Federal funds to help Gifford with water plant, tower
GIFFORD — Tornado-walloped Gifford has received word that it has received $650,000 in USDA rural development funds to rebuild its water treatment plant and to replace its water tower.
Both were heavily damaged in the Nov. 17 tornado that swept through the center of the northeastern Champaign County village of 900.
"This is absolutely the best news we've gotten since the tornado," said village board member Tony Cler. "It seems like everywhere you turn around there's always a roadblock for things. If there's a grant or assistance from the federal government, there's always a roadblock.
"But this was always the most promising thing we had from day one."
Most of the grant — $500,000 — will go toward replacing the water treatment plant on the village's east side that was leveled by the tornado. It is operating today under a large tent, with equipment that in some cases was borrowed from other communities.
Only the concrete pad that the old water plant sat on will be retained for the new facility, Cler said.
Another $150,000 from the USDA will go toward building a new water tower for Gifford, replacing the 50,000-gallon tank that was damaged in the tornado. The new tank, Cler said, will be built at a new site, near the water treatment plant, and will be more than twice as large as the old one.
Cler said he hopes to have the new tower up and operating by around Jan. 1, 2015.
A formal announcement of the grant receipt is scheduled for Monday in downtown Gifford.
"We've been working with them for a while here and this is definitely an eligible purpose for this program for rural development," said Mike Wallace, community program director for USDA rural development in Illinois. "It's a shame what happened there but we have a program that fits exactly what happened. We're able to get them some funding to assist and match up with their insurance monies and local monies and try to get this thing going."