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The stimulus: one year later

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 3rd, 2010

Nearly a year after Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), better known as the stimulus package, $8,846,278 in grants and loans have been allocated or spent on projects in Goshen County.

Five major entities and one private business in the county have received ARRA money. Many of the allocated grants have yet to be distributed and some of the distributed funding has yet to be spent.

Eastern Wyoming College

The state of Wyoming awarded EWC two grant allocations of stimulus money to offset pending state budget cuts. The first is a $538,000 grant to address rising enrollment costs and to help offset the denial of enrollment adjustments at the state level for the next two years. The second is a $1.15 million major maintenance fund grant. The college is using the money towards a campus energy retrofit project. The project involves replacing an aging HVAC system and installing energy efficient light fixtures and windows.

The college also received a $555,000 energy retrofit grant from the Wyoming Business Council for the project. Business council energy grants are provided through stimulus funds.

The school also received two stimulus grants to implement changes in the green construction program. The changes will allow the program to offer Energy Star Rating certification classes. The business council also awarded EWC a $79,000 weatherization grant as part of the project, which the college will use the to purchase a mobile weatherization lab.

The college also received a $333,700 Energy Sector Partnership grant from Wyoming Workforce Services. The grant will allow the purchase of infrared cameras and blower doors for the upcoming weatherization program. The money will also be used to purchase a truck to transport the mobile weatherization lab.

Goshen County School District

The Goshen County School District received $1.3 million in stimulus funding. Assistant Superintendent Roger Humphrey said the district will use the funds to focus on improving curriculum, instruction and assessment programs at its schools.

The district will schedule 10 design academies where teachers will work to develop more unified curriculum from one grade level to another. The clinics will also help teachers develop more effective lessons for hard to teach subjects, Humphrey said.

“This is going to improve the design of how the lessons are being taught in the schools,” he said.

Humphrey said about 80 percent of the grant money allocated to the school will pay the costs of faculty attending the out-of-school training sessions. In addition to the design academies, the district will also hold curriculum training to analyze the current curriculum and evaluate its effectiveness.

Officials will spend other money improving the district’s data warehouse. The upgrades would allow teachers to track student performance from year-to-year and evaluate trends in their progress.

“(The) bottom line is this funding will impact student learning and student performance,” Humphrey said.

Goshen County

Four stimulus-funded grants are headed to Goshen County’s government operations, however the county has only received the funding for two of them thus far.

One grant is in the amount of $55,265 and comes from the United States Department of Justice. The Goshen County Sheriff’s Department bought new hand scanners and laptops with the funds. The department also allocated a $31,541 grant to the county’s victims assistance fund.

A $50,200 United States Department of Energy grant was allocated to the county as part of its energy retrofit project. The county also received a $750,000 grant from the Wyoming Business Council for the project in Dec. 2009. The county is waiting for administrators to finalize both grant applications before the retrofit goes out for bids.

County Commissioners Chairman Jim Hudelson said the county would likely save $60,000 a year in energy costs once the retrofit is completed.

“The energy savings from this project are going to be substantial,” he said, adding he expects work to begin on the project by late spring and finish up by the end of summer.

The retrofit includes replacing lighting fixtures and heating pumps in the County Courthouse.

City of Torrington

The city of Torrington received two stimulus-funded grants from the Department of Justice. The first, a $35,922 grant, allowed the Torrington Police Department to purchase new radio equipment as part of its move in the Lincoln Community Complex.

The department awarded a second grant to the department to hire an additional peace officer at EWC. The $167,380 grant pays the officer’s first three years of salary and wages.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Just less than $3.5 million in stimulus funding was granted for shovel-ready Wyoming Department of Transportation construction projects in Goshen County. The county used $3.4 million repave 9.75 miles of US Hwy. 85 south of Torrington. Another $97,770 was used for curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements on Wyoming Hwy. 151 in the town of LaGrange.

Small Business Loans

Hartman Family Dentistry in Torrington received a $308,000 Small Business Administration loan. The dental clinic used the loan as part of a refinancing project.

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