Local government

County court hands out relief funds to two Nyssa facilities

VALE – The Malheur County Court has approved a $150,000 outlay to an assisted living facility and a local medical clinic.
The money – derived from $5.8 million in American Rescue Plan funds delivered to the county last year – will go to Nyssa Gardens assisted living facility and the Malheur Memorial Health Clinic in Nyssa. Both are part of the Malheur Memorial Health District, a publicly-funded taxing district.
The court acted on the request on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Meanwhile, several other local agencies are jockeying to get in line to receive federal relief cash available to the county, including the area’s only facility designed to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
Project DOVE delivered its pitch for about $220,000 in American Rescue Plan funds during the Nov. 30 meeting. Project DOVE wants the money to boost wages and lay the foundation to eventually pay benefits to its two full-time and five part-time employees.
“We’ve never been able to compete with Oregon’s wages continually going up. So, part of it is to use to bring current staff in line with regional wages,” said Terry Basford, Project DOVE executive director.
Basford said the county grant could be important as “seed money to begin the process to get other permanent funding so we can maintain salaries and pay some benefits.”
“We are at the point where we have to do something so we can compete. They can go to McDonald’s and go to work for as good as money as we can pay and McDonald’s pay benefits,” said Basford.
Project DOVE wrote in its request to county commissioners that the money will also be utilized to fund a victims advocate, a grant writer and to help hire a new director because Basford plans to retire soon.
Domestic violence is widespread in Malheur County and the Project DOVE shelter is often at or near capacity. The facility typically serves 13 to 15 clients a month.
The Project DOVE shelter operates 24 hours a day with10 shelter rooms and four transitional units.
The program is funded almost entirely by grants and donations.
The county – one of the poorest in the state – finds itself in an unusual position to hand out money because of federal relief funding it has been stockpiling since last year. The county spent about $1.1 million of the $5.8 million it got to improve cyber security, pay a bonus for county employees, remodel the district attorney’s office and renovate the county jail.
Project DOVE is just one of the local organizations and groups seeking a share of that funding.
So far, the county has received inquiries about money from the county assessor’s office, the Ontario Kiwanis Club and the Malheur County Development Corp., the public company set up by the county commissioners to oversee the beleaguered Treasure Valley Reload Center.
County officials expect more requests.
“I am surprised there isn’t more,” said Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge.
The court has not made a decision on the $2 million request from rail development corporation.
For now, the county has no plan on how to award the millions it is anticipating.
“Everything will have to be taken under advisement and go from there. You have to weigh the needs, who needs it the most and where it will go the furthest so we’ll see,” said Joyce.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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