Posts Tagged ‘grant’

Nevada Gets $3.4 Million Federal Grant To Expand Boulder City Veterans Cemetery

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:39 pm September 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today announced that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has informed him that Nevada has been awarded a $3.4 million grant to cover the entire allowable cost of expanding the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City.

“I am proud of the work Executive Director Caleb Cage and the Office of Veteran Services did in securing this grant for our state’s veterans,” Sandoval said. “The grant will allow Nevada to continue to provide dignified service to Nevada veterans and their dependents.”

The grant will fund the construction of an administration building, roads, a committal shelter, cremains burial areas, landscaping and supporting infrastructure. Developing approximately 17.3 acres, the construction will include 4,801 cremains burial plots.

“Thanks to the pride our excellent staff takes in honoring our fallen heroes, the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery is one of the finest in the nation,” Cage said. “We are extremely grateful to the National Cemetery Administration for recognizing the caliber of our cemetery by investing in our future in this way.”

The closest national cemetery is Veterans Affairs Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, Calif., approximately 245 miles away. The closest state cemetery is the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, approximately 439 miles away.

Contested Public Records Cases Could End Up Costing Storey County Taxpayers

By Sean Whaley | 1:31 pm October 5th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A Fallon attorney who has won two public records cases against Storey County is asking the Nevada Supreme Court to require the local government to pay his requested fees and costs for bringing the actions.

Attorney Martin Crowley said two different district judges who ruled in his favor in the public records cases awarded only $2,500 each in fees and costs, far less than requested for the time spent on the matters.

In the first of the cases dating to 2009 against the Storey County Clerk, Crowley said his fees exceeded $40,000 and he asked for $25,000. First Judicial District Judge James Wilson called the fee request “excessive and unreasonable.”

The request in the second case against the Storey County Assessor’s Office was for just under $9,000.

If Crowley gets a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court, the actions by Storey County officials to fight the public records requests could end up costing local taxpayers a substantial sum.

Crowley said the failure to award appropriate fees and costs would be a blow to the public’s efforts to obtain public records. Requiring a local government or agency to pay reasonable court costs is an incentive to make public documents available as required by state law, he said.

“If they don’t have to pay there is no cost to them to refuse documents when they are properly requested,” Crowley said. “Both of these entities could have settled out for dirt cheap if they would have just turned over the documents and paid the fees.”

Crowley said the first case could have been settled for less than $4,000. Because the county continued to challenge the matter, however, and the court ordered additional hearings, the costs rose substantially.

In the first case, Crowley said Storey County not only failed to provide the records sought by Druscilla Thyssen  and Joe Panicaro until ordered to do so by the court, but it spent $18,000 to hire private legal counsel to fight the request.

Thyssen had sought information provided by other Storey County property owners who were successful in lowering their tax bills after failing to get her own tax bill reduced. Thyssen and Panicaro tried for six months to get the records without success, Crowley said.

Thyssen ultimately won a reduction in an appeal to the state tax board.

The Storey County District Attorney’s office defended the second case in a records request by Panicaro, which initially involved fees of only about $1,100.

The government entities balked at paying the modest fees, and in so doing forced the matters into the courts and the costs to go up, Crowley said.

Storey County Deputy District Attorney Laura Grant said there were legitimate issues in the county recorder case, including whether a public records request had actually been submitted. She also said there was some confusion because of a change to the public records law by the 2007 Legislature.

Grant said her understanding is that the Supreme Court has limited options in dealing with the fees. The court could remand the matter back to the district judge to reconsider the fee request, she said.

The private attorney representing the county in the other case could not be reached for comment.

Nevada’s public records law presumes all information is public unless there is a specific statute exempting the information from release for privacy or other valid reasons. The law requires requests to be honored within five working days. If a request is rejected the public agency must cite the Nevada statute making the records confidential. Those making requests can be charged for the cost of copies.

It also requires payment of costs and reasonable attorneys fees to the prevailing side in a legal action.

Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, said if a public records request is denied the only recourse is to take the matter to court which is a financial barrier for most people.

Legitimate fees and costs associated with such cases have to be recognized by the courts, he said.

