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It’s about more than a new coat of paint.

The La Crescent Fire Department is in for some major renovation, to the tune of $300,000.

But the funds are coming from a special place: Tri-County Electric Cooperative.

“There are limits to our funding opportunities,” said La Crescent City Administrator Bill Waller, “so to be able to partner with Tri-County and the USDA on a major upgrade is a good thing for the community.”

The $300,000, which is issued to the city as a zero-interest loan with a 10-year pay back scheme, is part of a United States Department of Agriculture grant given to Tri-County.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. Under this program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. These revolving loan funds broaden the program’s reach and create a multiplier effect for its impact. Eligible applicants are USDA rural utilities service borrowers.

“Ours was lucky enough to get approved,” said Tri-County Vice-President of Marketing and External Relations Ted Kjos.

When the total loan is paid back to Tri-County in a decade, Kjos said, those funds will be potentially used for another qualifying rural project as part of a revolving line.

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“We’re very happy to be a part of the communities we service,” Kjos said.

What does $300,000 get the fire hall?

Quite a lot, Waller said. The pre-cast building will be completely recaulked and resealed, he said, with the flooring, doors, windows, interiors, bathrooms and HVAC system completely overhauled.

In addition to that, the sidewalks will be updated, as well as the parking outside the fire hall – it’ll go from parallel to diagonal, which will double the amount of spaces.

This has been years in the making, Waller said, and it involved a lot of partnerships, but there was one he most wanted to stress.

“This is a joint project between the city and La Crescent Township,” Waller said.

The $300,000 was part of a much larger amount the USDA awarded in mid-June, when it announced $22.5 million in loans and grants for organizations in nine states to promote rural economic development.

No word yet on when the work will start.

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