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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Grant bootcamp: Communities navigate maze of federal infrastructure aid

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024   

Federal officials have opened up a new round of funding under one of the many grant programs tied to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

As the multiyear initiative unfolds, North Dakota cities are getting an education on how to apply for funds. Since the law's passage, North Dakota has been awarded more than $3 billion, with investments in roads and bridges, water systems and high-speed internet.

Matt Gardner, executive director of the North Dakota League of Cities, said what is great about the package is towns and cities have more direct access to funds, instead of most of it being distributed by the states. It also means there is stiff competition.

"One thing to consider is, of the 355 cities in North Dakota, 306 of those are under a thousand people in population," Gardner pointed out.

He suggested smaller communities might lack the capacity to examine the dozens of programs and figure out compliance needs for grants. The National League of Cities is hosting "bootcamps" for local governments to help them become more savvy in applying. The latest funding announcement was for a pilot effort to help reconnect areas cut off from opportunity by past transportation projects.

Gardner acknowledged the Biden administration is trying to make the application process easier with free technical assistance but noted municipalities may need a few more tips on not wasting time in seeking grants that would not fit their needs. And they need to know if they can cover matching funds.

"This money isn't free. I mean, it comes with strings," Gardner emphasized. "If a city is applying directly, in general, it's going to be those local funds (that are also needed)."

He added several towns can work together on a single application with hopes of the state covering matching funds, potentially boosting approval chances. Gardner agreed with elected officials who said the infrastructure law will help communities thrive, creating temporary jobs along the way. His only caution was a potential spike in project costs if the investments collectively drive up demand for supplies.


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