Ottawa County commissioners signed a letter of intent to oversee a rural solid waste collection project when the proposed pilot program leaves the hands of the Peoria Tribe.

John Froman, chief of the Peoria Tribe, asked commissioners for their support Monday as the tribe finalizes a grant application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Froman said the grant, estimated to be about $215,000, would allow the tribe to place solid waste recepticals in three Ottawa County locations where county and original tribal jurisdiction overlap.

If funded, the program would provide funding for purchase of three “green box” recepticals, fencing, preparation pad construction and a truck.

The Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan was born out of the tribe’s desire to improve human and environmental health in Ottawa County, according to Froman.

The tribe will oversee the project through the life of the grant — estimated to last between 18 and 24 months, Froman said.

Commissioners agreed Monday to accept responsibility of maintaining the sites at the close of the grant, if the county determines that it is financially able to do so.

Tribal leaders said the county’s expressed intent does not obligate the county to take ownership of the project.

“This is a fabulous project,” said Russell Earls, chairman of the Ottawa County Commission. “We have been battling illegal dumping for years and years and year … this will certainly help.”

Froman said the proposed project is favored at the federal level because it could becomes the USDA/Rural Development’s last and only chance to provide federal grant money to tribal environmental interests this calendar year.

There are still details of the grant proposal to be worked out, according to Froman,  such as how the expense of tipping fees will be addressed.

“We realize that is an issue,” Froman said.

 Tribal environmental representatives said the intent of the program is to eliminate illegal dumping by offering free disposal sites.

“We need to give people an alternative,” Froman said.

With the county’s documented support in hand, Froman said the tribe can prepare the application for submission.

Word of the approval or denial is expected to come within 30 days.