The Madison County Chamber of Commerce met for its monthly luncheon, April 1.
The meeting began with an introduction of the board members, some of which were not present, Melanie Allen with Fredericktown R-I Schools, Ashley Bales with First State Financial Management, Ashley Baudendistel with City of Fredericktown, Lance Cureton with United Country Realty, Heather Dietiker with Black River Electric Cooperative, Sarah Garcia with Madison County Government, Craig Mills with Melvin Mills Roofing, Megan Powell with Safe Harbor Hospice, Tessa Rehkop with Pense Bros. and Beth Simmons with Madison Medical Center.
Rehkop said, the Team Up to Clean Up Day has been scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon, April 24 with May 1 as a rain out day.
"We are going to hold our annual Team Up to Clean Up Day again this year," Rehkop said. "I really like this because we all get together two Saturdays before the Azalea Festival and clean up the park and other areas in the city."
Rehkop said, anyone who is interested in getting a team together can email her at email@example.com and they will be assigned a project to do that day.
"Usually our projects are spreading mulch around the trees, we plant the planters in court square, paint the park benches and picnic tables in Azalea Park," Rehkop said. "We have the new benches this year that we won't have to paint so that's nice. But we still have the old ones down there as well, so we will probably paint those and the benches around the walking track."
Rehkop said, this year the committee plans to plant some azalea bushes in the park.
"We will actually have azalea bushes in Azalea Park," Rehkop said. "It is just a fun day for everyone to get together and clean up the town."
MCCC President Simmons gave some updates on decisions made at the last board meeting. She said the board approved four $500 scholarships to Madison County seniors and set a date for the annual banquet.
"At our last chamber board meeting we did approve to do four scholarships again this year," Simmons said. "We are changing it a little bit this year. We are still offering four scholarships to Madison County seniors, but because Fredericktown has so many more students than Marquand, we will give at least one to Marquand instead of two to each school."
Simmons said, the chamber received a lot more applications from Fredericktown last year and the board felt it would be more fair to make the change.
"At our board meeting, we also started talking about our annual banquet," Simmons said. "Everyone loves our annual banquet and we have grown each year. Obviously we didn’t have it in January this year, which is around the time that we normally do, but we didn’t want to not have it this year because it was a growing event that everyone enjoyed."
Simmons said, she was happy to announce the annual banquet will be Sept. 23 at Victoria Vinyards in Marquand.
"We will be giving out more details to come but I just wanted to kind of let you guys know that we are planning that," Simmons said. "We are going to have all the same fun. We are going to decorate the tables and have the competition with that. I am excited about that and I hope everyone can get that on their calendars and start planning to attend."
This month's presentation was by Dennis Siders from Madison County Service Coordination. He gave an overview of the affordable housing project, Meadows of Fredericktown.
"About three years ago the Madison County Service Coordination, which is the Senate Bill 40 Board for the county, did a needs assessment to see what is the best way to distribute the Senate Bill 40 money," Siders said. "Housing and employment came up as the two big issues that we needed for our individuals, and we are working on both of those."
Siders said, the Sheltered Workshop is working on the employment end of it and MCSC is working on the housing end. He said around the same time the Madison County Council for the Developmentally Disabled, which provides services to MCSC clients, also reached the same conclusion that Madison County needs more housing.
"A lot of our individuals get around $700 a month in social security," Siders said. "They have to pay rent. They have to pay for utilities, groceries, all of that stuff and you can imagine $700 isn't going to get you very far."
Siders said, they conducted a market study and it showed that housing in Fredericktown is pretty old, over-priced and there is a lot of demand.
"So we talked to some other Senate Bill 40’s around the state trying to see what they were doing and a lot of them had put an application in with Missouri Housing Development Commission for what they called low income housing tax credits," Siders said. "We joined together with MCCDD and we formed a not for profit, Madison County Affordable Housing Partnership, and used that to put our application in."
Siders said, in 2020 they partnered with RCH Development and submitted an application.
"There is a lot of competition for these things," Siders said. "Every year they get about 120 to 140 applications. They fund about 25, so its pretty tough. Out of the 130 applications that went in, we were the highest ranked application in the state, which I’m pretty proud of. St. Louis, Kansas City, all of Missouri we came out with the highest point total. They liked the application. They liked the idea."
Siders said, the project was awarded $9,571,000 in federal and state tax credits which will be sold to investors. He said, the project will get about 80 cents on the dollar when the credits are sold.
"We will come up with about 7.5 million dollars to build this," Siders said. "Hopefully, even with building supplies being as expensive as they are, hopefully we can build the whole thing with what we are getting from the tax credits."
Siders said, currently all the plans for the project meet city ordinances and the building permit plans are being reviewed by the city now. He said, once the building permit is issued they will send the whole plan to MHDC again to have it looked over.
"Anytime you get government money there is a tremendous amount of hurdles to jump over," Siders said. "But that is probably a good thing. You make sure everything is right. Nothing is going to fall through the cracks."
Siders said the plan is to break ground in June, have about 10 months of construction and hopefully begin leasing in April 2022.
"We have had a lot of people asking about that, it’s still a ways out but we will let everybody know when that happens," Siders said.
To end the meeting Simmons thanked the Fredericktown Methodist Church for use of the hall, The Depot Cafe for catering lunch and Siders for speaking to the group.
The MCCC Perk Before Work will be from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., April 20 at the Sheltered Workshop.
Other events include Team Up to Clean Up Day, April 24, MCCC Scholarship deadline is May 3 and the annual banquet is set for Sept. 23.
The next meeting of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce will feature an update from the Azalea Festival Board at 11:30 a.m., May 6 at the Azalea Park Pavilion.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org