Mar 12 2009

Officials announce federal funding for Northeast Alabama projects

By Andy Powell

Funding for fighting crime in Northeast Alabama, along with funding to improve education, transportation and Attalla’s sewer system, are among the projects in the spending bill passed this week by Congress.

Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Robert Aderholt, both Republicans, sent out press releases Wednesday detailing funding they obtained in “earmarks” in the bill that was signed Thursday by President Barack Obama.

For Gadsden, Shelby announced $137,000 for buses for the city’s transportation system and $250,000 for law enforcement technology.

Aderholt announced $450,000 for work on four-laning Airport Road that is being done by Gadsden for industrial development.

Aderholt also announced $95,000 for Gadsden State Community College for technology upgrades and fiber-optics planning for the school’s Rural Campus connect program. The city of Gadsden also had been working for funding for the project.

Frankie Davis, Gadsden’s director of economic development and government affairs, expressed the city’s appreciation to Shelby and Aderholt for their work in securing funding for the projects.

He said the projects will improve transportation and education and help in industrial development.

Davis said the city has received $2 million from the state for the Airport Road project, which will four-lane Airport Road to the intersection of Steele Station Road.

The four-laning of Airport Road was part of the agreement for Keystone Food to build a new plant there.

The project is expected to cost about $6 million. Davis said the city is working for additional grants.

He said the project will help retain and bring in new jobs.

The funding for the police department will be used for technology. Davis said officials are looking at the guidelines to see how best the money can be used. He said Shelby has helped obtain funds to upgrade technology for the police department.

Aderholt also announced $1 million in funding for the 4th Congressional District for county drug task forces in Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall, Marion, Pickens and Walker counties that will be used in fighting drugs, including methamphetamine.

The funds will be used for investigating meth labs, cleaning up lab sites, investigating trafficking routes, training and purchasing equipment.

Aderholt announced the city of Attalla will receive $500,000 for upgrades to its sewer system.

Attalla Mayor Jane Phillips said, “Being awarded a $500,000 grant for the city of Attalla at this time of economic decline is wonderful news. I’m anxious for the citizens who will benefit from the sewer rehab to be notified. I do appreciate Congressman Aderholt and the Appropriations Committee so much for recognizing our problem.”

Aderholt announced Jacksonville State University will receive $295,000 in funding.

JSU’s Little River Canyon Center will receive $95,000 to provide science curriculum development. JSU also received $200,000 for the school’s remote campus and distance learning program to improve the technology infrastructure used for teaching and research on the main and remote campus locations.

Shelby announced $285,000 for the Marshall County Association of Retarded Citizens and the Council on Aging to purchase vans to transport the elderly and mentally handicapped to and from their centers.

Shelby also announced $100,000 for the Cherokee County Family Resource Center.