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

STAY CONNECTED TO SARPC ON FACEBOOK

FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The SARPC Annual Meeting and Strategic Session was held on March 24-25, 2022 at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Al. The meeting began with the Executive Board Meeting followed by the full Board of Directors Meeting. Later the Pre-Dinner reception and Dinner Program were held where 2022 officers were announced. Mayor Sandy Stimpson was re-elected as Chairman, Mayor Charles Murphy as Vice-Chair and Mayor Jim Staff as Sec-Treasurer. Also, the Baldwin County Commission received the prestigious Norman J. Walton award for Intergovernmental Coordination with their “BALDWIN TOGETHER ECONOMIC RECOVERY” plan. In addition, Mrs. Diane Burnett was presented a Resolution thanking her for 31 years of dedicated service to SARPC and wishing her well during her retirement.

Friday the attendees heard a very inspirational and motivational message from Dr. Ted Mashburn. Also, Economic Developers from Escambia, Baldwin and Mobile Counties gave updates on their perspective activities. Also, Mr. Chris Curry updated us on the wonderful plans for the Downtown Airport development. Legislative updates were then given by local Legislators followed by an ALDOT update presented by ALDOT Director Mr. John Cooper. Justice Jean Brown, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Senior Services presented a report on Senior issues in Alabama and Mr. John Driscoll and Judith Adams of the Alabama Port Authority reported on the plans and ongoing activities at the Port.

We thank all of our SPONSORS for their continued support and appreciate all who attended.


John F. (Rickey) Rhodes
Executive Director
rrhodes@sarpc.org
Direct: 251-706-4667
Cell: 251-421-9400

SARPC Annual Meeting 2022
Legislators attending the SARPC Annual Meeting are L-R: SARPC Executive Director John F. “Rickey” Rhodes, Representative Alan Baker, Rep. Margie Wilcox, Rep. Joe Faust, Rep. Barbara Drummond, Senator Greg Albritton and Rep. Matt Simpson. We thank each of you for your support!
ALDOT Director John Cooper (center) with Mayor Sandy Stimpson (R) and Rickey Rhodes (L).
Diane Burnett, (Center) receiving proclamation honoring her for 31 years of dedicated service to SARPC and the Region. HAPPY RETIREMENT DIANE!!!!! 
Mayor/Chairman Stimpson presenting the prestigious NORMAN J. WALTON award to the Baldwin County Commission. Receiving Award are Commissioner Skip Gruber (C) and County Administrator Ron Cink (R).
TRANSPORTATION

Mobile MPO Updates

A Technical Coordinating/Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 at 10:00 am at the GM&O Building. The Mobile MPO Policy Board will meet on Wednesday, April 27th at 10:00 am at the GM&O Building. Agenda Items include but are not limited to:

  • PM1-PM3 Performance Measures Resolution
  • Modifying the FY 2022 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) for the USA Traffic Study for the City of Mobile
  • Reviewing the DRAFT FY 2023 UPWP
  • Minor revisions to the Trasnportation Improvement Program (TIP)
  • Project : 100067749 ( CN ) Project Description : SIDEWALKS ALONG THE SOUTH SIDE OF AIRPORT BOULEVARD BETWEEN HILLCREST ROAD AND REGENTS WAY IN MOBILE; New Delete Indicator : Delete
  • Project : 100059790 ( UT ) Project Description : NEW ALIGNMENT OF CR-25 (MCFARLAND ROAD) FROM CR-28 (OLD PASCAGOULA ROAD) TO CR-358 (THREE NOTCH ROAD); Old Target start date : November 01, 2022 New Target start date : October 01, 2024
  • Discussion on Project No. Project No. STPMB-7533(601), Dauphin Street Additional Lanes from Sage Avenue to West of I-65 at Springhill Memorial Hospital, City of Mobile
  • FTA 5310 Program of Projects
  • Discussion of STP Attributable Funding
Letter from Both MPOs to ALDOT concerning the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project. 

On September 1st, 2021, a letter was submitted to ALDOT from both the Eastern Shore MPO and the Mobile MPO, requesting that ALDOT investigate the possibilities of building the project in less than the three phases.
 
