Lift Station Federal Funding Approved!


What’s New in Birchwood

It’s been a tad chilly this week, even my dog doesn’t want to go outside. Yet, the temps don’t bother me—I am bouncing off the walls. This week I received a call from Representative Betty McCollum and Senator Amy Klobuchar letting me know funding for our ailing lift station is on the way! What a fantastic Christmas present for our little community. This federal grant of $480,000 (with us matching $120,000) is as much as our entire annual levy.

This endeavor started as a result of Rep Betty coming to Birchwood to celebrate our Centennial and provide us with a Proclamation which had been read on the floor of the House Chamber. That proclamation now proudly hangs just below the Mayors’ tribute board at the Village Hall. At the end of her visit, Rep Betty asked if there was anything we needed that she could help us with. Indeed there was. Our lift station dilemma was a problem that was only getting worse. Recent flooding had knocked out the controls. Since being repaired, the electronics have been prone to corrosion. We have been limping along with bailing wire and twine ever since.

We made the list of projects-in-need based in large part on any failure of our system would impact White Bear Lake and thus, the entire region. The new lift station will allow us to upgrade to an OSHA approved design that keeps workers out of the sewer pit. It also will allow us to upgrade the effluent capacity in case of a pump break down. The current capacity (less than five minutes before a back up starts) is the same as it was when originally built in 1962 despite our population increasing by more than double since then, and despite a total rebuild in the mid 2000s. Clearly, we are in need to a major makeover.

Fortunately, Rep Betty saw the urgency of the situation and connected me to her staff to begin the application process. Her staff is wonderfully talented. I was able to provide enough information to get Birchwood into the list of top fifteen projects that would be considered…if Congress passed an Appropriations Bill. (One never knows about such things these days.) This week the stars aligned. Nothing has been easy about this process, and the snags we hit along the way demonstrated that only the stubborn prevail. But having a representative with such long tenure as Rep Betty made the journey so much more likely to succeed. And we have…just in time for Christmas. And what a wonderful present it is for me to hand off the opportunity of success to our new mayor and council.

Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I will resume bouncing off the walls.

Tigger aka Mayor Mary

June 29th 2022

Last September we celebrated our community's centennial. One of the folks who could not make it was Congresswoman Betty McCullom. She did send her regrets and a commemorative United States flag that had flown over the US Capitol.
Later last fall Congresswoman McCullom presented me with a Proclamation that was read in the House Chamber. It now hangs in our Village Hall.
When I met with Congresswoman McCullom that day, she was concerned about how our city was coping with the issues of the day and asked me if she could be a resource. I immediately explained that our lift station that serves the entire city was permanently at risk of failure because of recent flooding. Since the lift station is so close to White Bear Lake, it is a regional problem.
Rep. McCullom immediately provided information to me to seek federal assistance. I filed the request for federal funding ($480,000) with the city agreeing to match that money with 20 percent of our own funds. I have been working with her staff to provide information and support since then.
Two months ago Rep. McCullom's staff informed me that we had made the first cut and are in the top 15 projects (out of 70 applicants).
Last week, Rep. McCullom called me directly to to let me know we are now in the Interior Appropriations Funding Bill which puts us on a path for a conference committee with the Senate. The best thing is this path does not subject us to the Senate filibuster. And as Rep McCullom said last week, "The first hurdle is the biggest hurdle."
I remain as hopeful as ever.