City of Okemah receives $60,000 in grants
By Ken Childers
The City of Okemah is the beneficiary of two grants totaling $60,000, City Manager Dustin Danker has announced.
During the Nov. 14 regular meeting of the Okemah City Council, Danker reported that the city had received a Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grant in the amount of $50,000 and a $10,000 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG).
According to Danker, the REAP grant will go toward developing the Okemah Regional Airport and the JAG monies will be utilized to purchase a new vehicle for the police department. The airport project involves water, wastewater and underground power lines. The police vehicle, possibly a pickup, will be purchased some time after the first of the new year, according to Danker.
“Grants are the new standard for Okemah,” Danker said. “We’re constantly chasing grants and bringing in more of them than we have in previous years. In fact, we have two more grants in the works as we speak.”
In August, the council voted unanimously to adopt a long-range plan for the airport, which was developed by Ward Four Councilman Ron Gott. The plan spans a five year period and entails expanding the existing airport, mainly through grants, into a full service airport with multiple hangars, a fueling station and a pilot’s lounge.
The REAP Grant program was created through legislation in 1996 to improve life in rural Oklahoma. Its purpose is to assist small communities, towns, counties and unincorporated areas with populations under 7,000 which have limited or no funding capabilities. REAP grants fund a variety of projects that enhance economic development, promote intergovernmental cooperation, promote and enhance public health and safety, and/or implement regional or local plans.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, or JAG originates out of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005. The program is named for New York City police officer Edward Byrne who was killed in the line of duty in 1988 while protecting an immigrant witness who agreed to testify against drug dealers. The JAG program is administered by the Office of Justice Programs’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and provides federal criminal justice funding to state, local and tribal jurisdictions. The funding is intended for a variety of areas, such as personnel, training, equipment and supplies. The Recovery Act of 2009 appropriated $2 billion in funding to the JAG program.