“What public officials need to realize is that these are public records,” Smith said. “They aren’t the government’s records. People don’t realize governments are using their tax dollars to fight against their own interests.”

Crowley said there wouldn’t even be a legal case if officials had followed the state law on public records requests and made the requested information available to the two county residents.

Crowley is attempting to consolidate the two cases before the Supreme Court because they involve similar issues. He has alerted Nevada media entities of the cases and is asking for support in the form of “friend of the court” briefs where groups and individuals not actually involved in a case can still weigh in on the legal issues.

Crowley said there are other public records cases he could pursue, but he can’t afford to take them until the fee issue has been resolved.

Audio clips:

Attorney Martin Crowley says his client attempted for six months to get public records without success:

100510Crowley1 :17 for six months.”

Crowley says requiring government entities to pay court fees and costs ensures they will comply with the public records law:

100510Crowley3 :13 paid the fees.”

Crowley says he will emphasize to the Nevada Supreme Court the cases could have been resolved at a much lower cost:

100510Crowley3 :13 paid the fees.”

Nevada Loses Out In Race To Top Funds for Education

By Sean Whaley | 1:40 pm July 27th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada failed to make the cut today in its quest to win as much as $175 million in competitive federal funds to improve student achievement, but the details of why won’t be known until next month.

The failure to make the cut occurred even though Gov. Jim Gibbons created a blue ribbon panel to oversee the application process and the state hired a consultant to help finalize Nevada’s grant application.

Nineteen of 36 states made the cut in this, the second round of a competition for a share of the Race to the Top funds. Nevada did not compete in the first round earlier this year.

There was some political bickering over whether Nevada should have applied in the first round, with Democrats pushing for the submission of an application and Gibbons calling such a move premature. Only two states were awarded funds in the first round.

Ray Bacon, a member of the Blue Ribbon Education Reform Task Force and executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, said those working on the Nevada application were aware that the state would score poorly for efforts already under way to improve student achievement.

Members of the panel were hoping the honesty of Nevada’s grant application, which acknowledged serious problems with the state’s educational system, would have helped the state make the cut, he said.

“We haven’t done anything in years,” Bacon said. “We thought the other parts were strong enough that they would pull it up and we might get the benefit of the doubt.”

The expenditure of $40,000 to hire a consultant to help finalize Nevada’s application was worthwhile because it radically improved the final document, he said.

Bacon said he is surprised at some of the states that were successful, including California, New Jersey, Hawaii and South Carolina.

“A lot of them I was expecting,” he said. “I would be surprised if there isn’t grant money given to Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts. Those were clearly pretty damn good applications the first time around.”

Bacon said the state could still benefit from the funding effort if there is a third round of the competition. Another option is to take the application to private foundations to see if there is interest in funding some elements of the plan, he said.

The application will also be a focus of the upcoming Nevada Legislature, where education reform and student achievement will be a top concern, he said.

“I’m disappointed but I think it is going to make this next legislative session considerably more interesting,” Bacon said. “There is nobody in the state who doesn’t recognize we need to make some changes and they have to be pretty damn drastic.”

One issue that became clear in the application process is that no one is in charge of public education in Nevada, he said.

“We’re going to come out of this with someone being in charge,” Bacon said.

Gibbons said the task force will continue in its efforts to improve student achievement even without Nevada making it into the Race to the Top finalists.

“We appreciate the opportunity the Race to the Top competition gave us to take a long, hard and much overdue look at educating Nevada’s children,” he said. “The time is now to modernize the way we deliver education in our schools, both to secure the future of our children and grandchildren and to develop an educated and skilled workforce necessary to diversify our economy and generate economic recovery and prosperity. Education is the intellectual infrastructure for Nevada’s future.”

Among the recommendations set forth in Nevada’s Promise are five specifically-targeted objectives to be accomplished by 2014:

  • increasing the graduation rate to 85 percent;
  • reducing the achievement gap for African American and Hispanic students;
  • increasing the number of graduates enrolling in post-secondary institutions both in-state or out-of-state by 50 percent;
  • increasing student achievement percentages of students proficient or advanced on the NAEP fourth-grade mathematics (from 32 percent to 50 percent) and eighth-grade mathematics (from 25 percent to 50 percent); and
  • increasing student achievement percentages of students proficient or advanced on the NAEP fourth-grade reading (from 24 percent to 50 percent) and eighth-grade reading (from 22 percent to 50 percent).

