Sidney, MT, Apr 04, 2012 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Deputy Undersecretary Cheryl Cook joined Montana U.S. Senator Max Baucus on a tour through eastern Montana today to present a funding offer to the Town of Culbertson to repair their aging wastewater facilities, and speak with community members on opportunities for economic development in Sidney, Montana and surrounding communities. The region is experiencing significant growth in population, and the subsequent strain on its infrastructure as a result of the boom in oil and gas extraction in the Bakken formation along the Montana-North Dakota border.
“I am honored to be here in Montana at the invitation of the Senator,” said Ms. Cook. “USDA Rural Development is uniquely positioned to play an important support role as eastern Montana communities grow with the continued energy development in the region. We have made an offer to the Town of Culbertson to improve their wastewater system, and I am here in Sidney to listen to the needs and the vision of the community.”
Deputy Undersecretary Cook and Montana State Director for Rural Development Matt Jones came to eastern Montana at the request of Senator Baucus following his letter to President Obama requesting urgent action to support jobs in the Bakken field development.
“The more we work together from the local level on up, the better we’ll be able to support Montana energy jobs for the long haul. Economic growth in the Bakken region is full of opportunities and challenges – both of which require a thoughtful, targeted and urgent response,” said Baucus. “USDA Rural Development is answering the call to action and this investment in Culbertson will support jobs right away along with helping the community better attract business for the future.”
Senator Baucus, Ms. Cook, and Mr. Jones earlier presented a ceremonial check for just over $1 million to the Mayor of Culbertson, Mr. Gordon Oelkers, as a part of the official funding offer to the Town of Culbertson for repair and rehabilitation of their wastewater infrastructure.
The Town of Culbertson’s wastewater system was originally constructed in 1945. The mostly clay collection pipes are severely deteriorated, causing sewage backups into homes and businesses; the lift station is nearing the end of its useful life, and the treatment lagoons are undersized and do not meet Montana Department of Environmental Quality standards. The funding offer of $1,009,000 in grants and $2,847,000 in loans from USDA Rural Development are dependent upon approval by the Town of Culbertson and its meeting the specific conditions of the loan and grant agreement brought by Mr. Jones.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.