Partnership could keep area resource centers open
Westwood closed June 30 when its grant funding ran out and Fort Sage has funding through Oct. 31.
The two would form a nonprofit agency with shared governance. This agency would have a board of directors with three members from each community and a seventh representative from Susanville to create a more balanced voting structure.
The board would create new bylaws, select a name and share the cost of some expenses and services such as bookkeeping and insurance. However each resource center would have its own bank account, select programs that fit its community and have a local advisory council and other operating committees.
The Community Planning & Advisory Council (ComPAC), the agency that once provided oversight for both resource centers, will give its nonprofit status to this new partnership. This decision was made at a ComPAC board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
“I think it is a good opportunity to pick ourselves up and move forward,” said Laura Roberts, the executive director of Lassen County Children and Families Commission (First 5 Lassen).
She gave her opinion to members of the Westwood Family Resource Center Advisory Council that had assembled for a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 12, with Roberts and Rod Colvin, director of the Fort Sage Family Resource Center. Council members present at the meeting included Peggy Fulder, Hilda Morlang, Lou Istrice, Robin Chapin, and Mary Ann Mayne.
In recent months both family resource centers have searched for a lead agency to operate under but could not find one. The Westwood Community Services District and Westwood School District were approached by council members in Westwood and Fort Sage asked the Head Start program to take the role during its efforts to find a lead agency.
There were many reasons why these agencies declined including lack of time and staffing to provide administrative oversight as well as the fact there is no long-term guaranteed funding.
The centers cannot operate without a lead agency however as a nonprofit they become their own lead agency.
Colvin told Westwood council members he had held a community meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10 and had enough support to continue the family resource center for people in Herlong and Doyle.
“We will go ahead with it but if you want to be part of it we will collaborate together,” said Colvin.
The two resource centers each have $75,000 promised to them by the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to cover operation expenses through June 30, 2007. However, they will only receive the funding if the supervisors agree to contract with the nonprofit agency formed.
Henry Bietz, superintendent of the Westwood School District and chair of the ComPAC board, and Roberts are meeting with an attorney to make sure the process of transferring the nonprofit status is completed correctly.
Roberts said members from the advisory boards of the Fort Sage Family Resource Center and Westwood Family Resource Center and members of each community would need to go before the Board of Supervisors once the agreement on the nonprofit agency had been worked out.
Members of the Westwood council agreed to move forward and set a date for a community meeting to determine the amount of local support. All stated community involvement would have to be apparent if a partnership were to be formed. This meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Westwood Family Resource Center at 5th and Delwood streets next to Fletcher Walker Elementary School.
Roberts said Westwood should have a community meeting to talk about the family resource center concept, then select leaders for the nonprofit board to help form the partnership and come up with a presentation for the Board of Supervisors.
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