When winter arrives in South Dakota, Ravinia citizens rely on the township to clear two miles of local roads. Keeping local roads clear allows residents to get to and from work. When their equipment prevents them from clearing the roads, it makes the morning commute a bit more difficult.
“We had a truck and snowplow from the early 80s that was really falling into disrepair,” said Wade Wright, Ravinia’s mayor. “We were having a difficult time finding parts for the plow and maintenance on the truck was becoming more frequent and expensive.”
During a phone conversation about possible projects between Ravinia’s finance officer, Georgia Anderesh, and Loan Specialist Alison Larson from Rural Development, the topic of a new snowplow came up.
“I mentioned we have funding available for many projects like fire trucks, ambulances or snowplows,” said Alison. “Georgia was quick to say they could really use a new snowplow because of issues they were having with their very old truck.”
While Ravinia’s finance officer isn’t new to Rural Development loan and grant applications, she admitted it was helpful having Rural Development staff available to navigate the application.
“It had been a few years since I applied, so I was a little rusty on the process,” said Georgia. “Alison was very quick to reply to phone calls and emails and helped me correct any errors on our paperwork.”
“Georgia was amazing to work with,” said Rural Development Loan Specialist Alison Larson. “She did a great job getting things to me right away, which helps keep the application moving.”
The city then accepted bids on the old truck, which was sold to a farmer to keep his personal driveway and farmyard clear.
Wade, Georgia and Alison each shared other ways Ravinia is looking at Rural Development programs to support the community.
“Ravinia is also planning to update our aging storm sewer system, which has collapsed,” said Wade.
Wade said projects like these wouldn’t be possible for small communities without the support of Rural Development.
“We only have around 70 people living in Ravinia,” said Wade. “And we don’t have any local businesses that generate revenue to maintain critical services. If Rural Development didn’t exist, we would have a very difficult time upgrading our equipment and facilities.”
Alison encourages communities to contact Rural Development to see if there are programs available to assist with their projects.
“We’ll look at your project to see if Rural Development can assist,” said Alison. “If we don’t have a program that will work, we may be able to help direct applicants to other organizations.”
To see a full list of Community Facilities programs available through Rural Development, visit rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities.