Health Board Receives $250K Grant

The Vernonia Health Center Board of Directors has received notification that they have been awarded a $250,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation.

The grant award is one of many major steps for the Health Board as they continue to move forward with plans to construct a new health center which is out of the Flood Zone.

The Ford Family Foundation grant award will go towards construction of the new health clinic which will be part of the Rose Avenue Project in Vernonia, which also includes a joint Senior Center/Food Bank building.  The current health clinic building, located on Bridge Street,  is owned by the Vernonia Health Board and was severely damaged in the 2007 Flood.  The Health Board has been offered a buyout from FEMA for their current property and building, which will be demolished after the buyout is complete.

The Ford Family Foundation grant is the first of several applications the Vernonia Health Board has submitted to foundations in the hopes of securing funding for their project.  They expect to receive a decision on an application from The Collins Foundation by the end of August and have also  made applications to The Meyer Memorial Trust, The Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, and the Oregon Community Foundation.  The Health Board is also reviewing several other grant opportunities to see if they would be a good fit for the project. 

The Health Board has been approved for their approximately  $320,000 FEMA buyout,  but have not yet been awarded the funds, as they are awaiting the allocation process by the U.S. Congress.  The Health Board is also awaiting a decision on funds held by Providence Health Services which implemented a community giving campaign on behalf of the local health clinic immediately following the 2007 Flood.  Providence has been waiting for an approved project to be brought forward by the Vernonia Health Board before releasing the funds  and a decision to release the approximately $195,000 being held is expected shortly.

The decision by the Vernonia City Council  at their August 5th meeting to approve a partial vacation of the east side of Weed Avenue was another major step for the new health center and the Rose Avenue Project.  The  property necessary for construction of the entire project has now been secured, after a reconfiguring of the layout of the project on the site reduced the amount of land needed.

The project will be built in phases with the health center construction coming first. The Senior Center and Food Bank are currently in the planning stages for their project and will be phase 2 of the Rose Avenue Development.

The permitting and planning processes are expected to begin in September for the project.  If funding for the health center is secured, the Vernonia Health Board hopes to break ground on their building in January 2014 and complete it by the summer of 2014.  A Request for Proposal for construction of the project is expected to be released this fall.

The Health Board has received an extension from FEMA; previously they had been given until March of 2014 to vacate their current property.  They now have until October of 2014.

The budget for the Health Center portion of the Rose Avenue Project is $1.6 million which includes pre-planning and architectural design, site preparation and off-site improvements,  permitting and other costs, various in-kind donations, contingency funds, and final construction.  The cost of the health center building itself is $1.2 million.