Many of you have read previous posts where I have ranted about the ineptness of my local government...especially when it came to infrastructure issues. We have had a complete systemic failure in our sewer treatment functions, we have run out of water and we have had horrendous audit reports with issues that haven't been corrected in 20 years. Now if that isn't bad leadership, I really don't what is. But hey, we allowed it to happen. It does matter who governs folks.
Fast forward to the elections of 2008, one woman decided to run for city council. She wanted to make a difference in the community that she loved. She was elected in spite of some of the local naysayers. She was off-handedly given the task of getting grants for the town. What harm could she do there. They didn't know Marilyn Nixon.
Identifying needs, finding grant money, getting the paperwork done and taking the steps necessary to get those grants is an arduous task even for the most functional of local governments. But Marilyn doggedly pursued the courses of action to make it happen. She fortunately had two, sometimes three other votes on the council that saw the logic and the possibilities. It does matter who governs folks.
Yesterday, the state announced that Monteagle was #1 on the list for Clean Water Stimulus money in Tennessee. Our local government had failed so badly at providing vital services, that we beat out all the other deserving local governments in Tennessee for this top dog spot in Obama's "free" cash extravaganza.
But no matter how I feel politically about all this Stimulus bs, I say "Go Girl" to Marilyn Nixon. Sometimes it takes a woman to get the job done. It does matter who governs.
Tennessee is preparing to spend $77 million in stimulus money on clean water and drinking water projects, including several local ones.
Topping the state's priority list of more than 300 projects are eight Southeast Tennessee water improvement projects for which state officials are offering quick funding opportunities.
For drinking water funding, the Ocoee Utility District in Polk and Bradley counties, the Big Creek Utility District in Grundy County and South Pittsburg in Marion County have chances to get a total of a little more than $10 million.
For clean water projects, Monteagle, serving Grundy, Marion and Franklin counties; Ocoee Utility District; Benton in Polk County; plus Cleveland and Athens may receive more than $14.6 million.
Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said money is allocated through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. She said the money will be combined with state funds for low-interest loans and grants.
If local communities decline the money or can't make deadlines, other communities will be considered according to the state's priority list, Ms. Calabrese-Benton said.
The federal money -- $57 million for sewer facilities and more than $20 million for planning, design and construction of drinking water facilities -- must be obligated by Feb. 17, 2010, state officials said. Utilities, water authorities or communities must have a signed construction contract or must have begun construction by the same date.
Many area utility officials could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Ocoee Utility District Manager Tim Lawson said his district has decided to put on hold a plan to build a water treatment system. The $1.6 million in funding will go to another project.
"We are proceeding with the drinking water application," Mr. Lawson said.
Two planned extensions will serve several hundred homes in Polk and Bradley counties, he said.
"We just don't think it's feasible for us to be able to start the (sewer) work by February, which we would have to do," Mr. Lawson said.
The state also is set to receive $458,806 to implement water quality management planning projects, including grants to three Tennessee development districts to conduct green infrastructure needs analyses.
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