Wednesday, March 21, 2018

FEMA rockslide grant finally official

A federal FEMA grant has finally been awarded to Stillwater County, the county commissioners learned Monday afternoon. This is news they have been eagerly awaiting for months.

The grant is a Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant. The goal of such a grant, according to the FEMA website, is to “reduce overall risk to the population and structures from future hazard events, while also reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters.”

The Stillwater River Road rockslide project has a $2.48 million price tag. The FEMA grant will fund $1.86 million of the total, leaving the county’s share at $620,000.
According to Commissioner Mark Crago, $400,000 of the county’s portion of the bill is currently in the Road and Bridge budget as Treasure State Endowment Program funds ($300,000) and a line item ($100,000). The remaining $220,000 is the county’s soft match.

According to Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) Coordinator Carol Arkell, some aspects of the project that grant funding will go toward include: a temporary rock berm and fence along the river to keep debris out of the water during the project, manual removal of loose rock, installation of the rock dowels, and rock fall signs.

The grant, to aid with the funding of the Stillwater River Road rockslide project, was almost a year in the making. According to Arkell, the grant was submitted to State DES on May 31, 2016.

Following submission to the state, the grant application had to make it through the gauntlet of a nationally competitive process to reach the final approval stages.
For the most part, the county’s application moved through the process easily, with only a minor setback following the discovery of archeologically significant tipi rings at the initially proposed dump site.

State DES Hazard Mitigation Officer Nadene Wadsworth, at a meeting with county officials on March 23, said that Stillwater’s application was actually completing the process at a fairly quick rate compared to some of the other projects she’s worked with.

At that meeting, Wadsworth anticipated the grant being awarded in 30 to 60 days. The award came 58 days later.

The commissioners have had to wait to begin any work on the project until the grant was officially awarded as to not jeopardize any of the funding.

At Tuesday’s agenda meeting, Crago announced that the county has already contacted the contractor for phase one of the project. Now the waiting is for a scheduled start date to finally begin the work that residents have been anticipating.

Crago thanked Arkell and the Road and Bridge department led by Superintendent Mark Schreiner for all of the hard work that went into the grant process.