ONTARIO– The board in charge of spurring economic development along the Idaho border with Malheur County awarded $1.3 million in grants to nine regional organizations, including Pioneer Place and Treasure Valley Community College.
The Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board received a record 16 applications from organizations looking for funding.
The biggest single award was $1 million to Treasure Valley Community College to fund construction of the college’s Nursing and Allied Health Professions Center. The board voted 4-2 to approve the funding. The college is raising $1.8 million for the project.
Dana Young is college president but also presides over the border board. She recused herself from the vote. Board members voting for the grant included Andrew Maeda, Bill Johnson, Taylor Rembowski and Ron Haidle with dissenting votes from Nickie Shara and Montessa Young, who is no relation to the college president.
Total construction costs for the new building increased to $12.8 million, up from $11 million. Shara shared concerns about the college’s difficulties in hiring nursing instructors and the shortage of clinical practice sites for nursing students to complete training.
Mara Poynter, the executive director of the college’s nursing program, said the new facility would include a simulation lab for students to complete clinical hours. Poynter said the college currently has four instructors and will likely hire two more when the nursing center opens.
The Treasure Valley Community College Foundation also sought a $100,000 grant to create a health care advisory board. Shawna Peterson, executive director of the border board, told the college foundation that organizations cannot have more than one grant at a time.
Pioneer Place, a Vale nursing facility, received a conditional $100,000 grant to identify capital projects, including refurbishing the facility’s kitchen. While board members Young and Bill Johnson announced potential conflicts of interests because they have relatives at the facility, each said the board should invest in the cash-strapped facility given that it’s the only nursing facility in Malheur County.
Last year, the county’s only long-term nursing facility posted a $500,000 loss due in part to the pandemic. The facility needs $1.3 million just to complete needed repairs on the building. The members agreed that Pioneer Place is the only skilled nursing facility region and could benefit significantly from a comprehensive plan to keep its doors open and voted unanimously on the funding. To get the money, Pioneer Place must submit a plan outlining the facility’s capital projects, which include refurbishing its kitchen and fixing its leaky roof.
The board also approved a $98,236 grant to the Treasure Valley Children’s Relief Nursery to staff a low-income childcare and food program for children at the daycare facility. According to the grant application, the grant funding will allow the facility to provide childcare for 21 additional children. The grant application noted that much of the facility is under-utilized. Currently, the daycare center provides therapeutic childcare for a small number of infants and toddlers that have experienced trauma in the home.
The grant will also create nearly 30 more positions at the relief nursery, according to the grant application. Currently, the application notes, the daycare employs 12 staffers and has 10 volunteers. Additionally, the application notes the program would provide about 10 paid internships and scholarships for high school students interested in early childhood education.
More grants awarded
The board also approved:
–$25,000 to Acre Bliss Venue and Events of Vale.
The new event venue in Vale, the first wedding venue in Vale, opened earlier this year and hosted its first wedding in May, according to the application. The board voted unanimously to award the funds.
–$25,000 to Giggles and Grace, an Ontario daycare, to host a teaching conference at the Four Rivers Cultural Center in February of 2025.
–$13,500 to Final Third Futbol, an Ontario soccer training academy that hosts individual training sessions, was awarded $13,500 in funding to begin looking for a training facility. The owner, Mario Grimaldo, is the head coach of the Four Rivers boys soccer team.
According to the grant application, the training academy currently uses several outdoor soccer fields and indoor gyms to train.
It would be ideal, the application reads, to have an indoor facility owned by Final Third, the application reads.
The board awarded the funding unanimously, contingent upon Grimaldo finding an indoor location.
–$11,600 to Revitalize Ontario to continue to develop its “Art 4 Ontario” program, showcasing artists’ work downtown.
Earlier this year, during the Tater Tot Festival, Revitalize Ontario had sculptures of African animal art sculptures in bulb outs downtown.
The charity wants to continue commissioning artists to submit their work to be shown in the downtown area for the Tater Tot Festival and the Chocolate and Wine Walk and hopes to host more formal art walks in the Spring.
–$25,000 to Trust for Public Land, to help the group continue the Alameda Schoolyard project. The renovation of the school’s playground kicked off earlier this year. The board voted 6-1 vote. Board member Bill Johnson was the dissenting vote.
–$25,000 to Willowcreek Store and Cafe in Vale to build an outdoor picnic area. The board voted unanimously.
The board turned down the Boys and Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley application for a $100,000 grant to update its teen center. The center needs a complete facelift, including new flooring, according to its application.
The members commented on the good work the Boys and Girls Club does in the region and acknowledged the important role it plays in the community. However, Johnson said he did not see how the project addresses the board’s economic development priorities. The board did not vote on the application.
The board also opted not to vote on a $25,000 request from the Drexel H. Foundation, a Vale nonprofit for the arts. The nonprofit requested funding to install restrooms at the Grand Opera House in Vale. Board member Montessa Young said she did not see how bathrooms were innovative. Young did, however, recognize the foundation’s work in the community.
The board voted down two funding requests from Vineyard Family Inc, which trains youth with disabilities to get into the workforce. Vineyard Family The organization submitted two applications, one for $25,000 to establish a nonprofit status and the other for $100,000 to fund a coordinator position. The board said an entity can only have one open grant at a time.
The board also noted it does not typically fund salaries and wages. Montessa Young made a motion to approve a $100,000 workforce grant contingent on the entity establishing a nonprofit, but it failed with no second. Board member Taylor Rembowski made the same motion, but for $44,000 and it too failed 6-1.
The Owyhee Irrigation District was turned down for a $60,000 planning grant to address employee housing improvements. The board did not consider the request eligible for the program the district applied to, and no vote was made. The board said it would encourage the irrigation district to apply for the funding through a different program.
The board also turned down a $24,112 funding request from Friends of Softball, an Ontario group looking to complete the construction of a new softball and baseball complex due to a lack of details on the application about the progress and timeline of the project.
The board also passed on a $100,000 request from HRP LLC, an organization looking to create software to help people with criminal backgrounds get back into the workforce after incarceration. Johnson said the state is better suited to help people coming out of the prison system.
Emily Conlon, border board executive assistant, said the board has roughly $5 million for future grants and programs, including its leadership program that is being developed.
The board awards grants in the fall and spring and accepts applications for its strategic fund on an ongoing basis. Open application dates can be found online.
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