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Stimulus goes to work in Minnesota

The Center Avenue bridge in Moorhead was one of the projects that received federal stimulus dollars. (David Samson/The Forum)1 / 2
Minnesota stimulus awards2 / 2

FARGO -- With Minnesota projected to receive a total of $4.5 billion in federal stimulus dollars over three years, many communities will see benefits.

The White Earth area is receiving assistance in many forms, including $649,000 to be used to fund four positions within the tribal police department.

About $6.2 million will help build a 21-bed Alzheimer's and dementia unit at the State Veterans Home in Fergus Falls.

And so far, agencies in the Moorhead area have been awarded more than $6 million in federal recovery dollars, the fruits of which are starting to show.

Work on the Center Avenue bridge between Moorhead and Fargo will be paid for in part with approximately $910,000 worth of stimulus funds.

An improvement project on 20th Street South in Moorhead got about $1 million in federal recovery dollars.

Awards have also gone to Concordia College.

The school is getting about $68,000 in work study funds, as well as approximately $135,000 from the National Science Foundation.

The NSF award, made up in part with stimulus dollars, will go for development of a neutron detector array, said Bryan Luther, a physics professor at Concordia.

Luther said the money means summer jobs for undergraduates in 2010 and 2011.

The goal: to build, calibrate and test modules that will come together to create a device that will probe the nucleus of atoms.

The detector, which will be assembled at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University, will first create what are called exotic nuclei.

It will then measure what happens when the short-lived structures come undone in the blink of an eye.

"It's designed specifically to detect high-energy neutrons that come out of the nucleus as it breaks up," Luther said.

By measuring the speed and other properties of the particles, researchers can figure out how they must have been assembled before they came apart, Luther said.

On a larger scale, if you ride buses in Moorhead you may soon be riding in one paid for with stimulus dollars.

The city's transit system received about $1.5 million stimulus dollars, a good chunk of which has gone for new vehicles and to upgrade the fare collection system.

Without the money, the city would have had to pay about $232,000 to match the federal funds for the projects and it would have had to phase in purchases over several years, said Lori Van Beek, Moorhead transit manager.

When it comes to things like the work being done on the Center Avenue bridge and 20th Street South, Moorhead would have done the projects with or without stimulus dollars, City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said.

However, using the federal dollars meant the city didn't have to dig as deeply into its share of municipal state aid funds.

"What it did was preserve that money for other projects," Zimmerman said.