HANFORD — There’s far more need in Kings County than there is government funding.
That was made clear Tuesday as supervisors heard from multiple, competing anti-poverty proposals that all want a piece of $535,945 in state Community Development Block Grant money left in county coffers.
During the hearing, the public was invited to weigh in — and weigh in they did.
Kings Community Action Organization Executive Director Jeff Garner plugged a proposed expansion of youth programs in Home Garden and Kettleman City.
The new programs would serve 70 youth a year in these poverty-challenged enclaves that often seem forgotten by much of the rest of the county.
The proposal would include $75,000-$100,000 in construction costs for a new building at KCAO’s existing Home Garden community center.
Garner estimates a $100,000-a-year operating budget for the next two years. After that, he’s hoping that the program’s success would leverage more funding, possibly from other sources.
Garner got emotional support from Eugene “Bo” Patterson, a longtime community advocate in Home Garden who has pushed for years to get more attention paid to the mostly minority county hamlet just outside Hanford city limits that has never been incorporated.
“I’m here today to ask you to save the lives of our children,” Patterson said. “Our children really need your help.”
Patterson has in the past requested $1 million to renovate the old Gardenside School into a community center. This time, he backed up Garner’s idea because it doesn’t go over $500,000.
Kettleman City residents gave emotional and sometimes angry input about the lousy state of their water, which is laced with benzene and arsenic.
“I feel that Kettleman City is considered like the stepchild,” said Kettleman resident Ramon Mares, speaking in Spanish with an English interpreter. “Kettleman City is in need of many things — sidewalks, streets and mainly water.”
Kettleman residents want to speed up progress toward a long-awaited water treatment plant that will take clean water out of the California Aqueduct instead of sucking it out of polluted aquifers as is done now.
Myeisha Neal, wife of Lemoore City Councilman Eddie Neal, asked for funding for a Boys & Girls Club getting off the ground in Lemoore.
“Our goal is the meet the needs of those children that are left behind and forgotten,” she said.
Kings County Fire Chief Bill Lynch asked for a new fire engine for the Stratford fire station.
Directors of the Armona Community Services District requested money to build a district office, improve a water treatment facility and shore up the wastewater treatment plant.
Supervisors didn’t vote Tuesday. They directed staff to prioritize the proposals and come back with a list. No timetable was specified.
“I personally think that it would be a good investment to fund all these proposals today,” Garner said.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SethN_HS.