County One-Percent Allocations Reach $1.3 Million

The county completed another round of funding allocations this morning, giving out $818,000, which brings the total amount distributed from the Optional One-Percent this year to well over $1.3 million.

During the board of commissioner’s regular meeting today, six agencies presented how, and on what, they would spend their share of One-Percent funding.

Gillette College received the largest individual amount when the commissioners approved a contract for services agreement with the educational institution for up to $370,000. Additionally, the county chose to allocate an additional $150,000 of One-Percent funding.

In total, Gillette College received $520,000.

Dr. Mark Englert, former CEO and Vice President of Gillette College, said the money will fund essential personnel. More specifically, the agreement requires the college to provide academic staffing in the instructor positions of the college’s diesel and welding programs.

Part-time enrollment rates continue to decline, but full-time student enrollment and program completion rates are climbing steadily; an indication that the college needs more funding if it is to continue providing the same level of service for its students.

“That is our mission: creating student success and contributing to the vibrancy of our community,” said Englert.

Janell Oberlander, Gillette College CEO and Vice President, said that the college is a not only a pipeline of skilled workers to local industry, but it is also a lifeline.

“Without the support of the commission, we would have a much more difficult time being able to provide that diverse workforce and trained workforce and we’re pleased to be able to do that,” Oberlander said.

“We are very, very short in skilled labor, and I’m proud of Gillette College for addressing that,” Commissioner Matt Avery said.

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“I will never be ashamed of funding the college,” Commission Chairman Mark Christensen added.

Commissioner Mickey Shober referenced the failed quarter-percent tax, a notion that died during a special election last November.

A vote against the quarter-percent is not necessarily a vote against funding the college, Shober said, but is a vote against additional tax.

Englert added that if the results of the recent One-Percent survey were an indication that the majority of the public, 75 percent, indicated that Gillette College should receive One-Percent funding.

The Campbell County Conservation District was another key recipient; the commissioners approved a contract of services agreement up to $290,000.

Jennifer Hinkhouse, district manager for the conservation district, said the funds provided by the commissioners offer an opportunity for the district to secure additional funding from the state and federal partners.

Approximately 30 to 40 percent will be leveraged for grants that will go directly to landowners.

Christensen said that approving One-Percent allocations for the conservation district, which must receive funding in accordance with state law, is beneficial for the people of Campbell County.

“People need to realize that by funding the operation with One-Percent money, it allows us to not require an additional mill,” he said.

Energy Capital Economic Development was the last of the big players this morning with the commissioners approving up to $120,000 for the organization to attract and retain new businesses to the area.

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Phil Christopherson, CEO of ECED, said that the organization has brought more than $18 million into the local economy and took a moment to highlight a little-known project that ECED takes care of—helping local businesses grow and thrive.

“That’s one of the most important things we do,” Christopherson said.

Evidence of ECED’s efforts are all around; over the course of the last 10 years, Gillette has grown and changed for the better, Christensen said, adding that he believed ECED is “doing good work.”

The remaining $38,000 was allocated to the Campbell County Predator District, the county Health Care Foundation, and the Donkey Creek Festival.

Today’s One-Percent allocations bring the total to just over $1.3 million, following a decision in mid-October to divvy up more than $500,000 to eight other local agencies.

During the last round of One-Percent allocations, the Campbell County Senior Center claimed the lions’ share, requesting and receiving a reimbursement assurance from the county to spend up to $435,000. Additionally, Ann Rossi, executive director of the senior center, laid out a plan to take a portion of her organization’s One-Percent cut and use it for grant match purposes.

“We need to show that there is local support there, and these One-Percent dollars do help us with that,” Rossi had said. “Our federal and state grants require a local match.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Campbell County were approved to spend and be reimbursed up to $49,500 and the county approved $25,000 to Gillette Reproductive Health.

$15,000 was approved for the Council of Community Services,

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Other entities to receive One-Percent funds were the Juvenile and Family Drug Court, Wright Community Assistance, and the AVA Community Art Center.

Allocations for this year are not done, Christensen said after today’s meeting; more social service agencies can expect to receive a cut of the One-Percent.

Outliers Creative, LLC, the publisher of County 17, is owned by The MC Family of Companies, LLC, a company owned by Commissioner Mark Christensen