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Feds allocate funds for mission project

Sun Advocate reporter

Ed Matejeck and his daughter help give a tour of Helper's Golden Rule Mission. A developer is planning a major renovation and rehab of facility by the end of this year.

The developer rehabilitating the Golden Rule Mission in Helper appeared before the Carbon commissioners at the county's Feb. 20 meeting.

Ben Logue, of the Salt Lake City-based La Porte Group, was on hand to answer questions and update commissioners at a second public hearing on the $2 million block grant his firm received for the project.

Logue acquired the mission at the beginning of the year with a promise to infuse new life into the building.

"We are going to totally renovate the mission," the defeloper told the commissioners. "We will have a new security system and bathrooms in each room, no more going down the hall to use the facilities."

Logue painted a picture of a very proactive organization that will be geared to much more than just housing the county's disadvantaged.

He said the mission is planning on partnering with the community to provide much needed life skills to the residents and people will receive help with substance abuse problems as well.

In addition to boosting services, the developer said the mission will also run background checks of potential residents of both facilities.

"It will be cleaner and safer for everybody," said Pogue.

The public portion of the hearing brought no naysayers to the podium, only staunch supporters of Logue's efforts in Carbon County.

"He is a very high quality developer and I believe he will meet the needs of the community," said Price Mayor Joe Piccolo.

While the Helper project was the one up for discussion at the hearing, Logue also plans to pour millions into Price as well.

He is also developing the Newhouse Hotel into affordable housing units, that may serve as a natural extension of the work being done at the Golden Rule.

"We will be taking people from the government roles and helping put them back on the tax roles," Logue said of the mission's goals.

The affordable housing units will be available to a wide variety of citizens, including those who are able to transition from the living at the mission, according to Logue.

Helper Councilmember John Jones stepped up to the podium Feb. 20, but speaking as resident not as an official of the city.

"As a citizen of Helper, I want to say that I support this work at the mission," said Jones.

It appeared that the second hearing on the community development block grant was fairly perfunctory, giving the county commission a chance to sound off on the development project.

They like the public had only positive comments.

"It's unanimous the commission wants to thank you for your efforts," said Commissioner Bill Krompel.

In addition to the block grant Logue told the commissioners that he is soliciting private investors looking for tax credits to supplement the $6 million needed for the Helper and Price cities projects.

As for the estimated time of completion for both the mission and the Newhouse, the developer told the county commissioners he is looking to have the work done by the end of the year.

"And we will be hiring local contractors to do the work," he said.

La Porte Management and Construction (the La Porte Group) has a solid history with low-income housing, according to a letter from the developer to Helper Mayor Mike Dalpiaz dated Oct. 30, 2007.

The letter states that the company has been involved with developing, rehabilitating and managing 11 low-income housing tax credit projects in the Salt Lake and Ogden areas.The developer further explained that his involvement with the mission in Helper came after he was approached by the Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund. The former owners of the mission requested that La Porte purchase the building and rehabilitate the facility using tax credit funds.

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