June 16 – KNOXVILLE – Marion County has received a RISE grant to improve traffic safety on Highway 163 for LDJ Manufacturing.

The RISE (Rural Innovation Stronger Economy) grant program, distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture, provides assistance to “create and increase high-wage jobs, accelerate the creation of new businesses, support industrial clusters and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas.

Grant funds can be used to build or support a business incubator; provide training to workers to help and create new jobs; training the existing workforce with skills for higher paying jobs; and develop a base of skilled workers to improve their chances of securing well-paying jobs in new or existing local industries.

The grant will provide funds to improve the existing median gravel crossing that separates the two sides of the freeway located across from the entrance to the LDJ Manufacturing property. The company, located in Pella, manufactures diesel fuel and service trailers for the agricultural and construction sectors.

CEO Loren Van Wyk first asked the county to apply for the grant at a meeting of the Marion County Board of Supervisors in early March, citing concern for the safety of its employees. According to Van Wyk, the gravel pad poses a risk to his employees who cross it daily due to dust, frequent potholes and traffic at speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour.

Additionally, Van Wyk said the upgrades are needed to expand their current facility. According to a project agreement between the county and LDJ, the company’s expansion will create 45 additional full-time jobs over the next three years and 12 additional employees after that date. The company estimates that these new positions will generate $1.8 million per year in new revenue for the county.

The supervisors approved said agreement and a contract with LDJ, in addition to an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation for the subsidy during their meeting on Tuesday. They also approved an engineering services agreement with Garden and Associates.

Garden and Associates will be responsible for constructing turn lanes associated with the project.

“Their estimate of services was included in the grant application, which exceeded the 15% allowed by the grant. So there will be a share of $16,000 that you have to find as a county outside of what the RISE grant would fund. said Marion County Engineer Tyler Christian.

The total project cost is estimated at $281,251. The RISE grant will reimburse the county for 80% of the project costs, or $225,001. The county will be responsible for an estimated $72,500 not covered by the grant, which includes engineering costs estimated at $16,000.

In other news:

– Supervisors have approved the listing of Pella’s 1% local options sales and services tax on the special ballot scheduled for September 13, 2022. Pella voters will have the opportunity to vote for renewal of the city’s LOSST, which expires December 31, 2023 The LOSST will provide $18.2 million in funding for city projects, including a new recreational facility and updates to the Pella Community Center, among others .

— Supervisors approved a 15-year urban renewal plan for the town of Pella. This will give ATI Group the opportunity to recoup $2.4 million in public infrastructure costs for the first phase of the new Timber View housing development. The development will provide 58 additional single-family homes, 37 detached single-family homes and a new urban park.

— Supervisors approved adoption and appropriation of a county budget amendment for fiscal year 2022. The amendment allocated funds to several county departments, including $800,000 for the highways department, 736 $906 for the Department of Conservation, $368,664 for Public Health, and $6.1 million for non-departments. These changes are the result of several projects, grants, and programs in said departments, including the ARPA and General Obligation Bond projects. Supervisory Chairman Mark Raymie and Marion County Auditor Jake Grandia said the funds did not come from taxpayer dollars, but were redistributed from existing county funds.

Emily Hawk is associate editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. She can be reached at ehawk@oskyherald.com.

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