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Carbon County plans several improvement projects with money recently granted by state impact board

Willow Creek Mine buildings sit idle as the gravestones of those lost in the distant past in the same mine stand as silent sentinels to it's history of disaster, both financially and in cost of human life. Willow Creek officials have offered to sell the buildings to Carbon County for their new road maintenance shops and ambulance garage due to the fact that a recent sale of the mine has fallen through and it appears the site will need to be reclaimed. The county has been given approval for a low interest loan from the CIB to tear down and relocate the buildings. Carbon officials are presently evaluating whether the move would be cost effective both in terms of relocation and operations and maintenance.

Fourteen entities, primarily in rural Utah, will receive funds to help to pay for local improvement projects.

The Utah Community Impact board approved $8.5 million in grants and loans for projects that include the construction of a new library in Cedar City, a fire-training tower in Carbon County and funds for the Rio Theatre in Helper.

The CIB is a program of the Utah Division of Community Development. It helps state and local agencies and entities that are, or may be, directly or indirectly impacted by mineral resource development on nearby federal lands and the exclusion of those lands from the local tax base. The board provides assistance through grants and low-interest loans for the planning, construction, and maintenance of public facilities. The funds also help community agencies provide public services.

The Community Impact Board's next regular funding meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1.

The following projects were approved for grants and/or loans.

•Aurora. A $182,500 grant, $547,500 loan for improvements to the Sevier County community's water system including upgraded distribution lines and water meters, new fire hydrants, and a 300,000 gallon water storage tank.

•Carbon County Municipal Building Authority. A $2 million loan for the possible purchase of buildings at the old Willow Creek Mine near Helper to the county's road shop, maintenance and abatement, ambulance, and other operations.

According to Commissioner Bill Krompel, the buildings on the Willow Creek site are presently being evaluated for purchase.

"When the Walmart idea fell through, an overture from the present Willow Creek owners came to our attention," explained Krompel in an interview on Monday. "They told us that they had about six million dollars in buildings and said they would be interested in an offer."

The county had an architect evaluate the Walmart building which will be empty as of the middle of this month as a possible site for a move for all county offices and departments, including the road shop and the ambulance garage. But after having an engineering firm look at what it would cost to retrofit those buildings, the county decided to abandon that idea. It was estimated that the purchase price of $1.5 million would only be a portion of what it would cost to set the Walmart facility up for the intended use.

According to Krompel, the county is presently looking at what it would cost for maintenance and operations of the Willow Creek Mine buildings once they were moved to the proposed site of the new road shop and ambulance garage on a spot near the landfill on Airport Road.

"We also have to consider other costs," stated Krompel. "We need to look at how much more it would be for units to respond from that location as is opposed to our present facilities."

The money from the CIB involved in this particular project would be in the form of a low cost loan, not a grant.

•Carbon County Municipal Building Authority. A $364,788 grant for the construction of a training tower for fire departments in the county.

According to Fire Chief Kent Boyack, the new facility provided for by these funds will be built west of the model airport near the fairgrounds.

The facility would consist of a 40 foot tower, in addition to a one and two story residential fire simulator. Each of the residence structures would have a burn room in them for real fire training.

The tower would be used to simulate high rescues, repelling situations and other training exercises.

The use of the complex would not be limited to use by the county's fire departments either. Law enforcement would be using the buildings for training in hostage crisis training as well as SWAT training.

"The plan is to try and get the complex done by International Days," commented Boyack on Monday. "Of course that depends on whether the contractor can get all the materials and put it up by that time."

• Cedar City. A $2 million loan for the demolition of the existing city library and construction of a new 22,000 square-foot library at the same site. (A $6 million bond was approved by city voters in November to pay for most of the cost of the new building.)

• Duchesne County Municipal Building Authority. A $15,000 grant for energy efficiency studies of the Crossroads Senior and Community Center in Roosevelt, the county administration and justice center buildings in Duchesne.

•Five County Association of Governments. An $83,000 grant for the design and construction of a 10,000 square-foot office building for the organization in St. George.

•Fountain Green. A $40,000 grant for the Sanpete County community to buy a used backhoe.

•Helper. A $150,000 grant for the Carbon County city to match federal funds for the renovation of the Rio Theater.

"We hope to get the money by the middle of April," explained Helper Mayor Joe Bonnaci. "It will go a long way toward us opening the doors at the Rio Theatre."

Bonnaci stated that the money is not actually all new, but that it comes from an earlier grant that required matching funds that the city and the organizations involved in finishing the theatre had not been able to come up with.

"Recently we have been able to come up with funds to make this a reality," stated Bonacci.

"We had a grant from the Economic Development Authority and they allowed us to use that as matching funds. In addition to some of the other fund raising efforts, including the $15,000 we came up with from the antique and collectible auction last month, we were able to qualify for the money."

The city hopes to have the doors open soon by finishing up the rest rooms, dressing rooms and by installing the seats in the theatre house. Also the hope is there will be enough to do some painting and to put in some stage curtains.

"When we open it won't quite be done, but it will be very usable," said Bonacci.

•Midway. A $200,000 loan for the purchase of five acres and waters rights to expand the Wasatch County community's cemetery.

•Monroe. A $ 100,000 loan for the Sevier County town to expand a water regulating pond for its secondary irrigation system.

•Monticello. An $88,554 grant for cost over-runs on the construction of a new water treatment plant and distribution system improvements in the San Juan County community.

•Naples. A $117,000 grant for the Uintah county community to buy a dump truck, snow plow, and road sander.

•Orangeville. A $20,000 grant for the Emery County community to purchase two new trucks and a backhoe.

•Uintah County Municipal Building Authority. A $100,000 loan to renovate the building in Vernal housing county and state offices to provide additional space for the Tri-County Health Department.

•Utah Division of Community Development. A $464,500 grant to fund operating costs due to budget cuts for the seven regional Associations of Governments in Utah for the remainder of fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2003. Funds for the AOGs are appropriated by the legislature and administered by the Division of Community Development.

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