February 5, 2021
By: Dwayne Page
DeKalb County has secured almost $270,000 in grants (including local match funding) in recent months for various enhancement and tourism related projects thanks to the work of Chamber Director Suzanne Williams and County Mayor Tim Stribling with the support of the county commission and the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen and others.
Director Williams shared the good news with the County Commission last month outlining projects approved for grant funding. She also talked about other recent or upcoming Chamber related events.
“The Three Star Grant that Mayor Tim Stribling and I wrote to get new playground equipment for the Alexandria City Park was approved and the equipment has been delivered and is ready to be installed along with the mulch”.
“The Chamber received 2 Tourism Enhancement Grants – $75,000 each, both with 10% matches. One of these grants is for the Smithville Jamboree to get a new stage. As you have probably already seen, we are having the current stage assembled now to get the measurements we need for the new stage including a backdrop with an extended porch and since we have added inclusion categories for people with special needs, we are also building a safer ADA-compliant ramp along with many other improvements. The 50th Jamboree planning is in the works. Hopefully our new stage will be ready for it,” said Williams.
“The second $75,000 Enhancement Grant that we wrote is for the Community Theater at the County Complex. The open bidding process has begun. The grant funding will be used to enhance the theater sound, lighting and we will have an Environmental Green Screen which at the touch of a button can project any image or background that is needed”.
“The Chamber also received a grant from the TN Arts Commission for $8,000 with a $2,000 match for a large mural project for our downtown here in Smithville. We will have that project finished by mid-June 2021,” Williams continued.
“The Chamber was awarded a $3,500 TVA Telework Technology Grant. Now we have a high-tech conference room here at the County Complex that has already been utilized quite a bit”.
“A Tourism Marketing Grant for $2,500 with a $2,500 match was for new DeKalb County Welcome and Resource Guides for tourists and people interested in relocating to DeKalb”.
“ A CARES Tourism Funding Grant was for $36,127. One of the uses of the funding was for branded masks to distribute. We have currently given out over 2,000 masks,” said Chamber Director Williams.
“We loved partnering with the Smithville Fire Department to put the Christmas parade and Christmas on the Square, Live Downtown Windows, and an Outdoor Movie event back-to-back on the same day. The Chamber set up a tent at the courthouse and we distributed almost a thousand masks just on that one day”.
“We look forward to partnering with the County Commission on the “Mask Yourselfie” campaign that Commissioner Beth Pafford is heading up and the Chamber looks forward to being a part of that initiative”.
Our current Grants and the match money we have raised over the last few months equals to: $269,627
7,500.00: Grant match
7,500.00: Grant match
75,000.00: Community Theater
5,000.00: Welcome Guides
Easy to Social Distance” Type of Events Coming Up:
“We’re having and have had to adjust to some of our events being virtual,” said Williams.
“The Chamber Prayer Breakfast had to be held virtually in November and we had over 2,100 views. Governor Bill Lee was one of our guest speakers. We were very honored, grateful, and honestly quite shocked when I received a positive response to the invitation. Our 2021 Annual Chamber Banquet will be virtual this year.”
“Spring & Fall FREE Outdoor Movie Events. The Chamber has some great new outdoor theater equipment, and we are partnering with the Smithville First Baptist Church to help us in hosting these family-friendly and safe events”.
“The Chamber is working with the Upper Cumberland Development District to create a Day Tripper Map to help locals and visitors alike to find special and fun places to discover and explore in our county,” added Williams.
“Edgar Evins State Park has also reported record-breaking numbers of visitors during 2020”.
“Hopefully, you have seen the 2 new billboards that we have on I-40. You can see the CHL billboard going I-40 East near Exit 273/Silver Point and the Jamboree billboard located on I-40 West close to the Smith County Welcome Center which is the most visited welcome center in the state of TN”.
“Lastly, Mayor Stribling & I are currently working together on updates for Middle TN Industrial Development Association Data Sheets for DeKalb Co. Hopefully, the new updated data sheets will be ready by Spring. I will furnish copies at a future meeting,” Williams concluded.