TUSCUMBIA — A $10,000 grant from the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council will help the Helen Keller Festival offset expenses associated with the event's educational component.

"We were excited, needless to say," outgoing festival Chairman Eli Harper said.

Harper said the grant was received late during this year's festival, so some of the money will be used next year.

The way the grant works is the festival can be reimbursed for money spent on various educational components.

Harper said the grant would be used to offset costs associated with programs such as the Imagination Station and Keller Kids, which teaches third- through sixth-graders about living with disabilities like those Helen Keller had in her life.

"We can incorporate all the things we do through the week as far as the historical tours, the home tours, cemetery tours and the cabins on Sixth Street," Harper said.

He said the grant does not offset the cost of securing musicians who perform during the festival.

Harper said the grant will allow the festival to utilize the money spent on education programs for other needs.

"It opens us up to use $10,000 of other sponsor money for something else," he said.

He said $88,000 in sponsorship money went into this year's festival.

Roxanne Walker, office manager for the RC&D Council, said the agency also awarded a $2,000 grant to the North Alabama African Heritage Festival, and $3,000 to the Downtown Tuscumbia Redevelopement Board and the popular "It's a Dickens Christmas, Y'all."

Walker said RC&D is now accepting applications for 2020 grants.

"We do a lot of education projects," Walker said.

She said the council tries not to provide grant money to the same projects more than two or three years in a row. 

RC&D serves the five-county area of Colbert, Lauderdale, Franklin, Marion and Winston counties in northwest Alabama and has board members in each county.


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