Fat Sat’s Bar and Grill receive energy grant

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A pair of federal officials dropped by Fat Sat’s Bar and Grill in Belen this week to congratulate the establishment’s owners and to present them with a certificate and plaque acknowledging a USDA grant to the restaurant, bar and gas station to help make the northside business more energy efficient.

The $4,055 grant, awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Rural Energy for America Program, covered 25 percent of the costs of upgrading Fat Sat’s lighting, thermostats, fans, refrigeration and motion sensors earlier this year, said Carlo Trujillo, one of the business’s owners.

Mike Bush-News-Bulletin photo: USDA officials present Fat Sat’s owners with a certificate and plaque acknowledging a grant to help pay for energy-efficiency upgrades. Pictured, from left, are business owners Theresa Trujillo, Carlo Trujillo, Ray Chavez, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Judith Canales, USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner and Gabe Apodaca, an aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.

The work was completed about six weeks ago, he said.

A Certificate of Funding Obligation was presented by Terry Brunner, USDA rural development state director, and Judith Canales, the department’s deputy undersecretary for rural development, to Trujillo, his mother, Theresa Trujillo, and Ray Chavez, another partner in the business.

Also on hand for the presentation was an aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, Gabe Apodaca, a native of Los Lunas, who works out of the senator’s Albuquerque office..

Canales, who is based in Washington, D.C., said she was there and speaking on behalf of President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

She called Fat Sat’s “a beautiful place, something to be proud of.”

The restaurant, she said, is precisely the kind of establishment REAP grants are intended to assist.

“We have these tools available to help rural businesses,” Canales said.

Brunner, noting that several other REAP grants have been awarded in Belen, described the city as “our shining star.”

Mike Bush-News-Bulletin photo: Fat Sat’s owner Theresa Trujillo shows off the business’s newest energy-efficient cooler.

Previously, grants have gone to Blue Sky Aviation to help cover the costs of installing solar panels at the firm’s airport facility, and to Pete’s Cafe and Hydrocut, two other businesses that installed solar panels.

Brunner said he would like more local establishments to apply for and hopefully receive USDA grants in the future.

A former aide to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Brunner was appointed to his current position in 2009 by Obama. He oversees six field offices and the state office in Albuquerque.

The president appointed Canales to her position earlier this year. She has more than 20 years experience working for federal and local government offices. Two years ago, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the country by Hispanic Business Magazine.

In addition to Fat Sat’s, the officials on Monday visited two other recent USDA grant recipients in Bernalillo and Estancia. Bernalillo was awarded a grant and a loan for a new community center for Native Americans. A commercial kitchen in Estancia received a grant to upgrade and purchase equipment and for building renovations.

“These USDA investments represent the Obama administration’s strong record of support in rural communities,” said Canales of the three New Mexico sites. “The projects we visited today are making it easier for people in rural New Mexico to access services, but more importantly, the funding is helping boost the state’s economy and create new jobs.”

Brunner noted that “Central New Mexico’s rural communities have been hit hard economically and all three of these projects demonstrate different strategies towards enhanced community and business development. USDA is proud to support them in their efforts.”