Officials are still waiting to hear the fate of a Workforce Training Initiative grant for a new Construction Trades/Computer Science building at Salem High School, county commissioners were told Monday.

Sally Burbridge, economic development director for the City of Salem and Dent County, said announcement of the grant award has been delayed, possibility until early 2020.

“I was told we were supposed to know the week of Veterans Day and now that’s been pushed off,” she told commissioners. “I’m anticipating the first of the year is probably when we’ll hear, but (it could be) anytime.”

Salem, the R-80 school district and Healthy Dent County have been working through MRPC to secure the grant for a facility to house job-training programs. The local application is one of five finalists for the grant.

In her monthly report, Burbridge also said Riverways Federal Credit Union has announced it has purchased the lot between Dollar Tree and Walmart for construction of a new facility. Its current building on Main Street is for sale.

She also reported that a provider has been selected for the new city/county/chamber website. Contracts are now being reviewed.

Burbridge said Salem has been officially accepted into the MO Partnership’s RTB-Assess Program. A small number of communities are chosen statewide to work with the MO Partnership and Ginovus Consulting, an industry site consultant, to assess their readiness for marketing to industrial firms.

She responds to a mock request for information like an actual company for review by site consultants, she said.

“Then they come back, do at least one site visit and they give us input about what we need to put in place, what we need to do differently, to be competitive,” she said.

Burbridge also said marketing began last week for the Country Christmas events planned in Salem this month. So far it has included newspaper, radio, television and Facebook ads.

“The whole marketing campaign this year is trying to get different groups to do different things, and kind of pull together to see if we can’t pool some resources,” she said. “We got some tourism funds to market overall.”

Boosted Facebook posts about all the events and specifically about the Country Christmas tribute concert have each reached more than 7,000 people within a 50-mile radius and garnered 445 and 542 engagements—including “likes,” shares and other interactions—respectively.

Under commission reports, First District commissioner Dennis Purcell and Second District commissioner Gary Larson both said crews were out Monday assessing damage to county roads after heavy rainfall and high winds Friday and Saturday.

Purcell said between 1.5 and 2.5 inches of rain fell in his district.

“Crews are also out checking for downed trees and limbs,” he said. “They’ll be patching grading and hauling gravel if necessary, whatever it takes to fix roads that were washed out.”

Larson said he was also called out to county road 4280 for a car that was flooded out at a low-water crossing. The road was closed over the weekend and reopened Monday morning.

Commissioners heard a request from Pat Tackett to accept a private road that connects with county road 3180 into the county road system. It serves seven homes and is no longer being maintained by one of the property owners due to medical reasons.

Larson said the road would have to be brought up to county requirements before it can be considered.

Presiding commissioner Darrell Skiles said he wanted to remind any potential candidates that assessor Tina Whitaker has announced her retirement effective Dec. 31. Anyone interested should contact the county commission. Commissioners approved a motion to advertise the position in The Salem News.

By statute, the county has 14 days after vacancy occurs to make an appointment to the office. The governor makes a permanent appointment to serve until the next election.

Skiles also reported that no bids were received on the 2018-19 county audit. He has been gathering information from several auditing firms and would like to rebid it for a Jan. 23 bid opening, he said.

At last Monday’s meeting, treasurer Denita Williams reported the county received $58,261 in CART funds in November and is up .73 percent year to date from last year.

Purcell reported that crews would be grading county roads 5615, 5530, 6090 and 6350, cutting brush on 6380 and checking pipes on 6370. In the Second District, Larson said crews would be grading on county roads 3275, 3270, 3273 and 3250, hauling material to all but 3275 and cutting brush on 2055 and 3230.