Alabama and Lawrence County leaders celebrated the completion of seven county-wide projects through grant opportunities through the Alabama Mountains, Rivers & Valleys RC&D Council that brought $27,950 to the area in 2020.
State funds distributed through the RC&D council benefited seven communities in Lawrence County, which included projects through the Lawrence County Extension Office for Lawrence County schools and the county’s 4-H program, Mt. Hope Volunteer Fire Department, Moulton Lions Club, the Town of Courtland, Hatton High School, North Courtland, and the Renewed Man Outreach organization in Hillsboro.
“This is a true teamwork effort by all our partners to be able to get funds back into the community,” said Drayton Cosby, an RC&D representative. “We can’t thank our state legislatures and representatives enough for the work they do in securing funds for our local communities.”
He said the organization has grown in the last 20 years and serves eight counties in North Alabama, including Lawrence, Cullman, Dekalb, Jackson, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan counties.
Of the $27,950 state funds distributed to Lawrence County this year, Cosby said the county’s most recent project saw safety and rescue equipment purchased for Mt. Hope Volunteer Fire Department.
“Mt. Hope is a small community. Our ability to generate funds is very limited, so grants like these are so important to us,” Fire Chief Spillers said.
Spillers said his department used $3,000 RC&D grant funds to purchase safety vests for first responders and thermal imaging cameras, which his department will use to locate victims in a burning building or locate missing hikers in the Bankhead National Forest and to identify hot spots in putting out fires.
“Projects like these for volunteer fire departments in rural areas are so important in every community,” State Representative Proncey Robertson said. “The work that these guys are doing at RC&D is tremendous.”
Senator Gudger, who was also present for a check presentation in Lawrence County on Tuesday, said the legislature relies on organizations like RC&D to help distribute state funding appropriately in each Alabama community.
“We can’t help you without RC&D being there to filter funds through projects that make sense for the community,” he said. “We’re here to work for you, and we need to hear from these leaders on the ground working in these small towns to know where these funds are needed most.”
RC&D Executive Director Renona Seibert said grant applications usually open each spring and funds are distributed to each qualifying project as funds are awarded.
“Funds for this year’s projects were approved in late July, and we work from October to August seeing these projects completed,” she said. “We’re so excited to see almost $28,000 come back into the community this year, though we’ve seen challenges because of COVID-19. We’ve had to cancel some projects, we’ve pushed or changed course, but we’re thankful for the support from our board.”
Through funds disbursed by RC&D, the Moulton Lions Club was able to construct a pavilion at its facility in Moulton to benefit the community by providing additional venue space near the fairgrounds. The Lions Club was awarded $5,000 through RC&D in 2020.
Lawrence County’s Extension Office also used $2,200 in RC&D funding for a Raptor Trek program for Lawrence County 5th and 6th graders, 4-H Coordinator Marsha Terry said.
Scottie Bolden, who will take office as the mayor of Hillsboro in November, said his community also benefited from a $2,0000 grant which was used to help struggling families with food assistance through the Renewed Man Outreach.
Other projects included $5,000 awarded to Courtland for window replacements at town facilities, $4,500 for storage installation at Hatton High School, and $5,250 in beautification projects in North Courtland.