Havre Daily News
The city of Havre and Hill County were presented Thursday with checks totaling nearly $1 million from the Montana Department of Commerce to be spent on two separate projects.
Hill County has received $450,750 to replace three aging crossings over Sage Creek and the city has received $500,000 for water line improvements during the U.S. Highway 2 reconstruction project. Both grants came from the Treasure State Endowment Program. Funding for both projects was approved by the Montana Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Schweitzer on May 6.
"We don't make million-dollar grants very often," Department of Commerce director Tony Priete said before Thursday's presentation as the reason for the ceremony, complete with over-sized checks.
The grant applications were both written by Bear Paw Developement Corp., which was paid $6,000 for the county grant and $10,000 for the city grant, said Bear Paw executive director Paul Tuss. Priete, a Havre native, is a former executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp.
Hill County will use its grant to replace two bridges and a culvert on Sage Creek. The Montana Department of Transportation last inspected Hill County's bridges in 2003. With that imformation and an assessment done by Great West Engineering, formerly Entranco Inc., the structures were deemed by the County Commission to be highest on the priority list to be fixed.
County Commission chair Kathy Bessette said the county had spent lots of money repairing the structures.
"Finally you've got to do something rather than keep putting money in an old structure," she said.
The Big Sage Bridge, 15 miles north of Hingham on County Road 145, has had many problems, Bear Paw Development deputy director Annmarie Robinson said Wednesday. The decades- old timber bridge has splitting support beams and bowed back walls, she said. The Lineweaver Bridge, 21 miles north of Inverness on County Road 35, was built around the same time and was starting to lean, she said. Henry's Culvert is located 2 miles north of Box Elder on South Fresno Road. A bridge first built in that spot in 1948 washed away 30 years later, Bessette said. Since then, an undersized culvert built to replace it has proved incapable of handling even normal runoff, Robinson said.
"They've had to rebuild that road about 20 times," she said.
Bessette said both wooden bridges will be replaced with larger, concrete bridges. The Henry's crossing will remain a culvert, but will be a much enlarged, sturdier version.
No date has been set on when building will begin, but Bessette said it may not be until 2007.
Great West Engineering put the total probable cost of building all three strucures at $720,000, Bessette said. The rest of the money will come from county tax funds, including labor by county employees.
"Bridges are expensive to replace," Bessette said at the presentation, "and we are overjoyed to say the least."
The city's grant money will cover some of the $1.15 million cost associated with replacing underground water mains beneath First Street and adding 20 fire hydrants. A total of 3,900 feet will be replaced during the project, which is scheduled to being in the spring of 2007. Other sources of money for the project are $15,000 from the city, $140,000 in loan money from a state revolving fund, and $495,000 from the Montana Department of Transportation.
The water main replacement and hydrant additions will be done during MDT's U.S. Highway 2 reconstruction project. The project, which officials expect to be finished by the fall of 2008, will cost between $12 million and $15 million, Havre Mayor Bob Rice said at the presentation.
"The magnitude of the project is the biggest in the state," he said. "It's going to be a big deal for Havre."
Priete praised the city, county and Bear Paw Development for their ability to come up with some winning proposals to get the projects done.
"These efforts are not easy," he said. "There are not enough funds to fund every project that comes in."