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Two Bootheel communities receive funding for projects

Monday, August 18, 2003

MARSTON - Two Bootheel community received funding for projects designed to improve life for their residents.

U.S. Rep. JoAnn Emerson and Missouri State Director for USDA Rural Development Gregory C. Branum announced a $429,700 USDA Rural Development Water Loan for the replacement of Marston's water treatment plant and a Community Facility Grant of $4,090 for the purchase of new playground equipment for the town's park.

The City of Morley received a $14,000 grant that will assist the city in paying for necessary preliminary and environmental reports in conjunction with the proposed water improvements.

Marston Mayor Becky Redden said the loan would be used along with a $650,000 bond issue approved by voters last April for a much-needed water plant. She said construction could start early next year.

Branum noted the water project is in partnership with a grant from the Department of Economic Development in the amount of $400,000. "The city has experienced severe water problems with their 35-year-old plant and this project will give them sufficient treated water and allow for growth for several years to come," he added.

Emerson described the project as essential to the residents by providing safe drinking water. Also she praised it as an example of various governments working together.

Speaking to citizens and local and county officials gathered for the presentation at the Marston City Hall, Emerson emphasized that such grants are "not pork barrel. How could anyone accuse a water treatment plant of being pork barrel? This is your tax dollars coming home."

The Morley funding is the first award in the nation of Rural Development's new grant program, called the "Predevelopment Planning Grants," Branum said. "I am pleased to be able to provide it to the City of Morley. And I am proud to stand beside Representative Emerson, the elected official who stepped forward, realizing the need for predevelopment assistance and included the necessary funding," Branum continued.

"I am very proud of Morley for being the first rural community in the nation to be funded from the new program," Emerson added.

The purpose of the new grant program is to help cities or communities pay for costs associated with developing an application for a water or waste disposal project that can be funded by Rural Development. Priority is given to rural areas with a population of less than 1,000; for communities without an adequate water or sewer system; for communities with a low median household income; for communities in targeted areas; and for communities seeking to enlarge, extend or merge smaller systems to become more efficient and serve additional rural residents.

"The city is very appreciative of the USDA funds to help with paying the costs to move forward on our application for assistance," said Morley's Mayor Hallie Granville. "The goal is to install a new treatment facility and an elevated storage tank to better serve the residents." The USDA grant will be used with $6,000 of city funds to meet the estimated preliminary costs.

"The new grant program is being piloted this year," Branum added, "but I am optimistic it will be funded in the future to help other communities."

For more information about USDA Rural Development programs, visit its Website at www.rurdev.usda.gov.mo/ or call Phyllis Minner, community development manager in Dexter at (573) 624-5939, ext. 4.