Plumas County Community Development Commission Executive Director David Keller recently told his board of commissioners, mostly made up of county supervisors, that Plumas County could be eligible for disaster recovery funds because of the local impacts of the 2008 fire season.
Keller reported at a Tuesday, March 16, meeting that the community of Tobin, located about 10 miles northeast of the tunnels in the Feather River Canyon, could get money for several projects, as it was directly affected by the fire.
The director said there were about 11 counties eligible for the funds authorized by the U.S. Congress specifically to aid counties that received federally declared disaster designations during that dramatic fire season.
He predicted the Tobin water project, which would replace an antiquated system destroyed in the fire, could be one of the eligible projects.
Keller said 75 percent of the project was already funded by the state, but the CDC could apply for the final 25 percent to be backfilled by the new federal source.
The director was also hopeful that cleanup work and repairs for a pipe, which provides non-potable water for firefighting but wasn't actually broken in the fires, would be eligible for the new funds.
He even suggested emergency planning efforts the county anticipates undertaking in the near future, like a safety element in the General Plan revision project, might qualify for funding.
CDC commissioner and county supervisor Robert Meacher asked Keller if the funding had to go to efforts related only to the fire, hinting the county emergency services communication system could use some work.
The director responded he thought the funds would be limited to fire-related issues but couldn't be sure because the feds were still deciding what the rules for the funding would be.
Keller said there was $39 million available in California and "a majority of the problems were in Southern California in terms of the mudslides and those kinds of things."
On the flip side, he indicated the process for getting the money wasn't competitive, meaning an agency had an equal chance of getting some if it turned in its application early.
He added the CDC was working with the county and Plumas Corporation on an application that would be turned in June 6, the opening day for the forms to begin being received.
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