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Meeker Co. commissioners discuss federal stimulus

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board of Commissioners Tuesday discussed possible county projects that could garner funding from a proposed federal stimulus plan.

County Administrator Paul Virnig said Tuesday afternoon the Board of Commissioners discussed a couple county project ideas that might be eligible for funding from a federal stimulus plan.

Last week, Democrats in Congress proposed an $825 billion stimulus plan in which a large portion of funding is directed toward infrastructure projects.

"We don't have a real good idea what they (the federal government) are looking for in these projects," Virnig said. "They say they need to be road ready or ready to go within 90 days."

One of those projects, he said, involves building a walking path onto a bridge on County Road 20 near Lake Koronis. He also said there was discussion about building a shelter near Lake Koronis for campers to huddle under if emergency sirens start blaring like they did twice over the summer.

"There is some discussion that there could be non-road construction projects that might be there too," Virnig said about the possible stimulus plan. "They don't want to feed all this money just into the roads so just those contractors are busy."

Virnig said one of the non-road projects discussed by the board included the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response system. The 800-megahertz radio system, which allows multiple emergency entities to communicate with each other during disasters, requires new equipment, towers and other essential items.

Other projects mentioned by the board included one for the Meeker County transit building and another for possible public camping units at Lake Koronis. The county has tried to obtain grants for the units in previous years, Virnig said.

In other business Tuesday:

- The board told county Highway Engineer Ron Mortenson to advertise for bids for the County Road 15 repaving project. According to the Tribune archive, Meeker County started the $1.8 million construction project on the seven-mile stretch in the summer and scheduled the repaving for the spring. County Road 15 is a state-aid highway. County state-aid highways are owned by the counties but designated as part of a system of roads for which counties receive state money for construction, improvement and maintenance.

- Virnig shared some figures regarding Meeker County's state aid allotments. Virnig indicated the county has received between $2,531,353 and $2,697,386 in state aid allotments per year since 2000. Virnig said the 6.5 percent increase of funds over nine years isn't enough when the cost for new construction or rebuilding something in that time period has "more than doubled" for numerous reasons.