Aroostook County commissioners distribute final round of ARPA funds

1 month ago

HOULTON, Maine – Eighteen Aroostook County municipalities and nonprofits were awarded just over $2 million this week in the 2024 third and final round of American Rescue Plan Act grant funding.

County commissioners approved on Wednesday afternoon the distribution of funds for public health, infrastructure and broadband needs. 

As part of the federal plan designed to help communities recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the County received two equal ARPA federal funding payments of approximately $6.5 million. 

The County kept half of the $13 million for its own projects and made the other half available to County municipalities and nonprofits, according to Steve Pelletier, ARPA fund administrator for the County. 

“In 2022, 2023, and 2024, three equal rounds of grant funding were applied for and awarded based on grant application scores, ” he said.

This year’s awards included $100,000 to the Fort Fairfield Utility District for a sewer project; $100,000 to Fort Kent for broadband services; $300,000 to Grand Isle for a wastewater project; $269,425 to Caribou for a water project; and $37,000 to the Wesget Sipu Tribe for equipment and marketing.

Pelletier explained during the commission meeting that the Wesget Sipu, known as the Fish River Tribe, is located in Fort Kent. When the tribe could no longer meet during the pandemic,  it became de-organized, he said. 

“This is a request for funding to provide equipment and a marketing plan for their tribe to get events back rolling such as a pow-wow,” Pelletier said. “The marketing plan would also be able to bring back members who thought they were dis-organized,” Pelletier said.  “The Weskit Sipu, are also trying to get national registration and if they can do that they will get many benefits for members.” 

Prior to the 2024 application deadlines for this final round of funding, the commissioners held a public hearing in January to define the 2024 applicant categories, funds budgeted for each category and applicant deadlines. 

Last year there was a rolling application deadline, Pelletier explained in the Jan. 10 public hearing. In 2024, letters of intent were due on Feb. 16 and applications were due on April 1.

This year’s funding categories included public health, infrastructure such as clean water projects, broadband for underserved areas, natural disasters and Title I for low-to-moderate income projects. 

Of those applicants selected for this final round, 10 were in public health, seven in infrastructure and one in broadband.

All ARPA-funded projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2026.