HUNTSVILLE — Water bottle filling stations are coming to each of Scott County's public schools, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau, the Scott County Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Board of Scott County announced jointly Wednesday afternoon.
In addition, every student in Scott County is to be purchased a reusable water bottle, in what ID Board and Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacey Swann called an "exciting step forward" for local schools.
"Any time the IDB and the Chamber of Commerce can partner with our schools to help make improvements for our community's children, it's a great day," Swann said.
The purchases are being made possibly by funding from Tennessee's ThreeStar program. Scott County learned Wednesday that it has been re-certified as a ThreeStar community, which makes the county eligible for award funding through the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.
Swann told the Independent Herald that the water bottles may be able to be purchased through Scott County's litter program, which is administered by the Scott County Mayor's Office.
Swann credited County Mayor Dale Perdue -- as well as the mayors of Huntsville, Oneida and Winfield -- for their teamwork in helping make the ThreeStar recertification a possibility.
ThreeStar community certification involves a rigorous routine, requiring counties to develop and implement plans that focus on several core areas, including jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare.
Swann said the ThreeStar funding requirements changed for 2017, eliminating some of the ways Scott County has spent its ThreeStar money in the past.
"We put our heads together to come up with a project that would benefit the youth of Scott County and meet the state's guidelines, and this is what we came up with," she said.
Oneida Elementary School recently became the first school in Scott County to install a water bottle filling station, after parents there raised money for the equipment and installation. Water bottle filling stations have become hot items in public schools in recent years, but their purchase and installation is often slowed by tight budgets.
Proponents of the water bottle filling stations hail their ability to reduce germs and sickness in school, while also reducing the amount of plastic bottles that wind up in landfills. Kidd said another key component is the promotion of healthier living.
"There is a lot of focus on healthy living right now, both in Tennessee and across the nation," Swann said. "One key component of healthy living is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It's exciting that we can offer our students a stylish and free way to refill their water bottles, which will hopefully encourage them to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks."