Area benefits from grants

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— Yampa is finally going to get a fire truck that isn't 50 years old, thanks to an energy impact grant that was finalized this week.

Gov. Bill Owens announced Tuesday that three Routt County communities will share more than $500,000 in energy impact grants. The source of the money is severance taxes and mineral lease royalties paid by the oil, gas and mining industries.

Among the grants is $135,790 to purchase the new truck for the Yampa Fire Protection District.

County Commissioner Doug Monger said the new pumper truck is much needed by the volunteers who cover Yampa and surrounding rural areas.

"The average age of their equipment is more than 50 years old," Monger said. "Last year they had a fire and their tanker wouldn't run so they pulled it to the fire on a low-boy (flat-bed truck)," Monger said. "They have another truck that is on loan from the Steamboat Springs Fire Department."

In addition to the grant for the Yampa fire department, the Hayden School District will receive $60,902 for a new full-sized school bus capable of transporting students who use wheelchairs.

The city of Steamboat Springs will get $300,000 to help with building a new sewer main. The new wastewater pipeline will be able to keep up with the capacity of the city's wastewater treatment plant when a current expansion project is complete.

The energy impact grants are administered by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. They are meant to partially offset the direct and indirect impacts of natural resource extraction industries in the state.

Monger said all three of the projects funded by the grants this week had been identified for a high priority by a local committee that screened a variety of funding requests from around the county. Monger and Commissioner Dan Ellison sat in on the statewide funding hearings held in Steamboat earlier this summer.

"I was definitely pleased to see that all three projects were funded," Monger said.

The Yampa Fire Protection District has a limited tax base and must cover a large geographic base, Monger said. Recruitment of volunteer firefighters hasn't been easy, he added.

The addition of a new pumper truck will also give a boost to the effort to suppress wildland fires in South Routt, Monger observed.

The need for the new school bus in Hayden is also very deserving, Monger said. The Hayden School District has two students who use wheelchairs, and currently, they must be transported in a special van. The separate means of transportation deprives them of the social interaction they would benefit from if they were transported to and from school and field trips with their peers.

The new bus will be equipped with a lift and provide spaces for the students' wheelchairs to be secured while they are riding on the bus.

Steamboat's grant will help meet a crucial need, Monger said. The city is currently engaged in a major expansion of its wastewater treatment facility. However, on July 4 this year, the existing 20-inch sewer line wasn't able to keep up with peak demand. A new 30-inch main will meet demand for years to come, Monger said.

The grants presented to the Routt County applicants are among nine projects awarded $1.39 million in the "northern mountains region" of the state.

Among the other grants is $202,500 for the town of Walden's wastewater treatment plant project. Walden is about 60 miles northeast of Steamboat.

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