Grant Programs Bringing Resources to the City of Smithville
The City of Smithville’s Grants Program seeks to stretch your tax dollars even further by finding external funding to pay for equipment, services and programs that help City departments better serve the community. Since 2009, the City of Smithville has been awarded over $6 million dollars in grant funding for projects such as:
- Road/Sidewalk Projects: Safe Routes to School provided funds for sidewalks and programs related to keeping youth safe and healthy, encouraging them to walk to school and use the sidewalks built on SW 4th Avenue and Washington, and from Bluebonnet Circle to McSweeney (awarded in 2010; construction completed in 2013; “Walk to School Wednesday” programming continues monthly throughout the school year). As part of this program, the Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Plan was developed with intensive community involvement and participation. Funds have also been awarded for the SH95 Study that will provide a middle turn lane and sidewalks from the Senior High School to Loop 230 (awarded in 2014; funds have been secured for construction of this project, slated to begin in 2018).
- Other Infrastructure Projects: Community Development Block Grant funds have been used to improve the municipal well at the Dorothy Nichols’ Plant (coordinated through Langford Community Management Services); Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) funding has been used for a windmill at the Willows Wastewater Treatment Plant and for solar panels on the roof of City Hall; at the Recycling Center (which was initially constructed through grant funds about 20 years ago), funds from the Capital Area Council of Government’s Solid Waste Program have paid for a roof and cement pad at the plastic station to help keep citizens and workers out of the sun and rain, and for a scale so that public works crews can get an accurate weight on recycled materials. This program also has paid for a “Recycling in the Schools” program, the 2013 Household Hazardous Waste event and an informational campaign (including PSAs created by SISD students and the Keep Bastrop County Beautiful Guide), and a new regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility located in Smithville.
- Economic Development Projects: A $1 million grant awarded from the Economic Development Agency (part of the US Department of Commerce) is providing water and wastewater infrastructure to the Industrial Park Triangle at SH 95 and Hwy 71 across from the Crawford Municipal Airport with expectations that businesses will be attracted to this location due to its proximity to great transportation options. The Texas Commission on the Arts designated Smithville as a Cultural District in 2013. Since then, the Smithville Cultural District has received grant funds to pay for signage, website development, and programming.
- Smithville Police Department: Various grants have been awarded to the Smithville Police Department for equipment like computers, body-worn cameras and digital hand-held cameras, LIDAR (laser RADAR) units and RADAR trailer, bullet proof vests, and a K9 Unit. In 2015, the Smithville Police Department was awarded the COPS Grant, which pays for part of the salary of an additional officer over a four-year grant period, to ensure that an officer is dedicated to work within the community to find ways of solving problems together. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Community Development Partnership Program grant also paid to put AEDs and first aid stations in all city buildings, as well as police cars and public works and PARD trucks.
- Smithville Volunteer Fire Department: Grants have funded equipment and programming for the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department including an all-terrain vehicle (shared with the Police Department), hoses, training, gear, and a brush truck. FEMA grants have reimbursed the SVFD for most of its losses from recent disasters. The Independent Insurer’s Association of Texas (IIAT) paid to replace hoses damaged by the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire and for smoke detectors and one-shot fire extinguishers for residents and business owners who attended prevention and preparedness workshops in 2015 and 2016.
- Smithville Public Library: Funding for the Smithville Public Library has been steady and constant over the past several years from Bastrop County, the Union Pacific Foundation, the Tocker Foundation, and the American Library Association for library programming including the Summer Reading Program and Little Bookworms / Bookworms in the Park programming. Additionally, the Library often works in collaboration with the Smithville Independent School District to bring opportunities to students that would not normally exist. In particular, Bridging Cultures and Loleta D. Fyan grants have brought scholars to the high school to give students a taste of what college is like, and the “StoryCorps @ your library” equipment has been used for interviews with local visual artists, performers, and writers to help build knowledge and empathy about the use of the Humanities in their personal futures. Grants have supported literacy programs. English as a Second Language, Spanish as a Second Language programming, and a wide variety of training programs. Grant funding has also paid for shelving, computers and other needed equipment. And grant funding has paid for Butterfly Gardens for Little Bookworms. Dollar General, the Native Plant Society of Texas, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many others have supported Library programming and projects.
- Parks and Recreation Department: Grant funds from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Community Development Partnership Program and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative have supported the Skate Park, Riverbend Park, and the Veterans Memorial Park. FEMA GLO funds have been designated to upgrade the bathrooms and to add capacity to the Recreation Center to help it serve its function as an Emergency Evacuation Shelter. Union Pacific Foundation grants have paid for improvements at the Railroad Park including replacing the landing material under the playscape with ADA approved material and for surveillance at the historic railroad cars.
