City of Powell approves $90,000 in special requests

Local organizations detail how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19

Posted 5/21/20

The Powell City Council is tentatively planning to send $90,175 to various community organizations in the coming fiscal year.

As part of the budget process for the coming fiscal year, which runs …

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City of Powell approves $90,000 in special requests

Local organizations detail how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19


The Powell City Council is tentatively planning to send $90,175 to various community organizations in the coming fiscal year.

As part of the budget process for the coming fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2021, the council put together recommendations for so-called special requests at a May 4 meeting.

The recommendations still have to be put into the final budget and pass on a third reading, which will take place in June, but the recommendations for funding of special requests typically make it to the final budget.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all the requesting organizations, who gave updates to the council on how they’re faring. Despite the greater need, the total requested amount was down from last year by $12,000.


Powell Golf Club

The largest request for this fiscal year was from the Powell Golf Club, which requested $33,000, down from $43,000 last year. The council agreed with Mayor John Wetzel’s recommendation of $24,000.

Jerry Herweyer, president of the golf club’s board, said their ability to run the pro shop and bar has been greatly restricted due to the public health orders, which hit the club’s revenues.

Fortunately, they’ve had a lot of people playing golf, Herweyer said, so revenues from greens fees have been good. Herweyer said they’re often booked up to 5 p.m.

Some restrictions were lifted beginning May 4, and outdoor seating is now permitted. This will allow the club to serve drinks on the deck.

The club had requested from the city $10,000 in restricted matching funds. After the club matches the sum, that $20,000 goes into a fund for capital improvements.

They also requested $18,000 for a new deck, and $5,000 in unrestricted funding.

The mayor recommended the funding for the deck be cut in half, on the expectation the club could raise the other half from private donations or other sources.

“I have a hard time ... funding golf heavily in these times,” said Wetzel.


Powell Senior Center

The Powell Senior Center requested $20,000 — the same amount it’s requested for the past three fiscal years — and the council recommended approval of the full request. The physical center has been closed for months as its high-risk clients sheltered inside their houses during the pandemic, but services have continued.

Cathy Florian, director of the center, said the community support has been top notch.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

The center has been paying visits to the homes of its seniors so they have some human contact during this time. She said it’s a comfort to them, as well as their families.

“It’s been nice to see folks who have farmed many years on their homesteads, and they’re still there. They’re still able to be happy and healthy,” Florian said.

The center provides transportation services to seniors, and its tally is up by 800 rides per month, with three drivers working throughout the day.

“They are out and busy and running,” Florian said.

Now that the center can no longer serve meals in its dining room, they’ve been delivering up to 80 meals to seniors’ homes every weekday. Including meals picked up curbside, they serve 120 meals per day.

Florian said those delivered meals also provide some contact and a way to check if the seniors stuck in their homes need anything.

“I hope to see them all soon,” she said. “I miss them, but it’s nice to know they’re eating.”

Lifting of the restrictions on the senior center will be among the last phases of the reopening.


Powell Recreation District

The Powell Recreation District, which provides recreational activities for youth, requested $7,000, and the council recommended approval of the request. Colby Stenerson, director of the district, said his organization has had to cancel programs like soccer and gymnastics, and they’ve had no access to school district facilities due to the closures.

“We’re in a wait and see mode right now,” Stenerson said.

The organization is funded by property taxes, including from oil and gas producers that were hit before the pandemic and are struggling more now.

Stenerson said they would look into getting county support, but “they’re not in a whole different boat than we are.”

The district has been relying on reserves, which Stenerson said was “just not sustainable.”

They’re cutting spending where they can and looking to increase fees. They’re trying to avoid cutting staff.


Other requests

Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit mentoring program, requested $4,000. Program Director Sarah Schrickling said the organization had to cancel its annual fundraiser this year, due to the pandemic.

The council agreed to fund Big Brothers Big Sisters’ request, citing the cancellation of the fundraiser.

“We are, as a city, in one of the best positions in the area, and we should help out as much as we can,” said councilor Lesli Spencer.

Youth Clubs of Park County, which provides child care and mentoring services, has found it difficult to carry out much of its operations within the restrictions, said Executive Director Tina Bernard. Most of the organization’s activities are now carried out online.

“We certainly look different,” she told the council.

Youth Clubs of Park County requested $10,000, which the council recommended be granted. Wetzel called the decision a “no brainer.”

Lisa Peterman, executive director of Crisis Intervention Services, said she had to lay off a staff member after state funding got cut. She recently presented to the Park County Commission in hopes of getting their usual $12,000, but with the county’s finances in a difficult position, she’s not certain she will get it.

Peterman requested $6,000 from the City of Powell; The city council recommended $7,000.

Shannon Votaw, program director of the Park County Supervised Treatment Program, also known as drug court, said she currently has 24 people in the treatment program, 10 of which are from Powell. They are 100-percent grant funded, and the matching amounts of those grants are provided by Cody and the City of Powell. She also gets a small amount of private donations.

The council recommended approval of her $4,000 request.

Shelby Wetzel, chair of the Plaza Diane Board of Directors and the wife of Mayor Wetzel, represented the arts center in requesting $2,500 from the City of Powell. This was the first time the center made a special request.

Shelby Wetzel explained the organization wants to stain the pergolas in the gardens. The total project is $3,000, and the center will put up $500 toward the project. The council recommended the city fund it.

Caring for Powell Animals, which operates Powell’s animal shelter, requested $3,675 for its insurance costs, which the council included in its recommendations.

The council also recommended approval of a $3,000 request for the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Country Christmas, a holiday event downtown. The funding comes from a pass through grant from the Park County Travel Council.

The council also recommended $5,000 for Northwest College’s annual Paint the Town Red event.