The Board of Churchill County Commissioners is reviewing budgets to further support four community organizations, as each presented a plan of improvements and features to work on during the year.
The William N. Pennington Life Center, Churchill Economic Development Authority, Churchill Animal Protection Society, and Fallon Youth Club presented updates to County Commissioners on Feb. 21 to assure a continuation in investments to serve the Fallon community in their specialized services.
New Life Center is gaining more after months of services
Since its opening in June, the Life Center increased 35 percent in daily dining room participation, according to Executive Director Lisa Erquiaga.
While the facility receives a monthly check of $32,000 from the county and city for operational purposes, food costs increased from the supplier as well as expenses since the transition; at least 63 percent is used on food costs on a monthly basis. The facility also invests incorporating with Churchill Area Regional Transportation, homemaker services, and Meals on Wheels. The center also receives money from Meals on Wheels and Congregate dining room programs through grant funding from the Nevada Aging Disability Services Division.
As services within the Life Center continues to grow, Erquiaga said she hopes to employ more at the facility.
“We are submitting for more grants within the state,” she said. “We will be supplementing to make this all work.”
Commissioners requested Erquiaga return in August with another update on the Life Center’s funds as budget organization is in process; which could result in cutting other budgets or services within the facility.
CEDA proposes ideas to boost rural communities
The continuation of support for the Churchill County Economic Development Authority in the amount of $85,000 was requested by Executive Director Nathan Strong.
With that amount, he hopes to partner up with the Fallon Food Hub and distribute goods from Churchill County to consumers in Carson City and Minden.
This also includes partnering with the Great Basin Basket Farm Share, as drop locations are in Carson City, Fallon, Fernley, Minden, Reno and Sparks.
Strong also said CEDA is interested in partnering with the Omaha railroad track development in Hazen; Phase 1 of the construction would serve Union Pacific’s needs and Phase 2 would benefit the community’s needs, such as transloading services.
The requested amount also would support CEDA’s 2018 outreach plan, such as SBDC Day March 21, Small Business Week in April, and Economic Development Week in May.
However, commissioners agreed to partner with rural cities and smaller counties, not urban, said District Commissioner Pete Olsen.
Olsen is also concerned if partnering with urban counties would benefit Churchill in the next three years — Strong said the impact would be significant, as CEDA also has partnered with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Highway 95 Rural Development Authority.
“There needs to be an outreach piece to Highway 95,” he said. “The benefit is aligning with other rural areas and we’ll have common conversations and needs.”
Churchill County has a long-standing history of supporting CEDA; in years prior, the county has consistently contributed amounts ranging from $8,500 to $40,000 per year. But during 2016, former CEDA Director Rachel Dahl sought to increase the amount by requesting additional support from the county of $85,000. That level of support also was requested last year.
Along with Small Business Development Centers, CEDA helped 13 businesses start in Churchill County and created 120 jobs during the course of 12 months.
District Commissioner Bus Scharmann said Fallon could partner with Mineral and Pershing counties with CEDA projects.
“As long as we’re working with them, on the same page, and working together, that’s the most important,” he said.
Commissioners approved the motion to review the county’s budget development and process.
Abandoned and homeless animals need a cozy space, too
The Churchill Animal Protection Society submitted an application for continued support in the amount of $20,000, as kennels are decaying and heightened concerns of the water quality inside the facility.
Churchill County’s grant of $10,000 accounted for 9 percent of CAPS expenditures in 2017. In addition to the 2018 operating expenses, CAPS will need to raise additional funds to cover for building maintenance repairs, which is estimated to cost from $9,500 to $43,000.
Karen Aberle, executive director of CAPS, said the filtration system in the shelter shows high arsenic and magnesium, which turns the water brown, on top of the septic system failing.
With this, CAPS asked for $20,000 for the upkeep of the building and veterinarian bills.
Brenda Utterback, from the CAPS Board of Directors, said the dogs are ingesting more levels of arsenic water than cows on the field.
“This quality of this place needs to be under deep consideration,” she said. “We’re taking care of dogs when no one else has to.”
She said cement also is chipping away inside of kennels and the heater needs repair. The 20 inside-outside kennels were last upgraded in 2015, as cats are housed in 10 floor-to-ceiling condos. Quarantine rooms are also provided for pregnant animals, as well as vaccinating each animal.
The non-profit no-kill animal shelter handles an average of 102 animals per year with four employees; in 2017, the shelter took 127 animals, majority of dogs, according to a report conducted by CAPS. Last year, 118 of those animals were adopted.
As a non-profit, CAPS depends on the support of donors, volunteers, advocates, friends and fundraisers.
Supporting local youth
The Fallon Youth Club has seen a significant growth within the last five years, according to Executive Director Shannon Goodrick.
Last year, the program enrolled 464 children and experienced an 8 percent increase in the summer program. With the help of USDA funds, FYC distributed 19,252 after-school snacks in 2017.
Goodrick said 58 percent of enrolled families live below the poverty line.
“We’re really poised to make a difference,” Goodrick said. “We work hard to make it diverse.”
Considering the enrollment and space inside of the upcoming youth center, gifted from the William N. Pennington Foundation, costs are expected to rise.
Churchill County supported the FYC with $7,500 per year until an increase was approved to $10,000.
“We’re excited to work in a facility that works with us,” Goodrick said. “We’re deepening our partnership with the county and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
The majority of FYC’s revenue sources come from community donations, grants, membership dues and fundraisers.
“Kids were desperate for a haircut and new shoes,” she said. “We saw that change for the better once the economy improved.”
Commissioners said they want to help but do not have a determined amount, and will consider obligations.