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Grant supports modernizing Fraser Shipyard

With the second phase of a plan to modernize Fraser Shipyard nearing completion, Gov. Scott Walker approved funding last week to finish the project at the 123-year-old facility.

Fraser Shipyard secured a $2.9 million grant through the Wisconsin Harbor Assistance Program.

State and local leaders held a press conference Friday to say the project is vital for the only remaining shipyard on Lake Superior.

Mayor Bruce Hagen, state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and Reps. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, and Nick Milroy, D-South Range, joined Fraser’s director of operations Tom Curelli to talk about the eight-year, $10 million renovation.

“This grant is crucial for the expansion,” said Mayor Bruce Hagen.

“This project will result in a stronger, more modern and more spacious facility with more employees,” Jauch said.

“We are very excited and believe this investment will pay off,” Milroy said. “This facility serves an important purpose; it provides jobs, helps fuel this industry and more.”

The first phase of the project got underway in 2010, with the help of a $3.7 million Harbor Assistance Program grant and $750,000 investment from Fraser Shipyard. The first phase repaired 856 feet of dock wall, installed a newly coated pit, replaced 700 lineal feet of sheet piling along Howard’s Pocket, and filled in an existing dry dock.

The second phase of the project, expected to be complete in a month, got underway in 2011 with a $2 million federal earmark secured by former Congressman Dave Obey and a $500,000 investment by Fraser Shipyard. The project improved 420 lineal feet of sheet piling.

The third phase, expected to get underway this summer with the new funding and a $700,000 Fraser investment adds 580 linear feet of dock wall, and safety and electrical updates and will connect the first two phases.

“This is project is an extremely important aspect not just locally but regionally,” said Bewley.

“We have huge advocates and we really appreciate all of them,” Curelli said. “We really want to thank everyone for the help and support.”