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Downtown Association Clears First Hurdle Toward Staffing Goal

Mon, May 17, 2010

The Astoria Downtown Historic District Association received notice on May 14 that the organization’s application to the RARE Volunteer Program has been approved. The mission of the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) Program is to increase the capacity of rural communities to improve their economic, social, and environmental conditions through the assistance of trained graduate-level participants who live and work in communities for 11 months (1,700 hours).

“Without a skilled, paid staff person, Astoria’s downtown association has struggled to implement improvement projects and programs, hampering efforts to make downtown a better place to work, live and shop,” said ADHDA President Tiffany Estes.

Estes also noted large-scale development in Warrenton as a big incentive to step up the game in downtown Astoria.

“The opportunity to have a high-level graduate student help us attain our goals comes at a critical time in Astoria’s history. With more big-box stores on the way in Warrenton, Astoria must be at its best to improve its footing and compete,” Estes added.

Estes noted that the program received 35 applications from communities across the state of Oregon, but could fill only 25 spots.

“We had a ‘community visit’ with the program director in late April, and that visit, along with our application, is what the approval was based upon. The only thing that stands in the way now is funding, and we are making progress toward that goal each week,” she said.

As of May 17, the Association has secured $6330 in cash and pledges from the community. “We need just $3670 more to maximize the $10,000 matching grant offered by the Astoria Sunday Market,” Estes said. Pledges were encouraged initially, until ADHDA received confirmation of acceptance into the program. “In addition to raising that last bit of money,” she said, “now we’ll be going back to our initial contributors to collect their pledge dollars.”

Participating communities must pay $19,000 to the RARE Program in order to receive a volunteer. By maximizing the matching grant, $1000 will be left to help cover the staffer’s office supplies and phone expenses for the 11 months he or she will be working in Astoria.

“Our fundraising is going well, but we still need one last push to reach our goal,” Estes said. “I spoke with someone this weekend who said ‘Now that I see how close you are, you can count on our company to contribute.’ That’s a great reward for the pavement pounding we’ve been doing,” Estes said. Regular fundraising updates are distributed via e-mail to those in the district who have supplied addresses.

The next steps for ADHDA to secure a RARE Volunteer include submission of a full position description in early June, and provision of full funding no later than June 30. An interview panel will meet with applicants the week of July 12. The volunteer will begin work for ADHDA in September 2010, assuming funding requirements are met.

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