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the finalists at an event today in Washington, DC.

“As you know, we have $3.4 billion to distribute under Race to the Top – which should be enough to fund up to about 12 states,” he said. “But as I have said many times before, this isn’t just about the money. This is about working together and putting the needs of children ahead of everyone else.

“This entire process has moved the nation and advanced education reform,” Duncan said. “Children are the big winners here because we have all learned so much more about how to find common ground around the things that we know will make a difference in the classroom.”

In a letter to governors, Duncan congratulated the winners, and applauded others for applying for a share of the grant funds and encouraged the states to continue to work on education reform.

A total of 46 states and the District of Columbia applied for either the first or second rounds or both.

The 19 finalists in this second round are: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

The award winners, as well as the complete scorecards for all applicants, will be made public later this year.

___

audio clips:

Ray Bacon says Nevada’s application was weak on existing reform efforts:

072710Bacon1 :21 of the doubt.”

Bacon says Nevada won’t know details of why the application did not make the cut until next month:

072710Bacon2 :15 that in detail.”

Bacon says the application can be used to pursue private foundation funding:

072710Bacon3 :23 on specific parts.”

Governor Will Not Veto Race to the Top Bill

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:48 pm February 26th, 2010

A source inside Governor Gibbon’s office today said Gibbons will not veto the Race to the Top education bill passed Wednesday evening by the state Senate and Assembly during the special session of the Legislature.

A Gibbons spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday that he intended to veto the bill because some language in it would prevent the state from securing a $175 million federal grant that would help Nevada schools.

The Assembly voted 42-0 and the Senate voted 16-5 to change a state law that so far has prevented Nevada from applying for the grant. Five of the nine Senate Republicans voted against the bill on grounds that language in it might lead the federal Department of Education to reject the state application for a grant.

The governor’s legal team still believes the language in the bill may cause it to be rejected, said the source, but Gibbons has decided to sign the bill with the intention of trying to work with the DOE for grant approval and to show his commitment to putting education first both in this special session and the state.

Ensign, Reid Announce US DOT Money for Reno-Sparks Project

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:45 pm February 13th, 2010

From ThisIsReno.com, a news brief on a $1.254 million US DOT grant for the Meadowood Interchange project in Reno.

Seems kinda smallish when considered in light of info in this April 2009 memo from the White House saying the project would cost $50 million and that $36.7 million in stimulus money would go to it:

Washoe County Ready to Spend $37.6M of Stimulus Money on Constructing Interchange Between Hwy 395 to Meadowood Mall, Creating 1200 Jobs. “The project on the list that slants the percentage in Washoe’s favor is construction of an interchange from U.S. Highway 395 to Meadowood Mall in Reno. To help fund that $50 million project, the Transportation Department planned on using $37.6 million from the state’s share of the stimulus funding, according to the preliminary list. The remaining money would come from the Washoe metropolitan planning organization. The project is ‘shovel ready.’ In other words it just needs money so construction can start. Transportation officials believe the two-year project could create 1,200 jobs. While there is a much needed interchange in Southern Nevada — the Cactus interchange off of Interstate 15 in the southern valley — that project is still in the design phase and won’t be ‘shovel ready’ for another couple of years. But the Transportation Department can’t wait that long because of time limits imposed on Nevada. Half the money must be spent in 120 days or it goes back to Congress.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3/1/09]

Also found this August 2009 report on the project from the RGJ stating that total improvements would cost $61.8 million.  (Wonder why the price went up $11 million ‘tween April and August?)

And found this Feb. 5, 2010, LV Sun report on $26 million in stimulus funds (so, about $10 million less than originally planned) that actually went to the project:

The Nevada Department of Transportation says it has obligated all $201 million the state received in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The term obligated means all the projects have been put to bid.

The agency says the federal stimulus money is being used to fund 69 projects statewide, with more than $120 million going for projects in Clark County in southern Nevada.

Washoe County received about $26 million for construction of a freeway interchange at Meadowood Mall.