City of Vader projects come to fruition

By Lynnette Hoffman

City of Vader projects come to fruition

We finally had the chance to get the updates from the City of Vader. Joe Schey, mayor of Vader, has taken the time to let us know all that has been accomplished in Vader in the past few years. One of the big issues has been the Water Treatment Sewer facility and other public facilities.

Mayor Schey stated, "The City of Vader has had tremendous momentum in recent times. As a result, the city is in compliance with all State requirements and has repeatedly passed intensive financial and procedural audits from the State. The city has met virtually all requirements to again regain ownership of the water system if it so chooses. After these many years of efforts to modernize, the city is finally able to qualify for a variety of grants that were previously out of reach."

Joe Schey has been in city government since 2014, a task he has taken very seriously. He knew that he had to continue his efforts for the water wastewater treatment plant, roads and the parks. In February of 2020, the Vader City Council voted unanimously to appoint Schey to fill the vacant mayor seat.

The string of successful grants continued through 2020 and 2021 with $30,000 more for street work taking place this summer, $4700 for an employee policy update, $11,200 for a Shoreline Master Plan update, and $20,000 expected to be approved for an Urban Design Standards update in the coming weeks.

"By applying for a variety of grants, we've been able to reallocate budgeted funds that were replaced by grants towards other necessities, like a new tractor," said Mayor Schey. "Currently, there's over $8 million in grants that have been applied for, mainly for street related work. If even a small fraction of that is approved, it will make a big difference to the city."

Vader parks are also getting a makeover. Kelly Schey worked tirelessly to get these grants approved.

"Kelly was instrumental in getting this project off the ground. From conception, to design, presentation, and the networking she did with a variety of experts to pull it all together, she was at the center of this endeavor," said Mayor Schey. "I'm very proud of my wife for the accomplishment and the gift that this will be for the residents of Vader. The Werden Park playground is expected to break ground this summer, with a total project cost of nearly $400,000. Additional grants in the amount of $5,000 have already been awarded."

In June the upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant broke ground. This project is estimated to cost more than $5.6 million which will be fully grant funded from a variety of sources.

"For years, past mayors, council members, and city staff worked with a dark cloud over their heads, worrying about the day when these huge loans would come due, and the unbearable increase to sewer utility rates that would need to be placed on the residents of Vader," said Schey. "The good news is: Vader's new plant is paid for in grants and forgivable loans."

The city had already secured $750,000 in CDBG funds, and a grant/loan package from Ecology for the remainder of the project, but it was insufficient to cover the higher than expected costs.

"We reached out to the Department of Ecology for more funding, but it took weeks to get their offer," said Schey. While the weeks passed by, Mayor Schey reached out to the state representatives for further assistance. "It really was a tense time. My goal was always zero loan, and zero rate increases related to the construction costs. When the state finally released the capital budget, and I saw my $1.85 million request approved, I was ecstatic," he said. In the coming weeks, the new deal from Ecology arrived and it was even more favorable than the first. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Ecology was offering us even more in grant money and forgivable loan than their first offer," said Schey. In all, Vader has secured $6.9 million in grants and forgivable loans for their project.

Mayor Schey was able to get the last bit of funding.

It's unheard of to get a water wastewater plant paid in full. The neighboring City of Winlock has two loans, one for the old treatment plant and one for the new. Vader residents are quite fortunate this has happened. Vader is upgrading parks, streets and their treatment plant, what a blessing for all the residents.