City of Seward, Education, Health, Politics

Letter to the Editor

Re: Title V Grant

Dear Mayor Shafter, Seward City Council Members & Interested Citizens of Seward,

Lynn Hohl belatedly received a copy of the July 10, 2006 memorandum from the city manager to the mayor, council and interested citizens of Seward regarding “Performance Evaluation or Setup for Failure”. She didn’t have a copy of the mayor’s three-page list of issues but did have a copy of Karin Sturdy’s June 27 e-mail clarification.

We have concerns about the details as stated by the city manager “of what actually occurred regarding the Title V grant concerning the Boys and Girls Club” with his reference to the Seward Parks & Recreation Director’s June 27 e-mail clarification and cannot in good conscience allow the mayor to be maligned for questioning how the grant proposal was handled.

On the attachment is our understanding of what transpired with the Boys & Girls Club request to partner with the City of Seward for a Title V grant.

What is clear to our committee was the City of Seward took an entirely different path than originally proposed for this grant. To date three Boys & Girls Clubs in Alaska have received this grant for their kids – Kenai, Seldovia and Metlakatla.

We agree the City has the right to apply for whatever grants they choose. We question, however, whether they would have applied for this particular grant if the Boys & Girls Club had not brought it forward. The city manager actually thanked Brenda for making the city aware of this grant opportunity.

We can’t help wondering…

If a business person brought an idea to the city that required a partnership and the city took complete control of the process with the partner reduced to a nebulous role in both the process and the outcome, would anyone question if this is how we want the city to conduct our business?

Thank you Vanta for questioning!

As soon as the decision was made not to move forward on a pass-through grant to the Boys & Girls Club, we believe the city administration should have notified us in writing. At that point, the Boys & Girls Club could have decided whether or not to pursue the proposal directly with Council.

Lynn talked to the state grant office and at present Title V grants are only available every three years. What’s truly sad is our kids are the ones who lost these programs and this three-year funding source.

In closing, many talk about the importance of working together for Seward kids, and yet an attempt to move forward as partners falls so short. The Seward Boys & Girls Club is on the cusp of growth, but blocked by the lack of space and funds. Our club success is due largely to the support and partnerships developed between Debbie Bond, the schools and volunteers and businesses/organizations that understand the value of this program.

We hope our future efforts to partner with the City of Seward are more fruitful.

It’s about kids PERIOD! The POSITIVE PLACE for Kids!

