OAKMAN — The town of Oakman now has a total of $550,000 in grant funding to make much-needed repairs to their sewer system, as $200,000 in assistance was announced this week by local …
OAKMAN — The town of Oakman now has a total of $550,000 in grant funding to make much-needed repairs to their sewer system, as $200,000 in assistance was announced this week by local legislators.
Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, issued a press release Thursday on the funds, which will be used to make repairs to the town's sewer lines and eliminate infiltration and inflow problems that could potentially cause sewer-related health hazards.
For years, the town has had to replace failing parts of their sewer lagoon, but residents will soon have completely upgraded, safe equipment.
"I applaud Mayor Cory Franks for working hard to put his town in a position to qualify for these grants,” Reed said in the press release. “I’m not sure there is anything more important than having safe bridges, roads and drinking water. It has been a privilege to work with Rep. Tim Wadsworth to make Oakman’s needs known in Montgomery, and I appreciate Gov. Kay Ivey’s responsiveness in making this a priority for her office.”
In December 2017, Oakman received a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make repairs to their sewer system. This week, the town received $200,OOO from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) that will also help with necessary rehabilitation of the sewer. The ARC grant is a federal and state partnership that helps communities in 13 Appalachian states.
According to the press release, the $550,000 will be used to dredge and remove sludge accumulation in lagoon cells, replace cell aerators, modify an existing lift station, replace 870 linear feet of sewer main, replace four manholes and two creek crossings, raise one manhole and construct one highway bore.
“This is huge news for our town," Franks said. "It has been years since Oakman has been able to do a large-scale renovation of the sewer system, and especially the lagoons need extensive repair work. I appreciate Sen. Reed and Rep. Wadsworth working with us to secure these grants.”
Oakman Town Clerk Lisa Lockhart, who has written grants for many years, wrote both the CDBG and ARC grants for the town and has helped to secure thousands of dollars in funding.
“Mayor Franks and Lisa Lockhart were instrumental in getting this grant money to Oakman, and I’m glad Sen. Reed and I were able to help them secure these grants for their town,” Wadsworth, R-Arley, said in the press release. “I appreciate Governor Ivey’s commitment to the rural areas of Alabama. Rebuilding rural infrastructure is very important, and all parties involved have worked hard to help Oakman find the resources necessary to rebuild its water infrastructure system.”
Ivey said in a statement, "My administration is committed to ensuring economic growth for all of Alabama, especially our rural areas. I am glad that we could allocate this money to fund much-needed infrastructure repairs in Oakman, and I commend Sen. Reed and Rep. Wadsworth for working with my office and Mayor Franks to get this project off the ground.”
The new sewer grants will benefit Oakman's roughly 1,100 residents, according to new census estimates.
According to Franks, there will be two different timeframes for completion of the sewer work. All bids for the project will need to be submitted in August, and work will begin in mid- to late-September.
In addition to the CDBG and ARC grants, Oakman has received a number of grants since Franks took office in 2016, including an Good Roots Grant for $1,000 from The Alabama Power Foundation to plant trees; a $2,500 grant from Cawaco RC&D for police equipment; an Alabama Bicentennial Grant for $2,500 for the town's Day's Gap Fest; and a Walker Area Community Foundation grant for $5,320 that helped remodel the town's senior center.
Other grants and programs are in the works to help revitalize the town and improve safety. The town has also recently been chosen for the Corner Market program offered through the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. The Corner Market will visit Oakman every fourth Wednesday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to sell a variety of fruit, vegetables and other food at wholesale prices.