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County awarded $250k in housing and rehab grant

Staff report

WALSENBURG— Huerfano County sponsored the 2010 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application and has been awarded a $250,000 grant it will share with Las Animas County.  The grant funding will be used to rehabilitate dilapidated housing.  It can also be used to effect repairs to housing owned by seniors, those with disabilities and others who are unable to repair housing they own.

    The funds are usually split between Huerfano and Las Animas Counties with Las Animas receiving a larger share of the funds due to a larger population.  The award was announced in a letter from the Department of Local Affairs.

    A $180,000 dollar grant has been awarded to Huerfano County Emergency Dispatch.  It is part of the ENHANCE Act 2004 that is aimed at upgrading the phone systems of emergency dispatch facilities ultimately bringing the system into conformity with wireless standards currently being looked at by the federal government.

    “Through the ENHANCE Act we received just half of what we needed, about $90,000.  Then the state Department of Regulatory Agencies had enough funding to help three counties.  We were one of them and received the other half of the funding we needed for the project,” Emergency Dispatch Communications Director Don Mercier said.

    Qwest will be installing the phone equipment at a cost of about $163,000 along with other sundry charges in the project.  Emergency Dispatch is authorized to spend up to the full $180,000.

    “This whole project came down to how to finance.  This is really a team project between the county, and state and federal agencies,” Mercier said. 

    Aftershocks from the prison closing in March 2010 are still being felt in Huerfano County.  Some projects at the sports complex are still in the works with funding being one of the big holdups.  Permitting is another issue.  The County indicated that a request for funding to help with completing Re-1’s sports complex may find itself going unfulfilled.  Loss of prison revenue is causing the County Commissioners to adopt a fiscally conservative stance.  

    The locker/team area of the concession building needs a wall along the backside and permitting for that part of the project is still being worked on.  Lights, bleachers and some fencing are other areas needing completion with funding being the hold up on those projects.