WASHINGTON — The county could get more than $2 million in federal funding for infrastructure and improvement projects.
Grant County’s local projects were among a list of more than 100 included in a Senate appropriations bill for the next fiscal year, according to a Friday, July 29, press release from Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
The federal dollars would support water distribution system improvements in Prairie City, a remodel of Community Counseling Solutions, and a renovation project at the county’s emergency management office. According to the press release, the Senate appropriations bill needs to be included in legislation in the House of Representatives later this year.
Prairie City water system
Prairie City Mayor Jim Hamsher said the town would receive just over $600,000 to replace its water pipes. He also said the city would replace its old water meters with cellular meters, allowing the Prairie City Public Works Department to monitor the town’s water system in real time. The upgraded system, he said, would alert Public Works immediately to leaks and busted pipes.
He said Prairie City would benefit from the funding and he was grateful for Wyden and Merkley’s support.
“Recent droughts and multiple forest fires have shown the importance of conserving water,” Hamsher said. “The best way to conserve would be to eliminate wasting water by replacing the old pipes and meters.”
Health Department remodel
The Grant County Health Department building, which houses Community Counseling Solutions, is slated to receive $1.25 million for remodeling.
Grant County Health Administrator Kimberly Lindsay said the remodel is “desperately needed” and would open up more spaces for counseling, primary care and developmental disability services. Overall, she said, the remodel would allow for a better integration of services and more efficient use of space.
Emergency Management Office renovation
The Grant County Emergency Management Office is slated to receive nearly $300,000 to help renovate the former county Road Department shop on Humbolt Street in Canyon City.
The project, which began in February, involves building out a storage facility with enough space for emergency management supplies, said Eric Bush, Grant County’s emergency manager.
Some of those supplies include personal protective equipment that the county acquired to respond to COVID-19. The supplies at one point were spread over three locations, with some requiring a climate-controlled environment.
Bush said county crews have put in four shipping containers at the site on Humbolt Street, installed overhead and underground power lines and are working on building out the infrastructure. Now, he said, they will be working on remodeling the county shop building to accommodate the Emergency Management Office, which is currently run out of the L building on Main Street in John Day.
Bush said the idea behind moving the Emergency Management Office to the Humbolt Street site is to have departments with similar functions at the same location and that ultimately the plan is to bring the Grant County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team to the site.
Earlier this year the county commissioners voted to place the Emergency Management Office under the authority of the sheriff instead of the County Court.
Bush said emergency management and search and rescue operations would function more efficiently from the same location. Additionally, he said, the idea is to use the space and the assets the county has and consolidate the properties the county has among its various departments.
Instead of constructing a million-dollar building, Bush said, the idea is to build up the infrastructure at a property the county already owns.
“We’ve got some great space; we’ve got stuff already,” he said. “We’re trying to get ourselves a better infrastructure that is going to last a long time.”