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CHILDERSBURG -- Multiple municipalities in The Daily Home’s coverage area will directly benefit from $18.7 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funds awarded by Gov. Kay Ivey on Nov. 20.

Childersburg, Sylacauga, Pell City and Steele were among the municipalities receiving funds.

The competitive grants are awarded annually in several categories, including county, large city, small city and community enhancement. 

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) administers the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The funds will allow 58 Alabama communities to provide water, improve roads and sewage systems, construct public community buildings and remove blight. 

“Community Development Block Grants are vital to Alabama communities wanting to raise living standards and improve living conditions for their residents,” Ivey said. “I am pleased to award these grants and I commend all those local leaders who, by seeking these grants, show they have their communities at heart.”

Childersburg was awarded $450,000 to rehabilitate its sewer collection system and replace a sewer lift station in the area near the Limbaugh Community Center.

“The funds will be used to replace a system installed in the late 1930s,” Childersburg Mayor Ken Wesson said. “A larger pipe and new pumping station will be installed.

According to Wesson, the project will affect more than 200 residents who live off U.S. Highway 78, in close proximity to the city's community center.

“We are very thankful to receive the grant so that we can help these folks have a better quality of life,” Wesson said. “It’s something that has had continuous maintenance issues.”

Wesson added the city’s water board will contribute $47,250 matching funds for the project.

Sylacauga was awarded $250,000 from ADECA to demolish multiple dilapidated structures throughout the city.

“We are so thankful to receive this grant from ADECA,” Sylacauga Mayor Jim Heigel said. “The city applied for the grant a year ago. It’s something I have wanted accomplished for the community since running for mayor.”

According to Heigl, all of the structures are homes that are no longer deemed liveable. 

“It is our goal to make Sylacauga a more attractive and inviting place to live,” the mayor said.

Heigl added the city will match 20 percent of grant funds for the demolition. 

Meanwhile, in St. Clair County, Pell City received $450,000 to improve the efficiency of the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant.

The funding will go to improve the influent screening system at the WWTP by allowing the construction of a secondary influent screen.

The influent screening system is the first phase of wastewater treatment, removing plastics, rags and other debris that cannot otherwise be processed. The screening protects downstream treatment equipment, enhances the overall treatment process and improves the quality of the effluent discharged to Logan Martin Lake.

Due to funding limitations when it was built in 1983, only one screen was installed, and that was last replaced in 2003. 

“A redundant screen has actually been needed since 1983,” City Manager Brian Muenger said. “The lack of a secondary screen represents a major liability at the plant since the flow cannot be treated when the existing screen is offline due to maintenance or mechanical failure.”

The average daily flow to the WWTP is 1.8 million gallons per day.

“This has been a priority for the city for many years and was proposed as part of 2014 WWTP upgrades,” Muenger said. “Ultimately, the improvement did not occur at that time due to cost constraints. Through the success of this CDBG application, the city will now be able to move forward with this enhancement.”

Steele Mayor Roger Adams was equally excited about the impact the funding will have on the overall appearance of his town. Steele was awarded $189,977 in grant funds. 

The 15 buildings to be razed and removed are all privately owned structures that, almost across-the-board, pose significant health and safety hazards. 

“Most of them are unsafe structures,” Adams said. “If someone goes into them for any reason, they could risk serious injury, particularly if the structure were to collapse on them. These are also places that are infested with rodents and pose a serious health hazard. This will help us get rid of those safety concerns and health concerns as well.”

Another major benefit for the property owners is that the structures, many of which are overgrown with weeds and have broken windows and collapsed roofs, will be removed at no cost to the owners.

“They were very excited to hear that,” Adams said. “I’m actually thinking that once these structures are gone, some of the owners may do something with the properties that could benefit our town as a whole. This will be a big improvement to our town, and we hope it will lead to bigger and better things overall.”

Reach staff writer Laci Braswell at RollTideLace@gmail.com.

-- Daily Home staff writer Jimmy Creed contributed to this story.

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