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Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

Bethel gets $30,000 for flood recovery

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The North Carolina Rural Center has provided a $30,000 grant to Haywood County to assist with flood recovery and flood prevention in the Bethel area.

The grant follows an initial $5,000 planning grant provided early in 2005 for similar efforts in the Bethel area.

“This new grant will help us learn more from the hurricanes of 2004 and make our community stronger,” said Ben Fishback, president of the Bethel Rural Community Organization.

A central focus of the grant will include investigating a variety of farmland preservation tools to keep floodplain lands in a natural or semi-natural state so they can continue to absorb heavy rains and floodwaters.

“With farmland preservation, we have an opportunity to keep our agricultural community strong, while also reducing the frequency and severity of future floods,” said Fishback. “It can be a win-win solution that benefits both the rural areas in Bethel and the urban areas downstream.”

Other objectives of the grant include planning to repair, upgrade, or relocate public infrastructure and public buildings, as well as an agri-tourism concept proposal. A public opinion survey will be conducted during the spring to help determine the attitudes of Bethel residents toward these issues and possible solutions.

The grant funds were authorized as part of the state’s Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005. State legislators set aside the $5 million for “economic recovery and redevelopment in business areas that sustained storm damage,” according to the bill. The Rural Center, a non-profit agency, was put in charge of handing out the money.

The grant is being administered by Haywood County. George Ivey will have primary responsibility for implementing the grant objectives. He has been contracted part-time, approximately one day per week, through the end of the grant period in August, while continuing four days per week as Director of Development for Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He can be reached at 828.648.2710 or 828.452.0720.

The grant funds were authorized as part of the State of North Carolina’s Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005. State legislators set aside the $5 million for “economic recovery and redevelopment in business areas that sustained storm damage,” according to the bill. The Rural Center, a non-profit agency, was put in charge of handing out the money.

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