Grambling gets news on future of fire, water services

The Grambling City Council met Thursday night for its monthly session.

By T. Scott Boatright


GRAMBLING — Fire and water mixed nicely Thursday night during the monthly Grambling City Council meeting at City Hall.

Grambling’s aldermen learned that the partnership with Lincoln Preparatory School to share costs of installation of a force main sewer system will cost significantly less than originally hoped before learning that the Grambling Fire Department is in line to receive a ladder truck courtesy of the state Fire Marshal’s Office and the city of Baton Rouge.

The City Council passed a motion accepting Womack and Sons’ low bid of $180,556 for the sewer project that  will place a new 8-inch sewer line running from the rear of the Grambling Police Station to the new Lincoln Prep School being built on the site of the old Louisiana Tech Golf Course.

Original estimates for the project were well more than $200,000.

Teaming on the project is projected to save each entity at least $100,000 for sewer work needed by both as combining for the project is expected to lower original estimates of $200,000.

“As we hoped it would, the city saved considerable money partnering with Lincoln Preparatory School on this project,” city engineering consultant Henry Shuler told the alderman.

Aldermen had already given Grambling’s City Council good news about its water and sewer system.

Shuler began that good news by prompting Mayor Edward Jones to  announce that Governor John Bel Edwards’ office told him earlier Thursday that the city of Grambling is being given $300,000 to renovate the College Avenue wastewater lift station.

Then Shuler explained that the city was eligible for one water grant and one sewer grant, but he hopes he’s found a way to get even more.

“An entity can get one sewer grant and one water grant, but I just couldn’t help myself,” Shuler said. “So we took the block grant the city has already been awarded — $1 million — and we leveraged that in an attempt to get even more.

“We’re trying to leverage that $1million into $2.6 million. It was worth a shot. Whether it gets funded or not, I honestly don’t know, but I’m going to say chances are above average as far as quality of the application. It was worth doing. It won’t cost the city anything. We’re just leveraging money we already have.”

After Jones announced that the city received a second check this week for $953,000 from the American Rescue Act, that $3.5 million has been budgeted for city sewer upgrades.

“We submitted 36 applications in round one, and I believe we ended up doing 22 in round two,” Shuler said. “I’m telling you as directly as I can, the city application  is the strongest application I have. If it does not get funded, I can rest easy knowing that I did everything I could possibly do. I will be flabbergasted if you don’t end up with $3.5 million come Thanksgiving.

“That’s when we should know. This is life-changing money for the city of Grambling.”

Shuler said the intended upgrades would bring the Camellia Estates and Rose Garden subdivisions into the city sewer system and would bring the Mockingbird Lane area on line also.

In July, Grambling Fire Consultant Tommie Woods told Council members that the city had received an unexpected fire rate of 8, which was feared would be worse.

Grambling was previously rated as a Class 7 city (and a Class 6 in 2012). During July’s City Council meeting Woods said that the city must present a written plan on how it intends to retain that Class 7 rating and the time frame it will take to complete each improvement, and that if the needed number of points for a Class 7 rating couldn’t be met there would be no need to apply for an appeal.

The biggest concern for the rating is that the GFD currently does not have a ladder truck despite having taller buildings on the campus of Grambling State University.

On Thursday, Woods opened the door for a potential better fire rating for the city.

“We met with the new (state) Fire Marshal around Sept. 15-16,” Woods said. “He came in and said the mayor had been in conversation with the governor and that (the new Fire Marshal) was friends with the mayor of Baton Rouge and stated that they were going to give Grambling a ladder truck.

“Now that new city of Baton Rouge ladder truck isn’t built yet, but once they get that (new) truck, they’re going to give the old truck to us and they’re going to send some personnel up to train our guys on how to use that truck. As far as we know right now we’re not going to have to pay anything for it.”

It was also announced during the meeting that Grambling’s Juneteenth Committee has planned a “Trunk or Treat” event between 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 and that Lincoln Preparatory School is holding a Community Fall Fest from 6 – 9 p.m. that Halloween night that will include a “Scary and Merry” House as well as trunk-or-treating. 

Juneteenth Committee chair and City Councilwoman Cathy Holmes suggested discussions be held that could end up combining those two events in some fashion.

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