Broadband advocates upset in Waldo County’s early plan for stimulus cash

Waldo County officials plan to invest approximately $ 3 million in federal stimulus funds to upgrade emergency services infrastructure.

The county received the first half of the $ 7.7 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act. Commissioners have stated that they are cautiously moving forward with their plans as they await further clarification from the federal government on how the money will be used and project estimates change due to construction costs.

“It’s like a Christmas wish list: you circle everything in the catalog and then, when it gets closer, you say, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to happen,'” said Amy Fowler, chairman of the Waldo County Board of Commissioners. “It’s a work in progress.”

Waldo is one of the first counties in Maine that Outline a plan for stimulus money. The counties here will receive $ 260 million in the stimulus package, plus another $ 233 million for cities and towns. It’s a massive godsend that is expected to lead to large-scale projects that could span any jurisdiction, with many debating broadband, but the money for it has been cut in the county’s plan.

The commissioners presented the spending plans they were considering in a letter to community officials in Waldo County in late July. At the top of the wish list is $ 1.6 million to move the Waldo County Emergency Management Agency from the sheriff’s office to its own building on the county garden lot. The project would also include a new warehouse to house supplies and create a space for food grown in County Garden to be processed and stored.

The county also plans to spend an additional $ 1.25 million in aid to “fully rebuild” the Waldo County’s regional communications center as much of the center’s equipment is no longer supported by the manufacturer.

“The positive part of this project is that it provides excellent law enforcement and emergency services coverage for the entire county,” the district officials said in the July 27 letter.

After receiving requests from several cities and the Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition, the commission decided to allocate US $ 20,000 in broadband infrastructure investments to each of the county’s 26 cities. But then the requirement to spend the funds solely on broadband was lifted after some officials wanted to use the money for other purposes.

The decision to allocate only the $ 20,000 per community was a disappointment to broadband advocates in the county, who hoped that county officials would use the aid to make bigger investments in broadband nationwide.

“When you made your decision, you really underfunded the broadband coalition efforts and only our broadband efforts in general in Waldo County,” said Andre Blanchard, a Liberty voter and member of the Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition.

With not all of the 26 cities having plans to spend the $ 20,000 broadband investment, Blanchard and other broadband proponents say it will take a lot more money to make progress in developing high-speed Internet infrastructure.

“I am grateful that the district officers recognize the importance of broadband, but I think it will take a lot more of our cities and our district to make sure everyone is covered for years to come,” said Breanna Pinkham-Bebb., Northport community commissioner said.

Fowler said the commissioners felt it was fairer to allocate an equal amount to each city than to give a large investment to a smaller number of cities. She hopes the majority of cities will use the $ 20,000 – which will air on August 31st – for broadband partnerships.

The county will continue to hold meetings and workshops to discuss how the funds will be used, Fowler said. She also hopes the county will have a clearer idea of ​​whether these projects can be carried out with the aid funds after submitting a report to the federal government late this month.

Changes in project estimates could also cause the county to change its spending plan.

“Not everything is very specific,” said Fowler.

Davis County’s Summer time Nights With the Stars music and leisure collection returns | Music

LAYTON – After a hiatus last year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer nights with the stars The series returns to the Kenley Amphitheater in Layton.

The leading actors include Marie Osmond, Three Dog Night and Air Supply.

“We have a lot of subscribers who are coming back. They look forward to doing something,” said Kym Ridl, communications director of the Davis Arts Council, Organizer of the summer series. She is also enthusiastic about the disappointment of having to cancel the 2020 series as protection against the spread of COVID-19.

The first performance is scheduled for June 15 with the Everly Set, a tribute group of the Everly Brothers, and will last until September 30 when Air Supply performs. Special engagement artists include GENTRI on June 28th, Marie Osmond on July 10th, Diamond Rio on August 26th, Three Dog Night on September 3rd and Air Supply on September 30th.

The summer series “brings an eclectic mix of local, national, and international artists straight to the front porch of Layton City and northern Davis County,” said a Davis Arts Council press release. The Kenley Amphitheater can seat around 1,800 people.

Season ticket renewal began last Monday, while tickets to the general public begin May 11 and can be purchased online – which is the Davis Arts Council’s website davisarts.org – and by phone at 801-546-8575. Tickets can also be purchased at the Davis Arts Council box office at 445 N. Wasatch Drive in Layton. The special engagement services are not included in the seasonal package.

Although the series resumes after being canceled last year, COVID-19 does not go unaffected this year. “All events follow local and state health guidelines,” read the statement accompanying the series’ announcement.

According to Ridl, everyone who takes part in the shows would have to wear masks according to the currently applicable COVID-19 guidelines. In addition, eating and drinking would not be permitted in amphitheater seating areas but would be permitted in other, more open areas. However, the rules will change as the COVID-19 case number shifts and more people are vaccinated. “We’ll see where we are in June,” said Ridl.

According to the Davis Arts Council press release, GENTRI is a trio of musicians who offer music with a “cinematic pop” sound. Osmond is a Utah-born singer, television artist, talk show host, writer, and entrepreneur. Diamond Rio is a country music act, Three Dog Night is a rock group that had their most critical success in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while Air Supply is a soft rock duo from Australia.

In addition to the special engagement acts, numerous other performances are planned. In addition to the performances of Summer Nights With the Stars, the Davis Arts Council will host a number of free summer activities as part of its Free Friday Film Series and Free Sunday Concert Series. On the Davis Arts Council website, davisarts.org, for more details.

Get monetary savings with Gila County’s free tax prep program | Gila County

January 31st was the deadline for employers to submit W-2 forms. Have you started preparing your tax documents? If you’re making less than $ 55,000 and you typically send tax forms to a tax advisor, email or call the Gila County Community Services for free tax preparation.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an outreach program under the Gila County Community Action Program. Pandemic precautions have changed the way employees take tax records and return completed forms. After 25 years of tax preparation – and a decade under the VITA program – Dorine Prine has an in-depth look at tax deductions that customers would unknowingly miss.

Call or email is the most efficient way to contact these IRS certified VITA tax advisors. Call 928-474-7192 Payson or 928-425-7631 Globe, or email Dorine at dprine@gilacountyaz.gov for more informations.

VITA volunteers estimate tax preparation fees to average $ 300. Some companies subtract this from customers’ expected refunds or require high-yield refund loans.

“The Gila County’s VITA team filed 837 income tax returns over the past year: 476 in Payson, 286 in Globe, and 75 in Hayden. We helped earn a total of $ 1,103,845 in refunds – and since this service is free, low-income taxpayers have saved over $ 350,000 on tax preparation fees and avoiding refund loans – Money that they could use for groceries. Car payments, utility bills or other important everyday items, ”said Prine.

For more than a decade, the Gila County VITA team has been preparing tax papers and records for residents whose household income is $ 55,000 or less per year. VITA began when Malissa Buzan, director of Gila County Community Services, discovered that low-income residents needed assistance with completing and filing tax documents. The popular program holds tax refund money in Gila County – and in taxpayers’ purses.

“This is just one of the many ways Gila County Community Action is delivering measurable benefits to our communities,” added Prine. “Few people enjoy doing taxes – but this is definitely a fulfilling part of what we do. We pride ourselves on helping hard-working, low-income clients get their tax refund in full and avoid the high cost of tax preparation. “