State of Ahoskie

Published 5:14 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

AHOSKIE – Like most small towns across America, Ahoskie has to find balance between addressing its needs and paying the bills.

Ahoskie Interim Town Manager Jennifer Bracy talks about how grants dramatically help the town pay for much-needed projects. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

There will always be aging infrastructure to repair, as well as the need to purchase new police cars, fire trucks, computers, software, and a long list of other items it takes to serve the town’s citizens and businesses. But all of that takes money, and small towns have to survive on a limited budget that is fueled by its local taxpayers.

That’s why local government entities are always searching for grant funding. Without those grants, property taxes would dramatically increase in Ahoskie.

Fortunately, thanks to frugal spending practices by Ahoskie officials coupled with their success to receive grants, needed projects move forward without impacting the wallets of its citizens.

At a “State of Ahoskie” public meeting held Jan. 11 in the Town Council’s meeting room located in the Ahoskie Fire Department, Interim Town Manager Jennifer Bracy talked about recent grants received by the town.

The first one, and the biggest to date, is $4 million the town received in 2022 from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. That grant will be used to make water infrastructure repairs. Bracy said it is a multi-year project that included a needs assessment conducted by The Wooten Company.

Bracy asked for the public’s patience while this project moves into the actual work stage, especially with streets being dug up in places to get to the water lines.

“We’re holding off [repairing some streets] because if we are going to take up part of the street in this project, we would much rather save the money for street repairs/paving until after the water project is finalized,” she said.

Bracy added that all of the town’s departments seek out grants to make repairs or added new equipment.

For example, Bracy said the town’s fire department applied for and received a $35,000 grant from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

In January of 2023, Ahoskie Mayor Weyling White and Councilman David Hunt lobbied WalMart for a $2,500 grant to use at a Stop the Violence event.

One month later, the Town of Ahoskie was awarded the North Carolina Resilience Coastal Community Program grant (phase 1 and phase 2) to help local officials identify flooding problems.

“The hope is that we’ll be able to apply for phase 3 and phase 4 of the grant, which will fund the projects that we identified,” Bracy noted.

In October 2023, the Ahoskie Police Department was awarded a $29,400 grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission. That money was used to purchase equipment.

Ahoskie officials were notified in November of last year that funding for its Main Street program had been extended by the state.

“We have reopened our Façade Grant program with that funding extension,” Bracy said. “Applications for that grant are due by Feb. 8. We encourage business owners on Main Street to apply for a grant.”

Bracy added that in December of 2023, the town applied for the T-Mobile Hometown Grant for up to $50,000. If awarded, those funds will be used to make safety upgrades at Memorial Square on Main Park (formerly known as No Man’s Land Park).

“We listen to the needs of our citizens,” Bracy said. “We’re making improvements, but those processes take time and money. That’s why we’re always seeking grant funding to help offset the total cost.”

She added that the town is currently planning to apply for grants this year for the town’s Parks and Recreation Department and for economic development.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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