Oregon Rural Developments Newsletter (Winter 2013/2014)

Oregon Rural Developments

Welcome to the quarterly newsletter of USDA Rural Development in Oregon.  Here, you will find updates on funding opportunities and program activities through our Business and Cooperative, Community Facility, Multi-Family and Single-Family Housing programs.

A New Generation Builds on Some Old Traditions

the newly opened Brigham Fish Market in Cascade Locks, Oregon

Kim Brigham Campbell and her family harvest and sell salmon, steelhead, and other fish from the Columbia River, just as they and many other local Native American families have for generations. Until recently, they operated the business from home, relying on word of mouth to sell to a variety of individual and food service buyers who know them as providers of a quality product.

With assistance through USDA Rural Development's Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Kim recenly opened a retail storefront to increase their marketing and sales potential. Brigham Fish Market, which opened its doors to the public in February, is located in Cascade Locks, Oregon, on the Columbia River and within view of the family’s traditional fishing sites. Click here to read more... 

New Police Cars for Hines, Oregon

Hines, Oregon, police vehicle

USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker recently announced a $22,400 grant to the City of Hines to assist with the purchase of two new police vehicles. The Hines Police Department has been operating with a fleet of three high-mileage cruisers requiring extensive repairs which, in the last funding cycle, had depleted the city funds set aside for a replacement car.

“Small towns need the same quality of public safety resources and equipment as large cities, but they don’t always have access to the necessary financial tools,” Walker said. “To help close that gap, USDA’s Community Facilities Program offers leverage so rural leaders can make their communities safer.” Click here to read more…

Rural Energy Assistance for FY 2014

Since it was first authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill--and now reauthorized for another five years with dedicated funding through the Agricultural Act of 2014--the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has helped thousands of businesses, farms and ranches nationwide advance a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Between 2009 and 2013, in fact, Oregon’s REAP program contributed to more than 150 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects installed to create or save more than 36.9 million kilowatt hours. That’s enough to power 3,689 average U.S. homes annually!

USDA accepts applications on a continuous basis with funding decisions made once per year. The application cutoff date for 2014 has not yet been announced, but is expected to be in the coming couple of months. If you are working on an on-farm or rural business-based project, you may be able to apply this year. Keep in mind, however, only expenses accrued post-application are eligible for funding. Interested applicants should contact USDA Rural Development now to determine the viability of completing an application by the 2014 deadline.

New Management Structure for Housing Programs in Oregon

Rod Hansen and Ramona Mitchell

In past years, USDA’s Multi-Family Housing and Single Family Housing departments in Oregon had been under the leadership of a single Housing Programs Director. In response to increasing workloads and programmatic complexity, these functions have been divided into two separate positions, as USDA has done in many other states. We are pleased to announce that Rod Hansen, who has successfully led both programs for several years, will continue as the Single Family Housing Program Director for Oregon.  Ramona Mitchell, who has been a critical part of our Multi-Family Housing team since 2009, has been selected as our new Multi-Family Housing Program Director. As we move forward, Ramona and Rod will work side-by-side with our many partners and stakeholders to continue addressing needs for safe, affordable housing in our rural communities. We are confident this management structure will enhance our ability to address the priority needs, leverage private and public funding, and help communities generate lasting improvements to their economies and quality of life across rural Oregon. 

VAPG Helps an Oregon Small Business Seize Their Olympic Moment

Sweater worn by Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies

At the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, Team USA joined the Parade of Nations wearing 650 sweaters knit with 5.6 million yards of yarn produced by Central Oregon’s very own Imperial Yarn. Since 2008, Imperial Yarn has participated in USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program for planning and working capital assistance to keep their sustainably and traditionally produced wool a profitable and job-creating venture in an evolving marketplace. With VAPG assistance, USDA Rural Development is proud to have played a small role in helping this rural enterprise take their product from “ranch to runway,” and now, onto the world stage!  Click here to read more…

Lakeview Geothermal Project Noted for Engineering Excellence

Darryl Anderson, PE, PLS, Anderson Engineering & Surveying, Inc., (left) and Ray Simms, Town Manager, Town of Lakeview

Congratulations to Anderson Engineering and Surveying, Inc., for their 2013 Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Oregon. They were recognized for their development and construction of the Town of Lakeview’s geothermal project, which was funded through the USDA Rural Development Community Facility Loan Program, and which demonstrates innovation in a community infrastructure project. The geothermal heat source for five public buildings will allow the community to use money saved on fossil fuels to hire additional staff at the local hospital and schools and create expanded health and educational programs. In addition, area carbon emissions will be reduced by 850 tons per year. The project demonstrates that geothermal heating is feasible for public building applications and can provide tremendous benefits for small communities. Click here to read more…

Rural Development Solicits Nominations for the Outstanding Multi-Family Housing Site Managers of the Year

Rental housing site managers guarantee the success of the rental complexes supported by USDA Rural Development's Section 515 and Section 514 programs, and they deserve recognition. At this time, we are asking our partners and stakeholders to submit nominations for those doing outstanding work to ensure smooth day-to-day operations and a safe, cohesive community. After evaluating and scoring each nomination, Rural Development will present a certificate to the nominee(s) with the highest score(s) at an industry conference in the spring. Please submit your nominations to the Oregon State Office by Monday, April 14, 2014. Click here for the nomination form and more information...

USDA Funding for Distance Learning and Telemedicine

USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Loan and Grant Program helps meet the unique education and health care needs of remote rural communities. Through loans, grants and loan/grant combinations, DLT funds advanced telecommunications technologies to connect rural residents to learning, workforce training, and specialized medical expertise that is not available locally. Funding may be used for the purchase of certain capital assets, including audio and video equipment, computer network components, internal wiring, software and hardware. In addition, the program can support the acquisition of instructional programming and technical assistance.

Entities providing education and medical care via telecommunications (including corporations or partnerships, Native American tribes or tribal organizations, state or local units of government, consortia, and private for-profit or not-for profit corporations) may be eligible to apply. Visit the program website for more information. To discuss a possible application, please contact the USDA General Field Representative for Telecommunications Programs serving the project service area:

Public Comment Period Open for USDA Rural Development Environmental Policies and Procedures

Proposed Rule 7 CFR 1970 Published in the Federal Register

Rural Development, a mission area within the U.S. Department of Agriculture comprised of the Rural Housing Service (RHS), Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS), hereafter referred to as the Agency, is proposing to unify and update environmental policies and procedures covering all Agency programs by consolidating two existing Agency regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable environmental requirements. These rules supplement the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), associated environmental statutes, Executive orders and Departmental Regulations. The majority of the proposed changes relate to the categorical exclusion provisions in the Agency's procedures for implementing NEPA. These proposed changes are intended to better align the Agency's regulations, particularly for those actions listed as categorical exclusions, to the Agency's current activities and recent experiences and to the CEQ's Memorandum for Heads of Federal Departments and Agencies entitled “Establishing, Applying, and Revising Categorical Exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act” issued on November 23, 2010, and to consolidate the provisions of the Agency's two current NEPA rules at 7 CFR parts 1794 and 1940, subpart G.

The public comment period expires on April 7, 2014.

Click here to view the February 4, 2014, Federal Register notice.