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Flood grants OK'd by council

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Grant money was flowing at Monday's city council meeting.
Mayor Rodney Owens announced receipt of two Alabama Emergency Management Agency grants stemming from flooding associated with Hurricane Georges in 1998.
The Owens Street grant is expected to alleviate flooding in the Owens Street area, from the Winn Dixie shopping center to Presley Street and down Owens.
Councilman Jerry Gehman asked if the drainage project will remedy flooding, but Mayor Owens said there are "no guarantees on acts of God."
The project total is about $1.3 million, with 75 percent, or $979,500, coming from federal funds. The remaining 25 percent, $326,500, is the city's match.
Gehman asked if the money will come out of the city's reserve funds. Owens replied that it will.
The vote was unanimous to enter into the grant agreement.
The other grant concerns the buyout of a house located in a flood-prone area. The residence, belonging to the Montel family, is at 200 Briar Lake Drive in Atmore.
The grant total is $88,340, with the federal share at $66,255, and the match at $22,085, which will be absorbed by the Montels.
The house will be demolished and the land dedicated to open space.
In other business:
* Gehman asked the council to spend $5,000 for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
The Utilities Board had already approved $5,000 for this year's celebration, with an annual commitment of $5,000.
Harris asked if the money was coming from Gehman's discretionary fund. Each councilman is allotted a $5,000 fund each year to use on projects.
Gehman replied that the money would come from the council's discretionary fund within the general fund.
Owens called for a motion to approve the expenditure.
At that point, Garrard questioned the total cost, which Gehman said exceeds $20,000. The $5,000 from the city would put the total at more than $21,000.
The motion made by Harris to approve the city's expenditure died for lack of a second.
Gehman immediately asked that the money come from his $5,000 discretionary fund. He had previously said he planned to give his discretionary fund to the city's recreation department.
The motion passed unanimously.
* McKinley asked to designate his $5,000 discretionary fund to the Babe Ruth softball league. Gehman asked if any of the funds would be used on the new bathroom under construction or at the league's discretion. McKinley said it would be at the league's discretion. The motion passed unanimously.
n voted to make Montgomery Street a one-way street during certain hours during the school year. The street goes out of the Escambia County High School parking lot to McRae Street.
Street Department Manager Don Whatley will order signs.
This was the fourth time the street had been discussed at the council table.
* approved a request from David McCants for designation of May 13 as National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive Day.