Tri-County Community Council, Inc.

Tri-County gets dollars to help in 2 crises

Tri-County Community Council Executive Director Joel Paul Jr. shared some welcome news with Jackson County Commissioners at the board’s meeting on Tuesday: The private non-profit corporation is getting an influx of money from federal sources to help area residents continue recovering from Hurricane Michael and losses realized as a result of COVID-19.

The federal dollars regarding COVID-19-related wage losses are coming from the federal CARES Act the Community Services Block Grant program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. It can be used for crisis assistance in the areas of home repair and damaged appliance replacements, rent and mortgage payments, utility costs, educational expenses, medical assistance and more.

“The Hurricane Michael money (can be used) in areas we’ve never touched before,” Paul told the board. “We can now do tree removal, mental health counseling, and some other things we’ve never done before,” he advised.

It’s coming along, Paul said, as Hurricane Michael assistance money is beginning to dry up for some other helping entities that have been on the ground here since the storm, and he said the total available for use in Jackson County comes to about $1 million and was received in late August/early September.

“We’ve come in late and now we’re taking some of the load,” Paul said, adding that he’d already talked with Marianna City Manager Jim Dean and others about the continuing needs related to Hurricane Michael in Jackson County. He encouraged county board members to also let him know of needs they’re aware of.

The group was founded in June of 1965 and is a Community Action Agency (CAA) which develops and implements comprehensive programs to serve the poor and eliminate poverty in Jackson, Holmes, Walton, Santa Rosa, Bay, Washington and Okaloosa counties. Jackson County came into its fold in 1997 and others joined at various times after the initial formation when it included only three entities.

The organization can be reached at its headquarters in Bonifay, at 850-547-4263 or at the local office, 850-394-4064, located at 2944 Penn Avenue, Suite H. The Jackson County office was opened about two months ago.

Also in the Tuesday meeting, incoming Jackson County Commissioner Alex McKinnie has been named the county board’s representative on that body. It was his first appointment as a representative of the county and was made at the first meeting of his inaugural term on the commission.