By Emily Banks Wooten
The commissioner of the Texas General Land Office (GLO), Dawn Buckingham, M.D., was the featured speaker for the November meeting of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and the highlight was Buckingham’s presentation of over $100 million dollars of funds to various cities and counties within the 11-county DETCOG region.
Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funding is administered by the GLO and will be used for a variety of projects to mitigate the impact of future disasters including hurricanes and floods. More than $161 million in mitigation funds were allocated to Deep East Texas following Hurricane Harvey.
Through a method of distribution developed by DETCOG and approved by the GLO, two-thirds of the mitigation funding is going to local jurisdictions, including seven counties, 14 citie4s and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, giving each community the ability to implement mitigation projects that meet its own unique needs. One-third is going toward regional projects to improve broadband and interoperable public safety communications.
The City of Onalaska was awarded $679,000 for street improvements. The City of Livingston was awarded $2,541,000 for street improvements. The City of Corrigan was awarded $561,000 for water storage rehabilitation. Polk County was awarded $15,510,000 for water facilities, street and drainage systems improvements. Polk County was also awarded $1,588,000 for road and water control systems improvements at three plants.
“The Texas General Land Office is proud to help communities grow knowing that the projects we fund will help protect local infrastructure, businesses and the homes of those who live here,” Buckingham said.
“Federal funds can be complicated to administer, but the GLO is helping communities across Texas cut red tape and turn funds promised into projects delivered. These projects were prioritized at the local level by those who live in the communities that will ultimately benefit from the improvements. We are in Deep East Texas because we care about this region and want to help move these projects forward for the benefit of these communities,” Buckingham said.
With November being Native American Heritage Month, it was only appropriate that DETCOG’s monthly meeting be held at the multi-purpose center of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
Members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas performed several cultural dances for the crowd as part of a tribal historical presentation, including the grand entry, the round dance which is also known as the friendship dance and the hoop dance which represents the circle of life.
Welcoming the DETCOG members and representatives to Polk County were Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy; County Commissioners Guylene Robertson, Mark Dubose, Milt Purvis and Jerry Cassity; Livingston Mayor Judy Cochran; Alabama-Coushatta Chief Kanicu Mikko Choba Donnis B. Battise; and Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council Chairman Ricky Sylestine.