Beatty Town Board gives financial boost to high school

BEATTY — The Beatty High School Close Up program got a bit of an economic boost from the Beatty Town Advisory Board, if not as much as requested.

School counselor Teresa Sullivan appeared before the board at its Nov. 20 meeting seeking up to $7,000 in assistance. She walked away with $2,500 and the option of returning and asking for more next month.

Sullivan said that the Amargosa Town Board had tabled a decision on providing assistance until next month’s meeting. Ten of the 14 students attending Close Up this year are from Amargosa Valley.

She explained that the students, while in Washington, D.C., will attend seminars, participate in mock-congress, and meet their senators and representatives.

Student at meeting

Board members were disappointed that only one student participating in the program attended the meeting to support the request for assistance. This was Summer Taylor, daughter of board member Crystal Taylor, who abstained when the vote was taken to provide the funds.

Chairman Dick Gardner said, “I’m not in favor of giving the $7,000.” He was particularly critical of each student being provided $200 in spending money for the week. He felt that young people were being taught to expect to have everything given to them rather than working for it.

Board treasurer Erika Gerling felt there was inconsistency in the funding of the program. “The standards are changing,” she argued, remembering when her son took part in Close Up. “One group has to work for everything. Now they just have it given to them.”

Sullivan explained that the spending money enabled the student to buy food other than provided meals, saying “kids eat a lot.”

She and teacher Steven Sullivan also talked about the fundraisers the students have participated in, and the difficulty of competing for funds with other programs in the school in a small community.

Beatty High School juniors and seniors have been taking part in the program every other year since 1986. Sullivan explained that up until 2014, the Board of County Commissioners provided assistance, generally in the amount of $1,000 per student. That ended with the dissolving of the county commission’s Education Endowment Fund.

The $2,500 provided by the board represents the maximum amount the board can appropriate without going to the county commission for approval. They said they hoped more students would show up at next month’s meeting if they return with a request for additional funds.

Fiber-optic work

Valley Electric Association Community Relations Representative Ryan Muccio attended the meeting to report on progress on the installation of fiber-optic internet service in Beatty. He said that installations have begun on the southwest part of town and will progress from there.

Muccio said that work on the project hit another delay when crews hired to do the work were pulled away to provide assistance in Houston after the hurricane there.

Although the actual fiber-optic has not reached the Beatty Clinic yet, he said they did a “workaround,” providing Wi-Fi service to the clinic until the fiber-optic could be installed. This has allowed the clinic to again provide five-day-per-week service via teleconferencing with the doctor.

Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.