Subsequently, on December 15th, 2021 another letter HERE was signed by both MPO Chairman asking ALDOT to speed up the process and to:
 
•Be comprehensive. Our area cannot support a piecemeal plan that will take 25 years or more to complete. We would hope any plan would be completed in about five years once construction begins.

•Free, no toll options. We must have free, no toll options for passengers who do not wish to pay a toll. Unlike the previous plan, we strongly believe the Wallace Tunnel should be toll free as well as the Bankhead Tunnel, Africatown Bridge, and causeway. Under no circumstances should there be a toll on existing infrastructure that continues to be used.

•Significant federal and state funding should be made available to help pay for this project. We must move very quickly to protect $125 mil1ion in federal money that has been dedicated to this project. We anticipate at least $250 million to be contributed from the State of Alabama.

•Toll fees should be significantly reduced. Any tolls that must be charged to pay for infrastructure should be cut by more than half for cars and trucks from the previous plan. We recommend a maximum toll of $2.50 or less on all passenger vehicles if a person chooses to use the new infrastructure, despite the fact that toll-free options remain available. Tolls for 18-wheeler-type trucks should be $15 to $18.

•Local input. We are forwarding to you other requests that have been developed by local officials. At the end of the day, local officials and local citizens must drive the process - not the state or federal government. Through our MPO process we will continue to be involved in this project moving forward and we strongly encourage continued public input throughout the process.
 
ALDOT has agreed to provide formal updates to both MPO’s every several months. The first update was held July 27th, 2021 at Five Rivers, and the second update was on September 20th, at Five Rivers at 2:00PM in the Theater. The next joint update is to be determined. The slide presentation can be found HERE. The Mobile MPO will house all of the slide presentations from these ALDOT Updates at www.mobilempo.org.

Mobile Area Major Road Plan
 
SARPC has contracted with Volkert to conduct a Mobile Area Major Road Plan. The purpose of the Plan is to provide a recommendation to the Mobile County Commission and the various municipalities within Mobile County, for a Mobile Area Wide Major Road Plan. The Major Road Plan will consider existing major routes as well as proposed state routes, proposed major municipal routes and proposed major county routes. The Major Road Plan will consider anticipated growth of areas within Mobile County to future year 2050 and provide for connectivity between the areas within the various municipalities and the more rural areas outside of the municipalities. Existing planning documents of the County of Mobile as well as the various municipalities will be reviewed and considered as well. Extraterritorial planning jurisdictions will be taken into consideration. The Plan will include methods and tools for acquiring and preserving right-of-way in the context of expediting the environmental clearance process and review how corridors are prioritized, designated, and adopted for management or preservation. SARPC and Volkert have had several meetings in the past month regarding the plan, including individual meetings with the City of Mobile, Mobile County, The City of Semmes and the City of Saraland.

100 % Funding for Resurfacing of Local Roads Through the Mobile MPO with CRRSAA, LINK TO MAP HERE
 
In accordance with the Highway Infrastructure Program Funds Pursuant to the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) dated January 15,2021 from the Federal Highway Administration, the Mobile Transportation Management Area (TMA) through the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is apportioned $3,193,942 (FY 2021). ln consultation with the State of Alabama, it is the intention of the Mobile MPO to use the Mobile TMA apportioned CRRSAA funding ($3,193,942) for a one time resurfacing program. This funding can be 100% federal funding with no matching requirements; this presents a rare opportunity for the Mobile MPO.
 
The cities of Creola, Satsuma, Saraland, Chickasaw, Prichard, Semmes and Bayou la Batre have provided a prioritized list of roads that need to be resurfaced within their jurisdiction. The PE projects (design projects) were sent to FHWA for fund authorization. 
 
Neel Shafer has received the Notice To Proceed on the following seven Projects listed below:
 
CRSAMB-4921(251)                  $27,420.00
CRSAMB-4921(252)                  $32,285.00
CRSAMB-4921(253)                  $31,456.00
CRSAMB-4921(254)                  $65,000.00
CRSAMB-4921(255)                  $53,492.00
CRSAMB-4921(256)                  $31,124.00
CRSAMB-4921(257)                  $37,828.00
 
Many of you may have noticed activities in terms of survey work, geotechnical work, etc.. on the streets proposed for resurfacing. The materials recommendations have been identified and Neel Schaffer is beginning to update the plan specifications. We are anticipating a proposed letting date in July.

