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A crew removes tornado debris from northeast Jacksonville. Recovery efforts continue around Jacksonville as residents try to get their lives back to normal following an EF-3 tornado that struck the area back on March 19th. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

The Calhoun County Commission on Thursday voted to use a one-time reimbursement boost from the federal government for cleanup related to the March 19 tornado.

President Donald Trump in April ordered federal assistance for Calhoun County’s recovery from the storm. According to County Emergency Management Agency director Jonathan Gaddy, federal officials normally reimburse communities 75 percent of the cost for debris removal.

But Congress passed a law in 2013 creating a pilot program that would offer a 77 percent reimbursement rate.  

Gaddy said that to apply for the program, Calhoun County officials had to submit a plan that included a specific vendor for debris removal and a chosen site for the debris.

Federal officials approved the county’s plan, Gaddy said, with the only question being whether the commission would choose to take the one-time reimbursement boost for the March disaster. Gaddy said that if the county officials had waited on using the reimbursement boost, they could have risked losing it altogether if the program ended.

“It’s temporary in nature; it could go away at any time,” he said.

County officials did not say when the reimbursement for cleanup costs would come through from the federal level.

The commission unanimously approved the county’s participation in the program.

In other business, the commission:

— Agreed to transfer less than an acre of land near Iron Mountain Road to the city of Anniston. The city needed the land as the right of way for the construction of the roads extension to Alabama 21.

— Approved land off Duggar Mountain Road as a subdivision.

— Approved bids from five companies for 10 categories of food services at the Calhoun County jail.

— Terminated contracts with D&A Lawn Care and S and M Lawn Care and awarded the contracts to the second lowest bidder, D & B Lawn Services. County Administrator Mark Tyner said the change came because the two original companies were unable to perform the work. The contracts were for grass cutting and maintenance at Blue Mountain Community Center for $230 per month and the County Administration Building and Courthouse for $915 per month.

— Approved a nuisance abatement for 908 Creek Trail in Anniston and approved nuisance declarations for 88 Mangnum Road in Wellington, 101 West 35th St. in Anniston and 822 West 54th St. in Anniston.   

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

I'm the assistant metro editor for The Anniston Star. I edit, post online stories and write the occasional story.