Dishing it out

Ah the pandemic – toilet paper shortages, elbow bumps, bleaching fruit, trying to disinfect money by putting it in the microwave (real thing that happened!). Sometimes hindsight is 20/20; other times it’s just cruel.

But, joking aside, the pandemic did have a real toll, responsible for the deaths of many and a huge hit to the economy. As a result, La Plata County received an estimated $10.9 million as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Last week, county commissioners approved a final list of projects after months of community meetings to decide how best to use the fund. Here’s the list, via the county: 

• Broadband improvement and expansion – $2.5 million. Proposed projects include fiber installation on Highway 151 and a carrier-neutral data center to expand fiber in La Plata and create redundancy in the region.

• Housing – $4 million. Created a revolving loan fund; loaned $1.5 million for purchase of Westside Mobile Park (preserved more than 50 units of workforce housing); loaned $200,000 to HomesFund to use toward the acquisition of Triangle Mobile Home Park; and $1 million pledged toward solutions for the unhoused.

• Social, health and economic impacts of the pandemic – $3.5 million. Includes:

• La Plata Food Equity Coalition – $115,000: language justice and provide job development.

• Ignacio Community Library – $190,000: Bookmobile & program to be shared with all of the rural libraries in the county.

• La Plata County Collaborative Management – $25,000: Funding to follow unhoused families through long-term stabilization.

• La Plata Youth Services – $625,000: supportive services for struggling youth. 

• Local First Foundation – $25,000: mental health programs.

• Manna – $800,000: Regional food security with a minimum of $150,000 for Durango Food Bank’s regional food distribution facility.

• Oak Tree Youth Resources – $40,000: shelter that will sleep at least six youth ages 13-17 in one space and another six ages 18-21 in a separate area and include computers, a kitchen and other necessary amenities

• Pine River Shares – $390,000: food security.

• Resilient Colorado – $300,000: trauma awareness training.

• Southwest Conservation Corps – $350,000: create a continuum of environmental/outdoor experiences throughout the school day and in after-school programs.

• United Way – $350,000: out-of-school time programs.

• Housing Solutions of the Southwest – $55,000: Southwest Horizon Ranch well project.

• La Plata West Water Authority – $100,000: water fill station on Dry Side .

According to the county, another $920,270 will go toward a new HVAC system at the Durango/La Plata County Emergency Communications Center; an ambulance for Durango Fire and an opioid risk-reduction program through San Juan Basin Public Health.

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