Friday, July 23, 2010

City Officials Visit Washington D.C. to promote City Initiatives

On July 13, 2010, Councilman Howard Jones, Mayor Rebecca Ault and City Manager Grant Kleinhenz left for a two day trip to Washington D.C. to stress the importance of our City’s initiatives. This is the third year City officials have made the trip to D.C. to speak with our legislators and discuss the needs of our citizens. City officials met with Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Roland Burris and Congressman John Shimkus to discuss projects such as the replacement of the current water treatment plant, the dredging of Raccoon Lake, South Hickory Street realignment and extension of Calumet to Brookside Avenue, the extension of Pleasant Avenue north past the hospital to connect with Gragg Street and the US 51 at-grade crossing relocation/realignment project. The identification of these projects was a result of the City’s comprehensive planning process conducted in 2007 with citizens, local stakeholders and City Council members.
City officials held special meetings with the US representatives on Thursday July 14 and later attended an Illinois Constituent Breakfast July 15 before catching a plane returning home. “This is a brief trip but is invaluable when it comes to maintaining relationships with our legislators and keeping them informed of our City’s needs”, said City manager Grant Kleinhenz of the trip.
Currently, Senator Durbin is working to get Raccoon Lake authorized in the Water Resource Development Act which would make the City eligible to receive federal funding for the preservation and development of the lake. The City requested funding in the amount of $7,000,000 with a local commitment of $1,400,000 from the Lake Restoration Fund. The City is also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to use Raccoon Lake as a test dredging site.
City officials also received guidance on different avenues to explore while attempting to retain federal and state funding assistance for the replacement of the water treatment plant. The total project is estimated to cost between $13,000,000 and $20,000,000 and is currently in engineering stages with construction expected to commence in 2013. Centralia leadership plans to continue to work with the Senators for future appropriations.
Results of the efforts made by City officials in the development of relationships with legislators are projects such as the recent Economic Development Administration grant award of $2,000,000 for the Wabash and East 17th Street road and drainage improvement project. The award of the grant funding would not have been possible without extended project solicitation to the Senators and legislators tasked with the recommendation of constituent needs.

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