UPDATE:
ALDOT is working to finalize roadway plans for the CRRSSA program. As we have all observed, construction and fuel costs have significantly inflated over the last several months- as much as 40% in certain roadway construction materials. In an effort to maximize the number of roads to be resurfaced and stay within the allotted budget, the Department has asked the design consultants to see if cost-saving measures can be taken. This cost-savings review has caused a slight delay in the original schedule, however, those decisions are being finalized at this time so that a path can be determined on how to move forward within each municipality in terms of addressing their needs. The Department plans to receive bids in late summer for these projects. 
 Please call Kevin Harrison 706-4635 if there are any questions.

RPO Updates

South Alabama Rural Planning Organization recent activities include:
 
Amending the Fiscal Year 2021 Work Program from last year to include assisting ALDOT by facilitating the public involvement process for ALDOT’s draft Public Involvement Plan for Statewide Transportation Planning.
 
The purpose of the plan is to implement effective ways for ALDOT to gather information from the public about their transportation needs. The plan is available on ALDOT’s website. All comments must be received on or before October 4, 2021.
 
ALDOT’s Draft PIP is posted here:
 
 
Other recent activities include:
 
 
Review and Adopt the Fiscal Year 2022 Work Program which includes a new task of assisting ALDOT by hosting public meetings for the Statewide Long Range Transportation Process
 
Amending the RPO’s Public Involvement Procedures to include online virtual meetings when necessary
 
 

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 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
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
 


Manufacturing, Supply Chain

USDA Rural Development is making $150 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding available through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). USDA is offering grants of up to $25 million each to expand processing capacity through a variety of activities, including but not limited to construction, expansion of existing facilities, and acquisition of equipment. USDA encourages applications that benefit smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, Tribes and tribal producers, socially disadvantaged producers, military veteran producers, and underserved communities.

For additional information, applicants and other interested parties are encouraged to visit the MPPEP website: www.rd.usda.gov/mppep. Questions may be submitted through the website or sent to MPPEP@usda.gov.


Business Assistance & Entrepreneurship

The objective of this grant program is to assist viable Independent Producers, Agricultural Producer Groups, Farmer and Rancher Cooperatives, and Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Businesses in starting or expanding value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of Value-Added Agricultural Products. Grants will be awarded competitively for either planning or working capital projects directly related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of the program. All proposals must demonstrate economic viability and sustainability to compete for funding.


Infrastructure

The purpose of this program is to make grants available to previously designated Marine Highway Projects that support the development and expansion of documented vessels or port infrastructure. The Department also seeks eligible grant projects that will strengthen American supply chains.


Infrastructure

The Maritime Administration has identified $450 million to invest in a projected 50 grants under the 2022 Port Infrastructure Development Grant Program.


Funding Opportunities Closing Soon

The following table includes previously listed funding opportunities with applications due in the next month. Visit EDI’s Federal Assistance for Economic Development page to see a longer list of currently available opportunities for economic development.


Also, FEMA is accepting abstracts for the 2022 Hazard Mitigation (HM) Partners Workshop! The HM Partners Workshop is the annual gathering of hazard mitigation stakeholders with the purpose of informing and updating them about mitigation grants and floodplain management, strengthening those relationships, and providing knowledge transfer between FEMA and invited attendees.


Research, Tools & Data


USDA has released a new resource guide to their programs that can assist rural businesses:

The guide also includes a summary to several other federal and non-federal entrepreneurship support programs, including EDA’s Build to Scale program (see pp. 19-25). To learn more about USDA’s investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov, or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.


Disaster Assistance Resources Sources


Establishing a deep and multifaceted defense in and around homes is the basis of a new report that offers direction for safeguarding residences from external fire threats. Developed by fire safety experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the guidance provides dozens of protective actions — and the context in which each should be taken — all backed by the latest fire science. The hope is that California is only the beginning. With several other states already grappling with an ever-increasing wildfire threat, the new, holistic approach for protecting homes and thus communities could be broadly applied throughout the U.S.

