LYON COUNTY, Kan. – Rita Clary looks over Julia Langley’s shoulder, assisting the Office Manger as she fills out the RD Apply online loan application. Clary is a Circuit Rider with the Kansas Rural Water Association – a water professional expert in both the technical operation and financial management of a water utility. Her experience with the loan application process helped Lyon County Water Districts 1 and 5 secure the funding necessary for a water improvement project.
“Rita’s help with the RD Apply, sam.gov and Kansas Department of Health and Environment loan applications were invaluable,” said Langley, who is the Office manager for Lyon RWDs 1 and 5. “Her knowledge and expertise made it possible for us to get our applications for funding submitted in a timely manner. That made my job so much easier.”
Clary’s familiarity with the loan applications is built on repeated experience with the systems. In the case of Lyon RWD No. 1, an interim finance loan is being obtained through the loan program administered by the state regulatory agency. Clary is presently working with 24 loan applicants.
The Circuit Rider first walked Lyon County through the process of acquiring a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number – a nine-digit federal identification number required for many of the loan applications.
“I help them get registered on RD Apply and sam.gov,” Clary said.
RD Apply is in on-line application system for the USDA’s Rural Development loan and grant program. The System for Award Management site at sam.gov is a General Services Administration system that allows organizations to conduct business with the government. USDA has put significant effort into making RD Apply accessible, but the process for applying for a government loan that can be worth millions of dollars can only be simplified so much. That’s where Clary’s experience with the system can be so valuable.
“When you get an error message, I know a few ways to work through that,” Clary said. “A lot of times it’s changing the wording, from ‘City of Americus’ to ‘Americus, City of.’”
Americus is one of the communities served by the Lyon County Rural Water Districts 1 and 5. Part of the improvement project was to make distribution upgrades and provide a new transmission main to Americus. The project would also make improvements to an existing standpipe in Bushong and build a new elevated water storage tank in the district.
Lyon County opened bids in February and the bids came in below estimates. Construction is ready to start. That doesn’t mean Clary’s work is finished.
“The USDA often requires a Vulnerability Assessment and Emergency Response Plan before completion of the project, and I help borrowers work through that system,” she explained. “I also check with them to make sure they’re familiar with the process and I can act as a liaison with the USDA.”
The assistance of Clary and other Kansas Rural Water Association staff has been critical in allowing Lyon County to improve their water service in a timely and affordable manner.
“We couldn’t have done it without KRWA,” Langley wrote in a letter to the Association and the USDA State Office.