11 apply for grant funds; university wants all $1.6 million

Eleven entities have applied for the full amount or a portion of $1.6 million in grant funding that is being distributed as federal mineral royalty dollars.

Nonprofit agencies, local governments and special districts were encouraged to apply for the funds offered through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs by proposing projects that qualify as economic or community development or those that assist with social services.

The new grant program is available as a result of House Bill 11-1218, which was signed into law in May.

Filing proposals by Thursday’s deadline were the city of Fruita; the town of Palisade; Colorado Mesa University; Mesa County; the Grand Valley Zoological Quest; Grand Junction Baseball Committee; Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado; STRIVE, a college-prep course at Grand Junction High School; Lower Valley Fire Protection District; and the Center for Independence.

Colorado Mesa University applied for the full $1.6 million grant with a promise to fully match that amount to launch an Unconventional Energy Center within the Redifer Research Institute. Goals of the center will focus on undergraduate research projects in the unconventional energy industry to reduce operating costs, increase extraction and reduce environmental impacts. The center would add curriculum within its current academic programs, the university’s application says. If granted, the federal mineral royalty dollars would be invested into two endowments to meet the center’s goals.

“This is something that the community has asked us to do for a number of years,” said Derek Wagner, director of strategic initiatives for Colorado Mesa University.

The university’s proposal is backed by a number of energy companies and has received a nod from the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, the city of Grand Junction and several local economic-development groups.

Palisade applied for two grants. It asked for $204,000 for the installation of a bulk water station that would service the oil and gas industry. The town has budgeted a new fire station, but it pared down a new station project from $3.6 million to $1.3 million. The town is requesting $200,000 in grant funds that would put back some of the services into the new station that had been cut.

“I understand the university is asking for all the money, but I would hope they would spread the money around a little bit,” Palisade’s interim Town Administrator Richard Sales said. “I certainly guarantee it would go to good public use.”

The city of Fruita requested $300,000 to go toward a $900,000 project to fund infrastructure for the Greenway Business Park, Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney said.

Decisions on winners of any grant dollars should be determined in mid-December, according to Federal Mineral Leasing District board members.


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