City won't receive funds
Officials optimistic about Washington trip, however
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A delegation of elected Hartselle officials and community leaders returned home with a good feeling about the reception they received at the nation's capital last week, but empty handed as far as federal matching grants are concerned.
The delegation was composed of Mayor Dwight Tankersley and his wife, Jenny, council president Kenny Thompson, council members Bill Smelser, Samie Wiley and Mark Mizell, District 2 commissioner Richard Lyons, Hartselle development board chairman Bob Francis, Susan Hines, president of Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce, and Ferrell Vest, interim manager of Hartselle Utilities. They had scheduled visits with Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, and U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, on Feb. 7, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, and U.S. Representative Bud Cramer, D-Alabama, on the following day.
"I think the trip went well," Tankersley said. "We had a good visit with each member of our congressional delegation and their office staffs. They were very receptive and asked a lot of questions about the agenda we presented, but no promises or commitments were made. We were especially pleased that we were able to meet with Congressman Cramer and members of his staff for an hour and 25 minutes.
Kenny Thompson, council president. agreed. "I thought it was the best of the trips I've made to Washington. They (congressional representatives) actually sat down with us and listened to what we had to say. I was thrilled with the amount of time they spent with us."
"They showed a lot of interest in the proposed flood mitigation project on Highway 31."
Tankersley said. Shelby, a member of the Transportation Appropriations Committee, was lobbied for help on the second phase of the proposed north downtown bypass.
"He listened with interest but told us that he may be moved from the highway committee in the near future," he added.
Bad news was awaiting the delegation when it arrived back in town, however.
The city has been turned down on a grant that would have been used to improve downtown.
"I had a letter from the Department of Transportation to inform us that our application for a $450,000 downtown streetscape improvement grant would not be funded," Tankersley said. "That hurt because we had hoped to get the money to renovate the sidewalk canopies and make other needed improvements in the central business district."
He said the proposed project will be added to the 2005 legislative agenda in the hope that it can be funded from some other source.
"We're not giving up on trying to find funding to do that project," he added.