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Rocky Top seeks $250k grant for police cars, fire equipment

TDOT will pay a contractor more than $263,000 to replace this bridge on Meadow Street in Rocky Top. The City Council voted last week to award the contract for the project, which won’t cost the city any money. (photo:G. Chambers Williams III )
Rocky Top plans to seek a federal grant of $250,000 to help pay for a long shopping list of new vehicles and equipment for the city’s police, fire and street departments, City Council members were told last Thursday night.

City Manager Michael Foster said the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged the city to apply for the grant, which would require Rocky Top to pay an $80,000 local match if the full amount is approved.

On the list of items the money would pay for are new radios and patrol cars for the Police Department, body cameras for police officers, pagers for firefighters, vehicle-extrication equipment for the Fire Department, a side-by-side off-road vehicle for the Fire Department, and an asphalt recycler and bush hog for the Street Department.

Included in the list will be enough police cars so they can be assigned to individual officers to take home with them when their shifts end, Foster said. The city has not been able to afford enough cars in the past to allow that, which is a common practice in many cities.

The city might have to cross some items off the list if the grant is less than the city is seeking.

“If we get less money than we need, we will have to prioritize the list to buy just what we can afford now,” Foster said.

The city is still waiting on delivery of a new Fire Department pumper truck that the city ordered last year through another grant program, Foster told the council during Thursday night’s regular meeting.

A backlog of orders has delayed the manufacture of the fire truck, and the purchase might have to be pushed into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, he said.

The USDA grant and the city’s match would “most likely” be included in the coming fiscal year as well, Foster said.

In other business Thursday:

• The council approved a $263,667 bid from Twin K Construction to build a replacement for the Meadow Street Bridge.

The project will be paid for entirely by money from the Tennessee Department of Transportation under the state’s TDOT Improve Act, which raised state gasoline taxes about three years ago to fund bridge and highway upgrades statewide.

Robert Campbell Associates, a Knoxville engineering firm, did the design work and got the permits for the bridge replacement project.

Total project cost will be about $300,000.

• Council members were told that the city’s Planning Commission had granted a rezoning request to allow TN Gas to build a headquarters on North Main Street. The zoning will change from R-2 (high-density residential) to C-1 (commercial) for the company, a propane gas supplier.