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Callaway, Waubun could get rehab funds

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The cities of Callaway, Waubun and Mahnomen could be getting a facelift over the next couple of years -- with a little help from Becker County.

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The Becker County Board approved a resolution Tuesday to embark on "a program of commercial and residential revitalization, rehabilitation and redevelopment" in the participating cities.

To fund the project, the county is seeking a grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development on behalf of the three communities.

According to Becker County Housing Director Jon Thomsen, the county is seeking grant funds to complete the rehabilitation of up to 20 owner-occupied homes in the three cities, including 10 in Mahnomen, six in Waubun and four in Callaway.

The number of homes to be rehabilitated in each city is population-based, Thomsen said.

In addition, the grant application is also intended to encompass the rehabilitation of one commercial building in Waubun and as many as four commercial buildings in Mahnomen, Thomsen said.

The commercial rehab projects would include energy improvements such as roof repair or replacement, and the installation of energy-efficient windows and heating-cooling systems, as well as electrical upgrades if necessary.

The project could also include façade improvements such as brick cleaning and repair, painting, etc.

The residential portion of the project would involve owner-occupied homes only -- "people who live in their house and own it," Thomsen said.

Roof repair or replacement as well as the installation of energy efficient windows and doors, heating and cooling systems, siding and additional insulation are some of the most common improvements involved in housing rehabilitation, he added.

"A lot of homes need an electrical upgrade, from a 60-amp fuse box to a 100-amp breaker box," said Thomsen. "Sometimes the plumbing needs to be upgraded, too."

Though the grant funding is not guaranteed, Thomsen said that Becker County's project was one of 55 that were invited to go through the final application process.

The pre-application process weeds out those projects that would not qualify for grant funding for various reasons; projects that make it to the final application process have a much higher likelihood of being funded, Thomsen said.

Before the pre-application screening was added to the process, the chances of being funded "used to be more of a 50-50 proposition," he added.

Thomsen feels Becker County's grant application has an 80 to 90 percent chance of being at least partially funded.

The final grant application is due Jan. 14; the county will be notified in April whether its application has been accepted.

If it is accepted, the county will receive a formal grant award letter in June, and construction on some of the rehabilitation projects could start by late summer or early fall, Thomsen said.

"Generally, we would have 30 months to get the work done -- about two and a half years," he added.

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