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Ward County creates task force

Commission considers potential grant program

A task force will be helping the Ward County Commission develop a process to potentially help spend $6.57 million in American Rescue Act dollars.

The county commission appointed a task force Tuesday after hearing from representatives of Moore Engineering about infrastructure needs in rural communities. Ward County is allowed under the federal rules to allocate money to city projects within the county.

Carpio, Berthold, Sawyer and Makoti are all facing major water and sewer projects.

AJ Tuck with Moore Engineering, Bismarck, said the communities are applying for grants from other agencies but would like the county to also make American Rescue Act funds available to cities, as Burleigh County has done with its federal dollars.

The county task force will include two commissioners, auditor, highway engineer and representatives from the county emergency management and First District Health Unit. The task force will develop parameters for a grant program to recommend to the commission, which still is considering whether to initiate a program.

The county also is allowed under federal rules to use money from the American Rescue Act to recoup any revenue loss that occurred between 2019 and 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Ward County saw a loss of just over $3.68 million. The loss included reduced state aid and was spread throughout operations, with no particular department experiencing a significant share, according to Auditor Marisa Haman.

Should the county opt for a grant program, the four communities represented by Moore Engineering have projects ready to apply.

Carpio is looking at replacing its failing mechanical wastewater system with a lagoon at a cost of $2.29 million. Although less urgent, Carpio also would like to complete a $1.83 million sewer rehabilitation project.

In keeping with a capital improvements plan adopted in 2019, Berthold is proposing a sewer rehabilitation project under its Main Street at a cost of $2.6 million.

Makoti is pursuing a $800,000 project to line sewer pipes to extend the life of those pipes.

Sawyer has two blocks of sewer and water pipes that need replacing. Also, about 75% of its hydrants don’t work as they should and require replacement. Total cost is $1.3 million.

The communities would be interested in applying for a 75% county cost share, totaling about $6.6 million, if the county creates a grant program.

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