By Nathan Straus

nstraus@jacksonvilleprogress.com



The cities of Rusk and Jacksonville were among 17 agencies allocated funds by the East Texas Council of Governments recently.

These funds will pay for projects in support of the goals of the Health and Human Services Commission under the Social Services Block Grant for Emergency Disaster Relief Funds for Hurricane Ike.

Jacksonville received $75,000 for repair of and improvements to the senior center, located behind the Jacksonville fire station.

Mo Raissi, city manager, said the senior center building needs a new roof, enlarged parking and improved lighting inside the building.

“Every dollar we get out of a grant is a Jacksonville tax dollar saved,” Raissi said.

Jacksonville Public Works applied for the grant in mid-August, Raissi said. The city was notified of the grant approval just a few weeks ago. The city also applied for a grant to conduct work on the city’s skate park in Nichols Green Park off Beaumont Street, but that request was denied.

Rusk was given $161,809.18 for citywide debris and blight removal. Rusk City Manager Mike Murray said he believes the grant money approval is fantastic for the city.

“It’s something we’ve been needing to do for a long time,” he said.

Grant funds for Rusk will be used to clean up debris from Hurricane Ike, Murray said. In addition, money will be used to fulfill other code enforcement projects and will have a very widespread use.

“We will start using the funds as soon as possible,” Murray said.

The city of Rusk also applied for what Murray described as a “one-stop shop, multifaceted” grant, which would have been used for whatever Rusk wanted to use it for, but this was not approved by ETCOG. No specific plans for the denied grant funds were divulged. Rusk, like Jacksonville, applied for the grants in August.

The East Texas Council of Governments is a voluntary association of counties, cities, school districts and special districts within the 14-county East Texas region. It assists local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. ETCOG was established in 1970 and provides programs for East Texas seniors, employers and job seekers.

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