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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam stopped in Oliver Springs Tuesday afternoon bearing gifts — including two grants for improvements to the small city’s water system and two parks.
“We’re here actually presenting a total of $960,000 in funds to different entities throughout Anderson County. We are proud to do that,” Haslam said.
Oliver Springs, which straddles Roane, Anderson and Morgan counties, received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for its water system.
The grant requires a match by the city of $37,700 in local funds.
“CDBG grants are focused on our smaller communities — cities of 50,000 or less — for basic infrastructure grants,” Haslam said. “These aren’t for any kind of exotic projects or kind of great ideas that may or may not have pay off. These are for the real nuts and bolts of what cities and counties do,” Haslam said.
Oliver Springs Mayor Chris Hepler said his city would likely use the funds for much-needed improvements at the water plant, including a control panel that needs to be upgraded.
The city also received a Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant of $100,000 for the development of Carmichael Park on Fritts Street in Anderson County, and Arrowhead Park, which is in Roane County.
Carmichael Park development is something community members in that part of Oliver Springs have long been pushing for.
“They have been after this since Mayor (Ed) Kelley (designated it as a park),” Hepler said.
Hepler said there has been talk of a putting a pavilion and possibly some cooking grills at the facility, as well as improving the access road that sometimes washes out.
He said he is sure he’ll hear from residents about what needs to be done.
“That part of the community is real helpful, real active and they are real vocal,” Hepler said.
At Arrowhead Park, which sits near Oliver Springs High School in Roane County, the list of desired improvements include more covered areas for picnics, playground upgrades and bathroom upgrades.
There is also talk of improving park access.
“We’re going to try and get our best bang for our buck on this,” Hepler added.
He expressed gratitude for the grants.
“These grants are real, these funds are real and the projects that these will go toward are going to make real and lasting improvements in our community for a long time to come,” said Hepler during the presentation.
The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by Department of Economic and Community Development.
Both grant programs are federal programs.