Last Wednesday the weather was about as good as anyone has reason to expect for March in Michigan, which was a good thing as we had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of new projects to celebrate.
The first stop was Walkerville, a small town in Oceana County. We were there to commemorate the grand opening of the elementary school’s new playground. Thanks to a $35,000 child care grant and the energetic support of the local community, Walkerville’s children went from an unsafe, bleak play area to one that is safe and inviting. Our state director, James J. Turner, found the kids were already enjoying the new equipment and while they clapped at all the appropriate times during the ceremony, they sent up their biggest cheer when the grownups got out of the way and let them get back to the business of playing.
It was then time for us to move on to Big Rapids, where The Mecosta County Medical Center has received two $50,000 grants for two digital mammography machines, one of which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Finally, we viewed a new fire truck for the City of Big Rapids. USDA Rural Development provided a $562,000 loan and a $100,000 grant for the purchase of the new aerial ladder truck. Purchased through Front Line Services, Inc. in Freeland, the chassis was built by Spartan Motors in Charlotte and the generator was made by Smart Power in Reed City (Michigan). Next to the ladder truck, the city parked other emergency vehicles that Rural Development helped purchase as a fitting tribute to our partnership.
All told it was a great day to be out in Rural Michigan.
Written by Alec Lloyd, Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development, Michigan