Christmas might be five months away, but it came early to Winchester, Decherd, Franklin County and Tims Ford State Park Monday when Gov. Bill Haslam announced that they are getting nearly a combined $500,000 in Tennessee grant money.
The funds are being appropriated through the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and the money will go toward revitalizing Winchester’s downtown area, lighting Decherd’s Babe Ruth Field, providing a Farmer’s Market pavilion, and improving Tims Ford’s walking trails and shoreline areas.
Haslam made the announcement Monday in a press conference at Winchester City Hall that the county has received grant money.
“Today Franklin County will receive four different grants,” Haslam said, adding that they will all go toward very worthwhile purposes.
A $372,299 transportation alternative grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to the city of Winchester will fund phase five of a downtown revitalization project, including improvements to North Jefferson Street.
Motorists and pedestrians use the route to access the downtown district from the north side of Winchester.
Sidewalks will be reconstructed and crosswalks will be added along with new signs and landscaping. “We want Tennessee to continue to be the very best place to live, work and raise a family,” Haslam said. “Projects like these are key to making that a reality.
“Making downtown areas more inviting and easily reached and providing opportunities to experience environment and enjoy outdoor activities enhances the lives of Tennesseans and helps us attract more visitors to our state.”
The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program, formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT.
A variety of actions, such as restoring historic facilities, bike and pedestrian’s trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant finances under the federal program.
“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, and increase opportunities for economic development.”
An $80,000 Local Park and Recreation Fund grant from TDEC will help the city of Decherd replace the lights at its Babe Ruth field.
The LPRF is a 23-year-old state program that provides local governments with resources to support development and improvements to local parks, greenways, trails and recreational facilities.
Haslam also announced, among the four grants given, $42,160 is awarded Franklin County in an equal match toward a new farmers market.
“I’m happy to announce this grant to help Franklin County construct a farmers market pavilion to better serve the area’s needs,” Haslam said. “The grant is part of our efforts to increase economic activity in our rural communities by responding to the growth and demand for Tennessee’s fresh and local farm products.”
Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program Farmers Market Capital Development Grant Program is to increase income to Tennessee farmers by providing assistance for the Franklin County/University of Tennessee Extension office.
“Its great to add on to our communities; these kinds of grants help everyone involved,” Haslam said.
A $42,000 Recreation Trails Program grant for Tims Ford State Park from the Department of Environment and Conservation will help support renovations to the popular Water Trail campsites, develop new backcountry campsites and rehabilitate miles of trail along the shorelines of the park.
RTP is a federally funded program that distributes funds for the maintenance, construction, development and rehabilitation of trails.
Funds are awarded through a competitive process to eligible state, federal, and local government agencies, as well as private organizations.
Grant recipients were selected through competitive scoring with careful consideration given to the projects that met the selection criteria and expressed the greatest local recreation need
“From land acquisitions for new municipal parks to renovating and improving existing facilities, these grants help expand recreational opportunities for Tennessee citizens,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said.
Haslam ended the press conference saying, “We are excited to work with each of these grantees and to see the future of these projects for this community.”