(s) shall cooperatively develop a listing of projects (including investments in pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities) for which funds under 23 U.S.C. or 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 were obligated in the preceding program year.”

The Federal Highway Administration defines obligation as the federal government’s legal commitment (promise) to pay or reimburse states or other entities for the federal share of a project’s eligible costs. Thus, an obligated project is one that has been approved by the federal government for reimbursement, though not necessarily reimbursed yet. The obligated project cost reflected in this report also may not equal final project cost.

This report responds to the directive set forth in statute. It lists all federally-funded transportation projects in the Mobile Area Transportation Study (MATS) Area that were obligated in federal fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020). The MATS Report is available online HERE.

RPO Updates

The South Alabama Regional Planning Commission (SARPC) met in October using the GoToMeeting app. The agenda included:

  • Adoption of the minutes of the previous meeting (these will be sent out soon)
  • Review and adoption of the Fiscal Year 2021 Work Program (available for review online at: HERE
  • Review and adoption of the Fiscal Years 2020-2023 Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan (available for review online at: HERE

The RPO Transportation Plan Project List (available for review online at http://www.mobilempo.org/RPODocuments.html SARPC Rural Planning Organization

 
ENVISION 2045 IS THE LONG RANGE TRANSPORTATION PLAN (LRTP)

The LRTP is multimodal in scope, and is based on public input, and a travel demand forecast model. In 2019, an online survey was conducted with almost 150 respondents. Questions ranged from where is the worst congestion, what roads need improvements, problems with the transit systems, etc. There were a lot of comments about the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and the potential for tolls. Prior to the online survey, staff also conducted a South Alabama Freight Forum, which was an opportunity to hear from large manufacturers and trucking companies, to find out what the top issues are concerning the movement of freight in South Alabama. The Bicycle / Pedestrian plan was updated, and the public transit section was authored by the Wave Transit, less the Demand Response Transit Study. The Climate Change element, or Extreme Event Planning, remained almost unchanged from Destination 2040 LRTP.

The LRTP Envision 2045 was adopted by the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization on April 22, 2020.

More information on the new plan can be found at https://www.envision2045.org/

Transportation Improvement Program( TIP)

The TIP represents a four year program (2020-2023) for improvements in the various transportation systems located within the Mobile study area as identified in the Mobile MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the twenty-five year plan for the Mobile Urban Area Destination 2040. The LRTP establishes the transportation programs that are needed to meet travel demand by the study year and study area. LRTP projects that become funded are moved into the TIP and submitted to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), where they are programmed into the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). For MPO projects, TIP project selection is based on priorities established by MPO member governments and the availability of funds through the Surface Transportation Attributable program. For other projects, ALDOT has discretion of project funding based on availability of funds from various types of funding categories. Most often, projects in the TIP are derived from the LRTP. The TIP guides ALDOT in its annual allocation of funds for transportation improvements and becomes a part of the STIP.
 
ArcGIS Online is now being utilized by MPO staff to map all federally funded surface transportation projects within our area. Check it out.
 
2020-2023 E-STIP HERE

Covid-19 Affect on Traffic Patterns

SARPC staff have been working on statistics concerning how COVID-19 has affected travel patterns in the Mobile Urbanized area. For information on these statistics and travel patterns please contact ajohnson@sarpc.org
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
 
Regional EDA Grant

We were awarded a grant from EDA to create an Economic Relief and Resiliency Response Plan. This plan will benefit our Region by identifying industry sectors that had little or no impact from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Our Steering Committee, which consist of David Rogers, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Lee Lawson, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, and Jess Nicholas, Escambia County Economic Development, has meet several times over the past few months. We received RFQ’s from 5 firms for this project. Three firms were invited to provide presentations, via Zoom. The Steering Committee selected VisionFirst Advisors for this project. We plan to start working on this project in February 2021.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

It has been adjusted and updated to include the Covid-19 Pandemic, Hurricane Sally and Opportunity Zones. This Document can be found on our website.


