Published 6:32 am Friday, June 20, 2003
There are far too many do-nothing politicians in this nation, but from time to time, someone somewhere in officialdom will see a problem, recognize it is not going away by itself and do something to solve the problem.
Fortunately, there are several politicians here in Atmore who have truly brought home the bacon.
Mayor Howard Shell and his staff, including building inspector Allan Nix, wrote a grant proposal to alleviate part of the drainage problems that plague the town.
Then they managed to get legislators, such as Sonny Callahan, Jo Bonner, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, on board with the proposal. They all helped in varying degrees, and some 18 months after the original grant was sent off to Washington, Atmore was notified that the money was coming home to roost.
Even more amazing is that now, in a day and age when the citizens have come to expect do-nothing officials, the city is going to ask its citizens where the problem is and how bad it is.
When that has been accomplished, the engineering will commence and the Pine Barren watershed will be assisted in handling the runoff that has been puddling in city streets and yards.
As Shell put it, this won't eliminate the problem, but it is a good start, and the city and its staff deserve a pat on the back for seeing not only a problem, but finding a solution.
Obtaining a grant is not a simple feat, either. In many instances, the process is long, involved and highly competitive. Every town everywhere across America has some kind of problem that it wants addressed. And to do so, those towns, like Atmore, need help.
Getting the help, though, is tough, because there are only so many dollars to go around. Many congressional offices have personnel whose sole job is to research what grants are available and tell towns and other municipalities how to apply.
A lot of those towns hire grant writers to get those dollars allocated to them rather than to other, equally deserving towns.
Atmore has used the services of grant writers from time to time, but in this instance was able to get the goods without outside assistance, furthering the cause without draining the coffers.
The weight of the project now rests on the shoulders of the people that have the drainage problems.
The call has gone out for those who need help getting the water off their properties to come to the public hearings to help determine the course of action. These meetings will decide what the next step in the solution will be.
There are bound to be those property owners and residents that will see the work being done and wonder why it is that their problems are not being addressed by that work. They should understand that in this situation, if the city does not know they have a drainage issue, it cannot be resolved. If property owners do not get what they do not ask for, they have no one to blame but themselves.
All in all, obtaining the grant was a job well done that deserves much praise. We needed the money to solve the problem, city hall found out where the money was to be had, asked for it and got it.
Now we can look forward to seeing crews in the streets, digging and placing pipes, clearing and filling holes and building new drains.
We only hope to see them soon.