USDA-RURAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE THEME -- "WE HAVE FUNDS"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

COLUMBIA, MO - The 15th Missouri Water and Wastewater Conference, organized by USDA- Rural Development, was held on March 19, 2014. Over 100 attended the conference including consulting engineers, regional planning commissions, community planners, grant writers and other consultants from across the state. Many local, state and federal officials were also in attendance.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss water and sewer opportunities for communities in rural Missouri. The programs are delivered through a network of federal, state, and local partners working together to assist rural areas.

Missouri State Director for USDA Rural Development Janie Dunning welcomed the attendees by stating, "We have funds for projects. Funding is at sufficient amounts to complete a number of projects. I encourage you to go back to your communities and work to submit projects for funding consideration. We depend upon you; engineers, planners and consultants; to work with municipalities, counties and districts to deliver projects for funding. Rural areas are counting on you to present opportunities to them. Now is the time for you to present the opportunity for projects. We have funds, but we need your commitment to bring projects forward. We value our continued partnership and thank you for your hard work and dedication to rural Missouri."

Partners participating in the conference included representatives from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Rural Water Association (MRWA), Midwest Assistance Program (MAP), various managers and engineers of rural water districts, representatives of regional planning commissions and Missouri USDA Rural Development.

Clark Thomas, Community Programs Director for Missouri USDA Rural Development, discussed some of Rural Development's policies and funding for Fiscal Year 2014. He stated, "The Missouri Water & Wastewater Review Committee diligently works together to ensure all available funding sources in Missouri are utilized to assist as many communities as possible. To reiterate what State Director Dunning said, we have money. We are not working under a Continuing Resolution, but have a budget. Also, the Farm Bill provided funds. I encourage you to return to your communities and clients to dicusss needs and submit projects for funding."

Thomas applauded the teamwork of the engineers, the regional planning commissions, the grant writers, and others to help deserving communities reach the goal of having essential water and waste water systems. He stressed the importance of the partnerships in Missouri. Without them, no projects would be funded. He also recognized his staff; Nathan Chitwood, Ted Forester, Trudy Ziegelhofer and Amy Mattley; for their oustanding dedication and hard work. In addition, he acknowledged two (2) special guests from Iowa, Ms. Karla Peiffer, Community Programs Director, and Ms. Penny Douglas, State Office Specialist.

Ted Forester, Missouri USDA Rural Development Engineer, gave an update on engineering issues regarding Rural Development water and wastewater programs. Nathan Chitwood, Missouri USDA Rural Development Community Program Specialist, led a discussion on revenue bond issues and requirements.

Other presenters included: Joe Blume, Traci Newberry and Curtis Gateley, Missouri Department of Natural Resources; Denise Derks, Missouri Department of Economic Development's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program; John Hoagland, Missouri Rural Water Association; Christopher Jewett, Midwest Assistance Program and Charlie Zitnik, commercial investment banker.

USDA - Rural Development staff from around the state attended the meeting. Attending from the Dexter Area (Area 4) were Phyllis Minner, Area Director, and Donna Martin, Kevin Hinkebein and Whitney Watts, Area Specialists.

Further information on rural programs is available by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov. Information about Missouri Rural Development programs can be obtained by visiting http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo.

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