Should DOE help Anderson County?

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank wrote a recent letter asking for the Department of Energy to give grants to counties like Anderson County that host its facilities.

Anderson County hosts the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. In the letter, authorized by the County Commission at its May 20 meeting, Frank argued that communities like Anderson County benefit from, but also bear strain from, supporting Department of Energy facilities.

“For most communities that host these facilities, the additional workforce and taxes can be a boon,” she said. “However, for the host community and surrounding communities, there is often additional stress on infrastructure and workforce.”

She said that communities with ties to the military already have a grant program from the U.S. Department of Defense to help them with infrastructure needs. She proposed such a program for the communities with Department of Energy facilities.

“A similar program for DOE communities would alleviate the additional requirements from the high level of traffic, housing, personnel and other needs of these facilities, thereby furthering national goals,” said Frank. She listed transportation, housing, kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education, emergency response, telecommunications and utility projects as possible areas the Department of Energy grants could help.

The letter addressed “to whom it may concern” advocated for the Department of Energy to start that grant program. However, it went out to the National Association of Counties, of which Anderson County is a member.

The letter stated the organization supports the program.

The program on which Frank and the association are basing their idea is the Defense Communities Infrastructure Pilot Program.

Frank said it has provided grants totaling more than $200 million in the past four years to address the needs of communities.