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TennTom Community Development meets in Forkland

FORKLAND — The Tennessee Tombigbee Community Development outreach held a meeting at the Forkland Town Hall on Thursday to hear from representatives of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the state weatherization program.

The topic of the evening was funding that is available for community development, and the estimated 175 people present took in the information and asked questions.

“I came here to tell them about the stimulus dollars: where they are coming from, the programs that are applicable to and how they are affecting them and their lives,” said Jessica Dent, a planning and economic development specialist with ADECA. “And, then, to give them a primer of what community development is and how — no matter what grant dollars come down — without their involvement, our grant dollars mean nothing to their community. They have to be participants, and they have to take ownership in their community.

“The reason we are out here tonight is to give some education and outreach about what we do have available. The funding streams do come with a lot of regulation and a lot of preparation time on the forefront, but we’re given very limited time, so a lot of planning before a grant is even announced is necessary.

“And, it’s beyond just showing the need,” she said. “It’s showing that, ‘If you give me this money, I’m not just going to do something with it; I’m going to make my community better, and we’re going to grow beyond these walls.’”

The TennTom Community Development outreach group meets on the second Thursday of each month in one of the counties that it services. It is a non-profit organization that works to develop communities in this region of Alabama and make people aware of what resources are available.

“We bring the agencies into the community to explain exactly how to get funds and how to get assistance,” said TTCD executive director Rugenia Gulley. “We encompass Greene, Sumter, Marengo, Hale and other surrounding counties.”

The next meeting of the TennTom Community Development group will be at Emelle Town Hall on Thursday, March 25, at 6 p.m.