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Cleburne County Commission hears of Habitat’s expansion

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Jake from not State Farm

Representing Habitat for Humanity, Jake Mathews, center, speaks with members of the Cleburne County Commission Tuesday evening in Heflin.

HEFLIN — Calhoun Cleburne County Habitat for Humanity is branching out into neighboring Cleburne County and will start building affordable homes there in the near future.

Jake Mathews, Habitat’s board president, addressed the Cleburne County Commission during a Tuesday night meeting hoping for support from the commission and the community.

Calhoun Cleburne Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness and substandard housing by providing homes and home improvements to qualified families, veterans and others.

“A few years ago several of us were talking about expanding our footprint in Habitat to include Cleburne County, so we have done that,” said Matthews. 

“We will be looking to get started with building houses here,” said Mathews.

Mathews said that 157 Habitat houses have been built in Calhoun County and the organization hopes to have an office in the county very soon. 

“It is a program that puts people in houses but they have to do so many hours of work ethic and prove they can make the payments and additionally they are not charged interest. Of course all that money goes into building more houses,” Mathews said.

Mathews said Habitat needs land, money, resources and ideas for fundraising. 

Amanda Pinson, Calhoun Cleburne County Habitat for Humanity’s executive director, said that home ownership should be realistic for low-income families.

“We work with families that can’t necessarily go to a bank and get a conventional loan for a home, but they do have a steady source of income and are willing to partner with us,” Pinson told the commission.

Pinson said that each homeowner — who must be a resident of Calhoun and Cleburne County —  has to put in 275 hours of work on their home and other homes that are being built in addition to attending educational classes. 

“We are extremely happy that Habitat International approved our request to expand into a neighboring county and we are really excited to work with everyone,” Pinson said.

The expansion of Habitat was well received by the commission.

Commissioner Laura Cobb, who represents District 1, said she was glad to have Habitat expand into Cleburne County.

“We see so much need in our county, I do in my district especially,” Cobb said.

In other business the commission unanimously passed its consent agenda which included the following:

— Approved $22,000 for bridge repairs on County Road 10.

— Approved $34,000 to buy a mechanic/crew truck for the road department.

— Approved Commissioner Emmett Owen for applying $1,500 of his discretionary funds to purchase gravel to improve the driveway area and to improve privacy at the coroner’s office.

— Approved $1,500 from Commissioner Roger Hill’s discretionary funds and $500 from Owen’s discretionary funds to assist and build a shelter on the Pinhoti Trail for hikers.

— Approved $200,000 from the Cares Act Fund in Community Development Block Grant to extend public water availability on County Road 71 and County Road 18 which currently lack such services. The measure also authorizes the chairman to work with the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to ensure the grant process is successful.

— Approved the moving of a polling place from its current location known as the Dallas Lodge in Chulafinnee to the Chulafinnee Baptist Church.