Mississippi’s Rural Development State Director Trina N. George and USDA officials, along with municipal and community leaders took a day last week to help rebuild a home that was severely damaged by a recent tornado that swept through Yazoo City, as part of the agency’s recognition of June as National Homeownership Month. Read more »
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Now is a good time to build a new home. Just ask any of the 213 families around Utah County who have built their own homes over the past decade through USDA Rural Development’s Self Help Program. Rural Housing Development Corporation (RHDC) in Provo, Utah is the non-profit organization created to help income eligible families achieve the dream of home ownership. Read more »
Written by Katherine Belcher, Kentucky USDA Public Information Coordinator
As USDA kicked off National Home Ownership Month, more than 115 volunteers from 25 churches across the state of Kentucky gathered in a vacant lot in Whitley City to build a house for a woman many of them have never met. They are camping near the construction site, working long days to see that the project is completed by the home’s dedication date of June 19.
In Kentucky’s first homeownership event of the 2010 campaign, Rural Development staff joined representatives from other state and federal agencies, non-profit groups and community leaders to participate in the opening ceremony for the “Extreme Build” that will provide a new home for a very deserving, hard-working single mom.
Kristi Wilson was chosen to be the recipient of the fifth annual Extreme Build in McCreary County by the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship (KBF) – because of the struggles she has overcome in her life and her dedication to providing the best life possible for her two children. McCreary County is one of the state’s 43 persistent poverty counties.
KBF volunteers will build a new home for Wilson, who received a Rural Development Direct Loan to make the purchase and other assistance from local non-profits and state and federal agencies.
Wilson was overwhelmed and awed by the number of people that have shown up to assist in building her new house from the ground up.
“It’s amazing that you can find so many people with that big of a heart,” said Wilson. “It’s answering my kids’ prayers. I wanted this for my kids – I want them to have a home.”
After the home’s foundation was laid, a crane placed an 8,000 pound “core” unit containing a pre-fabricated kitchen, bath and utility room onto it. The core is pre-wired and the unit was provided by Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and built off-site by residents at Kentucky Foothills Academy – a licensed, residential treatment facility for state-committed youth.
As many of the guest speakers reiterated throughout the opening ceremony, this project is truly a partnership among numerous people and local, state and federal agencies – all working to make possible one woman’s dream of providing her family with a safe, affordable decent place to live.
It was truly an honor and privilege to be a part of it.
Kentucky State Director Tom Fern (second from right) congratulates new homeowner Kristi Wilson, who was selected
by the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship as the recipient of this year’s McCreary County Extreme Build.
A crane is used to place a pre-fabricated unit consisting of a kitchen, bathroom and utility room
onto the foundation of Kristi Wilson’s new home.
By Jamie Welch, Worcester Prep, Berlin, MarylandThe upgrades currently taking place at the Berlin Wastewater Treatment Plant are comprehensive, and will allow the plant to fully process all the wastewater that goes through the system down to near drinking water quality. The technology that the Town of Berlin, MD is installing was made possible thanks to a grant and some low interest Water and Environmental Program loans from the USDA. These upgrades will help to remove the pathogens, nutrients and other pollutants from the influent.
Technology that is being installed as part of these upgrades is called a SBR or sequencing batch reactor. I recently spoke with Jane Kreiter, Director of Water and Wastewater for the Town of Berlin, about this new technology and got a look at the lab where the Berlin wastewater officials monitor every stage of the treatment for specific criteria.
The new SBRs being installed at Berlin’s wastewater plant will all work in essentially the same way: there will be three different SBR tanks installed as part of the ongoing upgrades, and Kreiter says that these will contain different amounts and kinds of bacteria to break down certain types of “bad” nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Giant blowers at the bottom of each tank blow varying amounts of oxygen into the tanks, causing the oxygen to slowly bubble to the top. The oxygen is needed to maintain the biomass inside the tank so that they can be healthy and break down and remove the various constituents in the waste stream. When the bacteria are young in the biomass, they consume and break down a lot of the nitrogen and phosphorous, but as they begin to get older, they become full and less efficient at breaking down nutrients. When this happens, they die and fall to the bottom of the SBR. The dead bacteria are then removed from the bottom of the tank by way of a pump assembly and sent to a digester. The amount of bacteria and oxygen in the SBR must be constantly monitored to ensure that the right amount of contaminants will be removed at each stage of the treatment process inside the SBR.
After the influent has gone through the entire treatment process it is ready to be sent to the spray irrigation site in Libertytown, Maryland. Samples of the treated effluent are collected as they are leaving the plant and are taken to the lab. Kreiter was embarrassed to take me inside the cramped, temporary lab that is located inside the mobile trailer they are currently using while the regular lab is being renovated. She assured me that this was not what the lab normally looks like and asked to “make sure to come back when we get our new lab,” which will be opening when the rest of the upgrades are completed on site. In the lab they test for pathogens, nutrients, total suspended solids, PH levels, and biological oxygen demand.
The upgrades to the Berlin wastewater plant, when completed, will break down nutrients and contaminants in the influent to create near drinking water quality effluent. “It’s a better quality than [the water] a lot people get out of their wells,” Jane Kreiter adds. For a 24-hour time-lapse video of part of the Berlin Wastewater Plant SBR installation, you can visit the following links: http://cosnet.co.cc/berlinwwp1 for Part 1 and http://cosnet.co.cc/berlinwwp2 for Part 2.
Jane Kreiter, Town of Berlin, Maryland, Wastewater Treatment Plant Director, discusses the biology of the treatment operation with Jamie Welch, student blogger, Worcester Prep.
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.
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’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 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.