In the waning months of 2020, the Mingo County Commission committed $500,000 of its $2.6 million economic development funding to the county’s five municipalities.

Upon each township submitting a plan on how the money would be used to bolster economic development and create jobs in their communities, and then having that plan approved by the Commission, each would then receive up to a cap of $100,000 for their proposed projects.

The final amount given to a respective township, which could end up being less than the capped amount, would depend on what project was chosen, if it was approved, and what its final cost would be.

Kermit Council members had originally discussed the possibility of increasing their town’s funding by applying for additional outside grants and using a portion or all of the $100,000 as matching funds to build a state-of-the-art splash pad or possibly a community center in or near the town’s park.

During Kermit’ regular meeting last week, Sparks told the council he has since been informed through informal communication that these and similar projects are not eligible for the funding because they don’t meet the kind of economic development criteria that create good paying, permanent jobs within the community.

Although Kermit has not yet submitted a formal proposal, before presenting a plan, Sparks said he intends to communicate formally with the Commission and get more clarification as to the exact kinds of projects the county will approve as economic development ventures.

An additional topic of discussion during last week’s meeting was the ongoing issue of dilapidated structures within town limits and the town taking all the necessary steps available to it to condemn and demolish these buildings.

In order to ensure it can legally proceed with the condemnation and demolition of these structures, Sparks said it was first necessary for the town to hire an attorney to make sure all the codes are in order and up to date.

He said Williamson attorney and former Mingo County Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith was retained for this purpose and that Smith is currently in the process of validating the town’s codes before any action is taken.

“There are likely a couple of property owners who will take legal steps of their own to try and keep the town from condemning and demolishing their buildings,” Sparks said. “This is why it’s really important that we make sure everything is legal before we take these steps because, if one or two of them do end up in court, a judge will likely rule against the town if everything’s not up to date.”