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF SEWARD

COMMUNITY RESOURCE TEAM

Deb Carter Margaret Anderson

Lynn Hohl Lauren Jones

Cc: Phoenix Seward Log

OUR UNDERSTANDING OF CITY OF SEWARD/BOYS & GIRLS CLUB TITLE V GRANT APPLICATION

  • Debbie Bond (Boys & Girls Club of Seward Director) and Lynn Hohl (Community Resource Team Member) had a personal meet and greet with then “new” City Manager Clark Corbridge in 2005 at his office.
  • Clark expressed a positive view of the Boys & Girls Club and its impact on kids based on his experiences in another Alaskan community.
  • Clark offered city support and cooperation including possible sharing of facilities.
  • In early December 2005 Brenda Ahlberg (Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula Executive Director) left four voice mail messages for Clark explaining the process and asking if the city was interested in working with the Boys & Girls Club to obtain a Title V grant
  • On December 9th Brenda e-mailed Debbie asking her if there was anyway she could connect with the city manager
  • Debbie spoke with the city manager that day and was referred to Sarah Spanos to set up a meeting
  • The first & other meetings that month were scheduled but subsequently cancelled due to the unavailability of the city manager
  • Brenda e-mailed Clark with grant information and required letter of intent
  • Debbie also hand delivered paperwork about the grant and the required interest forms needing the manager’s signature to Sarah
  • Debbie left for Christmas break on December 16th
  • On December 18th the city manager e-mailed Brenda asking for a meeting to ask questions and see whether a simpler document would suffice to allow “our application” to move forward.
  • On January 11th Debbie and Brenda met with Clark, Kirsten Vesel and Kris Erchinger (upstairs conference room) to discuss possible city sponsorship of the Title V grant for the Seward Boys & Girls Club.
  • The Title V grant was a three-year grant for up to $45,000 annually.
  • Brenda offered to write the grant to provide Boys & Girls Club programs to benefit Seward area kids.
  • She explained that the Boys & Girls Club of Kenai successfully received the Title V grant through the City of Kenai partnering also with the Kenaitze Head Start program.
  • Brenda also stated she would be helping the City of Seldovia and the Seldovia Boys & Girls Club Resource
  • Committee with the same Title V grant application (Seldovia has since been awarded the grant).
  • The grant did require a contribution from the city which could be in kind. Brenda noted the in-kind match needed to come predominantly from the city although the club could also contribute to the in-kind portion.
  • The City of Seward would have input into the development of the grant, determine how best to provide their contribution subject to council approval and retain the right to accept the terms of the grant or not.
  • On January 13th (the state deadline for submission) the city manager provided a letter of support to allow the grant proposal to move forward noting a thank you to Brenda for making the city aware of this grant opportunity;
  • the city may end up working closely with the Boys & Girls Club if successful in obtaining the grant;
  • the Boys & Girls Club suggested the City serve as a pass-through agent for the grant;
  • if the grant were a pass-through, the Boys & Girls Club would control the scope of the grant activities subject to review and supervision of the city;
  • the city would monitor the grant performance;
  • the city does not anticipate providing any cash match, rather the city would work with the Boys & Girls Club to provide an in-kind match; and
  • the city would very much appreciate the opportunity to work with the Boys & Girls Club of Seward to provide a proactive partnership benefiting the youth in our community
  • Clark turned grant responsibility over to Karin Sturdy.
  • On February 6th, Brenda e-mailed the grant forms to Karin.
  • The forms were filled out as much as possible without answering the questions directed toward the city.
  • Three Boys & Girls Club programs to be provided by the grant (Peace Makers, I can Problem Solve and Project Learn) were identified to Karin with the paperwork.
  • On February 13, 2006, Debbie made a presentation to Council about the Boys & Girls Club and the programs she hoped the cooperative grant with the city would bring to Seward kids.
  • At Boys & Girls Club request, Karin included Debbie in the state training required by the grant and paid for by the state.
  • Karin wrote and submitted the grant.
  • Most of Debbie’s and Brenda’s offers to help and requests for information were denied.
  • Karin requested an in-kind donation commitment from the Boys & Girls Club but did not provide any specifics as to the scope of the grant or what was needed or required of the Club.
  • Brenda provided a general letter of support in lieu of committing the Boys & Girls Club to supervising a specific program because Karin would not describe the City’s grant objectives/goals.
  • Lynn visited Karin at her office when Lynn was selling tickets for the Independent Living Center/Seward Community Resource Team Blind Man’s Bluff luncheon.
  • Karin graciously bought a ticket and Lynn bought a family ticket to a Parks and Rec dance Karin was selling.
  • Karin mentioned she couldn’t attend our luncheon because she was under a deadline to write a grant.
  • Knowing the Title V grant deadline was approaching, Lynn blurted out something like “The Boys & Girls Club grant?”
  • No, Karin indicated it was a city grant although the Boys & Girls Club was involved.
  • Lynn explained she was a Boys & Girls Club community resource member and that’s how she knew about the grant.
  • On April 3rd Lynn, realizing our club really had no idea what the city was planning for the grant, completed an information request to obtain a copy of the grant application for the community resource team to review.
  • Unbeknownst to Lynn, Debbie had e-mailed Karin also requesting a copy.
  • Both requests were denied until the state completed the grant selection process although the grant submittal deadline had already passed.
  • On May 31st Lynn picked up a copy made available through the clerk’s office.
  • The grant was denied by the state, and it was pretty clear the grant was not a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club and the City of Seward.
  • However, the grant was so general the possibility of a partnership cannot be ruled out entirely.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for taking the time to get this information out to the public.

    Alaskatnt

  2. I know this is old news but I am still curious about what was wrong with the grant that it was denied.

    The chronology in the above is good, but I am not understanding what the purpose would be for someone to intentionally do something wrong.

    Incompetence is one thing, intention is another.