NACOLG pursues Russellville grant

At the City of Russellville’s Sept. 19 meeting, the Rev. Charles Dale brought an interesting proposal to the council: to apply for historic preservation grant funding through the National Park Service.

“The mayor suggested that we (NACOLG) take a look at it and see what it was dealing with,” said NACOLG community development specialist Heath King. Since that time, King and Dale have met to discuss the grants and also made several site visits to potential qualifying locations in Russellville.

King said Councilman David Palmer had mentioned getting some paving done around city cemeteries.

“That was one thing that was mutually agreed upon between Rev. Dale and the council,” King said. He added he has also talked with Chris Ozbirn at the Franklin County Archives. “She really thought some fencing would be great for two of the cemeteries in town,” – Sadler Cemetery, off Jackson Avenue, and Old Town Cemetery, off Washington Avenue, King said.

According to grant information from the National Park Service, the FY2016 African American Civil Rights Grant Program “is to document, interpret and preserve the sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens in the 20th century. Grants will fund a broad range of planning, development and research projects for historic sites, including survey, inventory, documentation, interpretation, education, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning and bricks and mortar repair.”

King said NACOLG and the city are still in the information-gathering stages to ensure Russellville sites in the grant will qualify: pinpointing their historical significance and including all relevant background information.

“As it stands right now, the three things we’re looking at are: to do some paving at KP and Luketown cemeteries, to do some protective fencing around Sadler and Old Town cemeteries and some electrical work they have needed done at Reedtown school,” King said.

One of the biggest challenges, King said, is the short timeline – the grant is due next week. Additionally, this type of grant is not one the city has applied for in the past.

“This is the first one of these for us, so we’re trying to make sure we understand,” King said. “(We want to) write the best grant we can to address those needs.”

Dale told the city he had been told if the city would apply, it was guaranteed to receive funding.

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