published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Federal money sought for Walker Valley High School

Walker Valley High School is located at 750 Lauderdale Memorial Hwy. in Cleveland, Tenn.
Walker Valley High School is located at 750 Lauderdale Memorial Hwy. in Cleveland, Tenn.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Board of Education voted Tuesday to forward a $1.2 million grant request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an eight-classroom addition to Walker Valley High School.

The total project cost, according to architects, is just under $3 million.

But the $1.7 million left in estimated cost may be lower when actual bids are received.

The request will be forwarded through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to FEMA’s Atlanta office. The board will know if it will receive the grant in four to six months.

Board Chairman Charlie Rose said all three local schools projects, including a new Blue Springs Elementary and a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School, were approved by TEMA.

But the state’s FEMA money for hazard mitigation grants is tapped out for now, the architect said.

The Walker Valley project would have the highest percentage of cost covered by the FEMA grant money now available, he said.

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“We were notified that all requests were good. That all were qualified,” Rose said. “But because of funding, we would only get one grant.”

So the board’s task Tuesday was to decide which project would be covered the most by the current grant money available.

“The Hazard Mitigation Grants Program is tapped out,” said architect David Brown of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris. “They won’t get anymore money until a presidentially declared natural disaster in Tennessee.”

How much money will be available for that future round of grants depends on the size of the disaster, Brown said.

The $1.7 million is well within the $2 million the board asked the County Commission for Walker Valley, schools Director Johnny McDaniel said.

“I would like for this board to have a plan B,” member Vicki Beaty said, in case FEMA does not make the grant.

“August is big, folks,” Rose said. In August voters will be asked to decide on a wheel tax that would fund some education debt.

Meanwhile, the architects continue drawing the plans for a Blue Springs school to replace the one lost in the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.

The plan is nearly finished for a Lake Forest academic building, as well.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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