- Community Development: The HOME grant has been used to date to tear down and rebuild 15 homes in Smithville for lower-income families who needed a lot of help to make sure their living conditions are up to code and beautiful (this program is coordinated through Langford Community Management Services). In 2010, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) awarded a grant that began the Smithville Green EXPO, which has been sustained through sponsorships ever since. The EXPO began through the Summit Smithville public involvement process and has been used to bring in speakers and exhibitors who can discuss renewable energy, water issues, recycling and zero waste programming and so on for our rural context, and created “Working Papers” on the potential for training programs and future projects that could further the City’s efforts in sustainability. The Texas Commission on the Arts designated Smithville one of a handful of “Cultural Districts” in 2013, and has since funded a variety of grant requests to help improve and market the Richard D. Latham Cultural District and provide funds for a variety of programs.
Grant Awards for FY 2015-16
October, 2015: The Texas Forest Service awarded the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department with $15,000 to purchase 20 CBA tanks.
December, 2015: In conjunction with the curb ramps along Loop 230 that the Texas Department of Transportation built in Smithville in 2015, TXDOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds have been secured to improve the sidewalks between them to reconstruct them in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The cost of construction for this project will cost nearly $500,000 and the City will need to provide a cash match of about $57,000, primarily for engineering and administration.
February, 2016: The Union Pacific Foundation awarded $5,000 to the Smithville Public Library for literacy and summer programming, and $10,000 for improvements at the Railroad Park including upgrading the public bathrooms and repairing sidewalks.
March, 2016: Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) awarded a grant to support a “Banner Project” in conjunction with the Enrichment Days program. This grant represents a strong partnership between the City of Smithville, the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce (Keep Smithville Beautiful Committee), Smithville Education Foundation, the Lost Pines Artisans’ Alliance, and Playhouse Smithville. Students at Mary A. Brown Primary, Kindergarten, First, and Second grades who participated in Enrichment Days chose the best paintings from each class, posted those paintings in the hallways, and voted for 11 finalists. Banners created from those 11 paintings will be featured along Main Street. The unveiling of the banners is scheduled for August 13, 2016.
March, 2016: The Smithville Public Library received the Rural Gateways Award from the National Science Foundation and Califa Adult STEM Programming. This prescribed adult programming will combine scholars and literature to bring an appreciation of science in our everyday lives.
April, 2015: The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) awarded over $40,000 to Bastrop County for a permanent Household Hazardous Waste Facility to be located in the County Yard on MLK Drive in Smithville. The City of Smithville was the lead in writing the application, which was developed through a partnership with Bastrop County, Lee County, Keep Bastrop County Beautiful, and the City of Smithville. This facility will be open quarterly to collect Household Hazardous Waste from Bastrop and Lee County residents. The City of Smithville will assist in managing the grant requirements throughout the life of the grant. Bastrop County will manage the program for the foreseeable future and ensure that staff members of all partners are adequately trained.
April, 2016: Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative awarded $20,000 to the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department for desperately needed hand-held radios.
May, 2016: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) awarded a grant of nearly $30,000 to purchase kayaks and related equipment (including life jackets and paddles), two trailers designed and built to store and haul the kayaks, disposable cameras, geocaching devices, laminated wildlife brochures, and fishing equipment, for programs through the Recreation Center and the Public Library. Programming included a five-week summer program for youth ages 6-14 created in conjunction with the School District’s Summer Nutrition Program and the Public Library’s Summer Reading Club; two outdoor service projects designed to help pick up trash on land and in the water along the shorelines in Buescher State Park; four outdoor activities for Encompass Program participants to provide opportunities for mentally challenged youths and adults to enjoy nature through photography, fishing, birding, geocaching, and swimming; and other programming through the Public Library, such as a Birding and Geocaching. Partnerships with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Lost Pines Master Naturalists, Bastrop County Audubon Society, Bastrop YMCA, LCRA/McKinney Roughs, the School District’s Nutrition Program, the Smithville Boys and Girls Club, the local Scouts, and a number of businesses were integral in the successful application and program coordination.
Various Dates: Smithville’s local Born Again Emporium (BAE) has been extremely generous in awarding needed funds to the Smithville Police Association to help pay for equipment that was not with the Smithville Police Department (SPD) budget. Specifically:
- The Department of Justice has provided about half the needed funds for bullet proof vests through its national Bullet Proof Vest program for SPD officers over the past decade; in the last two years, BAE has paid for the balance of that match: $1,200 in 2015 and $1,563 in 2016.
- In 2016, BAE provided the required match for a grant from Office of the Governor, which in early 2016 awarded the SPD with about one-third of the needed funds for body-worn cameras through a special grant award program. BAE provided the balance of $4,847.
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