County officials spent last week’s visit to Washington D.C. “shoring up” the project’s federal money and Monday looking after additional FEMA money, said Steve Swafford, county administrator. Money for the roughly $3.5 million project is coming from several different sources, including the state and federal government.
The lion’s share – about $2.2 million – comes from the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, Swafford said.
JSU is contributing about $1 million, said Pete Conroy, director of the school’s Environmental Policy and Information Center. Included in that contribution is all of the $800,000 the university received six years ago in a federal transportation appropriation.
The county is pitching in a small amount.
After a week double-checking all the funding, the county is looking for potential trouble from any of the camps, Swafford said. It was “an implementing nightmare” to work through different agencies’ administrative hurdles, he said.
But in 10 to 14 days the county expects to sign a contractor and get the building process underway, Swafford said. Construction on the building is scheduled to last a year.
“We’re here at the edge and I think we’re looking good and positive,” said Ryan Robertson, Cleburne County probate judge and commission chairman.
The facility will likely be called the Talladega Resource Center after the nearby national forest, Robertson said. It’ll be on 22 acres of nature preserve land donated to the county by Forte Power Systems.
The JSU wing of the facility will be a field center akin to the Little River Canyon Center, which JSU operates with the National Park Service, Conroy said.
The JSU wing will likely be called the Talladega Mountain Natural Resource Center, and will focus on ecotourism and the area’s natural resources, but nothing’s definite, Conroy said. County officials suggested the facility might hold classes for the university’s Institute of Emergency Preparedness doctoral program. Conroy didn’t know of any plans but said it’s entirely possible.
If the facility’s funding is secure and construction goes without a hitch, it’ll complete Conroy’s long-held concept of linking Alabama’s “deepest canyon to the highest mountain.”
Contact staff writer Jason Bacaj at 256-235-3546