NCLM Southern City, Volume 73, Issue 4 2023

other local government professionals. They are located throughout the state. Towns, regardless of geography and location, have League staff members dedicated to their region, ensuring that help can be provided both in short order and in person. “The team that we have built at the League is truly remarkable,” said Carla Obiol, Chief ARP Officer. “In every corner of the state, we have talented, public-minded members of the team ready to help. If you have a question, a concern or a need for guidance, we can help. We’ve already seen and helped with so many great successes in our communities.” Obiol stands as a strong example of the talent that makes up the team, as she arrived at the League with extensive experience in project management, teambuilding, stakeholder collaboration, and grant implementation and administration. Obiol was previously at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, where her roles included time as interim CEO and Vice President of Community Voice and Advocacy, and before that had a 33-year career at the NC Department of Insurance, where she rose to the role of Senior Deputy Commissioner for the Consumer Assistance Group, leading three of the Department’s divisions. “In helping our local leaders, we’re helping our communities. We’re impacting citizens,” said Obiol. “That’s what I’m passionate about, and that’s what we’re really doing here.” The impact is in many ways immeasurable. It’s in hundreds of towns, affecting many thousands of citizens. A few examples showcase the work, and how the partnership between town and League yields tremendous success. RAMSEUR ARP Service Used: Grant writing The Town of Ramseur, population 1,777, entered into its ARP journey with a clear vision. The goal was to build a destination park and recreation hub to serve as an economic driver for its community, and to improve the quality of life for residents. To develop the plan, they worked with nonprofit organization Unique Places to Save, which is dedicated to restoring and conserving high-quality aquatic resources. The project is extensive. Ramseur is looking to improve the existing park, Leonard Park, through development of additional miles of trails and through other refurbishments. That project would involve connecting a lakeside parcel of land to both the park and to the trails of the nearby town, Franklinville. Additionally, there are hopes for such amenities as an amphitheater. Certain elements of the project are complex, and a great deal of review and analysis is required. For example, Ramseur has already secured a PARTF grant to research the lake’s dam, which would potentially be used to connect the trails over the water. In total, the project is quite expensive. Much of the town’s ARP funding had already been allotted for other immediate needs. Thus, Ramseur contacted NCLM looking to take advantage of its grant writing service. Through League vendor Witt O’Brien, a government solutions agency with a focus on grant writing and grant management, Ramseur will be pursuing additional funds through federal and state grant programs. It’s a solution for a situation seen commonly across North Carolina, said Obiol. Projects are worked towards and strategized about over a long period of time—but with limited staff capacity, smaller towns can often not take advantage of grants and other resources that help get those projects over the finish line. Through the ARP Service Line, help can finally be provided. “Our towns are strategic and creative and know what their community needs most. Grants exist for this very reason—to aid cities in achieving important projects. But our small towns simply lack the resources to pursue those programs,” said Obiol. “Through our Service Line, we’re now able to bridge that gap.” TOWN OF BLACK MOUNTAIN ARP Service Used: Legal guidance The Town of Black Mountain is pursuing major infrastructure investments: a flood mitigation project and utility mapping project. Total costs are more than $5 million, and in addition to its ARP funds, the town has received additional federal funds and is working with the NC Department of Environmental Quality. As with any large project, there is a maze of restrictions, requirements and legal questions. With multiple sources of funding, those questions multiply, and towns can often be left unsure of how to proceed. NCLM’s legal assistance offering is intended to cut through that confusion, and will allow towns to confidently pursue the projects their communities need. Carla Obiol, NCLM Chief ARP Officer Diane Seaford, NCLM Deputy Director for Municipal Accounting Services Chris Nida, NCLM Director of Technical Assistance to Cities Chase Norwood, NCLM MAS Accounting Supervisor continues on page 26 NCLM.ORG 25