MARION — Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission was recently honored by the Illinois Association of Regional Councils for its work in helping area entities get grant money to improve lighting systems and heating/cooling systems.
“We spent $800,000 in local government facilities. We’re trying to add value without competing. We’re trying to get our name out there,” said Executive Director Cary Minnis of the GERPDC.
Minnis, who was appointed to the position in October 2010 after the retirement of Ike Kirkikis, and GERPDC Program Director Margie Mitchell were singled out by the association for their “enthusiasm, dedication and an ability to get things done,” said ILARC Executive Director Kelly Murray.
The money came from $21 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded to Illinois through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to support energy efficiency and conservation activities. Money was filtered through the ILARC to member regional planning agencies to administer grants to smaller communities within their regions.
In the GERPDC region that serves Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry and Williamson counties, money was awarded to Benton and Carbondale city halls and civic centers and Franklin County Courthouse for improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. There was money for lighting improvements to Herrin’s city hall, fire station and city garage. Jackson County Health Department, Jefferson County Courthouse and Jefferson County Justice Center got money for lighting improvements. Jackson County got money to replace windows in its county care and rehab center. And money was awarded to Six Mile Township for overall infrastructure improvements.
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What excited Minnis was money going to a solar project at Du Quoin Industrial Park designed to provide renewable electric resources to industrial park occupants.
“This will reduce the park’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources and reduce power costs for industrial park occupants by about 20 percent. It’s a win-win situation all the way around,” Minnis said.
Williamson County, which was one of many tax entities to extend their participation in 2011 with GERPDC for the about 13 square miles within the county designated for development and economic growth through property tax abatements, is working with the commission to get money for Meridian Road surface improvements.
“We made the first cut to get a grant. This would be huge since Meridian Road goes to Walker’s Bluff, which is one of the county’s larger employers,” said Board Chairman Brent Gentry.
The grant application is one of 12 that GERPDC has submitted to Delta Regional Authority for road, transit and mapping projects in 16 counties within Southern Illinois, Minnis said, noting there is $800,000 available from the authority.