Hazard Mitigation Plan for Division A

The South Alabama Regional Planning Commission is currently preparing the Hazard Mitigation Plan for Division A. This Plan includes 8 counties and is a two-phase plan. Our Region, Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile Counties make up the geographic area in Phase 2. We have been working closely with our county EMA Directors and are currently consolidating Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Plan and preparing a completed draft. The draft is estimated to be available April 2021. If you have any questions regarding this please contact Leslie Johnston at ljohnston@sarpc.org

Employment and Economic Development Services
 
  
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
 
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SARPC) enrolls persons 55 year or older, who are not currently working and are in the 125% Federal poverty level into a training a placement program. While in this program the participant is placed in a host agency which provides on-the-job training. The participant is paid a stipend of $7.25 per hour and provides community service to the host agency for 19.75 hours per week. 

The goal of the program is to prepare the participant for unsubsidized employment and assist them in becoming self-sufficient. 

If you are interested in becoming a Host Agency or know of someone who may benefit from the program as a participant, please call 251-591-6506 or 251-263-3907.
 
Mature Staffing Service (MSS)

We are currently recruiting for the following positions:

Location: Bay Minette
Job title: Monitors (monitor students as they come in/out of the cafeteria to ensure COVID protocol is maintained)
Pay: $10.00/hr.
Start date: Immediately
2 shifts available 7am-1pm or 4pm-7pm
17 week temporary position
                                                           
Please help us get the word out regarding job openings. Contact Shannon Raley @ 251-706-4639 for more information.
 
Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)

SARPC’s Revolving Loan Fund can be an addition to the SBA products. We offer loans from $10,000 up to $75,000. The funds can be used for working capital, purchasing of equipment or property and buildings. The current rate for the term of the loan is 5%. The terms are set according to what the funding purpose will be. 

Find out today how the Revolving Loan Fund can be used to bridge the gap of the cash needed to complete that business project by calling 251-591-6506.

AREA AGENCY ON AGING

Area Agency on Aging Highlights FY 20

The Area Agency on Aging served 16,515 unduplicated older adults and caregivers in FY20

Nutrition Program: SARPC funded 27 senior nutrition centers in FY 20, but two centers closed during the pandemic, Providence Senior Center and Little River. Of the 25 centers operating, 19 offer hot meals through pick up or home delivery, the other 6 provide frozen meals (City of Mobile’s 4 centers, Dumas Wesley and Summerdale). While continuing to provide meals, senior centers remain closed to the public with the exception of outdoor activities, such as drive up events, due to the Governor’s Safer At Home order.

In FY 20, the Area Agency on Aging was able to significantly expand our home delivered meal program for seniors due to Cares Act funding, especially our frozen food home delivered meal program. We increased those served daily with hot meals from senior centers by 129 persons and increased those receiving home delivered frozen meals from 455 to over 900. In FY 20 a total of 597,655 meals were provided to 3,966 persons, of which about 40% attended senior centers and 60% were home delivered, at a cost of $2,375,000. Additionally, in June SARPC partnered with our food vendor, GA Foods, and Prodisee Pantry and the Pantry at Central to provide 5,620 persons with 118,020 pounds of meat, cheese, milk, fresh vegetables and fruit.

Aging and Disability Resource Center: The ADRC served 5,168 unduplicated clients in the region, an increase of 17.2% from the prior year. The ADRC assisted 8,741 callers, an increase of 24.6% from the prior year.

Hurricane Sally Disaster Assistance: The Area Agency on Aging received awards from AmeriCares and AARP to provide PPE to staff and volunteer, and liquid soap and hygiene kits to all of our nutrition center participants and Medicaid Waiver clients. Funds were also awarded to provide disaster assistance and we have assisted 50 persons to date in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Area Agency on Aging staff also participates in the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) teams operating locally to assist with long term recovery.

Alabama Cares Program: SARPC provided 199 caregivers with respite services in FY 20 and 11 with supplemental services costing $179,189. Caregiver education and counseling was provided to 668 caregivers of the elderly/disabled and 130 grandparents raising grandchildren. The Caregiver Program offered on-line and teletown hall events beginning in April due to the pandemic, and now provides the Trualta caregiver support and education program on-line to all cargivers in our regions. Both Caregiver Colleges and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren workshops were held in the region October 2019 to March 2020

SenioRx prescription assistance program: In FY 20 1,433 older adults and adults with disabilities were assisted with 14,548 prescriptions, or an average of 10.15 prescriptions per person, to receive free medications that had a retail value of $7,600,719.

