East Texas leaders keeping close watch on economic stimulus package

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Across East Texas, inside city halls and county courthouses leaders are working fast on listing improvements that suddenly the federal government may be willing to fund. Here are the rules. "Projects have to be shovel ready within 90 days and so you got to start construction quickly and also the other element is it has to create jobs," explained Jim Jeffers, Nacogdoches city manager. Most municipalities are interested in improving the infrastructure. "We have some water projects, sewer projects, street maintenance," said Jeffers.

Expansion of the south loop interchange at hi way 59 is on the wish list of both Nacogdoches and Nacogdoches County. The $80 million project is already on the  drawing board, but it could possibly be placed in the fast lane. Improvements at the busy intersection have been on the Nacogdoches wish list for years. Nobody knows if the economic stimulus package will make it happen, but proponents say they want to be ready in case it does. "They're moving very fast," said Joe English, the county judge for Nacogdoches County.  "They tell us that. This money has already been allotted and they plan on spending it pretty fast, so in terms of government, things in government never move very fast, but it seems like this project is moving really fast."

Police grants, drug task forces, after school programs and prisoner rehabilitation are among other programs that could be funded. Business tax credits too. Stephen F. Austin State University is keeping a close watch on the financial aid that may be included in the package.

Billions of dollars are out there. Still who will get it is anyone's guess. "We don't know, but we'll be ready to go in whatever direction seems plausible," said Jeffers.