Report: A. Maranghides, E.D. Link, S. Hawks, J. McDougald, S.L. Quarles, D.J. Gorham and S. Nazare. WUI Structure/Parcel/Community Fire Hazard Mitigation Methodology. NIST Technical Note 2205. March 2022.

FEMA developed the Recovery and Resilience Resource Library in collaboration with our federal interagency partners to navigate the numerous programs available to the United States and its territories to help recover from a disaster.

The resources are intended for state, local, territorial and tribal (SLTT) governments, as well as nonprofits, businesses, healthcare institutions, schools, individuals and households. The tool helps users to find and research federal disaster recovery resources that would be beneficial in pre-disaster recovery planning or in the wake of a disaster.



Developed by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) with data from NOAA, FEMA and academic institutions, this interactive NOAA m2apping tool provides detailed information on a location’s susceptibility to weather and climate hazards that can lead to billion-dollar disasters—such as wildfires, floods, drought and heat waves, tornado outbreaks, and hurricanes.

Sources

We gathered these announcement and opportunities from multiple sources including:

To learn more about EDA’s Economic Development Integration and Disaster Recovery Resources, visit www.eda.gov/edi, or email us at EDI@eda.gov

Employment and Economic Development Services
We have a new addition to the department
Please help us welcome Sydney Snow
 
Ms. Snow comes to us as an intern from the University of Mobile (UM) and comes from the McIntosh/Sims Chapel area.
 
At the University of Mobile Sydney has interned with its Office for Marketing and Public Relations. In one of Ms. Snow’s articles she wrote about what the University of Mobile gave her. A portion of the article is stated below:
 
“When I first came to the University of Mobile, I was convinced I wanted to be an English teacher. I love to write and learn about grammar, so that seemed like an obvious career path to me. After my first semester, I realized that was not the part for me. The faculty at the university opened my eyes to careers I did not know existed. Thanks to my advisor, I found out that communications was the career path I really wanted to take.”
 
We will be tapping into that desire to communicate by having her assist us with social media and the promotion and function of all the programs. We are proud to have Sydney Snow join us.

SARPC Staffing Service

In an effort to locate qualified workers, SARPC staff is attending events in the area. Those events would include, but are not limited to, the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Job Fair, career fairs at Springhill College, the University of South Alabama and Faulkner University.
Pictured here is an employer speaking with a job seeker at the Career Fair at Springhill College.

After gathering information from attending these events, as well as receiving the advice from the Business Expo/Job Fair Council, the decision was made to cancel this year’s event.
 
COVID has changed a great deal of how business is conducted. There is still a high demand for employees and an extremely low response to events to draw job seekers. The U.S. Chamber reported that over 65% of job seekers are now using cell phones to search for employment and not choosing to attend in-person job fair events.
 
Even with all the challenges that have fallen in our path, the program continues to grow. Our partnerships with government entities and non-profit organizations coupled with our ability to provide cost effective service continues to move us forward.
 
Call us today to find out how cost effective this program can be for your organization. We look forward to hearing from you and can be reached at 251-263-3907 or 251-652-0585.

Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)
 
It is with great pleasure that we announce that the regulations surrounding our Economic Development Administration funds have been released. This will allow for more flexibility in getting these funds out to small businesses in need of capital.

The Revolving Loan Fund program provides funding for start-up businesses and expanding companies. The funds can be used for working capital, purchase of equipment, building, or renovation of an existing building.

Find out how the Revolving Loan Fund can be used to bridge the gap of the cash needed to complete business projects or provide small business funding through a direct loan. These funds can be used in tandem with bank and SBA funds as well.
 
For more information, call 251-652-0585 or 251-591-6506.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
The Senior Community Service Employment (SCSEP) program is seeking to add more host agencies to the program. To be a host agency the entity must be a government entity or a nonprofit organization. The host agency/organization would have a SCSEP participant on a job for 19.75 hours per week.