State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Performance FY 2020:
  • SHIP provided one-on-one individualized Medicare counseling to 7,692 beneficiaries/caregivers.
  • SHIP enrolled 975 persons in Medicare Extra Help saving over people $3,245,544 million in prescription drug costs and Medicare premiums and copayments.

Medicaid Waiver Program: In FY 19 SARPC served 824 waiver clients through E&D and ACT waivers, with an average of 675 active clients per month. We began FY 20 with 788 active clients, and as of January 1, 2021 had 830 active clients—a net increase of 155 active clients per month since FY 19. SARPC has the 2nd highest growth of its program, and has added 4 new case managers due to this growth. SARPC also has a large personal choices program, allowing 410 of our Medicaid Waiver clients to hire their own worker. Program revenue for FY 20 was $7,859,647.85. Additionally $5,151,567.33 was paid directly by the fiscal intermediary for salaries and supplies for workers hired directly by the Medicaid Waiver clients, for a total of $13,011,215.18 in services provided in FY 20.
 
South Alabama RSVP:  In FY 20 SARPC’s program had 272 volunteers who provided service to 56 Volunteer Stations, an increase in volunteers of 6.25% from FY 19. Our Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program volunteers completed tax returns for 657 taxpayers in Baldwin and Escambia County at sites in Atmore, Brewton, Daphne, Flomaton, Poarch Creek, Bay Minette and Spanish Fort, an increase from 405 the prior year despite the pandemic. The refunds generated by TCE volunteer tax preparers totaled $646,700, up from 401,910 in FY 19. The last part of tax season was done through tax drop off sites with limited face to face contact, with tax counseling done by phone and taxes completed remotely. This model will be followed in 2021 as long as senior centers remained closed to the public. SARPC’s TCE program is taking over all the AARP tax sites this year, adding sites in Fairhope, Robertsdale and Orange Beach.

RSVP has been very active during the pandemic in helping serve meals and distribute hygiene kits, liquid soap and meals after the hurricanes, sewing face masks, sending out friendship cards to nursing home residents and helping get out food at local pantries and home delivered meal programs.
 
Volunteer Guardian Program (VGP): We served 104 incapacitated adults with 70 volunteer guardians in FY 20. The Area Agency on Aging has operated the program for five years, working to achieve financial stability for this program, which is the only such program in Alabama and is only offered in Mobile County. The AAA has been successful in generating approximately $60,000 in stable funding for this program, allowing us to provide the opportunity for a local non-profit to operate the program. In FY 21, the program responsibilities were transferred to Senior Citizens Services in Mobile, which operates the VIA! Center.

Benefit Enrollment Center and SNAP grants: For FY20, SARPC screened and found 2072 persons eligible for public benefits and provided assistance with applications for $15,324,650 in benefits, including $326, 500 in food assistance through SNAP TO 275 older adults in our region. SARPC also contracts with each AAA in Alabama to provide this service in their region, funded by national and state grants we have been awarded. Statewide 9,706 seniors have been assisted to obtain $52,848,104 in benefits.


Long Term Ombudsman Program: The Ombudsman staff made regular visits to approximately 70 nursing homes and assisted living facilities to advocate for residents rights, provide education, investigate and help resolve complaints, and assist with transitions to the community. This year we have provided robotic pets to address social isolation, activity sheets, greeting cards and friendly notes, and our Ombudsman is making outside visits and very limited facility visitation in urgent matters.

COVID-19 Programmatic Adjustments: The Area Agency on Aging is now offering the GetSetUp program in our region for older adults to participate in small zoom classes, with about 170 options, to learn, have fun, and connect socially since our senior centers are closed and people are spending so much time at home and are more socially isolated. Likewise we are offering the Trualta on-line caregiver program that provides many options for on-line learning and support for caregivers of the elderly and disabled and grandparents caring for grandchildren. We are providing the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program through home study toolkits and small group phone calls. We are addressing social isolation through friendly phone calls, sending cards to seniors in facilities, making robotic pets available to persons with dementia, and having fun drive-through events at senior centers. We have been successfully providing services to older adults through phone calls, FaceTime, email, zoom and teletown halls, etc. 
GetSetUp
RSVP Tax Counseling