WASHINGTON – Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $100,000 in combined rural development grants to help Bastrop and Oak Grove purchase new police cars.

"Safer communities become more prosperous communities, and these grants will help the Bastrop and Oak Grove police departments accomplish their missions of serving their communities," Dr. Abraham said. "I appreciate Sec. Perdue and the USDA for awarding these funds, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and our local stakeholders to identify other ways we can invest in rural Louisiana."

The Town of Oak Grove will receive a $50,000 grant to two police vehicles and equipment to replace older cars that have reached the end of their useful lives. The total cost of the purchase is $70,000, and the town will cover the $20,000 not included in the grant.

"Police protection is vital to any successful community," Oak Grove Mayor Adam Holland said. "Having high-quality, reliable patrol cars are essential for the police department to function professionally and respond in a timely fashion to our citizens' needs. We thank Congressman Abraham, the Louisiana delegation and the staff at the USDA for helping make this improvement to our force a reality."

The City of Bastrop will receive a $42,600 grant to help buy three new police vehicles. The total cost of the purchase is $81,430. The remaining $38,830 not covered by the USDA grant will be covered in combined funding supplied by the city and the Louisiana Government Assistance Program (LGAP).

"These three new vehicles will provide a powerful visual reminder of the police presence on our roads and in our communities," Bastop Mayor Henry Cotton said. "It's hoped when people see these cars it will start conversations and raise confidence that we, the City of Bastrop, are committed to public safety above all other city government functions. We could not update our aging fleet without the funding assistance of the USDA Rural Development and the Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP), and the support of our 5th District United States Congressman, Dr. Abraham."

Cotton added, "Summer months are toughest on our aging and extremely high-mileage vehicles. Twelve-hour shifts with the engine and air conditioner running, it's touch on the care and it's even tougher on our police officers. These new vehicles will offer a higher level of comfort as well as serve as a morale booster within the department and within the community at large."