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Federal funds foot bill for HU, police

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
The city of Hartselle received $570,000 in federal funding last week for improvements to the city's wastewater system and police technology.
U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., presented $500,000 to Hartselle Utilities and $70,000 to Hartselle Police Department at City Hall last Thursday, which he secured from the VA-HUD and CJS Appropriations Subcommittees.
"My position on the House Appropriations Committee puts me in a strong position to help Hartselle continue to be a great place to live, work and raise a family," Cramer said.
According to HU General Manager George Adair, the HU funds are already in place and are being used to reduce storm water inflow and infiltration into the city's sanitary sewer system, alleviating a manhole overflow problem.
HU has been working since 2001 to replace or rehabilitate 42 miles of aging sewer pipe beneath the city. The pipe was first installed in 1940 and has caused overflow problems in recent years. Adair said federal grants and low interest loans have helped to cover the $7.7 million cost of repairs.
'This funding is instrumental in correcting the problem," Adair said. "To date, HU has completed sewer rehab projects totaling $3,544,000 with $4 million in additional projects planned over the next two years."
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) requires HU to complete the work by March 2006 through a voluntary consent order.
Funding presented Thursday, which Adair said Cramer was instrumental in securing for Hartselle, will also help extend the life of the local wastewater treatment plant and reduce pollutants to the Flint Creek Watershed.
"This funding will make it possible for Hartselle Utilities to address significant sewer system problems," Cramer said. "These improvement are needed to ensure the continued growth and development of Hartselle because economic development depends heavily on the availability of a dependable sewer system and I am glad to help with this effort."
Adair said an additional $400,000 in funding is in the works to assist with the project.
Funding presented to HPD has been used to purchase five laptop computers for police vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support required technology, as well as the purchase of 15 800 mHZ radios.
Cramer secured the funds from the Community Orienting Policing Services (COPS) program, which he said realizes the importance of addressing current law enforcement issues and homeland security.
"The law enforcement technology and equipment upgrades help improve police effectiveness and the flow if information among police, local government and the citizens of Hartselle," Cramer said. "The request for this funding is easily justified because these technology improvements are huge locally and for the entire North Alabama area. Homeland security is improved and interoperability among agencies is dramatically increased."
HPD Chief Ron Merkh said the new equipment and technology is already in place.
"You just can't imagine what this means to the city," Merkh told Cramer. "It means safer officers and the ability to better serve our citizens."
Merkh said the radios afford the department more flexibility by allowing officers to talk to multiple law enforcement and dispatch agencies, talk on secure frequencies, and provides room for the system to expand its coverage area.
Officers are also receiving basic operating training on the laptops and working to improve wireless stability for ease of use in police cruisers.
Merkh said the computers will put important information at the fingertips of officers without leaving the scene of a call.

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