HEFLIN — Thursday was a day of celebration across Cleburne County as the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council recognized completed grant projects for fiscal year 2020.
RC&D awarded a total of $76,303.24 in 2020 to fund nine projects across the county.
The day started off at Heflin City Hall where about a dozen people gathered to hear about the city’s completed projects.
RC&D’s executive director, Heidi Richards, said Coosa Valley’s is the largest of nine councils in the state and serves 11 counties.
Richards told the crowd which included State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, and State Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, something about RC&D.
“Our particular mission is dedicated to protecting, enhancing and developing natural and human resources,” Richards said, adding that funding for the grants comes from the state legislature.
“Accolades and kudos to our representatives, Ginny Shaver and Randy Price. Without them we don’t have a program,” said Richards.
Tammy Perry, Heflin’s economic developer, was appreciative of the grant the city received to purchase laptops for the after-school program and the one Heflin Main Street received to purchase self-watering planters for Ross Street.
“Thank you for the funds, you always do a great job of spreading the love and spreading the funds out where they need to be,” said Perry. “I think the city of Heflin has always gotten a great project and we see every year there’s something that you guys have helped with and we appreciate that so much.”
Jennifer Swafford, Cleburne County Middle School guidance counselor and coordinator of the City of Heflin after-school program, said the laptops have provided connectivity and accessibility for students that would not otherwise be possible.
“They have access to information instantly, it also helps facilitate groups, we know that we are in a world of virtual learning and our kids can Zoom with their classes when school is not in session, they can also Zoom with different kids,” said Swafford.
Shaver said there is always a competition for funds at budget time.
“I’m so glad that these projects have been able to be continually funded ... you can see how much they add to the quality of life to our residents,” said Shaver.
The next stop for the celebratory grant tour was Cleburne County Middle School, where the extra cash helped remodel a storage room into a life skills room for the multi-needs students.
The room was decked out in new appliances including a dishwasher, oven, stove, washer and dryer and other major household appliances.
School Principal Todd Chandler said the room took four years to complete and will serve not only multi-needs kids but also standard, general education kids.
Amy Dewberry, a physical education teacher for multi-need kids and other kids, said she was very appreciative of the funding to complete the life skills room.
“We’re not a big county, we don’t have the extra money, anything that we have extra around here comes from nickel and diming every resource that we have,” said Dewberry.
The multi-needs kids presented everyone in attendance with decorative magnets they had made.
Price said he will take his magnet — which was inscribed with ‘Be Kind’ — to Montgomery and put it on display in his office.
“I’m proud of each and every one of you and you’ve got a beautiful facility here to work in, enjoy every minute of it,” said Price.
Other grants in the county went to help purchase the following:
— Body cameras for the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office.
— Electronic modernization for the Turkey Heaven Volunteer Fire Department.
— Ranburne FFA show barn improvements.
— Eleven automatic external defibrillators for 11 of 12 volunteer fire departments in the county.
— New turnout gear for the Borden Springs volunteer fire department.
— A building for the Abernathy Fire Department which also serves as a storm shelter for residents.