Monroe County has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant for $630,000 for water line extension projects throughout the county.
The funds were awarded as part of a $28.5 million grant improvement package announced by Gov. Bill Lee and Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe to assist communities with infrastructure improvements, housing rehabilitations, as well as health and safety initiatives.
According to Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram, it was very humbling to receive the grant.
“We are one of the few counties that received this and it was mainly received by municipalities,” he said. “We are very fortunate as a county government to get this grant to go to these water line systems.”
He believes the grant is a “win-win” situation, allowing for the county to use a lot of money on the projects without having to use taxpayer dollars.
“The application, especially for these federal grants, the process is very stringent. More so than local or state grants,” he expressed. “We have to do surveys, we have to do a lot of mapping, several budgets and it takes a lot of time, effort and people behind these projects. So I’m happy for all of the people who put in all that time and effort into this, to be able to see the fruits of their labor.”
The county plans to distribute the money to several specific locations.
“This will be going to Creek Road in the Sweetwater area, the Old Loudon Road in Vonore/northern Madisonville area and if we have any money left over then we can expand that into other projects,” Ingram noted. “This will be about 8,000 feet of line and the great news is going to be, approximately 50 customers, 50 residents, 50 taxpayers will have access to good clean water. One of the most rewarding things that anyone could ever have is to provide somebody with fresh, clean water and with there being 50 homes/residences benefiting off of this I’m sure they will be happy that they will have a new asset to give them a safe and happier lifestyle.”
Ingram stated this was a much needed grant as the county is still working through several projects they have applied for involving water and sewer systems.
“Each one of them is needed,” he expressed. “There are other grants out there specific to other areas, but for water and sewer grants you have to be very specific and it is very competitive. They are challenging to get and we are very fortunate that the governor selected us to be a recipient of this almost $700,000.”
Looking ahead, the county has applied for other grants to aid all of the cities in the county with their infrastructure.
“We are trying to commit $1 million to every city from this money for water and sewer projects,” Ingram said. “We are very humbled that we have such great favor with the state. They are going to award these grants to counties and governments that they know it won’t be wasted. We are being good stewards with this money and we are keeping everything in order, so we are very excited about this.”
State Rep. Lowell Russell (R-Vonore) and State Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) expressed their thoughts as well on the county receiving the grant.
“Having access to safe drinking water is vital to the health and well being of any community,” Russell said. “I am grateful to our state and local officials for their support of this project and investment in Monroe County.”
In all, 62 Tennessee communities were awarded grants through the program.
“This funding will go a long way toward improving critical infrastructure in Monroe County,” Bell said. “I’m grateful to the local officials for their partnership in making this happen.”