Guided grant: Hahn uses powers to make money for the county | Western Colorado

Connie Hahn has some sort of wizard of Oz going on in the Mesa County government.

This is partly due to the fact that she is considered a kind of magician when it comes to getting grants for the county public works department.

Over the course of his county career, he has written dozens and dozens of scholarships that brought millions of dollars to the county, primarily for road improvement projects.

As a result, she has become a different colored horse in the county government, with people often outside seeing the magician helping them apply for various grants. And like Oz, she is known for her immediacy despite her small stature, often rejecting them. That’s why Hahn has a sign on the door of his office directly from the Land of Oz that reads: “Nobody comes in to see the wizard. Nobody. No Nohow. “

“People will come in and say,” I want to do this project and this will cost, “and the famous word is that Connie’s head just goes” no “,” he said. “You have to pass the wizard to get the money.”

Unlike some magicians, however, the longtime Mesa County worker does not do this with much smoke and mirrors. Hahn is not a cowardly lion when it comes to asking state agencies for funding to build or improve roads, yellow bricks or whatever.

That’s why the Public Works Operations Manager quickly states that people shouldn’t pay attention to the woman behind the curtain. Instead, he credits others with the over 40 scholarships he wrote for himself, totaling approximately $ 29 million, and helping colleagues in nearly two dozen other grant applications to bring in another $ 18 million.

A recent waving of his wand helped the county get more than $ 848,000 for a 16 Road improvement project, which is already under construction, and $ 757,000 for another 22 Road project.

“No grant writer does it alone,” said Hahn. “I had a wonderful staff. Even with the Energy Impact Grants, there are some technical questions about the projects we are building, and without my engineers I couldn’t answer those questions to the extent I was able to do it.

“Of the other scholarships I have administered, many of these have been applied by other people on my staff,” he added. “It’s a collaborative thing. I don’t want people to think that’s all for me. Without a good staff, it wouldn’t happen. “

The large and powerful Hahn said that each grant for which she or her staff apply is somewhat unique, but all require detailed technical information.

Grants for assistance to impacts on energy and minerals, which are managed through the Department of Local Affairs of Colorado, must show a direct correlation with the energy industry because the money comes from producers’ severance tax dollars of oil, gas and minerals.

Other grants, such as those of Great Outdoors Colorado for the Palisade Plunge, may be more specific. They still require detailed knowledge of what grants are intended to do. Not including this information means that the grant will probably not be awarded.

In all these years, Hahn has only been rejected once.

“What you really need to know is the grant provider and what they want,” he said. “I see people asking for grants that don’t even meet the criteria. Some of them are simple, others are more complicated.”

Hahn’s magic can be seen across the county in completing numerous well-known projects, such as the underpass on 30 Road south of Interstate 70 Business Loop. His biggest grant was $ 3.2 million, made in collaboration with workers from the city of Grand Junction, to help pay for the 29 Road overpass on I-70.

“It’s really moving for me to drive through the valley and even out of the valley and see projects where I knew I had a finger,” he said.

Hahn said that she and the rest of the county staff make sure they focus only on the necessary projects, most of which are based on priorities already established by the county. Getting these grants not only helps save local taxpayer dollars – typically 50-50 matches – but it also helps keep people employed in the county.

“I am very proud to take taxpayer dollars and make $ 1 in $ 2 with grants,” he said. “That money is returned to the community to local contractors, local engineering companies, local businesses”

Somewhere beyond the rainbow, Hahn said he is planning several ideas for future grants, including improvements to the way to the new Cameo exit shooting range on I-70.

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