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Grants to Erwin, Jonesborough to pay for ambulances, facade improvements

Sue Guinn Legg and Jessica Fuller • Jan 31, 2018 at 11:19 AM

Jonesborough and Erwin are among the recipients of nearly than $25.5 million in Community Development Block Grant awards announced by Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe on Tuesday.

Awarded to 66 communities statewide, the grants will provide assistance with infrastructure improvements, health and safety initiatives and façade improvements in downtown commercial districts.

In Erwin, the grants include $315,000 to help establish a municipal ambulance service and $100,000 for a exterior improvements to downtown buildings.

The ambulance service grant requires $145,000 in match funding from the town for a total project investment of $460,000.

According to Mayor Doris Hensley, the funds are designated for the purchase of three ambulances.

Hensley initiated the municipal ambulance service project last year, citing the lack of timely service from the private emergency medical response company MedicOne contracted by Unicoi County. Town officials will conduct a public work session on the ambulance service project Thursday from 3-6 p.m.

The $100,000 CDBG grant for Erwin’s downtown facade improvement program requires $33,333 in matching funds from the town for a total project award of $133,000.

The town conducted an informational meeting to share project details and requirements with downtown merchants earlier this month. The deadline to apply for the funding is 4 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Jonesborough received $100,000 for facade improvement, which mayor Kelly Wolfe said will go to restoring the Jackson Theatre.

The town will match $33,333 for the grant and will fund a marquis and signage for the forthcoming theatre. Wolfe said to expect facade improvements to be completed within the next two years.

“We continue to put together pieces of this puzzle and this funding is very important for the most prominent outside feature,” Wolfe said. “We received help from many different sources and we remain convinced that once this project is complete it will be game changing for the town of Jonesborough.”

Funded by the federal office Housing and Urban Development and administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development, CDBG allocations are based on priorities determined at the local community level.

Rolfe said, “With the assistance of the CDBG funds, each grantee is taking the initiative to enhance their community, which will in turn create more economic development opportunities for the members of those communities.

Haslam said, “By investing in themselves, these communities are taking steps to create better a working and living environment for their citizens, and helping Tennessee lead in economic development, putting us one step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

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