Evart City Council approves motion to apply for state grant funding

By Emily Nummer Special to the Herald Review

EVART — Evart is hoping to receive an Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement grant that will allow the city to make infrastructure improvements to prevent a crisis like the one in Flint from occurring.

On Monday, the Evart City Council approved a motion agreeing to contribute $150,000 of a $600,000 infrastructure project upon receipt of grant money.

“ICE stands for Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement, and it’s for communities that have upcoming water and sewer projects to replace old sewer lines and put in new water lines. When we do that, we put all new leads to the houses, so we don’t ever have a Flint problem. It’s a grant to help offset small communities’ costs. This would really hurt our budget if we paid for it ourselves, so we’re chasing the grant," said Evart City Manager Zach Szakacs.

Szakacs explained the ICE grant requires the grant recipient to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of the total cost of the project. However, offering to contribute a higher percentage may make an application more competitive.

“It’s a minimum of 10 percent, but if we only say 10 percent, and let’s say Farwell or Clare says they’ll do 20 percent, they would get more points because they have a higher local match — that’s showing the state they really want this project and they’re going to make this investment,” said Szakacs.

The council approved a 25 percent contribution from Evart in four to one vote, with Councilman Ralph Carlson opposed.

Szakacs is happy about the decision.

“We talked about 20 percent, but in reality, 25 percent is golden, because we’re basically paying for a quarter of it and that’s a really good investment from our side,” said Szakacs.

In other business, a motion to support the construction of a new depot stage was rescinded until depot building plans can be further reviewed to determine if a possible expansion would conflict with a newly built stage.

While board members voiced their support for the stage construction, they decided to hold off on a decision. “I think it’s a great idea. I just want to make sure we’re all working together and not pulling against each other,” said Mayor Casey Keysor.

Al Weinberg, Downtown Development Authority director, expressed a similar sentiment.

“Right now, I’d like to see if we can partner in this. And of course, I don't want to build something we’d have to take down,” he said.