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Diamond discusses what to do with extra tornado fund money

DIAMOND – It is believed there are about 68 more families who were impacted by the November tornado who have not applied for assistance, and the village of Diamond is making it a priority to reach out to them.

A special meeting of the Diamond Village Board of Commissioners was held Friday to discuss what to do with the remaining tornado funds raised through donations. About 40 community members attended, Mayor Terry Kernc said Monday.

So far, about $159,500 has been given in mini-grants to victims of the Nov. 17 tornado that damaged more than 200 structures in the Coal City and Diamond area. The grant money comes from Operation St. Nick, the Community Foundation of Grundy County, We Care of Grundy County, United Way of Grundy County, Kendall-Grundy Community Action and area donations.

Grant amounts are based on minor, moderate and major damage. As of Monday morning there was about $165,000 remaining for grants, Kernc said.

The meeting was held to receive feedback on how the remaining money should be used. Kernc said she previously suggested that once all the mini-grants were paid out, a Disaster Fund could be started through the foundation so money would be available for others who suffer from future disasters.

But this opinion was not shared by some of those who were impacted by the tornado based on the feedback given at the meeting, she said. They felt the money was donated for tornado victims and should be used for those victims.

“The biggest issue [at the meeting] was misinformation and there was a lot of misinformation out there mostly due to social media and anonymous media,” Commissioner Dave Warner said Monday.

Once the board and the community members were in the same room and able to talk out the hopes and expectations, everyone seemed to be on the same page, he said.

In support of the community needs, Kernc and the board agreed and approved keeping the tornado impact fund open at Mazon State Bank, finding the 68 remaining families and also revisiting those families who received assistance.

An account at the bank was opened shortly after the tornado hit for donations to help area victims. This money has gone toward the mini-grants and will continue to be open.

The village will work to track down the other 68 families who did not apply for assistance to encourage them to apply, and if they choose not to will be asked to sign a waiver of refusal.

“They either didn’t reach out or elected not to because they don’t think they were as impacted as their neighbors. So we are going to reach out to those [68] families,” Warner said.

Lastly, some of the families who received grants have discovered their damage is worse than originally evaluated. Some who received assistance for minor damage now have moderate damage and some with moderate have major damage, Kernc said. So those whose damage has been upgraded will be reviewed to see if they can receive more assistance.

“Once that is all done, we will keep the account open and not touch the money until April when we have another public meeting to have them voice their opinions on the remaining money,” Kernc said.

More information

To apply for a mini-grant, visit Diamond Village Hall at 1750 E. Division St., Diamond or the Community Foundation of Grundy County, 102 Liberty St., Morris.

To donate to the Coal City Diamond Tornado Relief visit Mazon State Bank, 2315 E. Division St., Diamond.

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