Commissioners access REAP funds for road projects

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James Beaty Managing Editor, McAlester News-Capital, Okla.
·3 min read
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Mar. 29—Pittsburg County commissioners are accessing state Rural Economic Action Plan funds to help accelerate road repaving projects in two districts.

Commissioners approved a subcontract between Pittsburg County, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma totaling $145,437.85 for the Anderson Road Project in District 2.

Through a separate program, commissioners approved another subcontract between the three totaling $160,000 for the Tannehill project in District 3.

District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith said the $145,437.85 in REAP funds will be of great assistance in his Anderson Road resurfacing project.

"It will be a combination of overlay and chip and seal," he said. Smith said the REAP funding will cover approximately two miles of the project, but he plans to continue farther by paying for additional work through his county District 2 funds.

"I'm going to do about four miles," he said of the total area covered. REAP funds will pay about one-third of the cost.

"It'll end up close to $300,000," he said of the total cost in materials for the project, not counting labor and use of equipment. He plans for the resurfacing to start on Frink Road and when it's completed, plans call for it to cover the entirety of Anderson Road.

"We're going to start today, tearing up and widening," Smith said. It will likely be the dry part of the summer when it's completed, he said.

Selman said he will use the $160,000 in REAP funding to complete the Tannehill Road Project which has been ongoing for several years. He said former commissioner Donald Mathis started the project, then he moved it forward after he got in office through the help of the Choctaw Nation.

Once he gets the funding, he plans to continue the project, Selman said. In the meantime, he said he's trying to keep the uncompleted portion patched.

When the project is finished, it will be "a good, strong road all the way to Scipio," Selman said.

Smith said he was able to obtain the entire $145,437.85 in REAP funding for the District 2 project because the commissioners agreed among themselves to change the way REAP funds are divided.

"On REAP, we used to split it three ways," Smith said. That meant the three county commissioners evenly divided the REAP funding every year. With funding as low as $90,000 in some recent years, that usually resulted in none of the commissioners getting enough REAP funds at one time after the three-way division to help with a major project.

That's why they decided to let one commissioner have the entirety of the REAP funding for a given year.

"I take it one year and we rotate it," Smith said, meaning a different commissioner will get the entirety of the REAP funding next year, with a different commissioner to receive it the following year.

Then how were the commissioners able to approve $160,000 in REAP funding for Selman's Tannehill Road Project in District 3 at the same time as approving the $145,437.85 in REAP funding for Smith's Anderson Road Project?

"The other side is a matching CDBG grant," Smith said, referring to a state Community Development Block Grant, which he said is in a different program than the usual REAP grant.

Pittsburg County Clerk Hope Trammell also said the attachment to the CDBG funding is why Selman was also able to access REAP funds.

"Very rarely do we get a Community Development Block Grant," Trammell said, adding that the grants are usually rotated between different counties.

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