VernonReporter

Vernon County coordinates grant to buy backup generators for multiple communities and four county buildings

VIROQUA, Wis. – At their June 20 meeting the Vernon County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to apply for about a $1 million grant with state and federal emergency management agencies to replace aging backup generators, and purchase new ones for critical infrastructure. Amy Oliver is Vernon County’s grants officer and she is coordinating the application, not just on behalf of the county, but also on behalf of several communities in the county that are in need of generators as well.

Oliver said they discovered the need for the generators when Vernon County Emergency Management Director Brandon Larson was completing a hazard mitigation plan that is a FEMA requirement. As Larson surveyed communities and stakeholders throughout the county there were a number communities that identified backup generators as a need. Either to replace aging generators or add one to critical facilities such as emergency shelters, or other critical infrastructure such as sewage lift stations.

Oliver said seeing that need she reached out to the state and they identified a grant that could be used for generators, but it was due at the end of June. Oliver said she and Larson worked with communities and came up with a plan to apply for all the generators under one county application.

The grant would allow the county to replace three county generators that are over 20 years old at the County Courthouse (an the Banta Building) the Erlandson office building and at Vernon Manor, and install a new generator at Vernon Acres. Oliver said all of those facilities are listed as critical facilities in the county’s hazard mitigation plan.

Other communities expressing interest in applying with the county include the City of Viroqua, and the villages of De Soto and Coon Valley. Viroqua would apply to add two generators, one at the city police station and one for a new fire station that is still in the planning stages.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will cover 75 percent of the cost and Wisconsin Emergency management (WEM) will cover 12.5 percent of the cost. That would leave a 12.5 percent local share to the county and individual communities. Oliver said the cost of the county generators is estimated at $600,000 which means the cost to the county, if approved, would be $75,000. The county has a fund set up that can be used for the cost share when applying for grants. There is $200,000 set aside in that fund. Each department is allowed to request up to $100,000 for cost sharing of grants. Oliver asked for approval in the resolution use $75,000 from that fund.

The estimated cost for other municipalities was between $200,000 and $400,000. Each municipality would responsible for their 12.5 percent of the cost share for their portion of the grant. If awarded the grant Oliver said she would manage the grant for all the applicants and handle of the administration associated with it including required reporting to FEMA and WEM.

Each individual community was asked to pass resolutions or officially sign on to a commitment to the grant. The Viroqua City Council gave their approval at their June 27 meeting. Several county committees approved the resolution prior to it reaching the full county board of supervisors including public safety and finance. The full county board approved the resolution by unanimous voice vote at their June 20 meeting.

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