TUPELO • City officials have hired a local economic development organization to assist them temporarily with grant writing and administration services, following the death of Tupelo’s former grant writer from COVID-19 earlier this year.

The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve a $73,866 professional services contract with Three Rivers Planning & Development District for the grant services. Randy Kelley, executive director of Three Rivers, said an employee of the organization has already been chosen to work full time on grant writing for the city of Tupelo.

She will go through a process of orientation with the city and working with our folks too for a while,” Kelley said of the employee.

The city’s contract with the development organization will last for one year. During this time, the employee dedicated to working for Tupelo will get acclimated to the work the city needs on a day-to-day basis while still working for Three Rivers. Kelley said the organization has done this same process before with the city.

“This is not a new process or something unique,” Kelley said. “This is a way to get the person trained.”

A grant writer and administrator completes grant application processes to institutions or government agencies on behalf of the city of Tupelo. Funds awarded from grants can often lead to money that will help the city offset costs for a project or provide the city with upgraded tools and equipment.

Ben Logan, the city attorney for Tupelo, said that the city previously contracted with Three Rivers for grant work, and the organization already is familiar with the process for applying for grants and often works with government agencies.

“We wanted to start off with Three Rivers Planning & Development because they administer a lot of grants,” Logan said.

The city’s former grant administrator, Terri Blissard, died in July from COVID-19. Since her death, the position has remained vacant in City Hall and different city employees have handled grant responsibilities.

Before Blissard became employed by the city, she was an employee at Three Rivers. After the city’s contract with Three Rivers expires next year, the city can either choose to have another contract with the organization for grant services, hire a grant administrator full time for the city, or choose to pursue other options for its grant services.

Email: taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @TaylorVanceDJ

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