The host agency is requested to give an in-kind amount of $1,150 per participant. However, it is not required. The host agency provides the training, while the SCSEP program pays for the stipend of $7.25 per hour, which is paid to the participant. SCSEP is responsible for worker’s compensation insurance and all related employment taxes.
 
Additionally, we are seeking seniors interested in enrolling in the program in all three counties: Baldwin, Escambia, and Mobile.
 
To be eligible persons must be 55 year or older, who are not currently working and fall within the 125% Federal poverty income level.
 
In an effort to extend our outreach to the SARPC region, a visit was made to the Saraland AHEPA Apartments to speak with residents interested in the program. Additionally, staff visited the Brewton Housing Authority to speak with Tanisha Thomas the Executive Director and interested residents to introduce them to the benefits of the program to host agencies as well.
 
If you are interested in becoming a host agency or you know of someone who may benefit by being in the SCSEP program, please call 251.591.6506 or 251.263.3907 for more information.
Area Agency on Aging
Dementia Friendly Alabama – Mrs. Kimberly Moore’s First Class PreK room
Violetta Simpson of SARPC’s Area Agency on Aging reads the book My Grandma Has Dementia to Pre-K students at Leinkauf Elementary School in March as part of the Dementia Friendly Alabama Schools initiative funded by the Alabama Department of Senior Services. The Dementia Friendly curriculum includes age appropriate children’s books and includes a show and tell time with robotic pet cats and dogs often provided to persons with dementia. The goal is to help children better understand and interact with older family members with dementia.
RSVP Free Tax Prep and Circle of Friends

The South Alabama RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) began 2022 with two major initiatives, the Circle of Friends program to help address social isolation among older adults, and its Tax Counseling for the Elderly program that prepares tax returns for older adults. RSVP engages adults age 55 and over in meaningful and impactful volunteer activities to serve South Alabama communities.  
The Alabama Department Of Senior Services Seeks Nominations For The 2022 Senior Citizens Hall Of Fame

The Alabama Department of Senior Services is seeking nominations for outstanding individuals to be considered for induction into the 2022 Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. Married couples who have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary or more, and individuals who are 100 years old or older are also honored by the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame each year.

Individuals and organizations interested in nominating someone can visit AlabamaAgeline.gov for a nomination form. Deadline for nominations is May 1, 2022. Inductees and award winners will be announced in August 2022.

The Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame has honored and recognized Alabamians age 60 or older for their outstanding contributions to the lives of older Alabamians in their local communities since 1983.

“This is the one major event in Alabama each year where individuals are formally honored and recognized for their selfless works and dedication to serving citizens in their community,” said Department of Senior Services Commissioner Jean Brown. “It is truly an honor to recognize a group of seniors who have contributed so much to improving the lives of older Alabamians.”
Grandparents and older relatives Caregiver Guide
New grandparents resource guide available at the Area Agency on Aging office, call Della Sanchez at 251-706-4650.
The Senior Nutrition Program Turns 50
The Older Americans Act nutrition program, administered locally by Area Agencies on Aging, was added to the Act in 1972 and celebrates its 50th anniversary—and the critically important role it plays in the lives of older adults. In 2021 SARPC’s Area Agency on Aging provided 3,713 adults age 60 and over with 577,166 meals. For information about either meals at senior centers or home delivered, call us at 251-706-4680.
Gov. Ivey awards grants to weatherize homes for elderly and low-income residents

Governor Kay Ivey announced that $2.9 million dollars in grants will be distributed to help low-income and elderly Alabama residents weatherize their homes. Governor Ivey awarded the grants to 13 agencies across the state that manage Alabama’s Weatherization Assistance Program. The programs gives funds to improve energy efficiency, and the safety of qualifying homes. Through the program, officials will conduct an energy audit for homes that qualify for assistance. Some of the common renovations include extra insulation in the attic, walls and floor, sealing air leaks, and repairs for air conditioning and heating units.
Here is the list of the agencies in South Alabama that will receive grants through this program:

  • $311,169 to Mobile Community Action Inc. (Choctaw, Mobile and Washington)
  • $180,253 to Community Action Agency of South Alabama (Baldwin, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Marengo, Monroe and Wilcox)
A Matter of Balance
For more information about SARPC call 251-433-6541