Grand Junction Stimulus Team Making Progress

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

A 12 person team for the City of Grand Junction says it's making good progress as it works to bring federal stimulus dollars to the Grand Valley.

For nearly a month, members of the Grand Junction City Stimulus Team have been working to track down ways to get stimulus dollars and put them to use.

"We're starting to dial in a little bit more now," said Rich Englehart, Deputy City Manager for the City of Grand Junction. "The team is still meeting on a weekly basis."

"Things are evolving every day," said Jodi Romero, Financial Operations Manager for the City of Grand Junction.

And they say that picture is starting to become a lot clearer.

"There's roughly ten to twelve opportunities out there we're continuing to look at," said Englehart.

Team members say the city has received about $500,000 in direct funding from the federal and state governments -- $91,783 that will be used to help improve communities, $254,568 for a new communications and records system that will be shared by the Grand Junction Police Department and Mesa County Sheriff's Office, and $229,800 for energy efficiency projects such as replacing city street lights with LED bulbs.

"From what our research shows, there can be large savings in energy efficiencies," said Englehart.

And they say there's more exciting possibilities in store. Team members say the city has already applied for a grant that would pay to fill five of their frozen, vacant police positions for the next three years.

And they're waiting to hear more about a grant that could help them build a new fire station and make renovations to another -- two things they tried to do with the failed Public Safety Initiative.

"It's an opportunity we're taking a strong look at," said Englehart. "If we're successful, we're certainly going to come back to the public with a different looking project."

The team says there are also grants that could put upwards of $30 million towards expanding 29 Road and building an overpass over the railroad tracks, building a machine at the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant that would turn methane into usuable natural gas, and construct an alternative fuel pump that some city vehicles would use.

"It will put people to work and it will put capital investment into the community," said Romero.

The team says in recent weeks, it has also been working with Mesa County, the Town of Palisade, and the City of Fruita, in hopes of securing additional money that the city may not qualify for.

"Ultimately, the goal is to get our citizens to work, whether it's in the Valley or on the Western Slope," said Englehart. "Because we all benefit postively from that."

Even with all that under their belts, team members say their work is far from over.

"We're watching it continually to make sure that we're taking advantage of any opportunity we see," said Romero.

City officials say the criteria for many of those grants should be released within the coming weeks. They say they should have another update on their progress early next month.

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