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Gaston County receiving millions in federal money

The money came from the 2021 American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), and it must be spent by 2026.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County commissioners got their first look at new projects they could fund as part of a $43 million injection from the American Recovery Plan Act.

The ARPA was a $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

RELATED: $435 million available for small towns in South Carolina from American Rescue Plan Act

During a county commissioners meeting last Tuesday, Kim Eagle, the county manager, said staff members compiled an outlet of eligible projects.

"Supporting public health response to the pandemic, serving our hardest-hit communities and families," Eagle said, explaining how projects could qualify for the money. "Investing in water and sewer infrastructure."

Some of the projects she mentioned included retrofitting courtrooms for video hearings, allocating money for domestic violence facility infrastructure, and setting aside money to address homelessness.

She also pointed to spending nearly $8 million to connect Tryon Elementary School and Chapel Grove Elementary School to municipal water lines.

They're the only two schools in the county that still use well water.

Gaston County Schools spokesman Todd Hagans told WCNC Charlotte that Tryon Elementary School would benefit greatly from the project.

According to data from Clean Water for Carolina Kids, Tryon Elementary School’s lead concentration levels are noticeably higher in its water compared to nearby Cherryville Elementary, which uses municipal water.

Annie Anderson, whose stepdaughter attends Tryon, feels the $8 million could be better spent elsewhere.

"I really love well water better," Anderson said. "Regular city water tastes funny."

The county will receive the second half of the $43 million allocation in May 2022.

Commissioners still have several months to decide on which projects they'll fund, but they must spend their allocation by 2026 or risk losing the money.

The commissioners meeting can be viewed here.

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.    

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