By JR Henry, Islander Contributor ALBURGH –
The Alburgh Community Education Center (ACEC) has received a $250,000 federal grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to help construct a daycare and community support center adjacent to the town’s elementary school. The award was among a dozen local grants totaling more than $7.9 million announced by Gov. Phil Scott, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. in a ceremony in Springfield last week. The federal grants are designed to spur job creation, build essential infrastructure, train new workers, and develop communities. The $250,000 is expected to go a long way to help fund the nearly $1 million project, which the organizers have dubbed the “Alburgh Family Clubhouse.” ACEC Principal Beth Hemingway was on hand to accept the federal grant on behalf of Alburgh. Scott stated “the NBRC has quickly become one of the largest economic development tools we have in Vermont. These grants help build critical infrastructure, expand our workforce, and strengthen our communities.” “Vermonters in nearly every corner of the state will feel the impact of these grants with projects like the creation of a new childcare facility in Alburgh, an improved water system in Randolph, outdoor recreation facilities in the Northeast Kingdom and the continued operation of a paper mill in Brattleboro,” said Scott, who serves as State Co-Chair of the NBRC. Leahy, Vermont’s senior senator, said he was excited about the latest rounds of grants to help rural Vermont. “These projects will ensure that rural areas have the same opportunities for success as urban areas and contribute to the economic wellbeing of our state,” said Leahy, who championed the NBRC’s $25 million budget as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “By investing in projects from childcare to infrastructure, these grants will have widespread economic and community development benefits for Vermont communities,” Welch said. The third member of the Vermont Congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. was unable to attend. The 12 projects selected were from among 60 proposals submitted, according to Taylor Newton, the Senior Planner for the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) who helped oversee the ACEC grant writing process.
Among the other grants announced was $443,956 to the City of St. Albans to build basic public infrastructure to redevelop the former Fonda/ solo manufacturing site.
Upon receipt of the news, Hemingway hosted a roundtable discussion and tour of the school that included representatives from the United Way, NRPC, the Clubhouse Board and members of Senator Bernie Sanders’ staff. Sanders was unable to attend.
Gina Lewis, vice president of the Clubhouse Executive Board, emphasized during the meeting what a truly grassroots effort the project has been.
Newton added the project “is the most bottom-up project I have seen in my time at NRPC.”
According to Gov. Scott’s office, the NBRC grant program was created as part of the 2008 Farm Bill as a federal-state partnership focused on alleviating economic distress and encouraging private-sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.
Among the other Vermont projects that received funding were:
• Vermont Community Loan Fund – $250,000: To launch a new low-interest revolving loan fund to support capital needed for Vermont’s working lands, forestry, and outdoor recreation sectors entrepreneurs.
• City of Winooski – $450,000: To install 0.75 miles of new municipally owned underground infrastructure as part of Winooski’s Main Street Revitalization project.
• Let’s Grow Kids – $250,000: To expand the “Make Way for Kids” project supporting job retention by enabling parents with children zero to five to stay in/return to the workforce.