Frontiersman: Murkowski brings home the bacon, including for Mat-Su
Mat-Su communities fared well in the end-of-year bag of programs funded by Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s designated projects in the federal omnibus budget bill.
In total, Murkowski, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, steered $500 million to Alaska in special funding for 130 projects. The budget bill also approved 12 federal agency appropriation bills including for the Department of Defense, which is important for Alaska.
The defense bill included a 4.6 percent pay raise for military personnel, improvements to veterans’ benefits and additional Alaska programs developed in the National Defense Authorization Act, in which Alaska’s other U.S. Senator, Dan Sullivan, played a key role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
For the Mat-Su region, Murkowksi’s designated appropriations included $6.9 million for the city of Palmer’s wastewater treatment plant, which will essentially allow the city to complete the project.
“The City of Palmer has been challenged over multiple years to meet the federal requirements of our Water Pollution Control operation. Our citizens have willing stepped up in this effort,” Palmer Mayor Steve Carrington said.
“ The funding approved by Congress on the impetus of Senator Murkowski will financially and operationally permit us to complete this need,” he said. There is also $5.7 for improvements to wastewater treatment facilities in Wasilla so the city can meet growing needs of the community.
In Wasilla, “the three projects include a much needed second sludge digester to increase daily capacity to meet current and future wastewater demands, a lagoon sludge dredge to safely remove the collected sludge at the end of the treatment process, and sludge drying beds to meet new sludge management regulations,” said Erich Schaal P.E., Wasills’s Director of Public Works.
“Being the fastest growing city in the state, support for our critical infrastructure like this project is the first step to building redundancy and resiliency in our community.
Another Wasilla project is $5 million to Set Free Alaska to build a therapeutic campus consisting of recovery residence facilities. Philip Licht, President and CEO, said: “Set Free Alaska would like to thank Senator Murkowski for securing funding for our recidivism reduction and recovery program. Individuals struggling with substance misuse and mental health problems often experience increased incarceration.”
“Services and infrastructure are lacking in our communities to address this problem. This money will be used to build facilities that will provide counseling support services for individuals and families in Mat-Su,” he said.
In separate funding, the bill provided $17,000 to Family Promise Mat-Su in Wasilla for childcare facility improvements, and $2 million in Talkeetna for an Upper Susitna Valley mobile medical clinic.
Community water and waste water projects were a core part of the designated appropriations secured by Murkowski. Anchorage, for example, received $13 million to expand its waste water system and another $4.5 millin was approved for systems in the Eagle River/Chugiak area of north Anchorage.
Valdez received $5 million for its water and waste system; Kenai received $2.9 million; Chignik received $5.3 million for water/wastewater; Yakutat $5.1 million; St. George, in the Pribilofs, $3 million; Seward $2 million; Ketchikan $1.7 million; Nome $1.6 million, and the North Slope Borough $1.2 million for water and wastewater systems in several of its communities.
Other basic infrastructure projects were funded, including $25.6 million to expand the harbor at Unalaska, an important fisheries port; $7 million for a new bridge across Gastineau Channel in Juneau, providing a second crossing of the channel to Douglas, a residential area for the capital city.
There was also $5 million funded to support additional work at the Port of Alaska in Anchorage, where a major reconstruction is under way, and $4 million to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the state corporation working on a prosd North Slope natural gas project along with development of an ammonia and hydrogen export project.
By: Tim Bradner