Business & economy

Latino Community Center, Valley Family Health Care among groups to receive grants from Border Board

ONTARIO – The board responsible for spurring economic development along the Idaho border has awarded more than $230,000 grants to eight regional organizations and businesses. 

The Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board received 13 applications from organizations looking for funding. 

The largest award approved by was $50,000 to the Four Rivers Welcome Center to begin early planning for a Latino Community Center. The nonprofit organization requested funding to hire architects and engineers to plan for the new center.

According to the grant application, the welcome center is looking for a 10,000-square-foot facility with indoor and outdoor space to host community gatherings, including sports, youth activities, weddings and other cultural celebrations. 

The center would also provide job training, language courses and citizenship classes. Currently, according to Renee Cummings, executive director of the Four Rivers Welcome Center for Immigrants and Refugees, the organization offers citizenship courses through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Roberto Escobedo, a Nyssa city councilor and a member of the organization’s advisory committee, said the group wants to create a “one-time shop” where Hispanic people can find legal resources, classes and other services currently provided at several locations around the county. 

Efren Garza, a group member and a Treasure Valley Community College nursing instructor, said they also envision the Latino Community Center as a “technical hub” for people with limited access. 

Garza said the organization sees the community center as a pathway for Latino people to enroll at Treasure Valley Community College. Many, he said, might not be aware of what it takes to “get through the red tape or the unknown of applying to college.” 

“We see that this community center could help the Latino community to raise up future leaders,” he said. “We want people to stay here.” 

Valley Family Health Care 

Valley Family Health Care received a $43,500 grant to expand its Ontario Health Plaza. The board voted unanimously to approve the funding.

Valley Family is planning a pediatrics and women’s health care clinic at the Ontario Health Plaza. According to Valley Family’s application, the only other maternity unit in the county is located at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario.

The nearest alternative is over 30 miles away. With last year’s closure of Saint Alphonsus’s Baker City obstetrics program and other medical centers in Idaho shuttering pediatric services, the gap in care is widening, the application notes. Meantime, in 2022, Malheur County logged the highest infant death rate in Oregon. 

Construction internship program

The board again unanimously approved a $25,000 grant to fund two construction internships for the Malheur Works Internship Program, a collaboration between the Malheur County Building Department and the Malheur County Education Service District. Nickie Shira, a board member and employee of the education service district, declared a conflict of interest and recused herself from voting.

Other grants awarded

The board also approved:

– $25,000 to LIR Equipment and Service.  

A regional installation and service provider for equipment, including cranes, hoists and other specialty equipment, will receive employee training and certification funding at its Ontario location. 

-$25,000 to the Owyhee Riding Club to buy a tractor for the club’s arena.  

-$25,000 to Westside Grill for signage for its newest restaurant.  It’s the business’ second location.

-$25,000 to the Ontario Senior Citizens Center to replace the building’s roof, lighting and flooring. 

-$8,000 to Paws on 4th, a pet boarding business in Ontario, to improve its facility. 

Not funded

•$100,000 requested by the Adrian School District to open a preschool.

•$25,000 requested by LayerLine 3D, the printed home construction company, for for construction costs. The board told Shawn McKay, owner of LayerLine 3D, that it doesn’t reimburse expenses already incurred.

•$25,00 requested by Ashby Family Farms for reimbursement for money the company spent on a project. 

•$25,000 requested by Dan and Yvonne Mink, the owners of AdventureLand Ranch, a destination tourism location. They were advised to first get zoning approval for their business.


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