City, county receive checks totaling nearly $750,000

More than 200 residents of the Highway 49 Apartments and the Monarch Mill Village will be the beneficiaries of infrastructure improvements financed by $743,893 in grants received by the City of Union and Union County Tuesday morning.

Martha Whittaker, grants manager for the SC Department of Commerce, presented Union Mayor Harold Thompson with a check for $243,893 during a ceremony in the council chambers of the City of Union Municipal Building. Whittaker also presented Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair and Union County Council Member Dora Martin with a check for $500,000 during Tuesday’s ceremony.

The city and county were awarded the grants in July through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Cities program. The program is offered to South Carolina’s municipalities and counties through the Department of Commerce’s CDBG Infrastructure Program.

The city will use its grant to make improvements to the sewer lines serving the Highway 49 Apartments. The existing lines are old and have deteriorated to the point where backflows and overflows are occurring. The city will provide a local match of $66,760 to help finance the project.

The county will use its grant for Phase I of improvements to the water and sewers systems in Monarch Village. The county will provide a local match of $137,305 for the project. The improvements are part of an ongoing county effort to upgrade water and sewer services in the old mill villages.

The grants are among four grants totaling $1.75 million awarded in July to the city, the county, the Town of Lockhart and the Town of Jonesville through the CDBG Infrastructure Program. The projects funded by the grants will benefit more than 1,300 people, the majority of whom are low- to moderate-income. This includes the 106 residents of the Highway 49 Apartments, 82 of whom are low- to moderate-income and 97 residents of Monarch Mill Village, 55 of whom are low- to moderate-income.

Thompson said the grant the city received is part of its effort to obtain grants to help it fund infrastructure improvements. He said the city is already in the process of seeking out grants for new projects.

“It is a much needed grant to improve infrastructure in one of our low- to moderate-income areas,” Thompson said. “This is a continuing effort to improve city water and sewer infrastructure throughout the areas we serve. We are continually searching for grant opportunities and in the near future there will be hopefully some more coming our way. We are looking at improving the Union Mill Village and there’s a couple of other low- to moderate-income areas adjacent to downtown that we are looking to do.”

Sinclair said the grant the county received, along with others received in the past and a new one it is working on obtaining, can help revitalize the mill villages and help them play a role in Union’s future.

“It means that we’re continuing our process of working with the city to renew and sustain textile communities,” Sinclair said. “We do not want them to go away. They can become an important part of a revitalized Union. We are also seeking funds for Ottaray. We’ve done Excelsior, Buffalo and Union, we’re doing Monarch and we’re seeking a grant for Ottaray.”

By Charles Warner, Reporting for The Union Daily Times