United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is investing more than $4.5 million to build and improve critical community facilities in California. This community infrastructure funding will benefit nearly 250,000 people to support health care, food security, and emergency response in rural communities.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on its promise to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild our economy,” Torres Small said. “Rural Americans need emergency response, hospitals and medical facilities, and USDA’s loans and grants invest in critical infrastructure to make that possible. USDA Rural Development puts rural people at the forefront of investment and opportunity to help us all build back better, stronger, and more resilient.”
USDA is investing in 21 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund essential community services that will help keep rural America resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects will finance emergency response vehicles and equipment; build or improve hospitals and clinics; and combat food insecurity.
Funding of $5,700 was allocated to Palermo Union Elementary. The financing will be used to help Palermo Union Elementary School District purchase two portable bus chargers. The district currently operates two electric buses that are normally charged at their bus barn. Unfortunately, this site is often included in state-mandated Public Safety Power Shutoff events resulting in loss of electrical service. This grant will allow the district to move the electric bus fleet to one of their other sites that has not been part of the PSPS. This will be critical to keeping the buses running and the schools open during potential PSPS events. The district's students have already lost an unacceptable amount of educational time due to the Camp Fire in 2018 and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two grants are allocated to Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians of Big Valley Rancheria totaling $72,680 that will be used to purchase emergency first responder vehicles for Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians of Big Valley Rancheria. The emergency vehicles will be equipped to handle the mountainous terrain and have the storage capacity to meet the emergency response needs of tribal members. The vehicles will also be equipped with firefighting and first aid kits.
Twos grants are allocated to Tuolumne County Office of Education. One for $20,100. The funds will be used to purchase a van to support education in Toulumne County. The van will serve the county’s 12 school districts and the office of the Superintendent of Toulumne County Schools. Staff will be transported to provide speech, psychological, occupational, and physical therapies. Additionally, the van will be used to transport curriculum, student meals and other educational materials. Importantly, students will be transported to community college classes, community-based instruction, court school, adult education, alternative education, and special education classes.
The other grant is for $246,700. The Rural Development investment will be used to rehabilitate the parking lot at the Tuolumne County Superintendent of School's office and make changes to ensure the parking lot meets current accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This office serves the entire county of Tuolumne.
A grant for $48,900 was awarded to the Town of Paradise. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase nine portable radios for the town of Paradise’s law enforcement department. These radios will directly connect with the Butte County and CaIOES radio networks. The past destruction of the town’s law enforcement radio sites required law enforcement, EMS and Public Works to contract with Butte County to provide radio access. Butte Country has now upgraded their system to the new P25 standard. Paradise’s equipment is incompatible with that system threatening law enforcement and EMS services. These new all-band, P25 radios will greatly improve Paradise’s communication and emergency response capacity.
Cottonwood Creek Charter School was allocated a more than $3.4 million. This Rural Development investment will be used for the construction of a standalone, 10,000-square-foot gym/multipurpose building on a portion of the Cottonwood Creek Charter School's asphalt yard. The proposed building would include an 8,000-square-foot core gym/multipurpose facility, and an additional 2,000-square-foot area for restrooms, a foyer, a warming kitchen, and a snack bar. This facility will be located at the southeast corner of the school site, at the corner of 2nd Street and Willow in Cottonwood, California. This proposed Class S structure will be used in a multi-use capacity. This is a guaranteed loan with Rural Community Assistance Corporation.
Funds of $7,100 was awarded to Friends of the Round Valley Public Library. The funds will be used to purchase an air purifier for the Friend's of the Round Valley Public Library's community room and technical equipment for Round Valley Library Commons. This will allow Friends to continue providing essential services to the town of Covelo and the surrounding community while at the same time continuing to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's, state, and county guidance for indoor services in a safe manner.
