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Meeker County supports construction of transit building

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board is supporting the construction of a transit building. The board approved a resolution Tuesday supporting the application for a grant that would fund the construction of a building for the Meeker County Transi...

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board is supporting the construction of a transit building.

The board approved a resolution Tuesday supporting the application for a grant that would fund the construction of a building for the Meeker County Transit buses, county administrator Paul Virnig said. Currently, the buses are stored at Hicks Bus Line and Trucking at no charge.

The transit program is owned by Augustana Lutheran Homes and provides about 40,000 rides annually for county residents. The program has grown from two buses to five in 10 years.

Because of the growth, Augustana is looking at building a facility for the buses and is applying for a $600,000 grant to fund it. The grant requires a 20 percent match. The county has agreed to share that match with the city of Litchfield. The match can be a combination of cash and in-kind donations, Virnig said. The Litchfield City Council has not voted yet on the match, he said.

The facility would be built near the new public works building the county is planning to construct with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in east Litchfield north of U.S. Highway 12.

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The board approved an amended capital improvement plan Tuesday to fund the public works building and an improvement project on Meeker County Road 14, Virnig said. The county will bond up to $4 million.

The public works building is expected to cost $6 million with MnDOT contributing $1.7 million and the county providing the rest through bonding, state aid and reserves.

Also at the meeting, the board approved paying back a $60,000 grant it had received from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development for a business loan. The business that received the loan did not meet job creation requirements, according to the state.

Precision Fiberglass Inc. received a loan in 2000 that required it to add six full-time jobs, paying at least $8 an hour, according to the state.

No jobs were created, according to the state, and the money must be paid back. Precision Fiberglass will repay the county, and the county in turn will repay the state. The county can keep any interest it earned from the loan, according to the state.

The county uses loan payments from this program to build up a fund for loans to other companies.

Virnig said Precision Fiberglass is still in business and doing well but didn't expand as much as expected.

Tuesday's meeting was recessed until 7 p.m. Thursday when the County Board will take a tour of TRICO TCWIND in Litchfield.

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The board also will meet at 2 p.m. July 25 to open bids for the public works building project.

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