- Contractors learn about CHIP program

Four city-based contractors were present Thursday at a special meeting in council chambers at Seymour City Hall as the upcoming Comprehensive Home Improvement Project (CHIP) was outlined by Mayor Alicia Hagen.

The four local contractors were Matt Bunch, Tom Carpenter, Cameron Shores and Luke Wright.

Hagen explained that the CHIP program was introduced to the city of Seymour by Lea Ann Christopher, a regional grant writer who has worked for decades with the Federal Home Bank in an 11-state region.

Similar programs have fared well in the nearby cities of Fordland and Rogersville, Hagen noted.

“We were hoping to get 20 homes for our program here in Seymour,” she said. “Well, we’ve now doubled that with 40 homes.”

In Seymour, the CHIP program will assist senior citizens age 62 and above who own their homes.

“Right now, we are at 40 tentatively qualified homes with seniors who qualify,” Hagen told the contractors. “These are seniors who meet the income guidelines, are 62 or older and own their homes. Trailers don’t qualify. And in each one of these homes, there are home improvements needed.”

Hagen said most of the homes in the CHIP program have one of three problems:

• They need new floors and flooring.

• They need new roofs.

• They need new windows.

“There also are many homes with significant bathroom improvements needed,” she said. “Some of the homes also will need handicapped bathrooms built.”

Because of the overwhelming participation in Seymour’s CHIP program, the maximum benefit to each home has been reduced from $40,000 to $20,000.

“We had so many homes in the program that the money has to be spread around with 40 applicants,” Hagen said.

“Still, this will be a big project for our city. We’re looking at $800,000 of home improvements at 40 homes.”

Final grant approval, per Hagen, will be given for Seymour’s project on Dec. 15.

“We’re very confident that Seymour will be approved,” she said. “If I were to put a percentage on it after speaking with Lea Ann, I’d say we’re at 95 percent.”

Once the federal grant is approved, then the bid process starts in January 2023.

“The way this works, we’ll do three homes at a time,” Hagen said. “All projects will have to have three bids, and work will be taking place on three homes at a time.

“In the bid process, the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid. The top priority in bid awarding is that the contractor be a local contractor.”

Construction begins in February 2023.

Hagen said because of the volume of Seymour’s project, construction likely will continue deep into 2023.

“We will want for this work to be done as quickly as possible, so we can move to the next home,” she explained.

After about 30 minutes, following a brief question-and-answer session with the four contractors, Thursday’s meeting adjourned.

All four contractors present said they were interested in being a part of the CHIP program.

“When we can work locally instead of driving to job sites paying $5 a gallon for gas ... well, yes, I’m interested in the program,” Bunch said.

Shores and Wright agreed.

“Ideally, I’d like to see each one of you here who are interested in this work being awarded several bids and staying busy with this work for most of next year,” Hagen said.

“This project has the potential to do so much good for Seymour and its senior citizens.”

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