Funds of $53,160 was allocated to the City of Sonora. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase and outfit a fully equipped law enforcement vehicle that will be used in the rural community of Sonora. The purchase of the vehicle will allow older, unsafe vehicles to be rotated out of the Sonora Department vehicle fleet. Sonora Department's calls for service have increased every year from 13,699 in 2018 to 16,348 in 2019, and over 19,260 in 2020. The dramatic increase in calls is due to increased homelessness, opioid use, and a crisis of abuse. The new patrol vehicle will allow the department to respond safely and quickly to calls for service.
The County of Imperial was awarded five amounts of $19,600. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase automated external defibrillators that will serve the communities of Heber, Seeley, Salton Sea, Winterhaven, Palo Verde, and Niland, California. The AEDs will support the department's commitment to the provision of high-quality emergency care to those that need. In use, the monitor will give the Imperial Country Fire Department a real-time window into a patients' cardiac status allowing for faster decisions and more effective responses in emergencies.
The City of Sonora was allocated $53,160. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase and outfit a fully equipped law enforcement vehicle that will be used in the rural community of Sonora. The purchase of the vehicle will allow older, unsafe vehicles to be rotated out of the Sonora Department vehicle fleet. Sonora Department's calls for service have increased every year from 13,699 in 2018 to 16,348 in 2019, and over 19,260 in 2020. The dramatic increase in calls is due to increased homelessness, opioid use, and a crisis of abuse. The new patrol vehicle will allow the department to respond safely and quickly to calls for service.
Pacific Community Charter School was awarded $44,600. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a new playground for the Pacific Community Charter School. The new playground facilities will improve the wellness of both students at teachers at the school, allowing space for students to destress and recharge outside of the learning environment. Having the playground will also encourage parents to enroll their children in the school and enhance community cohesion and well-being.
The City of Alturas was allocated $344,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase a fire truck for the city of Alturas’ volunteer fire department. Located in Modoc County, the city of Alturas’s fire department is staffed by 36 volunteers that provide fire suppression and protection services for a 2.45 square mile catchment area. Additionally, the department has a mutual aid agreement with the Alturas Rural Fire Department to assist with fires within a 9-mile radius of the city. The department also has agreements with Alturas Rancheria, XL Reservation, and the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. The Alturas Fire Department will purchase a 2021 Rosenbauer Timberwolf Urban Interface Pumper to replace an older pumper purchased in 1985. Having a working, modern fire truck is crucial to the rural city’s safety and allows the department to maintain its Insurance Organization rating which maintains affordable insurance rates for the town’s residents.
Kimshew District Cemetery was awarded $76,200. This Rural Development investment will be used to help Kimshew District Cemetery conduct repairs, replace equipment, and restore buildings damaged in the disastrous 2018 Camp Fire. Kimshew District Cemetery will remove four cedar trees and one oak tree that are considered hazardous. Additionally, the district will repair and rehabilitate sections of its fence, irrigation systems, a pump and pump house and the power supply to the pump station. The grant will be used to purchase a truck, a mower, and other various pieces of equipment for routine maintenance and funerals. The office and shop exteriors will be painted. These improvements and new equipment will allow the facility to return to operation as soon as possible. As the dangers of dead-falls and dry, unirrigated, flammable undergrowth fuels are a hazard to health and safety to the surrounding areas, this USDA grant will go far to protect the community.
Funds of $27,400 was allocated to Dream it. Be it. This Rural Development investment will be used to upgrade the HVAC system for 2 at Dream it. Be it. These classrooms are currently serviced by a system which is not properly sealed which has a negative effect on air quality. The investment will support the purchase of new ventilation and air filter systems which will provide an improved learning environment for students.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. For more information, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-facilities/community-facilities-direct-loan-grant-program.
Today’s investments complement the recently announced funding availability under USDA’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program, which also is being administered through the Community Facilities program. Through this program, USDA is making up to $500 million available through the American Rescue Plan to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services and nutrition assistance.
Under the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program, Recovery Grant applications will be accepted on a continual basis until funds are expended. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/erhc.
Interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility. Also see the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants (PDF, 669 KB) for a detailed overview of the application process.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate, smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.