The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer prioritizes repairs for deep freeze damages


Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

FIRE HYDRANTS throughout the city of Bessemer, such as this one located along Moore Street, remain out of order due to infrastructure damages resulting from the past winter's deep freeze conditions. The city is seeking grant moneys through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to assist with funding repairs to its infrastructure.

BESSEMER - Bessemer city officials are in the process of applying for grant money provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to fund repairs to damaged infrastructure resulting from this past winter's harsh conditions.

The MEDC recently made $6 million in grants available to communities affected by the deep freeze. However, communities are required to meet certain criteria in order to be selected as a grant recipient.

"We're adjusting ... based on the highest impact areas and urgent needs," said Mike Uskiewicz, Bessemer's city manager.

Total damage assessments for the city have costs estimated at more than $1.2 million.

Uskiewicz said Colby, Moore and Longyear streets, "which have seen critical problems this past winter," have been identified as top priority.

The city is looking to pursue $623,584 in grant money through the MEDC to help repair the three streets, which have hydrants in the area still shutdown and water mains continuing to be bypassed.

Part of the grant's requirement is a local matching fund of 15 percent; however some of that match can come from money already spent on repairs, Uskiewicz said.

Officials are currently crunching the numbers to see how much it can afford for the match, which is an application requirement and a deciding factor of which communities will be chosen.

Communities will be scored based on a set of criteria, and will receive more points for having a larger percentage of the local match above the required 15 percent.

Communities will also be scored on whether the project is located in a community with a traditional downtown, by the project's impact on the region/community, and by the grant cost per person, which is calculated by taking the total grant request and dividing it by the 2010 U.S. Census population.

Bessemer also meets other criteria including being part of a local and/or state-declared State of Emergency, prior to June 1, as well as being unable to finance the project independently.

"This is vital," Uskiewicz said. "We clearly match the profile. ... They have told us they are going to streamline the process because they know we have a short construction season."

The grant application deadline is Aug. 18.

Offer letters are expected to go out to applicants awarded the highest scores by September, with funding being made available shortly after.


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