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Programs Risk Losing Unspent Community-Development Grant Money

April 2, 2007 — When it comes to block-grant funding for community development, the time has come for recipients to use it or lose it.
The Planning and Natural Resources Department plans to move money from federal community-development block grants because the recipients haven't spent it, said Laurance Joshua, director of the Community Development Block Grant program. A public hearing Monday at St. John's Legislature building gave people a chance to speak about the 2007 grants.
"We do have a few that are not moving fast enough," he said. If the money isn't spent by August, the federal government will take back the funding, Joseph said.
In some cases, the money will go to current applicants so they can fund their programs and projects before the 2007 block grants arrive early next year, he said. Applicants will then have to pay that money back out of the grant funding they receive early next year.
One or two programs on St. John risk having funding reprogrammed, Joshua said, but he declined to say which ones. "A decision hasn't been made," he said.
Three St. John organizations made their pleas for funding at Monday's meeting. Additionally, one St. Thomas applicant begged Joshua's indulgence to allow him to speak on St. John. Police Officer Steven Payne, who runs the department's Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program, said he had a meeting to attend Tuesday so he wouldn't be able to make the St. Thomas hearing.
The program, which includes a marching band, also operates on St. John. Payne asked for $450,000 to rehabilitate a Police Department-owned building on St. Thomas for use as a band practice space. A former teacher, Payne told chilling stories about students he said might have benefited from the program. One student raped a woman who worked with his mother. Before slicing her throat, Payne said, he had the woman call her friends to get money.
Another boy loaned his pencil to a fellow student, Payne said. The student lost the pencil, but replaced it with a brand new one the next day. The boy sharpened the pencil before stabbing the other student with it, rationalizing the attack by saying the student didn't respect his property, Payne said.
The Love City Pan Dragons and Baby Dragons Youth Steel Orchestra asked for $125,000. The group needs $75,000 of that money to add on to and improve its cramped and often-flooded building, said secretary Elaine Penn.
Since its inception in 1994, about 400 to 500 children have participated in the Pan Dragons, said Ira Wade. The group helps keep children off the streets and in school, he said.
"I don't know of one child that's become a problem," he said.
The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands requested $40,000 to run its computer-training program for students and adults. It operates at St. Ursula's Senior Citizen Center.
During the summer, said Director Clarence Scipio, the program has to run three shifts to accommodate the approximately 80 youths who want to learn about computers.
"You cannot get a job unless you are computer literate," he said.
The V.I. Resource Center for the Disabled asked for $19,400 to operate its after-school program for disabled students and youths at risk.
These four applicants face an uphill battle in getting their requests fully funded. The program has $717,002 to disburse in the St. Thomas-St. John district, Joshua said. In addition to the three St. John organizations, 34 funding requests have come from St. Thomas, including the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program.
Funding requests for the St. Thomas-St. John district total $8.2 million, Joshua said. "For every $4.50 in requests, we only have $1 available," he said.
No date had been set to finalize the block-grant process. The grants must receive approval from the governor and the Legislature before going to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The hearings continue Tuesday at the V.I. Housing Finance Authority Training Center on St. Thomas and Wednesday at the Florence Williams Library in Christiansted, St. Croix. Both start at 5:30 p.m.
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April 2, 2007 -- When it comes to block-grant funding for community development, the time has come for recipients to use it or lose it.
The Planning and Natural Resources Department plans to move money from federal community-development block grants because the recipients haven't spent it, said Laurance Joshua, director of the Community Development Block Grant program. A public hearing Monday at St. John's Legislature building gave people a chance to speak about the 2007 grants.
"We do have a few that are not moving fast enough," he said. If the money isn't spent by August, the federal government will take back the funding, Joseph said.
In some cases, the money will go to current applicants so they can fund their programs and projects before the 2007 block grants arrive early next year, he said. Applicants will then have to pay that money back out of the grant funding they receive early next year.
One or two programs on St. John risk having funding reprogrammed, Joshua said, but he declined to say which ones. "A decision hasn't been made," he said.
Three St. John organizations made their pleas for funding at Monday's meeting. Additionally, one St. Thomas applicant begged Joshua's indulgence to allow him to speak on St. John. Police Officer Steven Payne, who runs the department's Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program, said he had a meeting to attend Tuesday so he wouldn't be able to make the St. Thomas hearing.
The program, which includes a marching band, also operates on St. John. Payne asked for $450,000 to rehabilitate a Police Department-owned building on St. Thomas for use as a band practice space. A former teacher, Payne told chilling stories about students he said might have benefited from the program. One student raped a woman who worked with his mother. Before slicing her throat, Payne said, he had the woman call her friends to get money.
Another boy loaned his pencil to a fellow student, Payne said. The student lost the pencil, but replaced it with a brand new one the next day. The boy sharpened the pencil before stabbing the other student with it, rationalizing the attack by saying the student didn't respect his property, Payne said.
The Love City Pan Dragons and Baby Dragons Youth Steel Orchestra asked for $125,000. The group needs $75,000 of that money to add on to and improve its cramped and often-flooded building, said secretary Elaine Penn.
Since its inception in 1994, about 400 to 500 children have participated in the Pan Dragons, said Ira Wade. The group helps keep children off the streets and in school, he said.
"I don't know of one child that's become a problem," he said.
The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands requested $40,000 to run its computer-training program for students and adults. It operates at St. Ursula's Senior Citizen Center.
During the summer, said Director Clarence Scipio, the program has to run three shifts to accommodate the approximately 80 youths who want to learn about computers.
"You cannot get a job unless you are computer literate," he said.
The V.I. Resource Center for the Disabled asked for $19,400 to operate its after-school program for disabled students and youths at risk.
These four applicants face an uphill battle in getting their requests fully funded. The program has $717,002 to disburse in the St. Thomas-St. John district, Joshua said. In addition to the three St. John organizations, 34 funding requests have come from St. Thomas, including the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program.
Funding requests for the St. Thomas-St. John district total $8.2 million, Joshua said. "For every $4.50 in requests, we only have $1 available," he said.
No date had been set to finalize the block-grant process. The grants must receive approval from the governor and the Legislature before going to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The hearings continue Tuesday at the V.I. Housing Finance Authority Training Center on St. Thomas and Wednesday at the Florence Williams Library in Christiansted, St. Croix. Both start at 5:30 p.m.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.