EPA Grant Will Help Redevelop Abandoned Properties in the Region

By Jonathan Cooper | jcooper@kq2.com

Published 06/22 2014 08:17PM

Updated 06/22 2014 10:54PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Mo-Kan Regional Council now has more money to put back into the region.

The EPA gave the organization a grant to redevelop properties compromised by hazardous waste and petroleum contamination.

Karl Brooks, EPA Regional Administrator, says this region of the country needs the help.

"Landscape around our part of the country is dotted with small, old, abandoned gas stations," he said. "Often the tanks weren't very good so fuel and oil would have leaked into the ground."

The grant totaling, $1.2 million, will be distributed to the 15 county area of northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas the council covers.

"We're really excited about this," said Tom Bliss, Executive Director of Mo-Kan. "One point two million dollars is a great thing for this community."

One million will go to redevelopment of old rail yards, grain silos, and gas stations. Brooks said St. Joseph has plenty of possible locations.

"Because St. Joseph is the population center and because it was such a huge transportation and manufacturing hub, sure there is a lot of potential properties in St. Joseph and the surrounding area," he said.

$200,000 dollars of the grant will go to training 40 local residents and placing them in environmental jobs, something the EPA said is needed in smaller towns.

"Small town, waste water and drinking water plants often have trouble getting trained, qualified people to operate those important facilities," Brooks said. "Well we should have at least 30 guys out in the market here in a year and a half that are able to run those plants or at least learn to run them."

Mo-Kan said the funding will help the economy as a whole and make this region a better place to live.

"Workforce development is a critical issue in our 15 county area," Bliss said. "Economic development is even a bigger issue in our area so we hope this will address both of those."

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