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Wiregrass RC&D funds local projects

Wiregrass RC&D held a luncheon at Troy University Friday to highlight the local projects that the organization was able to grant in the past year.

The organization made $26,000 total in grant contributions during the past year, including $6,500 to the Pike Pioneer Museum, $3,500 to Project Learning Tree, $5,500 to Pike County Education Activities of the SWCD, $500 to the Warriors for Reading and $10,000 to renovations at the Tarentum Community Center.

“I remember one year we had to give your money to somebody else because we had no good projects, and that was sad,” Davis said. “And I made a promise, Mr. Homer (Wright), that that wouldn’t ever happen again; and it hasn’t.” (Wright is a Pike County Commissioner and is the Board Chair of the local Wiregrass RC&D board).

The Tarentum Community Center originally received $5,500 in grant funding and was the recipient of an extra $4,500 when another project that had been granted funding fell through.

“That was the only project we still had open and we knew they had spent more than we had given them, so we made sure that money didn’t go to waste – we’re going to put it into something,” Davis said.

The funds were put into renovating the building, which had not had anything done to it since 1972. The community of Tarentum met to elect new board members to look at ways to fund the renovation of the building, and Wiregrass RC&D came through to give them the money they needed. The money was used to put in tin walls and a new ceiling, fixing the air conditioning and adding appliances to the kitchen.

The community center is also a voting center as well as venue for other community events.

Program Manager Anna Cornelius said the organization wanted to hold the luncheon because of all of the good things that have happened in the past year.

“This year has been an important year for us, so that’s why we wanted to do something big and let you all know how much we appreciate all of you,” Cornelius said.

Barbara Tatom, director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, thanked Wiregrass RC&D for funding the museum.

“When we heard about what you had to offer, we started talking about how can we continue our mission of educating the youth in this county about their pioneer ancestors,” Tatom said. “When I was in third grade we had ‘Pike County History’ but unfortunately that’s no longer taught, so we provide an excellent space for teachers to bring their students to learn the history of the pioneers of Alabama and Pike County.”

Troy University’s Department of Education partnered with the organization to provide “Project Learning Tree” with a partnership through the Dorrill Farms. The program is a pre-K through eight grade environmental education curriculum. It also funded the Power Up with STEM program for local students and the Warriors for Reading initiative to put physical books in the hands of local students.

The organization also funded a shelter for the “soil tunnel” demonstration trailer of the Soil and Water Conservation District of Pike County to keep the equipment from facing wear and tear.

Davis thanked the legislature for providing funding to help make the organization’s work possible.

“RC&D would not exist and would not even be a glimmer in our eye if not for state legislature,” Davis said, specifically thanking Rep. Wes Allen, R–District 89. “We appreciate the Legisature in both the House and Senate; we’ve gotten a good bump in funding each of the last two years.”

Allen said he is grateful for the work of the Wiregrass RC&D in helping fund community projects.

“I just want to thank everyone at Wiregrass RC&D for all the work they do to make our communities better,” Allen said. “It takes people and it takes a vision to be able to accomplish that.”