Cawaco announces $20K grant funding impact in Jasper

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 9/29/17

Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc., of Central Alabama announced four grants in the City of Jasper Tuesday for Fiscal 2017 that helped with landscaping, the animal community, feeding the hungry and preparing students …

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Cawaco announces $20K grant funding impact in Jasper


Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc., of Central Alabama announced four grants in the City of Jasper Tuesday for Fiscal 2017 that helped with landscaping, the animal community, feeding the hungry and preparing students for successful careers after high school.

Drayton Cosby, a program developer with Cawaco RC&D, invited representatives to Bare Bones Cargo in downtown Jasper Tuesday morning to discuss completed projects as a result of grant funding that benefited City of Jasper’s Paw Park, Friends of Downtown Jasper, Hope House Church and the Walker County Center of Technology. Cawaco RC&D is a nonprofit organization that supports education and community projects in Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties, and has supported organizations in Walker County for many years.

Friends of Downtown Jasper was awarded a $5,000 grant to fund landscaping in downtown Jasper, in conjunction with the efforts of Jasper Main Street. Mike Putman, the executive director of Jasper Main Street, said the City of Jasper will plant the trees in-kind for the downtown district.

“At the end of next month, we start putting trees in at City Hall, and we go all the way to Elliott Boulevard. That’s 48 trees. I think that’s going to make a gigantic impact in this downtown area,” Putman said.

State Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, and Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, also attended the grant announcements Tuesday, and Rowe said she is proud to see her hometown flourishing since the inception of Jasper Main Street.

“As somebody who grew up in downtown Jasper, I can’t tell you what the last couple of years does for me to warm the cold cockles of my heart,” Rowe said. “The revitalization has just brought life back into these buildings and brought people back into what was a very dead state. I spent 22 years in the DA’s office at the courthouse, and can tell you that when 4:30 came, all the cars left and there was nobody or nothing in downtown Jasper. My husband still works downtown, and he’ll call me when he gets off work and there’s now nowhere to park, which is a fabulous problem to have.”

The Paw Park, located within Eagles Point Park in Jasper, also received a $5,000 grant from Cawaco.

Tana Collins said she wrote the grant for Cawaco to help fund a portion of the new off leash dog park in Jasper, and she said the large and small sides of the dog park have been well received and enjoyed by the community. “We worked in conjunction with Leadership Walker County, Alabama Power and Cawaco RC&D to get all the funds to develop that. Cawaco RC&D provided all the fencing for the project,” Collins said. “We get lots of feedback, especially from out of town visitors when they come in and find out that we have an off leash dog park.”

Anthony Myrick, the collision repair instructor for the Walker County Center of Technology, was very appreciative of a grant from Cawaco in the amount of $5,497.37. He said the funding helped WCCT purchase tools and equipment to build race cars for the annual Electrathon and to build a bus to enter a competition out of state.

“These students, these young men and women, we get them and they’re so full of apathy,” Myrick said. “To me, it’s not teaching them the skills as much as it is to give them something they can point at and go, ‘We did that.’”

He said having the proper tools to execute various projects ultimately helps build confidence in the students that attend WCCT. Myrick added the center of technology has over 600 students and 14 technical programs to help them achieve certification in a number of fields prior to graduation.

Hope House Church in Jasper talked about their efforts to feed the hungry in Jasper, and said Cawaco’s $5,000 helped to continue their mission. “The collaborations with First Baptist Church and Cawaco helped us purchase an ice machine last year, and we were able to feed over 5,000 hot meals last year,” said Thomas Martin, who is with Hope House Church.

Through a Hope House Church soup kitchen in West Jasper, they expect to have served 12,000 meals by the end of 2017.

Hope House Church’s Rhonda Martin said, “One of the areas that’s really lacking in Walker County are places for people to buy meals at night. We’re already offering a meal on Wednesday nights. The city is coming to our church to be fed — about 100 citizens that are walking across the streets of West Jasper to get a hot meal. Our hopes are to offer other nights where citizens and people that need a meal can get one other nights of the week, as we proceed.”

“There has never been a more organized or more well thought out plan to put food on the plates and in the mouths of hungry people,” Rowe said. “We don’t realize that sometimes in our community there are people that are hungry, who have no heat, no air conditioning, no medical attention, and I deeply admire and support what you are doing.”

Cosby added, “This is what we’re here to do. We’re here to try to bring those tax dollars back to the local citizens and help better their communities.”

Reed thanked everyone Tuesday for their commitment to Jasper and its citizens, and said he is proud to serve the area as senator.

“The biggest winners here are the citizens, the taxpayers that are putting up their hard earned dollars,” Reed said. “It goes through this process and comes back to their community so they have an opportunity for the less fortunate to be taken care of, opportunities for kids to be educated, for them to have fun with their pets and to be able to have the opportunity for what goes on in downtown to be an economic boost and scenario that makes us all proud.”