City of Winterville
A snapshot of the Instagram page for the Marigold Market (@marigoldmarketwinterville), a City-sponsored non-profit in which Winterville has invested its ARPA dollars. (Source: City of Winterville Marigold Market)
When it comes to spending funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City of Winterville, Georgia* has stepped up to the plate, directing its dollars to projects that create immediate and transformative change within the community. Drawing on needs the City has long identified but did not yet have the resources to address (like in their comprehensive plan), Mayor Dodd Ferrelle and Winterville Councilmembers were able to put these dollars to work right away through two key efforts: tackling food insecurity and repurposing an existing public facility.
Marigold Collective for Food Security
Winterville has invested a portion of its ARPA funds into an existing City-sponsored effort to address food insecurity – termed the “Marigold Collective”. The collective involves a food hub, farmer’s market and commercial kitchen operating interdependently. Unsold goods from the farmer’s market are redirected to the kitchen where it is provided to the food-insecure. The collective simultaneously provides an incubator for upstart farmers, producers and minority business owners seeking to grow their market and connect consumers to their goods. The ARPA dollars have been put towards equipment and personnel.
When asked about the origins of the Marigold Collective, Mayor Ferrelle turned it back to the start of the pandemic in 2020, when his three children had to do virtual learning from home. After just three days, he noticed how empty his pantry had become and started to think of how much worse other families might have it.
Up to this point, the kitchen has served 40 families and additional “walk-up” families who now can rely on a lifeline of community support to meet a basic need – access to quality food – that many of us take for granted. To identify the 40 families, the City consulted the public schools as well as a county-wide organization with a neighborhood leader who had direct ties to the Winterville community. By leveraging these partnerships, the City was able to pinpoint those who suffered severely from food insecurity. Keep up with the latest, including upcoming events, at https://www.facebook.com/marigoldmarketwinterville.
City of Winterville Marigold Market
Solar-Powered Community Center
A second major project in Winterville is the installation of solar panels on a newly renovated auditorium-slash-community-center. Driven largely by Councilmember Bruce Johnson, this effort is funded by a grant from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, with ARPA funds providing the local match. The possibilities from repurposing this existing public facility are endless and intentionally so. The Winterville Auditorium can serve multiple purposes – from an emergency shelter to a venue for corporate events, weddings, theater shows and other entertainment. Mayor Ferrelle also envisions Winterville, by way of this Auditorium, as a launchpad for up and coming artists and performers. In terms of finances, the transition to renewable energy sources like solar helps reduce the utility bill which has long been a drag on the City's budget. Read more here: https://www.facebook.com/WintervilleAuditorium
Transformative, to say the least
Longstanding needs within the community have informed the City’s thinking behind these projects, which can serve as models for other cities, especially small-sized cities, looking to leverage their ARPA funds. In Winterville, city leaders are focused on what will help the least fortunate the most. While the City has put forth projects that are creating a real, lasting impact, it’s not resting. With the second round of ARPA funds, Mayor Ferrelle looks to continue with the Marigold Collective and the community center as well as invest in the City’s water, sewer and broadband infrastructure. When asked what advice he would give to his peers when it comes to spending these funds, this was the Mayor's response:
- Reach out to the community to identify critical pain points;
- Take stock of existing assets and resources that the City could revive and/or repurpose;
- Ask what possible amenities the City could provide that would have widespread benefits; and
- Think outside the box!
*Located in the eastern part of Clarke County, the City of Winterville, Georgia has a population of roughly 1230 people. Click here for a detailed profile of the city.
Mayor Dodd Ferrelle - email@example.com, 706-255-2624