SIKESTON -- Grants recently approved by the state Department of Economic Development grants will mean improved water drainage for some Mississippi County residents and smoother roads for a Scott County town.
Last week Gov. Matt Blunt announced $2.1 million in Community Development Block Grants. Among local townships awarded were East Prairie, which was approved for $400,000 to use in phase two of its effort to improve the community's drainage system; and the city of Blodgett which was approved for $185,700 to make street improvements.
East Prairie's project includes replacing a 54-inch collapsing, decaying and rusting storm sewer pipe, said city administrator Lonnie Thurmond.
"When we get a couple inches of rain, it's terrible. There's nowhere to go, and when it does drain out, the water doesn't have far to go," Thurmond said.
The sewer impacted runs along Highway 105 under Taster's Restaurant and through the southeast portion of East Prairie.
"It affects the whole community. Most of the downtown businesses along Highway 105 and new subdivisions are affected. It's critical to the community," Thurmond said about the drainage system.
The CDBG will help fund phase two of the project, which is about to begin its first phase, Thurmond said. The city was recently awarded an emergency $500,000 to begin the process of making improvements to the drainage system, he said.
"Engineers are trying to finalize paperwork so we can go out for bids to begin phase one," Thurmond said. He said he hopes to get bids out by the end of August.
Phase one includes a 2,000-foot section while phase two includes 1,800 feet.
Because the project is so big, the city is working on the most critical part first, Thurmond said.
"It's not that phase one is needed more than phase two, but it's got more housing and business-related issues and a couple of streets," Thurmond said.
City officials have worked to improve the system over the past year, Thurmond said.
"We started having issues with big sink holes and streets falling in, and it's been a year since we've been trying to get funding agencies together and engineers," Thurmond said.
Besides receiving grants from other funding agencies, the city's residents are helping to pay for the project, too. In April, East Prairie voters passed a half-cent capital improvement sales tax, which will be used to fund the project, Thurmond said.
The entire project is estimated to cost $2.2 million with phase two planned to begin next year, Thurmond said.
Blodgett city officials have been working to get funds to improve their streets for about three or four months, said Richard Riley, assistant mayor of Blodgett.
"We've got some streets with potholes. We had about $12,000 or $15,000 in patching last year. We got everything up in pretty good shape, but this past winter hurt us," Riley said.
The grant will enable the city to repave every street in Blodgett with asphalt in addition to a few short gravel streets, Riley said. As soon as paperwork is finalized, bids will be let out for the work, he said.
Some of the grant's funds will be matched by the city, Riley noted.
"We'll just be glad to get them all fixed so we'll be smooth again," Riley said.