Chambers Co. talks ADEM grant

Published 6:43 pm Monday, November 26, 2018

VALLEY — Next summer, there could be lots of work going on in Langdale Meadow in front of Valley City Hall to help improve stream flow, reduce sedimentation and erosion. Chambers County still has some funds left from a grant funded through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Part of the $360,000 grant was spent last year on a portion of the creek that flows though Lanett near Highway 50. That was Phase I; Phase II needs to be done in 2019 before the grant expires in early 2020.

Ken McMillan, Chambers County Extension coordinator, talked about this at a recent meeting of the Valley Lions Club.

“Once they break ground, it should take 45 days to finish the work,” he said. “They will be moving some huge boulders with heavy yellow equipment. It should have a major effect in front of city hall in Valley.”

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What it comes down to is that the stream will be moved to where it should be. This will involve the moving of some utilities at the cost of $10,000 per pole.

“We wanted to do it this past spring,” McMillan said. “We won’t be able to do it till next year.”

Work went well on the Lanett part of the work in 2017.

“We had to work with local landowners to gain access,” McMillan said. “They worked with us when they understood what we were trying to do. We were able to redirect the stream in a way that reduces erosion.”

At the start, some junk cars had to be removed from the stream. A new rock retaining wall was built near the bridge over South 8th Avenue, a short distance away from Lanett High. Lots of rock structures were placed in the creek to reduce sedimentation. One structure visible from Highway 50 is a small concave cascade, which adds to the stream’s appearance.

The watershed stream restoration project in Valley next year will also have a goal of improving the stream’s appearance.

“It will make the stream healthier,” McMillan said, explaining that a better flowing stream enhances habitat.

The big rocks in the creek allow small fish and crustaceans to have hiding places from predators, improving their chances for long-term survival.

The $360,000 grant has helped in other ways as well.

“We started a farmers’ market in LaFayette,” McMillan said. “It’s self-sustaining. The farmers run it themselves. We also have some raised bed gardens, and a walking trail at the Agricultural Park. We have mile markers along it to let people know how far they have walked. There’s also some playground equipment there. We’ve worked with the City of LaFayette to purchase some playground equipment for the new city park.”

A grant coordinated by the extension service is designed to reduce obesity in the county. It allows for cooking classes, and education on nutrition. There was also some funding for a new weight room at LaFayette High.

“We converted an old ag building into a new weight room,” McMillan said. “We painted it in LaFayette High colors.”

“It took everyone working together for this to happen,” McMillan said.

“I grew my first watermelon in one of the raised bed gardens. It was the size of a basketball, and it was really good.”

McMillan commended the Chambers County Sheriff’s Department on having built a pedestrian bridge over a gulley in the Agricultural Park.

“We also got some playground equipment for Chambers County Lake. It gives families more options when they go there.”