City, Attitudes revitalized in Uniontown

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2004

All over Uniontown people can here the hammering and scraping of construction crews. In some places this would be considered a nuisance, but for Uniontown Mayor Phillip White and his residents it is a sweet sound.

That’s because the noise represents progress. Almost everywhere one goes in Uniontown improvements are taking place. This is especially evident in the downtown area. White and the city were recently able to gain a $174,000 city improvement grant from the Department of Transportation to fund new sidewalks for the city.

White said so far things are going well.

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“It’s coming along,” White said. It is all part of our downtown revitalization project. We are trying to put new sidewalks down and do some landscaping. We are trying to give downtown a different appearance.”

White said the efforts have been in place for several years to improve downtown.

“We have had an increase of about 19 percent in sales over the last three years,” White said. “Our merchants have taken a role in that. Chevron did a major renovation and Piggly Wiggly, our main grocery store in town, is also doing some work. We will all reap the benefits of the improvements of those facilities.”

White said people from all over come to Uniontown to shop and when all the improvements are done they will like what they see.

“Once the downtown work is completed it will be more attractive to more people,” White said. “We already see an influx of people from as far away as Alberta, Dayton and other places. Faundsdale has also considered us their second home.”

One area that has greatly improved the sidewalk situation has been the addition of handicapped ramps. Before, some customers were unable to get to certain stores. Little by little, the number is disappearing.

The financial situation for some workers will take a boost soon with construction set to expand Southeastern Cheese. The plant will be going to a full time operation and adding an estimated 30 jobs at the beginning of the year.

Pat Rankin, who owns the plant, said some major changes are on the way.

“We’re putting in some newer bigger equipment so we can increase production,” Rankin said. “We’ll be making about four times the cheese in a year we were and be running year round.”

Rankin said the plant will benefit, but most importantly, the workers will too.

“There will be more jobs and better jobs because they will be year round,” Rankin said.

Even on the outskirts of town exciting changes are coming. Almost 60 homes that had been living without sewage will soon lose that discomfort. White and the city worked closely with state officials and were successful in getting the funding to expand sewage service.

“Through a $350,000 grant from the state we are connecting a total of 57 homes to our sewage that did not have that before,” White said. “That is a blessing because with the grant, it is of no cost to us.”

White does not plan to stop there. Talks are in place to get another $75,000 grant to help with economic development for Uniontown. Most details for the grant are in place they simply need to go through the language.

White has been incredibly successful in getting grants for his town. He said it is all about staying close to officials and letting them know your needs.

“I think it is all because of relationships,” White said. “It takes time to build those relationships and you have to have them at all levels. You have to have them at the federal level and at the same time you have to have a good relationship with the county government.”

White’s desire to help Uniontown runs deep. He has deep roots in the Perry County town and wants to see all the best things in line for his people.

“I grew up here,” White said. ” I lived here all my life except for when I was off at school. This is home. You always want what’s best for home.