By Sonya Campbell

Harker Heights Herald

BELTON - Disaster aid surfaced as a key topic during the Bell County Commissioners' Court on Monday.

County Judge Jon Burrows announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency had denied the governor's appeal for federal grants to aid residents and businesses impacted by Tropical Storm Hermine.

But he also said the U.S. Small Business Administration, under its own authority, issued a disaster declaration and is offering assistance to Bell County and 17 others affected by the storm. SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Centers have been opened at the Bell County Courthouse and at locations in Tarrant and Williamson counties.

Disaster assistance includes the following:

Low-interest loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate,

Low-interest loans of up to $40,000 for homeowners and renters to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,

Low-interest loans of up to $2 million for repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed business assets,

Low-interest loans to make improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of damage from occurring in the future.

Application filing deadlines are Jan. 19 for physical damage and Aug. 9 for economic injury. So far, 52 applications have been received.

Another agenda item that garnered the spotlight was the Nov. 2 election, with the commissioners certifying the results.

They also approved the certification of those elected. Also, county employees who assisted with the election were commended.

Burrows said the county was a standout in two areas - assisting military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan so they could vote and ensuring election results were posted online immediately. More than 7,000 ballots were sent to troops overseas. Those recognized included the county clerk's election staff, the tax assessor-collector voter registration office, Building Maintenance and Technology Services.

In other business, the court:

Approved negotiating with New World Systems on a contract for a jail management system.

Approved of the Texas Department of Transportation redistributing Farm-to-Market 439 Project funds to other projects in the county.

Authorized advertising for bids for a company to examine the county's fiber optic network to label connections and document findings.

Approved the renewal of a contract for services with Dr. Warren Dunn/Bell Area Animal Shelter on a month-to-month basis at the rate of $8,350 per month.

Approved the minutes from its Nov. 8 meeting.

Disaster loan information

For information about the U.S. Small Business Administration's low-interest loans to help people affected by Tropical Storm Hermine, call 1 (800) 659-2955, e-mail or go to

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