RC&D Council funds local projects

Nine projects throughout Franklin County were able to be completed this year with funding from the Northwest Alabama RC&D in partnership with the Alabama legislature.

About $50,000 in funding was distributed throughout Franklin County to help with various projects related to education.

“Obviously this is really exciting in rural Alabama, all that is being done in education,” said Northwest Alabama RC&D representative Drake Cosby. “We are glad to see some positive things happening here in Franklin County, especially at this time.”

Vina High School received $9,200 to go toward upgrading the softball facilities. Head coach Jonathan Jones said the money went toward blocking in the visiting team dugout, changing the sideline fencing, tearing down the backstop and hanging backstop netting.

“We really appreciate you guys for helping us get started with this, and we look forward to working with you in the future,” Jones said.

Phil Campbell High School received $6,600.15 to renovate the baseball field. Head coach Jonathan Raper said the money went toward replacing the safety netting and working in the infield to repair holes.

“It was a big project, and it was all done locally, with people donating their time and effort,” Raper said. “We would like to thank you all very much for this because we could not have done it without you.”

PCHS also received $5,204 to go toward technology improvements in the science department. Principal Darit Riddle said the money purchased Chromebooks for student use. Phil Campbell Elementary School also received $6,600 to go toward purchasing Chromebooks for kindergarten and first grade.

“If there is a positive to COVID-19, it is that it showed us areas where we needed to improve,” Riddle said. “Trying to become one-to-one with technology has really helped us.”

Tharptown Elementary School received $3,300 for integrating technology into the classroom centers. TES Principal Karen Thorn said at least three Kindle tablets were purchased for each classroom for students to use in centers.

“I believe our kids are now better prepared for the next level and college and career readiness just through that additional help,” Thorn said.

Thorn said being able to offer technology centers for students is a big deal because of the limited amount of technology in the area.

“All of you are changing lives with the money you are giving to schools because you’re helping children,” Thorn said.

Russellville High School was also able to purchase Chromebooks for college readiness with $5,000. RHS Principal Jason Goodwin said this purchase will put RHS as close to one-to-one as it needs to be, with students who did not receive a school Chromebook already having their own personal one.

Goodwin said the purchase of Chromebooks could not have come at a better time, with COVID-19 forcing virtual education.

“Chromebooks for college and career readiness has turned into something so much more than what we originally thought it would be because who would have thought we would be in this situation?” Goodwin said. “I can promise you this equipment is out getting put to good use, and we thank you for that.”

The Liberty Learning Foundation received $4,104.18 to go toward the Hands on Liberty and Super Citizen Program. This money was used to allow the program to expand into all Franklin County Schools.

Franklin County Envirothon received $2,000, and the Franklin County Extension received $6,500 toward its agriscience program.

Extension Director Katernia Cole Coffey said the money will be used to provide virtual tours for students focusing on agriculture development.

RC&D executive director Lauranne James said the funding was divided among nine projects in Franklin County, with the remainder of funding being used to purchase $1,200 worth of sanitizing machines and solution for Franklin County Schools.

State Rep. Jamie Kiel said he was glad to see funding going to good use in education.

“I look at it as an investment,” Kiel said. “The more money we put into schools, and the closer to kids we get those dollars, the more we are going to see it pay off in the long run.”