March 15, 2012
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ST. JAMES—The City of St. James was able to improve the quality, dependability and energy efficiency of its electrical distribution system, thanks to assistance from a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) grant.
The city was awarded the $272,930 DRA grant in December 2010 for construction of new electrical transmission lines to create a looped electrical system. The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) prepared the DRA application and served as grant administrator for the project.
“The tie line allowed St. James to loop its entire community, electrical-wise, so when there is an outage in town it allows us to quickly resolve it,” said St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson. “The project also upgrades the electrical service to some of our industrial partners and wineries.”
Wilson noted the project could not have been completed without the assistance of community members and businesses that granted easements for construction.
Gov. Jay Nixon, who serves as Missouri’s co-chairman for the DRA, awarded the St. James grant, as well as three others to Phelps County totaling nearly $800,000, on Dec. 10, 2010 at the St. James City Hall. Dr. Jon Hagler, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, grant recipients and local officials were present for the award ceremony. Gov. Nixon’s wife Georganne, Deputy Director Dennis Baird, Michael Marshall, co-chair of the Delta Regional Authority, and Bill Ransdall, Missouri Department of Economic Development, also attended the ceremony.
The St. James project had a total cost of more than $968,000, which included $365,000 from the City of St. James as a grant requirement. The city actually paid a total of $695,459.30.
The city’s manufacturers and industries often suffered power outages and brownouts that caused inefficiency. By upgrading its system, the city would be able to supply industries and manufacturers with consistent power, which in turn would allow businesses to expand operations and remain in St. James.
The original project featured the construction of 6,013 feet of transmission line with 30 structures from the south side of the city’s industrial park to the north side of Sidney Street. This path included crossing Interstate 44 and an additional two state highways. The construction added new transmission line and structures at the Highway KK crossing for a connection to an existing line and a new switching structure. Additional line switching equipment and structures were required at the downtown substation and Walmart Distribution Center service areas.
The city was able to complete the entire circuit from the western side of the original project to the north Parker Lane substation because of a very competitive bidding process. The expanded project scope included an additional 9,756 feet of transmission line and 48 poles as well as line crossing Highway 68.
The new electrical transmission lines and electrical structures created an electrical distribution loop for the city. The project improved the quality of the electrical infrastructure for the city’s industrial park, which would help entice future industries to St. James. The new system also allowed for the expansion of several local industries, including St. James Winery, which committed to creating 10 new jobs. Other industries have stated the improvements would provide means to retain or create new jobs through building expansions.
The City of St. James worked with its city engineer, C.M. Archer Group P.C., on the project plans.
Construction for the project began on Feb. 1, 2011 and concluded in November 2011.
Led by Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and the governors of each participating state, the DRA is designed to remedy severe and chronic economic distress by stimulating economic development and fostering partnerships that will have a positive impact on the region’s economy. The DRA helps economically distressed communities to leverage other federal and state programs that are focused on basic infrastructure development and transportation improvements, basic public services improvements, business development, and job training services.
DRA is an independent federal agency with a mission to provide assistance to economically distressed counties in the Mississippi Delta Region, as designated by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
MRPC is the Local Development District for the DRA and is responsible for providing information and technical assistance on the grant process. MRPC is responsible for making local governments and non-profits aware of the grant opportunity and to assist them with the preparation of applications.
Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 29, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.
For more information on DRA grant opportunities in the Meramec Region, persons may contact Kelly Sink-Blair at 573-265-2993.
The St. James Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 2 at the Parker Lane substation to celebrate the completion of the city’s new electrical distribution tie line project. Mayor Dennis Wilson thanked all who had participated in the project.