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By Caroline Downs
Kenmare made the “approved” list Thursday when the Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) listed the city for a $1.8 million grant.
The money was awarded for infrastructure improvements, specifically Kenmare’s lagoon expansion project.
The Land Board committed about $71 million in Energy Impact Grant funds to 20 cities in the oil-producing counties.
Kenmare mayor Roger Ness was pleased to see the city’s application accepted in this round. “What we received is really going to do a good job for this project,” he said.
City engineer Ryan Ackerman, of Ackerman-Estvold Engineering & Management Consulting in Minot, said the funding would allow the city to add capacity at the current wastewater lagoons to accommodate future growth. “It’s very good news for Kenmare,” he said. “This is about making a strategic investment in public infrastructure here.”
According to Ackerman, the lagoon expansion project involves installing technology to the city’s wastewater treatment system to improve efficiency. The individually-powered surface aerators currently in use on the lagoon ponds would be replaced by a below-water mechanical aeration system.
“Right now, the lagoon has some low-volume, low-flow units and some high-volume, high-flow units, but they’re not very reliable,” said Ackerman.
Depending on the final project specifications, the existing ponds may be deepened before a new aeration system is installed. “We’re firing up the design team right now,” Ackerman said. “We’re looking to have the project out for bids in January or February so construction can start next spring.”
He added that the spring lagoon smell so familiar to Kenmare residents should be eliminated after this project is completed. “It’ll be a nice improvement for the city,” he said.
He estimated a total project cost of $2 million.
Ness said Kenmare submitted three applications for this round of funding, for requests totalling just over $6 million. A second project involved upgrading and urbanizing Ward County Road 2 where it runs through town, and the third application addressed the downtown improvement project, including new lights, sidewalks and curb and gutter.
“They told us the downtown wasn’t eligible,” said Ness. “We need an upgrade around the square, but it might cost close to $1 million. We’ve got to come up with an idea for what we’re going to do.”
Further plans for the city lagoon expansion and other projects will be presented and discussed during Kenmare City Council meetings in the coming months. The next meeting will take place Monday, July 8th, beginning at 8 pm in council chambers at the Memorial Hall.
Land Board grants directed
to infrastructure, education
The Energy Impact Grants are intended to help offset the impacts of rapid development. The state will provide about $240 million through the grants during the 2013-2015 biennium for the western counties.
The grant program is part of a much larger, ongoing state commitment to address the region’s rapid growth challenges. In all, the state will invest about $2.6 billion to support the state’s oil and gas region during the 2013-2015 biennium. The money will be used to address a wide range of needs in western North Dakota, including highway, county and township road improvements, water supply and water treatment projects, public safety and emergency service enhancements and other assistance for schools, counties and cities.
The $71 million committed last week by the Land Board will help 20 communities in western North Dakota cover the costs of water supply improvement projects, wastewater treatment upgrades, water and sewer line upgrades and other infrastructure improvements. Those grants do not include $14 million in energy impact grant funding to be awarded to the hub cities of Williston, Minot and Dickinson.
For a complete list of projects approved for funding by the Land Board on June 27th, go to www.nd.gov/energyimpact.
At the same meeting, the Land Board established an advisory committee made up of school administrators from western North Dakota and a representative of the state Department of Public Instruction to guide the process of awarding $25 million in Energy Impact Grant funds to K-12 schools impacted by oil and gas development. Educational leaders from western North Dakota who will serve on the advisory board are Steve Holen of Watford City, Marc Bluestone of New Town, Ben Schafer of Ray, Mike Ness of Hazen and Gary Wilz of Killdeer.
In other action at the meeting, the Land Board agreed to establish an advisory committee made up of law enforcement officials to guide the process of awarding $7 million in Energy Impact Grant funds to support sheriff departments in the oil-producing region.
During a May 30th meeting, the Land Board took the following action to distribute Energy Impact Grant funds during the 2013-2015 biennium:
•Approved a grant schedule to provide $60 million in cost-share grants to airports impacted by oil and gas development during the 2013-2015 biennium.
•Dedicated $25 million in grant funds to K-12 schools impacted by oil and gas development.
•Approved a grant schedule to provide $14 million to help the cities of Williston, Minot and Dickinson cover the costs of municipal water supply and wastewater treatment upgrades.
In addition to providing $240 million in energy impact grants, the state will continue to support the oil and gas region in many other ways. The next two years will bring major infrastructure improvements to the region, including the construction of new bypass routes and the expansion of state Highway 85 between Watford City and Williston into a four-lane highway.
Other state commitments include stationing more state troopers in the region; enhancements to the region’s court system, emergency services, fire districts and sheriff departments; funding for schools experiencing rapid growth in enrollments, a loan program for the construction of schools; and funding for dust suppression projects.
Governor Jack Dalrymple is chairman of the five-member state Land Board. Other board members are Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt.