MIDLAND, Mich. (WJRT) - The newly-signed state budget has about $147 million of what some consider “pork” grants, money that goes to a specific legislator’s district.
Midland is benefiting from some of that money, but the entities getting this funding says its very much needed.
We’ve all been dealing with the pandemic, but the Midland area was also hit with a historic flood last year and for the Midland Center for the Arts, the recovery process has been slow as it still does not have full power.
“We have been without our sources of revenue for about a year and a half,” says Midland Center for the Arts President and CEO Terri Trotter, talking about the entire entertainment venue industry.
The Midland Center for the Arts is open, but 16 months after the dam failures and catastrophic flood, the main facility still does not have electricity running in all parts of the building.
“We have power in about 60 percent of the buildings, which includes the two theaters and the lobby,” Trotter says.
But the museum area and offices still do not power. Trotter is relieved that $5 million for the center is part of the budget signed today by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Midland is in the legislative district of Republican State Senator Jim Stamas, and while some may criticize this type of spending as pet projects for legislators, Trotter says the money doesn’t even cover the total damage done to the center for the arts and its other properties.
“We are estimating that we have 10ish million dollars worth of damage from that flood, from the properties and the artifacts that have to be repaired,” says Trotter.
Trotter says she has been working with FEMA to get federal relief money as well.
“We have hit some red tape, some of those bureaucratic nightmares people talk about,” she says.
Also getting money in the budget, the Midland Community Center, which is getting $6.5 million. While the lights are still out in parts of the Midland Center for the Arts, Trotter hopes this new state funding will mean brighter days are ahead.
“We want to get it back to a better state than when we started, and that we make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future,” she says.
State Senator Jim Stamas says communities across the state are getting similar funding through the state budget to recover from the impact of COVID-19, and again, in his district, a major flood.
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