A rendering from N-Form Architecture shows the map of the Greene County courthouse campus on North Boonville Avenue in Springfield. (Image from the Greene County Commission)

Plans to transform the courthouse campus in downtown Springfield gained a massive $5 million boost.

The Greene County Commission voted to make 28 different awards to taxing entities on April 13, adding up to $10.49 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). At the center of it all: $5.3 million toward the estimated $19 million renovation of the former Greene County Jail, the Historic Courthouse and the Justice Center.

The county commission also obligated more than $5 million to projects in communities such as Fair Grove, Walnut Grove and Ash Grove, where police officers and firefighters are among the public servants who could benefit from new buildings and upgraded equipment.

“I think we’re in a really good position to fund the vast majority of these projects, and most of them in full,” said John Russell, 2nd District commissioner. “There’s really a wide swath of projects that really touch every area of the county from police departments to fire districts, public water districts.”

Russell said it was important to set up a process where entities in Greene County’s smaller communities could design their own projects and control their own funding proposals.

“One of our priorities when we first went into these ARPA funds was to touch every area of the county and to partner with area municipalities in a way that is very meaningful,” Russell said. “And no one knows better what they need than these applicants do.”

Funding part of government campus project

About half of the funding obligated April 13 will go toward the renovation and reorganization of the Greene County courthouse campus on North Boonville Avenue in downtown Springfield.

When tasked with passing ARPA funding to public, private and nonprofit entities, the Greene County Commission formed an ARPA advisory committee to establish an application process, screen applications and make recommendations for funding. 

“There’s been a lot to go through,” First District Commissioner Rusty MacLachlan said. “The grants that we’ve awarded through this whole process have been very impactful, but I know that I’ve got a lot of family members that are small town people, and they’ve made me aware that oftentimes there are things that we can do for these small communities that otherwise just couldn’t happen.”

The county commission hired Missouri State University professor and Springfield business owner Lyle Foster to serve as Greene County’s ARPA administrator. Foster noted he was glad to see the county government use some of the funding for itself.

“It’s also been exemplary how the county itself has really been very, very patient in terms of addressing some of your long-term needs, and so it’s also very important to see these applications from the county offices so that needs within the county itself can be addressed,” Foster said.

ARPA not finished yet

The Greene County Judicial Courts Facility sits on the north end of the courthouse campus on North Boonville Avenue in Springfield. (Photo by Rance Burger)

The commission still has some proposals to investigate before it determines whether or not it will fund requests for ARPA funds. Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon noted that some taxing entities asked for wage-related expenses, like hazard pay.

“We really tried to focus up to this point on one-time projects or things that had a lot of other funds that could be leveraged or could be raised,” Dixon said.

In the Ebenezer Fire Protection District, the county commission granted a $200,000 request to fund construction of a training center for firefighters. The training center will be built next to a fire station being constructed with money raised from bonds.

Foster said all of the applications approved for funding April 13 are consistent with addressing the residual economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic leaves behind.

“It was very encouraging to see the quality of the applications we got from our community members,” Foster said. “I would say that they generally were very consistent with tying into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

There’s more work to do. The Greene County Commission has until Dec. 31, 2024, to obligate ARPA funds to nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies. Any project funded through ARPA must start by Dec. 31, 2026.

Greene County received a total of $56.9 million in ARPA funds to support recovery efforts from the pandemic.

Greene Co. projects awarded funding April 13, 2023

Walnut Grove Police Department: $5,590 for radar units

Public Water Supply District No. 6: $488,560 for water system improvements

Fair Grove Fire Protection District: $62,145.34 for portable radios

Fair Grove Police Department: $48,377 for portable radios

Greene County Juvenile Office: $56,559.01 for laptop computers and software

Greene County Sheriff’s Posse: $500,000 for a firing range

Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District: $149,600.88 for radios

City of Willard: $500,000 for an outdoor play space

Ebenezer Fire Protection District: $200,000 for a training center

City of Ash Grove: $218,025 for water system improvements

City of Walnut Grove: $298,000 for a water treatment plant

City of Walnut Grove: $95,651 for a walking trail

City of Fair Grove: $150,000 for wastewater collection

City of Fair Grove: $60,000 for a permanent generator at a sewage lift station

31st Judicial Circuit: $185,867 courtroom technology and safety equipment

Greene County Medical Examiner: $52,613 for security upgrades and a vehicle

Greene County Resource Management: $5.317 million for courthouse campus improvements

Springfield-Greene County Library: $500,000 for a new building, a business center for entrepreneurs and remote workers

Greene County Assessor’s Office: $75,000 for security upgrades

Battlefield Fire Protection District: $40,000 for geographic information software (GIS)

Southwest Council of Governments: $66,000 for a comprehensive study

Southwest Council of Governments: $34,000 for a rural housing study

City of Walnut Grove: $298,000 for equipment replacement at a wastewater treatment plant

Office of Emergency Management: $53,000 for a warning siren at Fellows Lake

Office of Emergency Management: $535,400 to refresh equipment in the emergency operations center (EOC)

Office of Emergency Management: $230,000 for a mobile operations center

Public Water Supply District No. 1: $250,000 for handheld water meters

City of Strafford: $300,000 for 1,100 water meters

Rance Burger

Rance Burger is the managing editor for the Daily Citizen. He previously covered local governments from February 2022 to April 2023. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger