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‘Tall Glass’ project secures USDA grant

WINDSOR – The “Tall Glass” keeps getting fuller.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here July 13, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners were advised of the requirements of a $150,000 grant from USDA Rural Development that will be used for technical assistance purposes as the county moves forward in developing its “Tall Glass of Water” (TGOW) project.

TGOW is a 147-acre site off Bal Gra Road in the Merry Hill community right where the Chowan River spills into the Albemarle Sound. The site’s most stunning feature is its 2,200 linear feet of sand beach, now open to the public, and shallow calm waters that overwatch impressive sand bluffs overlooking the scenic waterway.

The property was purchased by the Bertie County’s Board of Commissioners with financial assistance from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

Once the vision for the property is fully realized, opportunities for Bertie residents and visitors will include swimming, canoeing & kayaking, hiking, camping, and environmental education field experiences for students and adults.

At the board’s recent meeting they heard an update on the letter of conditions/grant requirements as spelled out by Stephanie Hardison, USDA Area Specialist.

Hardison said the totality of the grant is $202,500 of which $150,000 comes from USDA Rural Development. Bertie County will invest $52,500….an amount that represents 26 percent of the total.

“Invoices that come in that you request [grant funding] payment for, Bertie County pays 26 percent of that invoice and we [USDA Rural Development] pays the other 74 percent,” Hardison noted.

She said the funding is for architectural, engineering, and branding development fees associated with the TGOW project.

“This is pretty much a technical assistance grant; there is no equipment purchase or real estate purchase with these funds,” Hardison observed. “It simply covers some of the costs associated with the planning and development of this project.”

She added that the letter of conditions does require Bertie County local government to file a quarterly report to USDA Rural Development on the ongoing status of the architectural, engineering, and planning of the project.

An audit is due at the end of the project that shows how all the $150,000 in funding was dispersed and the number of jobs (in any) created as a result of the overall project.

“USDA has been a great partner with Bertie County over the years. We are extremely pleased working with you again on another great project for our county,” stated Commission Chairman Ron Wesson. ‘This is a big project for us and getting this grant from USDA really helps.”

Bertie County has submitted applications for four other grants to assist with the TGOW project.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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