The North Country Regional Economic Development Council has granted $81.3 million in state funding for projects throughout the region, including just over $6 million will aid St. Lawrence County.
Among the grant winners is the Fort La Presentation Association, which received funding to establish a trail at Lighthouse Point, Ogdensburg.
The awards for all 10 regional councils were announced at a ceremony Wednesday in Albany. The north countrys funds will go toward boosting tourism and creating jobs in bioengineering, among other projects.
According to Anthony G. Collins, council co-chairman and president of Clarkson University, Potsdam, the north countrys success has come from its focus on a series of small projects rather than a few heavy hitters.
Investing in one or two large projects doesnt really make sense, he said.
The large size and spread-out population of the north country means these major projects would not have the same effect as a group of smaller efforts.
Instead of one large explosion, were looking more for the firecracker, he said.
The money will be divided among 30 projects, including two $25,000 grants to aid the development of the Oswegatchie River Blueway Trail connecting Ogdensburg and the towns of Oswegatchie, Canton, DeKalb and Fine and the villages of Rensselaer Falls, Heuvelton and Gouverneur; $120,000 for Ansen Corp., Ogdensburg, for worker training and equipment upgrades; $225,000 for the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority to repair two rail bridges over the Grasse and Raquette Rivers and $1,086,750 for OBPA to administer as a multi-county effort to market north country recreational opportunities to Canadians; and $352,650 for the Fort La Presentation Association to develop an interpretive trail on Lighthouse Point, Ogdensburg, linking to the citys Maple City Trail.
Fort La Presentation Association President Barbara J. OKeefe was speechless when she heard the news late Wednesday afternoon.
Im so glad there is going to finally be something down there that the community can use, she said. Plus they will be able to learn about our local history.
The trail will include signage with historic information about the site and area, as well as parking and a picnic area.
Its great news, said Ogdensburg Mayor William D. Nelson, who was in Albany Wednesday for the announcement. Its good news for Ogdensburg, definitely. When you get funding for private businesses, get to help the OBPA with their efforts and the fort with their redevelopment efforts for the visitors center its a great day.
Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said the $225,000 award will help pay for an automated grain conveyor system at the port, in addition to repairing two rail bridges whose weight-bearing capacity has been downgraded.
The conveyor system and bridge upgrades will reduce costs for port users, he said.
Right now every shipper using the bridges has to pay 100 percent of the transportation fees, but can only get the rail cars 91 percent full because of the weight restrictions, he said.
Mr. Davis said the automated conveyor system will allow grain from rail cars to be more efficiently loaded into storage bins and onto trucks.
It reduces a significant amount of handling, so it reduces the overall cost and damage to the product, he said.
Other awards for St. Lawrence County organizations include:
■ Clarkson Universitys Shipley Center for Innovation was named an Innovation Hot Spot, earning $250,000 to expand and improve its business incubator.
■ The town of Gouverneur will build a senior community center with $400,000, and the village will receive $30,000 for a pump station upgrade
■ A North Country Broadband Fund will be established, with $600,000 to expand broadband infrastructure in the region.
■ Canton and Potsdam central schools will receive $25,000 for a merger feasibility study.
■ The county Arts Council and North Country Childrens Museum will receive $92,000 for distance learning programs.
■ The village of Potsdam will receive $200,000 to assist property owners with residential and commercial renovation projects.
■ The towns of Clifton and Fine will receive $67,500 to mitigate the risk of invasive species in waterways, develop waterfront access sites and develop a master trail guide.
■ The town of Canton will receive $85,000 to partner with towns along the Grasse River to develop a blueway trail plan and create a boat launch in Pyrites.