Macon County Chronicle

Additonal USDA Grant for Creek Clean-Up

Macon County Creek Clean UpMore grant money to clean storm debris out of Macon County’s creeks will be on its way from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), District Conservationist Phillip Dixon announced on Friday, April 4.

Bids for the additional money, which will be from $250,000 to $500,000, will be opened in Nashville on Tuesday. 

The original grant of $1.027 million was increased by $100,000 after the first bids were opened on March 14. Benetech, a small business of disabled veterans from Louisiana, put in the low bid of $1,127,000.

It was evident - even after the extra hundred thousand was obtained – that the first grant wasn’t going to be enough money to clean up those areas where there is a high potential for loss of life.  

“It’s just a much bigger job than anyone can imagine,” said Dixon.

Benetech, along with Dixon, the Soil Conservation District (SCD) board, County Mayor Shelvy Linville, and Road Supervisor Chop Porter re-surveyed the many sites that need to be cleaned up and settled on the worst eight areas: Pleasant Valley, Highway 141 below Gulf-Columbia, Coleman Lane, Cedar Bluffs, Cook’s Cemetery Road, Salt Lick Creek at Gass Hollow, Long Creek in Lafayette, and Deil Hollow behind the county Highway Department.

Those eight sites will take care of the $1,127,000 – but it won’t take care of the next four sites where there are bridges in imminent danger of being blown out.

The additional grant money will be used to clean up creeks along Cave Hollow Road, two more sites at Pleasant Valley and Long Creek, and Salt Lick Creek west of the Galen Road.

“There must be a potential for loss of life in order to get these USDA extingency grants at 100%,” said Dixon. “If a bridge blows out due to all this debris in the creeks, that’s a high potential.”

Still, the USDA grant money is not easy to get. Macon County is competing with every other county in the country that’s suffered floods and tornadoes, Dixon explained. The USDA doesn’t just offer grants to counties in need.

“We’ve had to really get out there and fight for it,” Dixon said. “It wasn’t easy.”

Dixon credits the hard, behind the scenes work of Shelvy Linville, the SCD board, and others for getting the much-needed USDA grant. Serving on the SCD board are Tim Eller, Ray Goad, Shannon Swindle, Spencer Shrum, and Connie Coley. Secretary Barbara Spivey, although she doesn’t officially serve on the board, has shuffled a mountain of paperwork to get the grants.

Even after the extingency grants have paid to clean up the worst areas, contractors have estimated that it will take another $700,000 to finish cleaning up Macon County creeks.