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TDOT reduces Jellico’s matching portion for grant

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By PETER SAWYER

The Interstate 75 lighting project has become more affordable for the city of Jellico.
Jellico leaders have been working on the project since November 2010, Mayor Les Stiers said. It involves a 50/50 matching grant with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Originally, Jellico’s portion for the grant was $648,316, according to Darlene Schlicher from Sen. Ken Yager’s office. Stiers believes the original portion was $324,158.  However, Jellico asked Yager and Rep. Dennis Powers for help with reducing this amount, Stiers said.
Powers and Yager sent a letter TDOT commissioner John Schroer in December asking for increased state funding for the project. They also asked if Jellico could remove trees from the location of the project to cut the cost.
Schroer responded with a letter on Jan. 7.
“Campbell County has been identified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development as being economically distressed,” Schroer said in his letter. “For this reason, the department will increase its portion of financial commitment to 60 percent of the estimated cost. In addition, the department will credit the city of Jellico with $100,000 of work toward the removal of trees.”
The changes in cost have reduced Jellico’s portion of the grant to $159,327, which would save the town $488,991, Schlicher said.
“Senator Yager was pretty excited,” Schlicher said. “He said this was an important project.”
Stiers described it as a “win win for Jellico.”
However, Jellico’s leaders must work on a revised budget to find funding for the $159,327 match, Stiers said.
Stiers wasn’t able to elaborate a plan for removing the trees, but said Jellico would work “in conjunction with TDOT.”