Council awards $3,000 in grants to schools, nonprofits

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council awarded $3,000 in grants to five community organizations during the first round of its community grants program during its regular meeting on Aug. 23.

The grants include $1,000 to the Sweet Home Junior High and Sweet Home High School GEAR UP program; $500 to the Sweet Home Genealogical Society; $500 to the Boys and Girls Club; $500 to Fair Share Gleaners; and $500 to the Senior Alcohol Free Entertainment party.

GEAR UP helps prepare low- and middle-income students for college and provides a $1,000 scholarship to students who complete the program, which starts in junior high and runs through graduation. The program is in the fourth year of a six-year grant from the Oregon University System.

It will use the city grant to begin a mentor program called “Huskies Giving Back,” which will include a community service component for high school students and Sweet Home graduates. The students will receive assistance with buying college books in exchange for mentoring younger students.

The Sweet Home Genealogical Society will use its grant to help publish a photo book. The book will print historic photos side-by-side with photos taken at the same location, helping preserve history and provide a keepsake families can hand down for generations. The society would like to have it on sale to the public by Thanksgiving. The total project is expected to cost approximately $5,500.

The Boys and Girls Club will use its grant to help pay for a $20,000 project renovating Roy Johnston Park, behind Hawthorne Elementary School. The fields are used by the local youth baseball program, which is run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Santiam. The project will include playing field improvements, such as replacing existing grass, leveling all five fields and adding field conditioner; rebuilding the concession stand; fencing the field; and building covered dugouts.

The Fair Share Gleaners will use its grant to help pay for repairs to the van the program uses to transport food. The van recently broke down.

The SAFE party committee will use its grant to help pay for the annual graduation party meant to provide students with a safe, alcohol-free event graduation night. The program will cost an estimated $25,000.

The council’s Administrative and Finance Committee recommended approval of the GEAR UP, Boys and Girls Club and Genealogical Society projects and denial of funds to the SAFE party and Gleaners.

The Gleaners had originally asked for cash to help with fuel costs, said Councilor Ron Rodgers. The criteria for the grant do not allow funds to be used for operational expenses. After applying, the organization’s van broke down, and he supported providing the funding to help meet that need.

Committee members also questioned whether the SAFE party qualified, Councilor Greg Mahler said.

But after discussing the matter, the council included the program in its awards.

Mayor Craig Fentiman said he would like the SAFE party included.

“This keeps them confined on that one night when they might do something stupid,” Fentiman said of the event, which provides all-night entertainment for high school graduates on the night following graduation.

The Boys and Girls Club had sought $1,000, but the committee recommended a $500 award, primarily to preserve funds for a second round of grants.

That ensures that if something worthy comes up later, the city can be sure of having some funds to help.

The council’s community grants program has $5,000 that it can award throughout the fiscal year, July 1 to June 30.

In the second round, $2,000 will be available for grants.

The council discussed whether to drop the photo book from the list of award winners.

“You know, I like the book,” Fentiman said. “I’m just having a hard time seeing how the book meets any of the criteria.”

“The book is actually a living history of Sweet Home,” Rodgers said, and it will be useful as an educational tool, for teachers and the public. “It also instills pride in the community. I’m proud to live in Sweet Home, and I think that book will make me prouder.”

The council voted 7-0 to approve all five awards. No projects were rejected.

Present at the meeting were councilors Marybeth Angulo, Mahler, Jim Gourley, Fentiman, Scott McKee Jr., Rodgers and Mike Hall.

In other business, the council recommended that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission grant a liquor license for beer and wine sales at Main Street Market #2, 1306 Main, owned by Rajiv Kumar.