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Carter County, Elizabethton receive Community Development Block Grants

John Thompson • Jul 12, 2018 at 9:59 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County and the city of Elizabethton were the recipients of Community Development Block Grants recently announced by Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe. Those grants were among the 70 Community Block Grants valued at $26 million announced Wednesday.

Elizabethton received a $525,000 grant for water system improvements. Carter County received $315,000 for a new emergency operations center.

Johann Coetzee, Elizabethton’s Water Resources Department general manager, said the grant will allow the city to replace miles of old galvanized line that is still a part of the water system well past the expected lifetime of the material.

Gary Smith, Carter County Emergency Management Agency director, said the county’s current emergency operations center has space for about six key players in an emergency. It only has about 150 square feet of floor space inside an old-fashioned fire vault designed to store local government documents, not people.

Smith said the plans are not finalized, but one likely location for the center is an unfinished portion of the new county Emergency Communications Center on South Sycamore Street. That section has about 2,400 square feet, Smith said, providing much-needed space for key players in an emergency.

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey expressed appreciation for Smith, deputy director Billy Harrell, Ken Rea and Lance Lowery with the First Tennessee Development District for their work in obtaining the grant.

Smith said it was the second time the county had applied for it. “Two years ago we were not approved because of the survey we used,” he said.

To ensure approval this time, he and Harrell, along with intern Mark Bagdoian of Mississippi State University, conducted a more detailed economic survey.

Coetzee said the city’s project is important because the old galvanized lines are needing to be replaced faster than his crews can get to them. He said the project of a contractor replacing lines on Sycamore, Bravo, Riverview, Glenview and Eisenhower streets will allow his city crews “to get ahead of the curve.”

Coetzee said the project includes 1,700 linear feet of 6-inch line and 2,745 linear feet of 2-inch lines, for a total of 4,445 linear feet. He said that even with that help, the city still has over 120 miles of galvanized lines that need to be replaced.

Both the city and the county projects will need additional funds. For the city’s grant, a matching fund of $86,465.12 is required. Coetzee said the construction work won’t take place this year. This year will be devoted to engineering the project and bidding it out. Construction should take place next year.

Smith said the total cost of the new emergency operations center will around $600,000 to $700,000.

Humphrey said the $315,000 grant was just one of three the county has recently received.

“My Office of Economic and Community Development was awarded a $23,600 grant from the state of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for asset-based planning to develop a branding marketing strategy for the county. Just a few weeks ago, my office was also awarded a $53,970 grant award from the sState of Tennessee Department of Tourism for wayfinding signage. These two grants will be used in conjunction so that the branding message is included on the signs throughout the county,” the mayor said.

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