Copemish receives $23,000 grant for new utility vehicle

CLEON TWP. — Copemish village was awarded a $23,000 grant toward the purchase of a new maintenance vehicle for the Department of Public Works.

Jason Allen, state director for USDA Rural Development in Michigan, said the grant program awards money toward rural areas around the state.

“This is under our community facilities funds which allows communities of modest income to get grants for equipment,” said Allen. “We are happy to support projects that help with the maintenance and infrastructure of small communities.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA) grant money will go toward the replacement of a 1996-model utility vehicle. The maintenance truck was described as “at the end of its useful life,” by a USDA press release.

Alec Lloyd, public information officer with the USDA, said this was a common situation faced by rural communities like Copemish.

“They’re dealing with obsolete, worn-out vehicles or equipment, and they don’t have the means to make a purchase on their own,” he said. “I think it speaks well in this particular instance that they took care of it for so long.”

To obtain the $23,000 maintenance vehicle grant money, Copemish village needed to cover the remaining cost of $18,966.

“It is unusual for rural development to provide 100 percent of funding in terms of a grant, but what we can do is help the applicant to make their dollar go farther,” said Lloyd. “For a village to come up with $20,000 is a lot easier than for them to come up with $41,000 — so we can be that bridge to get them the things they need.”

Lloyd said the rural development program has provided funds to the Copemish community in the past. In 2017, the USDA approved a $210,000 loan to repair Copemish’ deteriorating roads.

“Copemish’s roads were in terrible condition — it was a patch on top of patch,” said Lloyd. “It is one of those situations where there doesn’t seem to be any original pavement left.”

Lloyd believes these grants will benefit more than the 194 residents of Copemish.

“Everyone on every compass point around that village benefits,” he said. “If you’re driving through and everything’s pitted and nasty, or snow removal and public works isn’t effective than that’s going to effect you.”

Lloyd estimates that USDA rural development offers roughly $1 billion to rural communities each year.

“It varies a bit from year to year, and that would include all sources of funding, including grants and direct loans from the department and that would include guaranteed loans,” he said.

Additional project money has been allocated for projects in Gladwin County and the Iron River-area.

Copemish village president, Ronald Bytwerk could not be reached as of press time.

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