Volunteer firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, park administrators and election officers in Warren County have at least one thing in common these days: an increasing dependence on grant funding.

Counting money obtained through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the county received more than $6.7 million in grant funding during 2020.

The money has helped the county pay for everything from equipment and storm shelters for volunteer fire departments to a $750,000 cash infusion to prop up the ailing Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center.

Now Warren Fiscal Court has taken steps to see that the grant money keeps flowing.

On Feb. 12, fiscal court voted 6-0 to approve a contract with grant writer Jennifer Schmidt’s Schmidt Consulting LLC that will pay her $2,750 per month this year to find and apply for grants.

County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said it’s money well-spent.

“Jennifer’s expertise is terribly important,” Buchanon said in a text message. “She has years of experience and has a clear familiarity with grant application requirements.”

Buchanon said Schmidt has helped find funding sources like the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters grants and has also helped ensure that the county has received its fair share of CARES Act money.

“The CARES Act funding, administered through the Kentucky Department for Local Government, hasn’t been difficult to obtain since the amount is predetermined by population,” Buchanon said, “but it requires accurate and timely reporting. We can act with confidence in Jennifer’s experience and rely on her advice and direction.”

For her part, Schmidt said the CARES Act grants “require a lot of documentation.”

“It’s obviously very generous, and the county is very happy to receive that money,” Schmidt said. “But it requires crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s.”

Much of the CARES Act money has gone for enhanced safety and cleaning measures at the courthouse, county parks and other facilities, but Schmidt has also been able to help with grants through the Center for Tech and Civic Life organization that are helping modernize how elections are conducted.

The county clerk’s office received a $570,360 COVID-19 Response grant from the CTCL to purchase new election equipment. Schmidt is continuing to work with county Clerk Lynette Yates on grants that are helping the clerk’s office digitize records.

And Schmidt is at work on more grants. A number of the county’s volunteer fire departments have benefited from the FEMA grants that have helped them buy personal protective equipment and build storm shelters.

Now Schmidt said she has submitted one regional grant application for funding to replace aging radio equipment and four more applications for individual VFDs that total $872,289.84.

She is also working with Sheriff Brett Hightower on applying for a U.S. Department of Justice grant that would fund the purchase of body-worn cameras.

In other items at the Feb. 12 meeting, the magistrates approved:

  • A $129,896 change order to contractor Scott, Murphy and Daniel for relocation of the existing sewer line, paving and other work at the indoor tennis facility now under construction at Buchanon Park.
  • An expenditure of $17,075.32 to AAA Access Control and Modern Systems Inc. for a new access control database and 16 cameras at the county courthouse.
  • An expenditure of $17,420 to Miracle Recreation for replacing two baseball field dugouts at Basil Griffin Park.
  • A $10,927.40 change order to Scotty’s Contracting for curb and related grading for the new roundabout at Smallhouse and Elrod roads.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.