BALDWIN -- Webber Township has received a $5,000 grant from the People Fund grant program sponsored by Great Lakes Energy to help fund its Community Development Project to "remove blight and beautify the community."

Sandra Clarke, who writes grants for the township, said they requested a community development grant to eliminate blight in Webber Township.

"We looked at how this project could benefit the entire community," Clarke said. "Our aim is to improve beauty in the community to encourage economic development and tourism in the area. We want to promote a better quality of life for those who live and work here."

The project will involve improving curb appeal through landscaping, planting trees and shrubs, planting flowers, repairing or adding outdoor lighting, trimming trees as needed, and cleaning up trash around the community, she added.

"We are looking at removal of up to 500 tons of garbage from area homes and businesses, as well as the demolition of up to 45 boarded up structures in the area," Clarke said. "We hope to bring several properties into compliance with township ordinances and increase building occupancy up to 10 percent."

Clarke said the township will be looking for volunteers to help with the project, once the "Stay Home Stay Safe" order has been lifted.

"The grant funds will be used to purchase supplies and materials needed to do the projects," Clarke said. "The $5,000 won't cover the entire cost of the project, which we are estimating to be around $13,000. We are looking at doing some fundraising events, such as a 50/50 drawing and a 5K walk/run once we are able to get out and about again. And of course, we are accepting any donations."

Part of the project will include an "adopt-a-spot" program where community members can volunteer to take a particular area of the community for clean up and landscaping, Clarke said.

Volunteeers would be involved in planting trees, shrubs and flowers, as well as trash removal throughout the community.

"Part of the project will involve the replacement or addition of "dusk to dawn" lighting around the community," Clarke said. "And we will particularly look at seniors and veterans that might need help with home repairs or cleanup, or the addition of lighting around their homes."

Clarke said they expect to receive the funds in June.

"We would like to get started by the first of June," Clarke said, but with things still closed until May 28, we may not be able to get started until mid-June or early July."

The Community Development Project will be housed at the Webber Township Hall at 2286 Springtime Rd., Clarke said.

"If you have a need in terms of elimination of blight, landscaping, or cleanup, please call the township office at 231-745-3471, and leave your name, phone number, and a brief message about your needs, and we will get back to you as soon as we can," she said.

"We want to thank the Webber Township Board of Trustees for all the support they have given us in our efforts to get this project going," Clarke said.

Webber Township Supervisor Ernie Wagotzke said it is very nice that they received the grant, because the work is truly needed in the community.

The People Fund grant program is supported by the voluntary contributions of Great Lakes Energy members who allow their electric bills to be rounded to the next dollar each month.

"Cooperatives have a unique opportunity to have a significant impact in the communities they serve," said Great Lakes Energy President and CEO Bill Scott. "By allowing members to round up their bill, Great Lakes Energy serves as the conduit between them and their communities to have a positive and lasting impact."

Great Lakes Energy members can enroll in the People Fund by calling (888) 485-2537 or visiting gtlakes.com. All funds collected go toward grants.