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Nye County Commissioners receive second round of block grant project idea presentations

At their latest meeting, Nye County commissioners received a second presentation from applicants hoping to get in on the Community Development Block Grant funding made available for fiscal year 2022 and three separate ideas were put on the table by two different entities, including a couple of projects for town of Amargosa beautification and a third from the nonprofit Faith For Action aimed at tackling the local homelessness issue.

Pat Minshall of Amargosa was the first to present and her two projects focus on addressing the damage caused by critters that have attacked the town’s main complex and its cemetery.

“This first one (pre-application) is for beautifying the town complex around the library and the medical center. We have a terrible invasion, even though we have been very aggressive, with gophers,” Minshall explained. She said this particular project calls for installing astroturf, which would not only help spruce up the area but would also help conserve a highly valuable resource, water. The requested funding amount detailed by the pre-application made by Minshall came to $66,000.

“The second one is for beautifying our town cemetery,” Minshall continued. “Several years ago virtually all the trees surrounding the cemetery were dead or dying from an infestation of some bug. And we were very, very lucky because the Nevada Division of Forestry came out, removed them and chopped them all up for us at a cost of I think about $2,000 to $3,000. Quotes we had gotten from companies went from $30,000 to $40,000 so we owe a great deal of thanks to the Nevada Division of Forestry.”

Minshall added that the Nevada Division of Forestry has also been approached about the possibility of that entity coming back in to plant around 400 bushes to replace those trees that had died, noting that a plant expert had suggested the town use a specific kind of oleanders, the red variety, which is more drought tolerant and cold tolerant than other varieties. However, Minshall said working with the Nevada Division of Forestry has not yet been made official, though she seemed optimistic that the partnership would eventually come through, remarking that the forestry division often utilizes inmates to provide that kind of service.

As such, the cemetery beautification project’s estimated cost of $8,373 would cover purchasing the actual oleanders themselves, but not the cost to plant them in the ground. If the Nevada Division of Forestry does not prove amenable to assisting with the planting of the bushes, the town would then have to cover that expense itself.

Second to present that morning was Angela Reinold of Faith for Action, who gave an impassioned overview of what the organization is striving to bring to life, a mini village for the homeless population.

“We’re here today, we do want to request for $300,000 for us to go ahead and get the mini village started but we’re also here to ask for your blessing and to get your permission for us to move forward with this project that our town desperately needs,” Reinold stated.

She explained that Faith for Action is dedicated to helping families and individuals take the steps necessary to overcome poverty and homelessness. At this time, she noted that there are local organizations that offer vouchers for section 8 but the problem is a lack of qualified housing for those people in need. Applicants for section 8 housing get placed onto a list, often wait years for their names to be reached and once they receive their voucher, they only have a short period of time to find a home that accepts section 8. This is the point at which that system is failing, simply because there are not enough homes in the valley that will accept those vouchers. If the person whose is looking for housing does not meet the deadline to find residency, their names are then removed from the list and they essentially have to start all over again.

“With the lack of resources, services and employment opportunities, unemployment on the rise, minimum wage and Social Security yet to increase to the new living cost, it is leading to a detriment for our town,” an obviously saddened Reinold said.

Continuing with a catch of emotion in her voice, she noted that Faith for Action sees individuals and families every day who are struggling with all sorts of problems, including lack of housing, addiction, lack of employment and more, highlighting the harsh reality that many of the residents in this community are just a paycheck away from homelessness themselves.

“So I do propose to ask this of all of us today, not just you guys, but of all of us. What is the solution here? When do we open our eyes to the problems that are so prevalent within our towns and society?” a vehement Reinold asked.

“In short, what is the mini village?” she continued. “It is a designated area for the homeless with multiple tiny homes and what it’s going to do is, it’s going to have complete wraparound services. So by the time that these individuals leave, they can provide for themselves, not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, so they don’t end up back in this vicious cycle. They just don’t have the tools that they need.”

As her presentation came to a close, commissioner Frank Carbone said his main concern was that there are a lot of pieces that go into the puzzle of creating a mini village and he would like to learn more about what the $300,000 would be used for. “We need to know what you are talking about with ‘tiny homes’, where it’s going to be, what property it’s going to be at. There are a lot of questions that I know planning and public works and a whole bunch of people will be asking, so you need to be ready for those kinds of things.”

Commission chair Debra Strickland added her agreement, remarking, “We would like to see you be more specific. If you plan on being successful, those who will be looking at this at the state level will need that for you to be granted this grant.”

The next step in the fiscal year 2022 Community Development Block Grant process is to forward each of the pre-applications that had been presented that morning, as well as the previously presented project idea from Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada, to the state so they can be reviewed for eligibility. Once eligibility has been determined, projects deemed qualified for the block grant dollars will be returned to the county for prioritization. The county will then be able to submit two of the projects presented by outside entities for funding consideration. The county is also allowed to submit two applications on its own behalf but for this round of the block grant program, it has not proposed any projects for itself.

Commissioners are expected to address the prioritization of the proposed projects at the Tuesday, Nov. 16 meeting.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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