The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is investing $1.7 million in grants to build or improve eight essential community facilities in rural towns across Oregon, announced State Director John Huffman today.
"It can be challenging for very small, rural communities to finance significant repairs or new construction of schools, fire stations, and other essential facilities," said Huffman. "With these grants, we're ensuring rural residents across Oregon will have access to vital services for years to come."
The Oakridge High School, for example, is designated as the emergency shelter for this rural community in western Oregon. However, the school does not have an appropriate space to house evacuees and lacks a generator. The school district will use $600,000 in grants to convert unused athletic facility space into an 8,500-square-foot multi-purpose room that can serve as a shelter during emergencies while also providing space to host community meetings, after-school activities, and other events throughout the year. An emergency generator will also be installed. The renovation will provide this rural community of 4,418 people with a safe place to shelter during emergencies without forcing the school to cancel classes.
In eastern Oregon, the Eagle Valley Rural Fire Protection District will use $80,000 in grants to build a new fire station. The existing building in Richland does not have enough bays to house all of the district's vehicles and lacks room for training and vehicle maintenance. The new 6,200-square-foot building will provide five bays, a meeting and training room, and three offices. The new station will also be more centrally located within the district's service area. The construction project will enable this volunteer fire department to better meet the needs of its rural service area of 1,924 people.
The historic Dayville community hall was built in 1920 and is in need of repairs. With $472,000 in grants, this central Oregon town will make structural repairs, replace the HVAC and electrical systems, install insulation and a new roof, replace the kitchen and bathrooms, and bring the entire building into compliance with accessibility requirements. The renovation project will ensure this vital facility at the heart of a small, rural community of 149 people continues to provide space for community gatherings and activities for years to come.
Grants have also been awarded to five additional rural communities and nonprofits:
- The town of Wheeler will improve cybersecurity and the safety of parks and roads;
- Mapleton School District-Lane County School District #32 will renovate and re-open the Siuslaw Regional Aquatic Center;
- The nonprofit Neighbors for Kids will update fire safety systems and upgrade the facility;
- The town of Reedsport will purchase and equip a police vehicle; and
- The town of Winston will make accessibility improvements to the police department building.
This funding is being provided through two USDA programs and is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of their grant agreements.
The Community Facilities Program provides loans and grants to build or repair essential community facilities like hospitals and schools in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. The funding can also be used to purchase equipment for these facilities.
The Economic Impact Initiative Program provides grants to assist with the development of essential community facilities in rural areas experiencing severe economic depression, with a focus on communities with a population of 5,500 or less and those below 80 percent of the state nonmetropolitan median household income. Public bodies, nonprofits, and federally-recognized Tribes are eligible to apply for both programs. Applications are accepted year-round.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing, community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care facilities; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. Learn more at www.rd.usda.gov/or.