Council approves community grants for 3 local organizations

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council approved $500 community grants to the Friends of the Library, United Way of Linn County for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the President’s Club for the “Kids Free Christmas Store” during its regular meeting on Feb. 13.

The city received four applications during the January cycle of its Community Grants Program.

The Administration, Finance and Property Committee reviewed the applications and ranked them on Jan. 9 and Jan. 26, recommending splitting $1,500 from the program among the top three applicants.

The council offers the grants reimbursing project costs twice annually.

The Friends of the Library plans to replace six shelving units for its Community Bookstore, 1200 Long St. The Friends plan to complete the project this month at a total cost of $1,800.

Additional funds for that project came from Roger’s Fine Woodworking, which provided $500 in in-kind donations and $400 from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund.

The Friends of the Library operates the only used bookstore in the city, which is open six hours per day six days a week. Funds raised by the sale of used books support programs such as the Public Library’s Summer Reading program and to purchase new materials for all ages at the library.

The group reported an annual budget of $10,000 on its grant application.

The organization is replacing six press board shelving units from its previous location on Main Street. Store volunteers have voiced fears that the units will collapse from the weight of too many books.

The new shelves will increase the number of books the Friends can put out, increasing funds the group can provide to the Public Library while eliminating safety concerns for customers and volunteers.

The President’s Club will use the funds to help pay for the “Kids Free Christmas Store.” The club requested $500. Also providing funds are $250 from CH2M Hill, $200 to $400 from private donors, $800 from other businesses and $200 from a drawing.

“We purchase gifts for kids 12 and under to shop for free for the people in the house where they live,” said organizer Nancy Patton in the application. “Many kids do not have the opportunity. This has grown yearly, and I see it getting larger every year. It is also an opportunity for the residents of Sweet Home to give and volunteer for the children of Sweet Home.”

Patton said the event provided 220 gifts its first year and some 737 last year.

The United Way will use the funds to continue paying for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides a book once a month to children from birth to age 5 at no cost to their families.

The United Way will provide $9,500 in additional funds. Additional funding countywide includes $10,000 from Coastal Farm and Ranch, $1,500 from Selmet, $10,000 from the Albany Public Library, $19,000 from the five Rotary Clubs of Linn County and $15,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation.

The United Way of Linn County has an annual budget of $721,000 overall, according to the application.

“The program has shown to build better readers and stronger families,” said Larry Horton, a retired Sweet Home schools superintendent who volunteers to spearhead the project. “Parents read to and with their children. Questions and activities at the end of the story are provided, which greatly improves reading skills and parent-child interactions.”

He said that it is well known that businesses like to settle in communities that have a well-educated workforce.

“Unfortunately, Sweet Home students are lagging behind state averages in reading, and our high school dropout rate is higher than the state average,” Horton said. “Research shows if children aren’t reading by the end of third grade, they are 85 percent more likely to drop out of school. This program can help solve the problem and help make Sweet Home more desirable to future families and future businesses.”

The Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence requested a grant to help provide confidential and emergency shelter for Sweet Home residents experiencing sexual or domestic violence. The project was ranked fourth by the Administration, Finance and Property Committee and not funded.

CARDV requested $1,000, with $491,500 to be provided by the applicant. Additional funding would come from the United Way, $8,500; federal and state grants, $255,000; local grants, $85,000; and contributions, $150,000.

CARDV has an overall annual budget of $1.2 million.

Last year, 10 adults and 11 children from Sweet Home accessed CARDV’s emergency shelter for a total of 351 bed nights. The average length of time in the shelter was 17 nights. The average cost to shelter a family of four is approximately $35 for a one-night stay, and the requested grant would provide for approximately 29 nights in a shelter.

The council voted 7-0 to approve the three grants. Present were Bob Briana, Susan Coleman, Lisa Gourley, Mayor Greg Mahler, Dave Trask, James Goble and Diane Gerson.

In other business:

n The council voted to recommend to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approval for liquor licenses for: Mr. Lucky’s Deli, now owned by Sahil Chawia, who also owns and operates Midway Market; for limited on-premises sales of beer and wine and for Downtown Lounge, which is changing ownership, for full on-premises sales, which allows beer, wine and spirits. The new owner is Shawn Schuster.

n Mahler read two proclamations.

One proclaimed Sweet Home a Medal of Honor city honoring Oregon’s 26 Medal of Honor recipients, in conjunction with the unveiling of two signs at Shea Point designating Highway 20 as the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway (see page 1).

The second proclaimed Feb. 10 as the city’s 125th anniversary, calling on citizens to join festivities celebrating the traditions and customs of Sweet Home throughout 2018. The city incorporated on Feb. 10, 1893 and adopted its first charter on Dec. 5, 1910.

City officials are working on activities throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary. Councilors and members of the public enjoyed slices of a 125th anniversary cake during the council meeting.