Coosa Valley RC&D grant helps Lanett senior center, local family organizations

Published 9:02 am Saturday, June 29, 2024

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LANETT — Representatives of the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D) spent much of Thursday in Chambers County making a lot of people happy with grant awards in Lanett and LaFayette.

In an 11 a.m. EDT appearance at the Lanett Senior Center, Coosa Valley RC&D Executive Director Ciara Turner and Office Manager Amanda Ward presented facsimile checks in the amount of $6,000 to the Lanett Senior Center, $6,000 to the Chambers County Circle of Care Center for Families, and $6,500 to the Valley United Fund.

Turner and Ward then drove to LaFayette where they made good on another $5,000 grant to help pay for a new entrance sign to the city and $15,000 to fund the construction of an outdoor pavilion at the Chambers County Health & Wellness Center.

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State Representative Debbie Wood and State Senator Randy Price accompanied them and thanked them on behalf of the people of Chambers County and the county’s needs. Lanett Council Members Angelia Thomas and Tamalita Autry thanked the Coosa Valley RC&D on behalf of the city. “I love to see the way this senior center is being kept up,” Thomas said. “I want to thank the city, the senior center staff, volunteers and the seniors themselves for this. It’s a beautiful place, and I enjoy coming here.”

“I want to thank Senior Center Manager Sandra Thornton and Recreation Director Trent McCants for what they are doing here,” said Autry. “God is doing great things for our community, and we should be grateful.”

The senior center received a $5,000 grant last year from the Coosa Valley RC&D. That money was used to purchase computers for what’s now a computer lab. This year’s funding of $6,000 has been used to purchase new desks and chairs, a sofa and a 65-inch flatscreen TV that’s now on the wall inside the new lab. One of the classrooms in the L.B. Sykes Center has been converted into a computer lab that will serve seniors and people of all ages. Approximately 60 children from the Lanett Housing Authority summer program attend classes in the room during the morning hours.

The lab is a short walk down the hall from where the seniors meet for lunch every Monday through Friday. Seniors are in the room in the late mornings and early afternoons.

“We hope we can use this new lab with the community at large,” Thornton said. “We’d like to partner with Southern Union on this and to perhaps have English classes here.”

Rep. Wood was most impressed with what she saw and especially liked it that the classroom was becoming something of a media center. Neva Van Meter is now serving as the librarian.

Herschel Allen, the chairman of the Senior Advisory Board, thanked Mayor Jamie Heard and the city council for their steadfast support of the senior center. “They do a wonderful job in supporting us,” he said. “Mayor Heard and the council are very good in helping us get what we need.”

Local nonprofits are helpful as well. The Charter Foundation, for example, recently provided a major grant to provide a better heating and air system for the center. “I want Representative Wood and State Senator Price to know that we appreciate what the state does for senior centers throughout Alabama,” Allen said.

“It’s always great to be in Lanett,” said Senator Price. “I especially love going to senior centers throughout my district. I want to help the people there in any way I can. If you have needs at your center please let us know.”

“We love what we do and the opportunities we have to help people,” said Ciara Turner. “We want to make a difference in the rural communities we serve in east central Alabama.”

Based in Heflin, the Coosa Valley RC&D is a nonprofit that’s dedicated to working with local people to solve local problems and to help its community grow and prosper. Its mission is to promote, protect and develop natural and human resources and to secure and enhance the social and economic benefits for people across the communities it serves.

The Coosa Valley RC&D serves an 11-county area including Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah,  Randolph, St. Clair, Talladega and Tallapoosa counties.

The grant going to the Circle of Care will be used to purchase safety equipment that can be used in the event there’s ever an active shooter in the area. The $6,500 grant for the Valley United Fund will be used to acquire a long-term strategic plan to improve the Lanett Mill Village neighborhood through community engagement.

Chris Langley of the LaFayette area made the cross-county trip on Thursday. He represents Chambers County on the Coosa Valley RC&D board and is the current vice chairman for the state board. 

“We are proud to help Lanett Senior Center and the other local organizations,” he said. “We will be glad to help in any way we can in the future. Let us know of your needs.”

Thornton thanked the Coosa Valley RC&D for its generosity towards the Lanett Senior Center over the past two years. “It has helped us a lot,” she said. “This new computer lab will be getting lots of use, and not just from our seniors. We have a very active program here, and more people want to take part. That’s a good problem to have. We have a waiting list of 20 people.”

Thornton’s next goal is to get some air conditioning for one of the larger classrooms in the building. It would make an ideal site for younger children, provided of course that it’s cooler inside than it is this time of year.


IN THE NEW LAB — Children in a summer camp program being offered in the L.B. Sykes Center in Lanett in the center’s new lab. Over the past two years, the Coosa Valley RC&D has provided $11,000 in grant money to get the lab up and running. Representatives of the Coosa Valley RC&D along with state and local officials visited the center on Thursday to see the children learning in the lab. Shown above, seated from left, are Kelzie Howell, Reign Mackey and Grayson Gilliam. On Row 2, from left, are Tyani Carwell, Isiah Cannon, LaCari Washington, Paxton Mitchell, Ariah Carr, Ethan Dozier, Tay’lon Jackson, Autumn Davis and Brooklyn Jackson. Standing in back, l-r, are Coosa Valley RC&D Executive Director Ciara Turner. Sabrya Davidson, Coosa Valley RC&D Board Member Chris Langley, Lanett Council Member Tamalita Autry, State Senator Randy Price, Lanett Council Member Angelia Thomas, State Representative Debbie Wood, Lanett Recreation Director Trent McCants and RC&D Office Manager Amanda Ward.