HUNTSVILLE, TN (2017-07-14) The Industrial Development Board of Scott County and the Scott County Chamber of Commerce have partnered with the State of Tennessee to provide water bottle filling stations to all area schools.
On Wednesday, State Senator Ken Yager formally announced that Scott County, along with several other counties in the 12th Senatorial District, had been awarded ThreeStar Competitive Grants from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Locally, Scott County received a $25,000 award which will be used to purchase water bottle filling stations for each of the county’s nine schools, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau.
“This is an exciting step forward for our schools,” said Stacey Swann, executive director of the ID Board. “Any time the IDB and the Chamber of Commerce can partner with our schools to help make improvements for our community’s students, it’s a great day.”
Swann stated the award was the result of teamwork and collaboration between local stakeholders and leaders, including County Mayor Dale Purdue, Huntsville Mayor Dennis Jeffers, Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay and Winfield Mayor David Cecil. The IDB and the Chamber of Commerce were tasked with completing the extensive legwork required for Scott County to receive recertification as a Three Star community.
“The ThreeStar grants ensure our local officials have the means to make our communities and economies thrive,” Senator Yager said.
“The guidelines for the grant funding that accompanies the Three Star certification changed this year, and the traditional things that money could be spent on were no longer an option,” Swann said. “We put our heads together to come up with a project that would benefit the youth of Scott County and meet the state’s guidelines, and this is what we came up with.”
Water bottle filling stations have become a must-have in public schools in recent years, but tight budgets prevent many schools from making those purchases. Two years ago, parents teamed up to raise funding for a filling station at one local school, but most local schools remain without the filling stations.
Benefits of the water bottle filling stations include providing free water for students whose parents cannot afford to supply them with bottled water, reducing the amount of plastic bottles that are disposed of in landfills and reducing sickness in schools. Traditional water fountains are germ magnets, with the mouths of dozens or even hundreds of students coming into contact with the same metal surface in a single day.
“There is a lot of focus on healthy living right now, both in Tennessee and across the nation,” Swann said. “One key component of healthy living is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It’s exciting that we can offer our students a stylish and free way to refill their water bottles, which will hopefully encourage them to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.”
Tennessee’s Three Star program requires successful communities to develop and implement strategic plans that focus on five areas: jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare. The program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.