Lucky Winners Receive City Grants

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Shylee Roohian, 10, of Laguna Beach, took part in the Read to A Dog Program at the Laguna Public Library. “As you can see, the dog loved it!” says photographer Jessica DeStefano.
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More local organizations came up lucky winners Tuesday as the City Council divvied out another $7,777 in grants from a fund of $238,777.

Music in Common, an organization that musically engages youth from different religions and conducted a workshop here last December, applied for a community grant earlier this year and was bypassed, local musician Jason Feddy told the council.

As a result of a presentation by Feddy and his wife, actress Ava Burton, the organization received its full request of $2,500. Other organizations already approved for grants received a top-off. Laguna Dance Festival ($6,000), the Laguna Community Concert Band ($8,000), No Square Theatre ($15,000), Laguna Beach Live ($12,000) and Laguna Ocean Foundation ($4,000), each received an additional $1,000.

Money for the community assistance grants comes from the city’s lease with the Festival of Arts, which occupies a city park. The annual lease payment is 3.5 percent of gross revenue, said Gavin Curran, the city’s finance director, which includes Pageant of the Masters ticket sales, grounds admission fees and rent paid to the Festival for use of the premises. The payment is roughly $240,000 a year.

Shylee Roohian, 10, of Laguna Beach, took part in the Read to A Dog Program  at the Laguna Public Library. “As you can see, the dog loved it!” says photographer Jessica DeStefano.
Shylee Roohian, 10, of Laguna Beach, took part in the Read to A Dog Program at the Laguna Public Library. “As you can see, the dog loved it!” says photographer Jessica DeStefano.

The grants support a variety of projects and programs. For instance, Friends of the Library uses all of its money to help keep the Orange County Public Libraries’ Laguna Beach branch in working order, recently spending $100,000 on new lighting.

“The county’s broke,” said Friends of the Library board president Martha Lydick. “We do everything for our library. We’re it.” The county repairs the roof, provides air conditioning and heating and pays the staff while the Friends repairs and maintains everything else, including providing all of the children’s programs, even offering a new 3-D printer for the public, Lydick said. The adjacent Friends of the Library used bookshop generates an average of $30,000 a year, she said. Friends of Laguna Beach Library received $12,000 in grant funds, a 20 percent drop from last year.

Heart Way, a death and dying counseling and assistance group founded by Andrea Deerheart, Ph.D., requested $10,000 this year and initially received nothing. The council agreed to give the remaining $200 to Heart Way. Council member Rob Zur Schmiede suggested redirecting $2,000 granted to local radio station KX 93.5 and giving it to Heart Way or another organization. The radio station already received approval for nearly $44,000 in city funds during earlier budget hearings.

Council members Bob Whalen and Kelly Boyd, designated by the council to subdivide the windfall, recommended making 27 disbursements totaling $231,000. They reviewed requests for double that amount from 36 organizations. That left $7,777 left over and a handful of people made their requests Tuesday for the remainder.

“When they’re requesting over a half a million dollars and we have quite a bit less than that to give out, it makes it rather difficult to try to be fair with everybody, but we tried our best,” said Boyd.

“Hopefully, things will go well at the Festival this year and the numbers will be up next year,” said Whalen.

A big winner was the Boys and Girls Club at $30,000, a 50 percent increase over last year. Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce was next in line and received $25,000, a 79 percent increase over last year. The South County Cross-Cultural Center, which teaches English as a second language and runs the day-workers’ center, received $23,000, the same amount as last year. The next big recipient was Laguna Beach Community Clinic at $21,000, a 9 percent drop from last year, with Laguna Beach HIV-Advisory Committee receiving $14,000, nearly equal to last year.

 

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