Board makes final grant choices

ALPENA –The final round of grants from the Alpena County Youth and Recreation millage were announced by the youth and recreation board during its meeting Friday.

The allocations are for 2018 projects and still must be approved by the county board of commissioners.

There were 44 requests for funding, asking for $791,000. The committee has roughly $600,000 it can distribute. If there is any funding left over, it will be used toward future projects if a millage renewal is sought and approved by voters.

As in past years the largest recipient of funds was Plaza Pool. The committee committed $85,000 toward operations as well as $8,219 toward the Ready, Set, Swim program and $3,200 to Friends of Plaza Pool.

Alpena Public School also received a significant amount of funds for athletics, band and other programs.

The APS robotics team was granted $33,250 and Thunder Bay Junior High Outreach program $19,000. The high school band will receive $18,344. The basketball, football volleyball, figure skating programs will also receive funds, as well as KAPUT and the track club.

Chairman Tony Suszek said without the funding from youth and rec many students in school likely would not be able to participate because of the cost.

“The programs would likely continue without the funding,” he said. “The cost to play or participate would increase by many hundreds of dollars, though. A lot of families can’t afford that.”

County owned parks will receive funding for improvement projects. Beaver Lake Park will receive $35,000, Long Lake Park $15,000, Sunken Lake Park $13,014 and Green Township $10,000.

Suszek said the parks offer more than just camping. He said there are boat launches, playgrounds and other things like basketball courts that allow more people than just campers to enjoy them.

“There are a lot of local people that use these parks and campgrounds,” Suszek said. “It is about 50-50 between people from out of town and residents.”

The committee also committed more than $40,000 to Michigan State University Extension and nearly $13,120 to MPAC for Northern Lights to help cover costs for open skates and new ice skates. Northeast Center for the Fine Arts was granted $22,285 and Alpena Rotary Club $60,000 that will be used toward the construction of a splash park at Starlite Beach.

Suszek said because of the diversity in Alpena County investment in arts and culture is important, as well as supporting projects like the splash park because many people will use it.

It is unknown if the county will seek a renewal of the half-mill or ask voters for a smaller amount. Suszek said when you look at the number of grant requests, there are more projects that could be funded.

“I feel the need is still there,” he said. “I think over the last eight years everyone in the county has been impacted one way or another because of this millage. Now that this is done we will begin talking about what we want to do.”

Suszek said he expects to make a recommendation to the board of commissioner about a new millage in February. The board is expected to vote on the grants at its November meeting Nov. 28.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.