Tallapoosa County Commission

Cliff Williams / The Outlook The Tallapoosa County Commission approved applying for a grant to aid in COVID-19 vaccination and testing.

Tallapoosa County could soon have the ability for a mobile vaccination and testing capabilities thanks to a grant.

The Tallapoosa County Commission met Monday for a special called meeting for the purposes of applying for a grant with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). It was money previously not allocated for Tallapoosa County but recent changes made a grant application possible.

“This is some money from last year’s CARES ACT that ADECA has that we just basically have to apply for,” Tallapoosa County administrator Blake Beck said. “They came out with the guidelines at the end of February. We have been working with Mr. Terry Acuff who does some grant writing for us. The overall idea here is try to get a vaccination and testing mobile lab type thing.”

Acuff told the commission the grant requires no matching funds from the county.

“The county was allocated $400,000 through this CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) CARES Act,” Acuff said. “You can address any type of project as long as it meets the CDBG requirements. Until Feb. 27 it had to be for low to moderate income areas. Now they have approved using it for urgent need, which opens the door for a lot of other things.”

Beck said the deadline for the grant application is short which required the special called meeting, but the mobile vaccination center, a trailer styled to support medical operations almost anywhere in Tallapoosa County, could be repurposed later.

“Obviously we will use it for that type purpose until the coronavirus pandemic is past us and then it can be repurposed for other things like a command center,” Beck said. “Also we will have a small business relief fund. The details right now are a little bit light. We have a short deadline to get this application in. It is due on April 1.”

Acuff said other counties across Alabama are doing similar things to receive the grant funds.

“The testing center will be a mobile unit you can drive to your location and set up a testing facility or vaccine facility anywhere in the county,” Acuff said. “That is what a lot of counties are doing with this money. Once it is finished, you have it in place if you have another infectious disease, then you would be able to use it for other activities like emergency response center or whatever.”

The county is also using Acuff to help set a program to help small businesses in Tallapoosa County recovery with part of the grant funds.

“What we are considering doing is setting up a small business loan that is a grant program run through your economic development department,” Acuff said. “Basically it will help small businesses throughout the county with rental assistance or any COVID relief activities that they had to spend money on. We will develop policies and procedures once the grant gets approved.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.