By Tina Alvey
A substantial grant to pay for sidewalk construction in Ronceverte was among nearly $1.7 million in grants awarded to nine Greenbrier County projects Monday.
City grant coordinator Doug Hylton, who serves in a similar capacity for several municipalities in Greenbrier County, as well as for the county itself, revealed the grant awards during Monday evening’s Ronceverte City Council meeting.
“Everybody’s happy today,” a beaming Hylton proclaimed.
In an earlier ceremony at the Cultural Center in Charleston, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced the recipients of this year’s Transportation Enhancement, Recreation Trails and Safe Routes to School grants. In all, some $9 million in grant money went to 65 projects statewide.
Projects in Greenbrier County received around 18 percent of that total, Hylton noted in remarks made Monday evening.
Transportation Enhancement grants went to Lewisburg, Ronceverte, Rainelle, Alderson and the Greenbrier County Commission.
Lewisburg received $300,000 for Phase III of the U.S. 219 sidewalk construction project, which is designed to provide a safe, ADA compliant sidewalk for pedestrians from the center of town to the Gateway Commons/Wal-Mart intersection to the north.
Ronceverte also received money for sidewalks — $158,400 for the replacement of sidewalks from Chestnut to Spruce Street along Main Street (U.S. 219).
Rainelle’s grant award of $240,000 will fund Phase I of a project that will replace sidewalks along Main Street/Kanawha Boulevard from First Street to Seventh Street.
Alderson’s $360,000 grant will permit the town to continue work on the Alderson Bridge to repair the underside of that historic span.
Partnering with the Fayette County Commission, the Greenbrier County Commission received a $250,000 grant to be used toward the construction of the Meadow River Rail Trail, a 16.7-mile disused rail line purchased by the two commissions in 2011.
The Greenbrier and Fayette commissions also were awarded a joint $80,000 Recreation Trail grant for the Meadow River Rail Trail. That money, in conjunction with the Transportation Enhancement grant awarded Monday and previous grants, will be used to pay for improvements such as surfacing, drainage and repair and safety upgrades to two trestles along the rail trail.
Lewisburg also received a Recreation Trail grant — $48,000 for the extension of the Lewisburg and Ronceverte (L&R) Rail Trail from Holt Lane to the Greenbrier Valley Mall in Fairlea.
Safe Routes to School grants were awarded to Alderson and Rainelle.
Alderson’s $110,000 grant will be used to support the town’s established Safe Routes to School program by paying for the construction of sidewalks, curbs and crossings.
Rainelle received its first grant for the school program — $130,000, which will be used to replace sidewalks in front of the new Rainelle Elementary School, to construct new sidewalk systems along Sumac Lane (which borders the new school) and to replace the school crossing in front of the new school on U.S. Route 60/Kanawha Boulevard.
According to a press release issued in conjunction with the grant awards, former Greenbrier County Commission President Betty Crookshanks said, “We are delighted and grateful for the support from Gov. Tomblin and all his office is doing to improve Greenbrier County. I also want to thank Doug Hylton, who prepared the majority of these grants for our communities as well as the county commissions. His extraordinary work has brought in over $10 million to Greenbrier County over the past decade, and we are lucky to have him serving our county.”
Crookshanks noted that, in order to obtain grant money, communities have to invest a percentage of the cost of the projects being funded, demonstrating local support.
In addition to various local officials, those attending Monday’s grant ceremony in Charleston included 10th District Sens. Bill Laird, D-Fayette, and Ron Miller, D-Greenbrier, and Fayette County Delegate John Pino, all of whom assisted in sponsoring the communities’ grant requests.
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