A $500,000 community block grant is the goal of all those involved for the betterment of the Allatoona community. Bartow County grant writers are preparing the necessary documentation now for an application due April 1, which, if awarded, would secure the funds needed to construct a community resource center for southeast Bartow.
Bartow County government, Northwest Georgia Public Health and Shorter University are putting in the legwork for what could be a boon to a growing community. Bartow County Public Health Board Member and President of the Allatoona Community Association Peggy Martin has been heading up the field work with Shorter University nursing students to provide grant writers with data.
“We’re bringing together a lot of people that have been working on behalf of this community,” Martin said. “Allatoona comprises the most concentrated and populated portion of unincorporated Bartow County and, by number, actually outnumbers a lot of the municipalities in Bartow, certainly not Cartersville, but it has a lot of industrial and a lot of out-of-town visitors because of the recreation surrounding the lake and the marinas and the day-use areas.
“It’s been a long-standing concern of the Allatoona Community Association, which is a community engagement group chartered with the state as a nonprofit, to work on the behalf of this community for health, safety and improvement.”
Bartow County Grant Writing Director Valerie Gilreath is using information collected by Northwest Georgia Public Health and Shorter students to prepare the grant application. The $500,000, if awarded, would begin a county complex that one day could house a multitude of services.
“The county is about to purchase six acres of property on Glade Road. We have an option on the property and they’re just finishing up due diligence, but I think it will happen in the next few weeks and that will eventually be a large county complex that will include a fire station as well as this resource center and a compactor site — but the first thing we hope will go in is the resource center. That’s what the grant will cover,” Gilreath said. “The resource center is going to have a food pantry and a clothing closet. It’ll have an exam room where both Bartow Health Access and Public Health will come down and provide services a couple days a week or a couple days a month. There will also be mental health services provided on a limited basis by Highland Rivers. There will be a full-time staff person there to assist people with applying for energy assistance and rental assistance.
“There will also be a nonprofit arm of this facility. It will operate a lot like the North Bartow Community Services facility in Adairsville, sort of how they are a joint government-nonprofit. That way this facility can apply for United Way funding and other grant funding as well — and we were hoping to provide some youth activities.”
During the length of their Global and Community Health course, Shorter University nursing students have spent countless hours in the Allatoona community talking to residents and community leaders. Data collected in the course of their program requirements is being used in the grant application to verify need as well as helping Northwest Georgia Public Health identify and promote issues specific to Allatoona.
“The timing worked beautifully, so that we could integrate them into the work being done toward the block grant application for a community resource center,” Martin said. “The students have been involved in looking at Bartow County demographics as a whole as well as health statistics, but also looking specifically at this area. They’ve gone door-to-door with a survey tool in both Spanish and English, and they have participated at a food bank at Redemption Baptist Church who very warmly welcomed them to use that as a home base to interview one-on-one with people who were utilizing the thrift store and food pantry at the church. They also did a ‘windshield’ survey, which is driving through and taking an account of the visual impressions.
“They’ve been meeting weekly with me to address both the objectives of their coursework and the tasks for getting this block grant ready. It has been a great opportunity for the Shorter students because it wasn’t just an exercise in academia, this has been real-time field work and project work.”
Many of the results from survey findings were presented to county administration and community members at a March 12 public hearing and announcement of the grant application and proposed resource center.
The application will be formally submitted April 1 and confirmation of award would not be known until Oct. 1. See future issues of The Daily Tribune News for further coverage.