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Federal stimulus gives SL County a $14M lift

 (Salt Lake Tribune) Stimulus dollars meant to help Salt Lake County survive the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression are showing up in shelters for the homeless, detox centers for recovering alcoholics and treatment programs for drug addicts.

They are widening streets, paying for energy retrofits and shoring up banks along the Jordan River.

Utah's most populous county has snatched more than $14 million through the federal stimulus to fund law enforcement, social services and environmental initiatives that its cash-strapped coffers couldn't afford otherwise.

Ann Ober, the county's stimulus coordinator, called the federal funding a "lifesaver" that has kept social services from slipping during the recession.

"These funds," she said, "have been absolutely necessary for us to continue paying for programming."

The stimulus also has filled holes that could be characterized as county wants rather than needs -- such as an 800-kilowatt solar array that would rank among the largest photovoltaic installations in Utah.

What remains unclear is how many jobs those dollars have created countywide.

Original Article