Kannapolis getting most federal stimulus locally so far
By Jessie Burchette
Kannapolis is way out front in the local race to get federal stimulus funding.
Rowan County and several of its municipalities are still waiting to see the first dollars. Some haven’t applied and may not.
Kannapolis has been approved for almost $1.3 million, including $1 million to build a pedestrian tunnel under Loop Road to connect the N.C. Research Campus with Village Park.
Kannapolis will also receive a $170,000 energy grant to use more solar energy, a $71,000 grant to buy digital radios to replace analog radios and $100,000 to improve low income housing.
Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said the city is in the running for a half dozen water and sewer projects. Depending on which are funded, the total could run from $200,000 to $2 million.
And like many other municipalities, Kannapolis is seeking a grants for police officers, though Legg said chances are slim the city will get that money.
“There’s about $1 billion available and $8 billion in requests,” he said.
Rowan County partnered with Salisbury in applying for funds to build the nearly $6 million Town Creek sewer line.
The project apparently didn’t meet federal criteria since Salisbury didn’t have a record of sewer spills and violations.
County Manager Gary Page is now working on an application for potentially millions of dollars to build towers and buy digital radios.
Officials have estimated it will cost the county between $8 million and $12 million to build new towers and buy new radios for law enforcement and volunteer fire departments across the county when governments must change from analog to digital systems.
The radios run $3,000 each for the plain version. The cost goes to $4,500 each for a rugged version that will withstand being dropped in water.
A new telecommunications advisory committee is working quickly to come up with a plan and solid figures on the costs.
Page is hopeful the county can get at least some help.
“Maybe we can knock $2 million off,” he said.
Even if some federal money does come in, county voters are likely to face a referendum in November for a quarter-cent local sales tax to pay for the radios and towers, as well as for additional jail space.
Across the county, other towns have applied for a share of stimulus money and others are still hoping to obtain some of the funding.Granite Quarry officials applied for $475,000 to build a culvert on Bank Street, but the application was denied.
Town Manager Dan Peters said the project didn’t meet the criteria for highway projects.
And Peters said odds aren’t good for the town’s application for funding to hire an eighth police officer.
Landis has submitted four applications for stimulus money.
The town sought $1.2 million for water distribution system improvements, including the replacement of old water lines. But the project wasn’t “shovel ready” and wasn’t funded in the first round of federal disbursements.
Other applications include: $872,500 to upgrade a booster pump station between Kannapolis and Landis: $2.7 million for additional water system upgrades; and $1.6 million for sewer line replacement and rehabilitation of existing sewer lines..
Mayor Dennis Brown said the the stimulus money could possibly replace U.S. Department of Agriculture loans the town is seeking for the sewer and water projects.
“We’ll have to weigh one against the other,” he said.
China Grove officials initially considered seeking money to renovate and revamp the North Main Street building housing the police and fire departments. But more recently, officials have opted to work on an application involving utility projects.
The county’s smaller towns don’t expect to see any federal stimulus dollars. At this point, some have no plans to file applications.
Spencer Town Manager Larry Smith said the town hasn’t applied for federal aid.
And East Spencer hasn’t seen any stimulus green.
“Basically, projects have to be setting on ‘Go’ to have a chance,” Faith Town Clerk Karen Fink said.
That means the town would have already hired engineers and have a project or projects ready to go.
Faith doesn’t have anything shovel ready, but town officials are looking at every possibility.
Fink said they have gone to several meetings and a seminar, but at this point the town isn’t eligible for anything.
Rockwell, hasn’t seen any stimulus dollars thus far, but officials there hope for a small chunk.
Rockwell has applied for $360,000 to repair streets and sidewalks and improve handicapped accessibility in the downtown.
Town Clerk Sue Morton said the application is one of dozens moving through the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization, a step in the funding process.
Cleveland hasn’t asked for any money and may not.
Kathy Payne, town clerk, said the board has not addressed applying for stimulus dollars.