A pair of county roads in Valley Head will soon get repaved thanks to a grant awarded to the DeKalb County Commission last week.
House Majority Leader Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and DeKalb County Commission Chairman Ricky Harcrow met with state officials and Gov. Kay Ivey on Jan. 24 in the Old House Chambers in Montgomery to accept a check for more than $256,000.
Harcrow said the funds would go toward repaving County Road 1000 and County Road 1001 in Valley Head — District 1 Commissioner Shane Wootten said it would also pave a portion of 608 that connects 1000 to Alabama 11.
“There’s about 578 people in that area that it would help, and the people right there would really appreciate and benefit from it,” Harcrow said. “It would have to just be used right there of course.”
Harcrow said the roads were in Wootten’s District.
Wootten said these particular roads were in desperate need of repair.
“They are in really bad shape and they have been in bad shape for a good while,” Wootten said. “We came to a point where we would have to reclaim them and turn them back into dirt roads or get some grants, which fortunately we were able to get this grant.”
Ledbetter said this money was made available through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
“[The counties] fill out those grants through ADECA, and we [the state] fund a portion of it to match it with federal money,” Ledbetter said. “They grade those particular grants and deem which ones are worthy and ADECA rewards based on that.”
Ledbetter said he and Livingston sent a letter to the governor in support of the commission.
He said similar projects were funded in Valley Head and Fort Payne the past two years, respectively.
Wootten said typically ADECA doesn’t award grants for road projects, but because of the population in the area and the average income of its residents, they were able to free up funds for the project.
Harcrow said he was thankful for the money that will go to fund these roads. He said those funds have been hard to come by lately.
“But, we happened to qualify for this particular project, and we’re thankful for it,” Harcrow said.
In recent years, the county’s yearly budget has decreased while the amount of money needed to improve or repave roads has increased.
Last September, Wootten said poor weather had put the county’s road department in a situation where they might not be able to pave many of the roads in need. At the time, he said he had about 16 roads in need of repair, and the funding for those projects was beyond the commission’s control.
He said this has been a problem ongoing for many years. He said it has “been years since the county has had enough money out of its tax revenue to take care of the roads.”
Wootten said many of these roads could have been paved as much as 20 years ago, and they typically need to be resurfaced every eight to 10 years. However, many of those roads were never resurfaced because of lack of funds. So, the projects have begun to pile up, and that’s why Wootten welcomes this grant money.
“There’s no way we would’ve been able to resurface these roads for what we got this grant for,” Wootten said, adding that it would’ve taken more than two years for his District to budget for repairs of that type and for that distance. “There’s a lot of families in that area, and this will really help out a lot of people.”
Harcrow said this project would allow them to pave between 4 and 5 miles of roads in the county. He said the project would be completed by the end of the paving season this summer. He said the grant was an 80/20 match, which means the county’s portion would be about $80,000.
“We could’ve never done this,” Harcrow said. “We didn’t have the tax revenue to do it or revenue from our gas tax, and we could’ve never hoped to do it without this grant.
“As quick as they give us the go-ahead, we’ll start the process of getting [the paving] done.”