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(From left) Northwest RC&D Executive Director Lauranne Roberts, Northwest RC&D Vice Chairman Don Barnwell, Franklin County Commissioner Jason Miller, Rep. Proncey Robertson, PCHS Principal Darit Riddle, PCHS Coach Kevin Barnwell, Rep. Jamie Kiel, FC Extension Coordinator and RC&D member Katernia Cole Coffey, Commission Chairman and RC&D membe, Barry Moore and RC&D office manager Vanessa King attend the PCHS practice field upgrades project completion announcement Feb. 28.

RC&D Council, state legislature make way for PCHS practice field upgrades

Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Northwest RC&D Council, made possible through funding from the Alabama legislature, Phil Campbell High School has been able to complete upgrades to its practice field.

The funds were used for the installation of drainage, base and artificial turf. Members of RC&D, employees of the school and local officials attended the community development project completion announcement at the school Feb. 28.

Northwest Resource Conservation & Development is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports educational and community development projects in northwest Alabama, serving Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Marion and Winston counties.

Funds are supplied by the state legislature, and groups within the counties served apply for grants. RC&D selects recipients and distributes the funds.

Rep. Proncey Robertson explained schools and sports teams have budgets that would not be able to take on certain projects without additional funding.

“We’re proud to be able to support projects through the Northwest RC&D council so there can be focus on meeting needs beyond what is able to be covered by basic budgets alone,” Robertson said. “We’re proud to fill these holes when we can.”

Robertson said the legislature tries to provide more funding for RC&D each year so additional projects can be realized. “This is an example of local tax dollars coming back to meet local needs.”

For PCHS Coach Kevin Barnwell, the project completion is a matter of providing quality as well as enhanced safety for the students.

“The upgrades to our practice field provide our students with a safe place to practice,” explained Barnwell. “A field can become uneven and present safety issues, and our new setup is much better equipped to provide a safe place to practice. With these upgrades, the students can even practice safely in the rain.”

Rep. Jamie Kiel expressed his enthusiasm for the legislature allocating funds for rural projects, such as this one.

“Our coaches and players work hard and deserve adequate facilities,” he said, “and I’m pleased the Alabama legislature is able to help make this possible.”

Northwest RC&D Vice Chairman Don Barnwell said the Council is proud to be able to help with projects such as this.

“We’re able to make a big impact in the counties we serve through allocating these funds, and that’s something we’re pleased to be able to do.”

For Lauranne James, executive director of Northwest RC&D, the practice field upgrades are one important way to improve the student experience.

“We love being able to help bring to fruition projects to benefit our local schools and communities,” she said, “so necessary projects can receive the funding they should have.”

Katernia Cole Coffey, Franklin County Extension coordinator and member of Northwest RC&D, said it’s important to provide relief where possible.

“This upgraded practice field will help the athletes perform at a higher level while also being good for the budgets of the schools,” Coffey said. “I’m so pleased we could be part of this worthy project and help relieve the burden to the school in realizing these improvements.”

It’s a value Barry Moore, Franklin County Commission chairman and Northwest RC&D Council member, said is worthwhile.

“I appreciate our state legislature and RC&D office staff administering these grants,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefit it will provide to the school.”

PCHS principal, Darit Riddle, also expressed his gratitude for the grant and completion of the project.

“We’re thankful for the support shown to our local schools through providing the required funding for this project,” Riddle said. “It’s something we could not otherwise afford.”