County may get USDA funding help for LCHD

County gets preliminary notice of $974,000 grant


LEE COUNTY - A preliminary award has been received by the county that will add close to $1 million to the funding of the Lee County Health Department.

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise called a special meeting of the board for Thursday at 3 p.m. for a resolution that's required for the grant.

The county has been working with the Mt. Pleasant Regional office of the USDA's Rural Development department to secure the grant. Fraise was notified Wednesday morning that funding through the Rural Emergency Health Care grant had been set aside, however there were some final documents that had to be secured before the end of the week to lock in the grant.

The county is currently using about $3.9 million of ARPA funds for the project that was initially estimated at $5.5 million. However, costs for the project, upon finalized designs, is expected to rise.

The grant now gives the county close to $5 million for the project. The county is also pursuing a Community Development Block Grant with the assistance of Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission for up to $600,000.

Those funds total $5.6 million, but Supervisor Garry Seyb said the county will probably need a least another million to get closer to the final costs of the project, and the CDBG grant isn't guaranteed either.

The city is planning to build a 14,000 square foot facility to house the Lee County Health Department and two Fort Madison EMS ambulance bays and staff space, on property that was donated to the county by the Glen Meller family.

The building will carry the Meller family name.

Seyb, who’s been shepherding the health department project since joining the supervisors, said the grant funding would come at a perfect time.

“This will provide funding for about 20% of the project and that’s money we don’t have to go to local taxpayers for,” Seyb said Wednesday. “That’s a big help for us. It takes a lot of effort for a grant this size.”

Seyb said he’s happy with the current progress of funding for the building, but said there will have to be some other sources uncovered.

The North Lee Community Foundation had committed to supervisors last fall to set up a fund to help raise donations for the facility. That fund had $100,000 in it when NLCF Executive Director Roger Ricketts presented to the board. Current funding levels on that effort weren’t available as of this posting.

“I’m very happy with where we’re at today. We’ve, the Board of Supervisors, committed to $5.4 million and anyone who looks at construction today will know that’s going to go up a bit. So this funding from the USDA really is a godsend,” Seyb said.

Lee County Grant Writer Chuck Vandenberg said he’ll feel better when the grant is finalized.

“The USDA staff at the regional office was incredibly helpful in putting this together. Time was really running down on the funding available in that REHC fund,” he said.

“This is literally down to the last days of getting this grant application finalized and documents signed. People say government is cumbersome, this is a great example of collaboration, and how it might help everyone.”

Vandenberg said Lee County officials including LCHD Administrator Michele Ross, the board, and officials with SVPA Architects and Carl A. Nelson all came together in the final days to help potentially secure the funding.

“It was a nice effort. We still have a little ways to go," he said.

Fort Madison, Lee County Health department, Iowa, USDA, resources, rural development, EMS bay, ambulance, Garry Seyb, supervisors, Pen City Current, news,


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