Princeton-Caldwell Chamber of Commerce to manage tornado recovery funds

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The Caldwell County Long Term Recovery Group met on Wednesday to discuss potential uses of the funds the group received as a result of the december tornado outbreak.

Over $325,000 in donations – originally set up through the Princeton-Caldwell Chamber of Commerce then transferred to the long-term recovery group account with the Community Foundation of Western Kentucky – flooded Caldwell in the immediate wake of the disaster. Nearly nine months later, none of these funds have been allocated.

Princeton Mayor Kota Young said there has been indecision as to how to disburse the donated money.

“It has recently come to our attention that there is a disconnect between how the LTRGs operate and our mission and donor intent for the chamber fund,” Young said. “We totally respect that, we appreciate where you all are coming from, and we don’t want to prevent these funds from being spent or expended in any way, as originally intended.”

A long discussion about how best to manage these funds and what rules to follow ultimately resulted in them being put in the hands of the Princeton-Caldwell House, instead of the long-term recovery group.

Initially, officials weren’t sure it could be done.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Hey, we’re going to give you all this money back, and you’re just going to hand it out,'” House Speaker Heather Riley said. “We went through a lot of process to get him to where he was and now I don’t know if it’s as simple as ‘Hey y’all, here’s the money back.'”

Young said the move would allow for a separate case management process for funding, including the possibility that tornado victims would be required to prove financial need before getting help.

Chris Dockins, director of operations for the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, said that ultimately all participants had the same goal.

“First of all, we have good hearts in this room and we’re all here to support the community, aren’t we?” said Dockins. “And we solve problems and we can find solutions and I have no doubt in my mind between the knowledge of Katina [Hayden, director of case management for Catholic Charities out of the Owensboro Diocese] brings with some of the others who went through disasters before we could find a solution.

Caldwell County District 4 Magistrate Jeff Simms said the group could not lose sight of those in need in the community.

“I just want to remind all of us that we are here to show compassion to these people who have suffered life-altering trauma and who continue to suffer from it every day,” he said.


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