City of Cullman awarded $1 million in ARC grants

Dec. 5—The Appalachian Regional Commission has been awarded the city of Cullman a pair of grants totaling $1 million.

The first $500,000 ARC grant will provide funding for the restructuring of a section of County Road 222 which will enable it to withstand the heavy loads delivered to and from the North Alabama Fabricating Co. and Topre.

NAFCO recently announced its third expansion, which is expected to create 50 new job opportunities, since locating in Cullman.

"North Alabama Fabricating Co. has proven to be a great neighbor in Cullman County by providing jobs and producing to quality, custom-engineered steel structures that are sold worldwide," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a press release. "I am delighted to see this road project come to fruition to bolster both local jobs and the area economy."

The project was previously awarded a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant as well as the city of Cullman providing $300,000 in matched funds.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers both the ARC and CDBG programs in the state.

"I commend local leaders in the city of Cullman for combining ARC and CDBG funds to get maximum mileage from these grant programs," ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said in the press release.

On Monday, Dec. 4, Mayor Woody Jacobs said the project has effectively been completed apart from adding gravel to sections of the road's shoulder, which is expected to be done this week.

U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt — who serves on the House Appropriations Committee — also announced on Thursday, Nov. 30, the city would receive a second $500,000 ARC grant to fund the second phase of the Depot Park expansion project. The city is required to provide $500,000 in matching funds.

"We are excited to share we've received an ARC grant to fund a significant expansion of Depot Park, which in recent years has turned into a major contributor to downtown Cullman's economy. This expansion, located in the mitigated brownfield next to the police station and existing Depot Park, will transform the previously dormant area into a dynamic community asset," Jacobs said in a statement sent to The Times.

Renderings for the upcoming expansion are not yet available, however, Cullman Parks and Recreation and Sports Tourism director Nathan Anderson described it as a "natural grassy lawn area" when the city applied for the grant in June. At the time, Anderson said the area's existing berm would be elevated to provide more sound dampening from passing trains and the new area is planned to incorporate a number of playground features.

"These type projects directly impact economic development, which leads to more jobs and a higher quality of life for people in Cullman County," Rep. Aderholt said in his press release. "I have always been a big supporter of ARC in Congress and the funding we appropriate for them, and I fully support this project."

Patrick Camp can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238