PUD ED Grants Benefit All Ages

Grants Focus on the Connection Between Economics and Quality of Life

Jeanne Pesicka holds the door of the new elevator of the Mid-Columbia Senior Center while Betty Dahlberg attends to several customers in the Nu 2 U thrift shop.

A year ago, Jeanne didn’t have an elevator door to hold and Betty’s customers weren’t quite as frequent.

The reason they can happen today is a $400,000 renovation and expansion project at the Senior Center, funded in part by a Northern Wasco County PUD economic development grant. The project included the installation of a new elevator and indoor staircase in what had been the thrift shop and the addition of about 300 square feet for the expanded Nu 2 U Shop.

The bigger, brighter store is now right off the entry to the Senior Center, which means more customers find their way in.

“The thrift shop is more visible, and that means more business,” says Joan Silver, one of the driving fundraisers for the project. And that’s important because Nu 2 U is one of the fundraising mechanisms that help keep Mid-Columbia Senior Center in business.

“We get no public dollars,” Joan says. Store proceeds, membership drives, and weekly Bingo games are among the ways the center raises money for operations.

Further fundraising for major construction was a big lift requiring three and a half years, nine grantors, and 100 local donors. The PUD grant helped make up the local match that helped attract some other major grantors.

The project had originally been much larger and included renovation all over the building, but construction costs kept rising and the center’s leaders chose to focus on the most important need: accessibility.

Before the installation of the elevator, the only access to the basement for Senior Center members was via an exterior staircase or to drive around to the tiny exterior parking lot at the back, lower level of the building.

Today, more people are participating in the exercise classes that are only held downstairs thanks to the better access, Joan says. The Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program, which provides Medicare help, is also easier to access downstairs, as are foot health, the medical implement lending program, and the computer lab.

Bigger, Brighter Children’s Library

A few blocks away, Dylan McManus straightens up a few lingering toys in the new children’s wing at The Dalles Library.

Dylan remembers visiting the library with his son, now 5, before the children’s wing was built when the small children’s area was in the middle of the general collection area.

“It was a nice space for children, but there’s always that feeling in the general collection area that if a kid was loud there might be someone trying to read a newspaper right next to you,” says Dylan, who joined the library as Assistant Director about a year ago.

The children’s wing allows for a little more active play while leaving the main collection area for quieter pursuits.

“This used to be a library that had a kids section, now the library is a destination for children and their parents,” Dylan says. “In some cases, it’s a daily destination. It’s definitely a weekly destination for many families.”

Northern Wasco County’s economic development grant program helped make the project a reality, along with major grants from Google, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Library Foundation, and Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal.

In addition to the many books organized by age level, the children’s wing includes plenty of toys that encourage active play such as a puppet theater, a play house, and big, soft stackable blocks in different shapes.

Just above the children’s wing, the teen wing has a different vibe. The industrial-style space includes shelves made of plumbing parts and casual black benches, while the walls are adorned with rugged gear shapes. The decor was completed with the help of local carpenter and entrepreneur Bryan LaRoque. There’s also a TV for Teen Game Night.

“These are two really dedicated wings where the teen librarian and the children’s librarian can have their own programs,” Dylan says.

The teen wing had originally been planned to include a small maker space, but as planning went on, it was determined that the space just wasn’t big enough. So the library has dedicated another corner across the library as the location where they will build up their future maker space. The space originally planned for this use has become a digital media studio, with a green screen, computers, and other related amenities.

The expansion project speaks to the evolution of libraries in the modern age.

“We’re rethinking the model of the library as a quiet space and expanding that into a space where the community goes and where the community can gather,” Dylan says.

NWCPUD Seeks Grant Applications

Northern Wasco County PUD will be accepting applications for Economic Development grants until 5 P.M. April 18, 2018.

Applications may be obtained by one of the following methods: at the Northern Wasco County PUD Office located at 2345 River Road, The Dalles; downloaded from the PUD’s website: www.nwascopud.org; or by calling the office and requesting that an application be faxed or mailed. Questions should be directed to Kathy McBride, (541) 298-3302.

The Board of Directors will consider applications at their May 1, board meeting. Applicants must: document non-profit status; not be a religious-affiliated entity; and have not been funded more than twice in any five-year period. Projects must be for infrastructure or property with a life expectancy of at least five years located within the Northern Wasco County PUD service area.

The Board of Directors allocated $50,000 this year to help fund local economic development projects. No application can be for more than $20,000.

Applications must include a brief his- tory of the requesting organization and a description of the project, including how the project will economically benefit the community, what steps are being taken to bring the project to a successful completion, other community resources being utilized, and how the organization and project will contribute back to the community.

A detailed budget of the proposed project, including contributions and labor, must accompany the application, as well as proof of “not-for-profit” status. Grants awarded for projects not commenced within one year of award will be forfeited without special approval by the Board of Directors.

“Competitively priced and reliable energy services are just a few ways that your customer-owned PUD can help with local economic development,” says PUD General Manager Roger Kline. “Another way is to establish grant funds such as these in order to provide further incentive to organizations to establish themselves or grow within our community.”