July 1, 2008

Grant to Help Fund Housing Upgrades / Charles City is One of 22 State Localities to Get Federal Money


Charles City County will receive $1.4 million for a housing- improvement project in the Gilfield-Church Lane area, the governor said yesterday.

The grant is a combination of $798,322 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds and $606,900 in state indoor-plumbing money.

The funding is part of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's announcement of more than $10 million in federal CDBG money that will be dispersed throughout Virginia.

In addition to the Charles City grant, the $10 million includes $700,000 in block grant funds to go toward building a new health clinic on Tangier Island. The Tangier project is estimated to cost $1.1 million, with the remainder covered by state and local contributions.The Charles City project will rehabilitate 11 homes, replace eight homes and install wastewater service to 25 homes. Three of the homes lack indoor plumbing.

"It will enhance their lifestyle," said Gilbert A. Smith, chairman of Charles City's Board of Supervisors. "Without proper water and sewer, it has to be a strain on the whole family."

The home Cynthia Hampton rents off Church Lane will be replaced by a new home with a bathroom and running water. She will no longer have to use a portable toilet in her backyard or get her water from a neighbor's house.

"It'll be nice," she said yesterday.

Residents receiving a new home will get a no-interest, 10-year loan and pay anywhere from $25 to about $500 per month, depending on their household incomes.

The county hopes to begin a bidding process for contracts in the fall, and construction could start a month or two after that, County Administrator John F. Miniclier Jr. said.

Kaine announced funding toward 18 projects in 21 localities that will benefit more than 4,100 Virginians. The projects provide improved housing, access to clean water, health-care opportunities, jobs and other services. Other localities receiving grants were the counties of Albemarle, Brunswick, Carroll, Grayson, Henry, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Scott, Smyth and Washington; and the towns of Cape Charles, Chase City, Clinchco, Fries, Gate City, Parksley, Abingdon and West Point; and the city of Norton.

The town of West Point will get $2.6 million in state and federal funds to rehabilitate 22 homes and replace one. The project includes installation of a new water line, fire hydrants, new sidewalks and construction of a new visitor center.

Money for the project on Tangier Island will fund a 3,400-square- foot clinic with four examination rooms and two procedure rooms. It will provide services not currently available, such as stress tests, colonoscopies, gastroscopies and blood diagnostics.

"I'm just delighted," said Dr. David B. Nichols, who flies his helicopter once a week from the Northern Neck to see patients on the island. He has led efforts to gain state funding and raise private contributions for the clinic.

"We've been working long and hard," he said.

If all goes well, the clinic will be built this fall in time for the island's 400th anniversary.

"I'm on cloud nine," said Inez Pruitt, who is the island's first native medical caregiver. She works five days a week in the island's current clinic, an 800-square-foot space that is outdated and too small to provide needed services.

-- Contact Reed Williams at (804) 649-6332 or [email protected]

-- Contact Lawrence Latane III at (804) 333-3461 or [email protected]

Originally published by Times-Dispatch Staff Writers.

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