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Recovery Act at Work in the New York City Watershed

Ivy Allen, New York NRCSThe Watershed Agriculture Council (WAC) hosted a tour of three farms in the New York City watershed that received American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funding. Putting conservation on the ground in this watershed will result in more than 1 billion gallons of clean drinking water for 9 million New York residents every day. Projects featured on the tour included waste storage facilities, compost structures and stream fencing. Along with whole farm plans, these practices will result in reduced waterborne pathogens, nutrients, and sediments.

Through ARRA and an agreement with WAC, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing technical and financial assistance to 327 landowners in the New York City watershed who are voluntarily implementing conservation practices and improving water quality. NRCS helps landowners voluntarily participate in conservation programs that protect water and many other natural resources.

USDA-NRCS administered $1 million dollars through ARRA funding to improve water quality within the New York City watershed. The watershed extends 125 miles, contains 19 reservoirs, and 3 lakes. This surface water supply system is one of the largest in the world and the conservation practices being implemented support clean water and a healthy environment.

Stream fencing protects against animal waste and streambank plantings create a “buffer strip” that filters pollutants from the water.
Stream fencing protects against animal waste and streambank plantings
create a “buffer strip” that filters pollutants from the water.

Small Farm Composter.
Small Farm Composter.

USDA Marks Homeownership Month in Minnesota

Written by Adam Czech, Public Information CoordinatorThere’s a unique story behind each home loan and home repair project financed by USDA Rural Development in Minnesota. On June 9, State Director Colleen Landkamer and her staff visited three homeowners to celebrate June Homeownership Month and learn more about their stories.

“I think it is amazing how many people we are able to help become home owners and remain in their homes each year through our programs,” Landkamer said. “Visiting with the people that use our programs really highlights the importance of home ownership in strengthening our rural communities.”

Landkamer and staff were joined at each home by staff from Congressman Collin Peterson’s office. Each home owner received an American flag that flew above the U.S. Capital as a gift from Congressman Peterson.

Below is a brief recap of what makes each person’s story unique.

Melissa Miller
After almost 10 years of renting, Melissa Miller is finally a home owner. Melissa, along with her two children moved into her first home in Brandon, Minn., in late April using a USDA Rural Development direct home loan.

“I never dreamed I would own a home,” Miller said. “It’s still kind of surreal, but we did it.”

Melissa put herself through school and works two jobs to support her family. Rural Development partnered with the West Central Minnesota Community Action agency to build Miller’s home.  “Right now I am loving life,” Melissa said. “Being a home owner means a lot to me and I couldn’t be happier.”

Jessica Botten
Jessica Botten’s daughter McKenna, 5, had just one request after moving into her new home: She wanted a pink room.

Jessica closed on her home in Alexandria, Minn., on Dec. 10. A phlebotomist at a nearby clinic, Jessica previously rented an apartment next to a motor racing track, not exactly the most peaceful location to live.

“The home is ideal for McKenna and I,” she said. “She can play in our yard, there’s more room for her toys. I really feel like I’m home now.”

And, yes, she was able to paint McKenna’s room pink.

Dorcella Hagen
Dorcella Hagen keeps a guest book in her home in Cyrus, Minn., so she will always remember who came to visit her. One night after a dinner party, one of her guests noticed a moisture spot on her ceiling. It turned out that Dorcella’s roof needed to be replaced.

On a fixed income after a car accident left her disabled, Dorcella used Rural Development’s home repair program to fix her roof, remove the moisture from her ceiling and stay in the home she’s owned since 1994.

“When I told people that some folks from the USDA were going to come visit me today, they wondered why I was having meat inspectors to my house,” Dorcella said. “I told them the USDA works with housing, too. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the program.”

For more information about USDA’s home loan programs click here.

New homeowner Melissa Miller (Left) and Colleen Landkamer, State Director, USDA Rural Development, celebrate Miller’s accomplishment.
New homeowner Melissa Miller (Left) and Colleen Landkamer, State Director, USDA Rural Development, celebrate Miller’s accomplishment. 

Hot Peppers Spice Up a Rainy Day in The People’s Garden

Where can you have free chili from the famous  Ben’s Chili Bowl, chile pepper plants, chile pepper t-shirts, chile pepper games, live mariachi music, and tons of spicy fun? At The People’s Garden New Mexico Chile Pepper Fiesta! Read more »

New Health Facility to Improve Quality of Life for Michigan Residents

Recently, I broke ground for the Center for Family Health’s New Health Center in Jackson, Michigan, along with Congressman Mark Schauer. Read more »

USDA Recovery Act-Funded Wireless Internet to Reach Remote Choctaw Nation

While the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is rich in cultural pride, identity and history, its remote location in the rugged terrain of Southeast Oklahoma has severely limited the tribe’s economic development efforts.  But a Broadband Initiative Program grant, made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will enable Pine Telephone Company (PTC) to use innovative wireless technology to deliver affordable broadband service to portions of this rural, remote and economically disadvantaged region in Southeast Oklahoma. Read more »

Remote Alaska Receives Broadband Service through the Recovery Act

One of the best things about living in Alaska and working for USDA is seeing how our programs improve things for the folks who call this region home.  Other than electricity and running water, nothing improves the quality of life more than broadband. Read more »