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Mountain City awarded $1.5 million grant

Assistant Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Dana Gartzke (left), Director of Community Planning, Housing, and Development Bill Forrester (center), and Executive Director of Opportunity Zones Scott Turner (right) pause for a photo at the ceremony in Baxter, TN. Forrester represented the Town of Mountain City. Photo submitted by Bill Forrester.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Mountain City received a $1.5 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant as part of the United States Department of Commerce’s $4.4 million investment in local Tennessee business and job growth. City officials already have a project planned for these funds.City Recorder Sheila Shaw applied for a large grant near the end of 2019. Fast forward to the Tuesday, August 4 City Council meeting, Shaw announced “the largest grant the town has received at one time.”

“The Town of Mountain City, Tennessee, will receive $1.5 million to diversify the region’s economy by upgrading water lines and wastewater collection system infrastructure to attract new businesses and support the ongoing operations and future expansion of a flooring manufacturing firm and other firms in the area,” said U.S. Department of Commerce representative John Atwood.

The project involves three seemingly disconnected components recommended by an engineer: replacing the Rambow Springs Filter Plant’s steel backwash tank with a concrete tank, moving approximately 1,400 feet of water lines, and rehabilitating approximately 10,000 feet of sewer lines. According to Shaw, the city devoted these funds to repairing violations at the wastewater plant because of a state-issued director’s order. The total project cost is $1,877,000, which leaves $375,600 (approximately 20 percent) for the town to cover.

“I am thrilled that Mountain City is receiving this grant to invest in their water systems, which will ensure they have the necessary infrastructure to attract and retain good employers and, more importantly, good jobs,” said Congressman Phil Roe. “I applaud the First Tennessee Development District for their work, and I thank Secretary Ross and the EDA.”

The official announcement took place on Monday, August 10 in Baxter, TN. Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons did not attend.First Tennessee Development District Director of Community Planning, Housing, and Development
Bill Forrester attended the ceremony to represent the area in his stead. Shaw reported that White House representatives were also in attendance.

When asked for a comment, City Mayor Kevin Parsons told The Tomahawk to talk to Shaw.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Shaw responded. “It’s the largest grant the town has received at one time. It’s a big deal.”

The Mountain City Council meets the first Tuesday of every month at City Hall, located at 210 South Church Street, at 6:30 p.m. To offset risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings are currently through ZOOM. Recordings are available a few days after the meeting on the city website, mountaincitytn.org.