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Stimulus will fund Florala sidewalk project

It will not cost Florala one dime to pave the second phase of the city’s sidewalk projects.

Mayor Robert Williamson announced Tuesday the city was awarded 100 percent funding for the Alabama Department of Transportation project.

Williamson said officials explained there were two “pools” of money from which the grant funds would be drawn — stimulus money and standard grant money from ALDOT.

“And what you were awarded was based on how close to the front of the line you were,” he said. “I’m pleased to say we were right up there at the front, which means the city was saved roughly $71,000 because of the stimulus award. We can’t say how much we appreciate that.”

The first phase of the project, which was on Fifth Avenue beginning at Stateline Mini-Mall and continuing to Simply Chic, was completed earlier this year. Funding for the project was originally awarded to the city in 2004 by the Alabama Department of Transportation Enhancement and required a 20 percent match from the city.

Phase II of will continue with the rebuilding of sidewalks through the next block east, Williamson said.

Most of the city’s council meeting was spent discussing ways to improve the city’s roadways and infrastructure, as well as police and fire departments.

Williamson said the city will attempt to secure grant money and/or FEMA funds to repair portions of Lakeshore Boulevard and Caton Road — two areas of major concern for residents — and a portion of Sixth Street from Wall Avenue to Wildflower Street.

FEMA is expected to make its decision sometime late this week, he said.

“I’ve also asked Lynn Rawls from the county engineer’s office to come and give us an estimate on redoing that portion of Sixth Street as well as Congressman Bobby Bright’s office about paving the unpaved section of Martin Luther King and Juniper Street,” he said.

After the council approved a resolution to seek grant funds to repave a section of Fifth Avenue “where 55 Y’s off to the substation,” Councilman Marvin Williford, who serves as chairman of the city’s utilities board, announced the plans are under way to “hopefully” move water and sewer lines from underground Fifth Avenue.

“Then we can work on getting that paved, too,” he said. “We’ve got an engineer working on a plan right now.”

Williamson said ALDOT officials have agreed to help secure funding for the main street project once the utility lines are moved.

“We just ask that residents be patient,” he said. “We’re trying.”

In other business, the council:

recognized volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel.

voted to seek quotes on a new fire truck.

awarded a lease contract for four new police cars to Alan Ford Government Sales.

approved participation in the national flood insurance plan, per FEMA’s request.

adopted a building permit fee ordinance.

hired a new city attorney, Wesley Laird.

announced a $1,000 settlement in a lawsuit by former police officer Kirk Dusek, who was injured in a car accident while on duty.

agreed to postpone hiring a new code enforcement officer until January, unless budget figures allow for a hire in October.