USDA representatives attended a groundbreaking event on Southside recently, but it had nothing to do with putting crops in the ground.
Groundbreaking was for the new Southside fire station, which is being built with a $4.1 million investment from the USDA’s Rural Development Program, according to State Superintendent Nivory Gordon, which will “significantly enhance the city’s emergency services capacity.”
The new station is being constructed on Alabama Highway 77 south of Southside Water Works, and across the road from New Seasons Church.
“Wherever you are in Alabama, when you call 911, you have an expectation that someone is going to answer that call,” Gordon said. “With this investment here today, we are empowering rural first responders, giving them the facilities they need to help save the lives of rural people in Etowah County.”
Southside Mayor Dana Snyder said the new fire station is essential to continued growth in the city. Fire Chief Wade Buckner said his plans for staffing the new station should improve response time to emergency medical and fire calls. The station will have capacity for four fire trucks in bays, as well as quarters that will allow it to be staffed constantly with a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters to help save lives and minimize damage to property.
Buckner commended Southside volunteer firefighters for their service to their community, even when it required them to leave their homes at night more than once to answer calls. “You’ll never know who gets paid,” he said.
City leaders applauded Buckner’s efforts to find funding sources for the new station. The November 16 event drew Southside officials, firefighters, members of the local legislative delegation, county leaders, mayors, and firefighters from nearby cities.
The United States Department of Agriculture is financing this project through a loan of $4,166,000 in the framework of Direct loans and grants program for community facilities An investment that will benefit 8,412 residents of rural Etowah County, Alabama.
The Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grants Program provides affordable financing for the development of basic community facilities in rural areas, according to a USDA press release. A community-based primary facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to a community for the orderly development of a community in a primarily rural area and does not include private, business, or commercial enterprise.
The Rural Development Program provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; Business Development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and access to high-speed Internet in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas.
A few days after work began on Southside, the USDA announced the award of $700,000 in cooperative agreements to three organizations, part of Challenge innovation in the rural placement industry, in Alabama. Place making is a collaborative planning and technical assistance process that helps leaders from rural communities create good places where people want to live, work, visit and learn, according to a press release.
- In Walker County, the Greater Birmingham Regional Planning Commission will use a $250,000 cooperative agreement to coordinate outdoor recreation planning to develop an ecotourism target industry in the City of Dora, the Township of Parish and the Town of Novo. The committee will develop strategic economic development plans for each target community and will serve each community through a detailed survey to evaluate ways and means of developing an outdoor leisure economy.
- In Dallas, Lowndes, and Perry counties, the Preservation Fund will use a $202,396 collaborative agreement to convene a coalition of diverse partners and stakeholders to protect the multiple imperiled civil rights and black history sites and find ways to maximize those assets to support greater social and cultural vitality for these rural communities.
- In Dallas County, Rural Innovation Strategies will use part of a $202,396 collaborative agreement to partner with local leaders in Selma to lay the foundation for equitable, sustainable, and thriving ecosystems for living and direct work that can support tech entrepreneurship within the city. The organization will also use this investment to perform similar work under this cooperative agreement in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Rutland, Vermont.
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