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REC allocates $20,000 to four local groups

GRANDVIEW - Four Lower Valley organizations are now $5,000 richer thanks to the efforts of the Lower Yakima Valley Rural Enterprise Community (REC).

Tuesday night, REC board members voted to allocate their remaining $20,000, providing grants to Sunnyside Community Hospital, the Washington State Migrant Council, the Grandview Parks and Recreation Department and Horizons in Sunnyside. Each of the four organizations submitted a request for funds after the REC board was reminded last month that the United States Department of Agriculture required that enterprise communities have all of their remaining money obligated by Sept. 1.

During the board's meeting last month, members decided to only accept funding requests from the five organizations that had already been through the request for proposal (RFP) process. Each of the four groups that received money were a part of that process.

However, a fifth letter for funding was also received. The letter, from Grandview City Administrator Jim Sewell, requested additional funds for the city's downtown neighborhood outreach program. REC board president Joan Souders noted that the downtown neighborhood outreach program was something that had been funded by REC, but it was not a project that had gone through the RFP process. She noted that the City of Grandview project that had been through the process dealt with Yakima Valley Community College's grape and wine education center.

"We were pretty clear that we were going to fund the groups that had been through the RFP process," Souders said. "I don't feel this letter is in response to the request we put out. If we accept this letter then we have to open it up to every group we funded."

The REC board decided not to review the request from the City of Grandview because it did not follow the guidelines set by the board.

Originally, it was thought that the REC board would have only $11,000 left to allocate. So when the board sent letters out looking for requests for additional funding from the groups that had been through the RFP process, it was specified that each group could receive anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 for their projects. However, after the Sunnyside School District failed to utilize all of the funds that were set aside for its Sunnyside Neighborhood Outreach project, the REC Board found itself with an additional $11,500 to spend.

Although each of the funding requests ranged from $3,000 to $2,000, the board decided to evenly distribute the $20,000 among the four groups.

"If you look at these they are all very good proposals," said REC program administrator Steve Hill. "They're all going to use [the additional funds] for a good purpose."

According to the proposals, Sunnyside Community Hospital plans to use the REC funds to purchase anatomical teaching models, including hands-on models of the brain and heart, as well as a life-sized plastic skeleton.

The request from the Washington State Migrant Council noted that the additional funds will be used to purchase catering supplies for use at the Sunnyside Community Center. The letter, submitted by Cristina Klatovsky of the Migrant Council, states that the supplies will create another source of income for the center, noting that the center will be able to offer catering services to those who rent out the building.

The Grandview Parks and Recreation Department will use the additional funds received from the board to help cover the cost of installing lighting and bringing electricity out to the site of the new playground at Dykstra Park.

According to the request from Horizons, the funds from the REC board will be used to help provide additional monies for Project UNITE. The program offers intermediate and advanced computer classes to students taking part in Project UNITE.

The funds allocated to each of the organizations will have to be spent by Dec. 31.

Despite having allocated $20,000 to the four groups, Hill pointed out that it still leaves the board with nearly $5,000 in its budget. He noted that the money has been earmarked to cover closing costs that will come at the end of the year when the board is disbanded, as well as the cost of storing 10 years of records that group has created. He added that the records will have to be kept for seven years.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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