School district requests money for improvements

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— The Hayden School District on Tuesday requested $114,000 in state energy and mineral impact funds to replace carpet and remove asbestos at its high school and middle school.

Hayden Superintendent Scott Mader presented the district's grant application to a prioritization committee comprised of the Routt County Board of Commissioners, representatives of the cities of Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa, and representatives from Seneca Coal and Twentymile Coal companies.

The request was the only one heard by the prioritization committee for this funding cycle of the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program.

The program is funded by severance taxes paid by energy-producing industries and monies from federal mineral release funds. It is intended to put money back into Colorado communities affected by industries such as coal mining, Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

Grant requests must show a need for financial assistance and discuss the health and safety needs addressed by the request. If approved, grants typically do not exceed $300,000 for any individual request, Stahoviak said.

Mader said the carpet lining high school and middle school hallways and the high school library is in terrible condition.

"It's bad by anybody's standards," Mader said.

Underneath many of the carpeted areas is encapsulated asbestos, Mader said. The asbestos is not harmful until the carpet and underlying floor tiles are removed, he said. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral often used for insulation and fireproofing, and it can be harmful and even deadly if inhaled into the lungs in sufficient quantities. Asbestos is usually only harmful when it is disturbed and becomes airborne.

The school district's energy and mineral impact grant request calls for removal of the old carpet, asbestos removal and installation of new carpet. The entire project will cost an estimated $154,000, of which the district is requesting slightly more than $114,000 from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program. The remaining $40,000 would be funded by the school district over the next two years, Mader said.

The district must submit a final grant application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs by Aug. 1, Stahoviak said. The application -- and all other state energy impact grant applications -- will then be reviewed by an advisory committee, which will make its recommendations to the executive director of the Department of Local Affairs.

Stahoviak said Hayden School District's application is a strong one.

"They really identified the need for outside assistance," Stahoviak said. "I think they made a good case."

A final decision on the grant request probably will be made in late fall or early winter, Stahoviak said.

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