Date: Dec. 6, 2006
Editorial contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
TN LEAP contact: Faye Ralston, 615-494-8091
(MURFREESBORO) — MTSU and state officials and 21 grant partners met Dec. 5 to announce the awarding of a $2 million federal Housing and Urban Development grant to extend the Tennessee Lead Elimination Action Program for three more years.
TN LEAP is funded to control lead-based paint hazards affecting children less than 6 years old in Tennessee residential housing, program officials said.
“Everyone is affected,” Faye Ralston, TN LEAP program director, said during the lunch announcement at the Tom H. Jackson Building. “Childhood lead poisoning is the No. 1 environmental hazard affecting children today. It spans all populations regardless of socio-economic status, causing irreversible lifelong damage to those affected.
“During the next three years of grant funding, we plan to build on our accomplishments, learn from our mistakes and increase our activities and impact in the state to reduce or prevent the exposure to lead for many more Tennessee children and families.”
TN LEAP representatives will work with 13 regional and 95 county health departments in Tennessee, Ralston said.
Four years ago, the state approached MTSU and its engineering technology and industrial studies department with the first HUD proposal to address 100 housing units, said Andrianne White, manager of the toxic substances program in the solid waste division for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“It was worth the sweat and hard work to go outside the box and do something they were hired to do,” White said. “They cleared many hurdles. … They met their objective, but the battles are not over with the grant. Today they have a second consecutive HUD grant. My staff and I are honored to be a partner.”
Amy H. McLean of Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis said,
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HUD awards TN LEAP $2 million/Page 2
“We have a lot of work to do in West Tennessee with landlords and schools. This is our first year to partner in the HUD grant. We just got back from our first HUD meeting. It’s exciting and scary.”
Ralston said “the Memphis/Shelby County HUD-funded programs have been proactive in supporting TN LEAP through mentoring and assisting with partnership developments through their contacts.”
Knoxville’s Bill Curran, a civil engineer by trade and the East Tennessee TN LEAP project coordinator, said, “We committed to do 50 percent better than we did the last time (the first grant) so we’ve got to beat that.”
“This partnerships is a real-life example of having great success in realizing the goal for strategic partnership,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said. “… This project is having an impact on the lives of young children. MTSU has a tradition of caring all across the state. … Hopefully, we’ll come back in three to five years with a $3 million to $5 million grant.”
MTSU Vice President and Provost Kaylene Gebert said the university is “trying to build a responsive institution” and cannot be doing this without all the partners. “In this season of music,” she said, “everybody needs to play their part for it to be successful.”
In addition to campus officials, among those attending were State Rep. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville; Rutherford County Trustee Teb Batey of Murfreesboro; Michael Schulz, field representative for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander; TDEC staff; and representatives of Andersen Windows and Doors from Winchester and Murfreesboro, respectively.
2006-09 grant partners include TDEC; Tennessee Department of Public Health; Tennessee Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program; University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension; Catholic Charities of East Tennessee; Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center; Project HELP at MTSU; Tennessee Center for Child Welfare; The Housing Fund of Nashville; Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Inc; cities of Memphis, Knoxville and Clarksville Community development; Chattanooga State Community College; Tennessee Association for Community Action Weatherization Assistance Program; the East Tennessee, South Central, South East Tennessee and Upper Cumberland human resource agencies; Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency; and Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee.