Jeff “Clem” Clemons

Jeff “Clem” Clemons is seen at the Cullman County Courthouse on March 3, 2020.

The former home of the defunct Cullman County Rescue Squad is getting a new purpose: as a permanent emergency response center to coordinate local efforts against pandemic, natural disaster, and other emergencies.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey awarded more than $800,000 toward the project last week as part of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) package, administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), that allocates funds earmarked for COVID-19 relief. The money is part of the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act passed by Congress last year.

Thanks to that award, no local money will need to be spent on the project, which was announced through the Cullman County Economic Development Office. The $803,861 grant is 100 percent funded by the Alabama Department of Economic & Community Affairs (ADECA).

CARES Act funds must be used for a limited variety of purposes relating to the mitigation, compensation, or prevention of public health and economic effects stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The rehabilitation of the old Rescue Squad facility is one such qualifying use.

The money will be used “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, by the rehabilitation and construction of a large, multi-use emergency response facility, which will be the old Rescue Squad Building at Sportsman Lake Park, that is centrally located in the county,” the county office said in a statement.

“I would like to thank Gov. Ivey and ADECA director [Kenneth] Boswell for awarding Cullman County this grant,” county commission chairman Jeff Clemons said in a statement. “This grant will be used to turn a building that has fallen into disrepair into a top-notch facility that can be used for testing and much more in the future, if we have another pandemic, and also as a food bank for our seniors and others in need.”

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