The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization approved approximately $159,000 in grant requests Wednesday along with a one-month extension of Scott Darnell's independent contractor agreement to lead the organization while the search for his replacement continues.

Darnell's agreement, set to expire in December, was extended through January, while a PACRO search committee continues its efforts to hire a new executive director. Darnell was hired as executive director of the Pitt County Development Commission in Greenville, North Carolina, in August and began his duties there Sept. 23, according to the Greenville newspaper, the Daily Reflector.

According to Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal, PACRO chairman and also a member of the search committee, the plan is to have a replacement by the time the board meets again in January.

"With Scott's contract expiring next month, we're still waiting on a response from one of the applicants," Neal told the board. "What I would request is to look at doing an extension for Scott. The purpose would be two-fold. It doesn't matter if we get a new director or have him (Scott) as a director, we're still going to be paying for a director.

"But it also helps with the audit. He'll still be on the month of January in case there's any questions or concerns with the audit," he said. "Hopefully we'll have some word back from the applicant before the January meeting."

The board continued its grant program by approving two requests from McCracken County and one from Marshall County.

The McCracken County grants included one for $112,000 to purchase seven acres known as the Modrow property encircled by the Ohio River Triple Rail Megasite, located in the West Paducah area. According to the county's application, acquiring the property will enhance efforts to market the site to potential economic development prospects.

The second grant was for $1,897 to reimburse expenses for a group of Paducah-McCracken County officials who toured the U.S. Department of Energy site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in October.

The Marshall County grant was for $45,000, which will be used to pay for the extension of fiber optics to the county's industrial park to development necessary redundancy in service to park tenants.

In setting up the grant program, PACRO has alloted funds for its member communities to use for economic development purposes. Requests from each entity to use grant funds must be approved by the PACRO board as a whole.

In a related move, the board approved giving each of the five entities (Kentucky counties of Graves, Marshall, McCracken and Ballard and Metropolis, Illinois) the $50,000 allotment that was set to be given in January.

The commitment of the funds at this time was described as a way to assist the member communities in their 2020 calendar year economic development planning efforts.

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