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Jefferson County Faith Based Network also puts in a bid for the county public health building

Jefferson County's Faith Based Network has expansion plans to grow from a tiny office to two buildings totaling 13,500 square feet over the next couple of years.

Executive Director Tony Mitchell and President Gary Buss approached the Jefferson County Commission Wednesday, July 14 with a proposal for the FBN to run a full-time community service center out of the county's 10,000-square-foot public health building on Fourth Street.

The building will be vacant when county public health services move to the new Wellness Center under construction next to St. Charles Madras.

"It could be a launching pad for services we do not currently have," said Buss.

The organization would like to provide a distribution center for clothing, food and household items. They want to provide services for youth, space for job training, and computer and phone resources.

"We feel like we're positioned to be a service hub," said Mitchell. "Physical infrastructure is increasingly important as we grow."

"We realize you'll probably get a better offer," said Buss, while also pointing out the roof leaks and the building needs to be brought up to code. "We're asking you to consider how we could walk together."

The suggestion left nebulous how exactly the county would "walk together" with FBN on this venture.

"We have no idea what that means," says Buss. "Those next steps will come from the county."

FBN also won a cluster of grants for building a permanent shelter to house people during extreme weather.

The City of Madras applied for and won a Community Block Grant to the tune of $1.5 million, with the city matching $300,000. COVID relief funds add $480,000 to the project. State Senator Lynn Findley and Representative Daniel Bonham earmarked $750,000 for the shelter.

"This will allow us to build a 3,500-square-foot homeless service shelter," said Mitchell. The past three years the organization had to scramble to find churches and other building available to provide a place to stay. "It will be nice to have a permanent home."

The city needs to find and acquire the property for the building. FBN hopes the shelter will be ready by winter of 2022.


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