City will apply for grant again

Robert Smith

Pawhuska city officials last week agreed to participate in another round of Community Development Block Grant competition, but with a sense of doubt about whether to expect any help.

Barbara Albritton, a rural development specialist with the Indian Nations Council of Governments, reviewed the details of the city’s failed 2018 application for funding to help with the cost of rehabilitating an aging 2-million-gallon water storage tank. A 2017 engineering report described the tank’s condition as “poor.”

City Manager Larry Eulert said last September that Pawhuska’s 2018 application had been one of 35 applications competing for the same pool of money, and only eight applications were funded.

Albritton told Pawhuska officials April 9 the city’s application graded out at 22 and a half points in 2018 and the lowest point total for an application that was funded was 31. The grant dollars are made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

Albritton suggested the city might, if its application is not funded this year, look at making alterations in its rate structure for water service, but she clarified that would be a step to take after careful consideration of potential impacts on residents. It’s not something officials should rush into for purposes of making a grant application more competitive in the short term, she said.

Susan Bayro, who works for the Osage Nation, spoke up during the discussion and offered to help develop collaboration between the Osage Nation and the city of Pawhuska on the water-system issue. Bayro indicated that some funding might be available through the Indian Health Service for the water-tank project.

In another water-related discussion, Utilities Director Bill Bruce responded to a resident question about a recent public notice regarding a water-quality violation. He gave assurances that Pawhuska is engaged in ongoing testing of water samples to eliminate the violation, which involved chemical byproducts of the water-treatment process.