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Delegation Praises Millions in Grants for Rural Communities

Alaska's Congressional Delegation today praised the release of nearly $21 million in grants to 22 rural Alaska communities through the Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program. The news came from Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, who said the grants represent a long-standing commitment by the USDA to improve public health conditions in rural communities through investments in water and sanitation systems.

Additionally, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA Rural Development funds in the amount of $5.7 million will be awarded to the Denali Commission for projects in Norton Sound communities with high energy costs. The money is targeted for upgrades to the Stebbins/St. Michael Rural Power System and to replace a generator for the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc.

"As the AFN Convention gets in full swing in Anchorage, it is great to see USDA release this money that will greatly improve the lives of many Alaska Natives and others living in rural communities," Begich said. "Improving water and sanitation systems, and upgrades that will result in smaller energy bills, are all important investments we need to continue to make to improve public health and the overall quality of life for Alaskans across the state."

"I was in Buckland weeks ago for their 'first-flush' ceremony where their sewer system officially began operations, and there are so many other Alaska communities still trying to catch up to 20th century standards when it comes to basic water and sanitation infrastructure," said Murkowski. "With the opening of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, it is a good reminder that our First People should not be last in line when it comes to raising the quality of life for rural Americans nationwide."

"These grants are going to help improve the way of life for many Alaskans all over the state," said Rep. Young. "Alaska wouldn't be what it is today without our rural communities and villages and we cannot forget that. "

Earlier this year, an additional $23.6 million in RAVG grant funding was announced by USDA for Alaska. RAVG funding is used for planning, design and construction of water and wastewater infrastructure delivery systems in rural Alaska communities. USDA says additional High Energy Cost Grants are expected to be announced later this year.
 

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