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November 17, 2010

Janna Gurtler Harris
Progress Writer
Montgomery Advertiser
Article Source »

Elmore County can look forward to improvements in the upcoming months due to receiving more than $2.7 million in grants to help stimulate growth in the River Region.

State Rep. Barry Mask said the grants are mainly for water and sewer infrastructure improvements that are critically needed.

"Sewer and water are keys to developing business, industry, and housing," said Mask.

He added that while handling projects involving sewer and water restructuring may not be an attractive business, it is necessary for more growth to occur in Elmore County.

According to Mask, Elmore County has been the River Region's fastest-growing county and market for the past 20 years. The grants are the product of long-running efforts to get Elmore County recognized throughout the state.

"It's the culmination of a lot of hard work. It's also the recognition that we have justifiable needs here. Finally, we are getting on the radar -- for so long, and still to an extent, Elmore County has been a stepchild," said Mask.

Elmore County has been mostly rural until the last 10 years, so it will require much more work to get to where Mask hopes for it to be.

"But this is a good start," he said.

To receive these much-needed grants, Mask worked with the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Council (CARPDC) to complete the application process.

"As state representative, I met with the governor's office to make our case for each one. There were a few we didn't get due to some technicalities, but we will reapply for those in 2011," said Mask.

Many of the $2.7 million in grants will be doled out to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs' (ADECA) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

The grants also include $500,000 each to Millbrook and Tallassee for sewer infrastructure, and $400,000 to Elmore County for water rehabilitation and water infrastructure.

Tallassee also received a $50,000 planning grant for downtown revitalization that Mask and his team worked hard on.

In addition to the planning grant, Tallassee received a $1.4 million grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation for industrial access roads. That city was also awarded a $250,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Homeland Security for emergency generators.

"Our residents and I appreciate Gov. Riley's support of these much-needed grants for Elmore County," said Mask. "We also appreciate the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC) for preparing these grant requests for Tallassee."

Elmore County hopes to begin work with help from the grants in January 2011.