Three organizations to apply for state grants in April

Agencies encouraged to prioritize requests and offer matching funds

— A new middle school.

Upgraded water lines.

More secure and efficient court facilities.

They all cost money, local officials said - expenses area organizations can't support on their own.

A solution: The Department of Local Affairs, the self-professed "face of state government," according to the department's Web site. The state group acts as the first point of contact in obtaining state funding.

By next month, the Moffat County School District, the city of Craig and the Moffat County Commission will apply for more than $3 million in DOLA grants.

DOLA encourages local groups to prioritize grant requests before applying for funds, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said.

"They do like communities that work together," he said.

Representatives from the school district, the city and the county met Tuesday night to rank the priority of the projects each brought to the table.

Last year's election played a role in determining which would land at the top of the list.

"Voters said the school was the highest priority, so we made it the highest priority, as well," Gray said.

April 1 is the deadline for the next DOLA grant application cycle. The next cycle begins in August.

Projects for consideration

Superintendent Pete Bergmann presented the district's grant request, which would help fund several upgrades to a new middle school, slated for construction where the current middle school stands.

Voters approved a $29.5 million bond issue for district-wide capital improvements last year and included the new school's construction.

The district plans to deepen the new building's foundation, upgrade the roof design, install environmentally efficient features and add new systems, lighting and theater equipment to the building's auditorium.

Recent soil reports from the middle school site show unexpected expansion and settling in the area, Bergmann said.

The district also intends to make space for an auxiliary gym in the school's proposed floor plan.

Mark Rydberg, Moffat County School District financial director, estimated the five projects will cost approximately $2.5 to $3 million, adding that those figures are "ball park estimates."

"We're going to have solid numbers in a week," he said.

Ultimately, the school plans to apply for about $2 million in DOLA funds, Rydberg said, again stressing that the figure remains an estimate.

DOLA encourages its applicants to match a percentage of the requested grant amount.

The school district plans to offer between 25 and 50 percent of its requested grant, Rydberg said.

Some of the funds generated by the recently passed bond issue will be used to match the grant.

"We won't have the matching money pretty much after this," he said.

If the department provides the grant, the district doesn't plan to ask the state agency for funding again in the foreseeable future unless unexpected expenses arise, Rydberg said.

Local governing groups also intend to apply for DOLA funds.

City officials will seek a $400,000 grant to replace water lines along First Street, City Clerk Shirley Seely said.

The existing iron piping often cracks and breaks, Seely said. The grant would allow the city to replace the lines with PVC pipes.

The city is willing to put forward up to 50 percent of the grant for matching purposes.

Finally, Moffat County officials will request a $140,000 grant in the upcoming grant cycle.

The money would pay for a feasibility study on moving the Moffat County Court House facilities to the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

"The court has requested security," Gray said. "It means that we need to look into all options."

Moving court facilities to the Safety Center is one option that has recently been suggested, Gray said.

The move would provide court facilities with security already at the Safety Center, Gray said, and simplify the transport of convicted offenders from court rooms to the jail.

The study would examine costs of moving court facilities and remodeling the space where they currently are located.

The County Commission is planning to match 25 percent of requested grant, Commissioner Tom Mathers said.

He estimated that the final cost of moving the court facilities would cost around $8 million.

Once the applications are sent to DOLA, agencies usually wait for two to three months before receiving word if their requests were granted, Seely said.

If the applications are approved, however, the agencies may not have to wait very long for the money.

"It usually comes pretty quickly," Seely said.

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