Following the tumultuous 2020 election cycle, the leaders of Tillamook’s Republican and Democratic Central Committees put their heads together to share their concerns for how political divisiveness impacts our society, our communities and our ability to work together to solve the very real common problems we face.
With that idea, the Bridge the Gap Beach Cleanup was born. It is occurring today, Tuesday, June 1, immediately following the busy Memorial Day Weekend.
Residents of Tillamook County have a long history of working together – regardless of political differences. The Bridge the Gap Beach Cleanup is intended to re-invigorate that spirit and to remind the community that this energy of common concern and action is an integral part of what makes our Coast the special place it is.
Parking for those participating will be available along Sand Lake Road at the south end of Tierra Del Mar. A central gathering and information station will be designated by an American Flag.
A new grant program was announced last week to help small businesses recover from COVID. Unlike previous programs, this grant is aimed at helping pay operational expenses.
In January, the Legislative Emergency Board allocated $100 million to provide commercial rent relief assistance. Senator Betsy Johnson and I argued that we also needed to help provide assistance for operational expenses. Rent is important, but most businesses have already been prioritizing their rent payments. As well, many own their property and thus, pay no rent. When a business closes, it could lay off employees and stop the utilities, but it still has to pay rent. We were helping people close down but not helping them stay open! Meanwhile, the hospitality industry along the coast is being hurt by rules that open and close businesses with little notice, forcing many to hire and lay off, or buy food and then throw or give it away.
Senator Johnson and I have continued to work with Business Oregon to seek support for operating costs. Following two rounds of the Commercial Rent Relief assistance grants, approximately $28 million remains. I’m very pleased that Operational Cost Assistance Grants are now available to small businesses and landlords adversely affected by economic conditions as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Operational Cost Assistance Grant program is designed for businesses with 100 or fewer employees per location who:
- offer the consumption of food and or drink on premise;
- provide specified indoor physical exercise, recreational or family entertainment; or
- provide specified personal services, and that experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon.
Businesses that received Rent Relief grants for the same location are eligible to also receive the new grant, as long as the combined award total is less than $100,000.
Rather than a statewide allocation, funds are being segmented by region. That means there is a set-aside for the Coast and we will not be competing for funds with the valley, metro, or central Oregon. Applications will be open until June 6. Unlike past first-come-first-served programs, if more requests are received than money is available, awards will be selected after a random lottery process of all complete and eligible applications received. Check this page for details or sign up to be notified for COVID-19 news.
Find out program and eligibility details here. You can also contact your local Small Business Development Center.
To Learn More and Apply, visit the Business Oregon site, here.
Qualified Oregonians can begin applying for $50 off their monthly internet bill as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic. People in tribal areas are eligible for up to $75 off their bill. There is also a $100 reimbursement for desktop computers, laptops or tablets.
For example, your household is eligible if you receive food stamps, have a child in the free or reduced-price school lunch program, use Medicaid, or lost income during the pandemic and made less than $99,000 for single filers, or $198,000 for joint filers. There are other eligibility requirements – see https://getemergencybroadband.org to find out if you qualify.
The $3.2 billion program is part of the national $900 billion pandemic-relief package approved in December. The federal government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to or could not afford broadband at a time when jobs, school and health care was moving online.
What do films like Paint Your Wagon, Point Break, Animal House, Kindergarten Cop, Stand By Me, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest have in common? They were all filmed here in Oregon! The Oregon Film Trail is placing signs to commemorate the location of local films. There are now more than 30 sites on the Trail including Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and Toledo. You can see a map of all the current locations here.
Oregon Film, in partnership with places like Travel Oregon and the Oregon Made Creative Foundation as well as countless local chambers, counties, and city councils, has created the trail as a way to recognize the cultural value of filmmaking to our state and to link that cultural recognition directly to tourism and local economies.
Sadly, they have not yet noted my own 2008 film debut with Charlize Theron. Scenes from The Burning Plain were filmed at Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay. I didn’t have a speaking part, but Ms. Theron did twice refer to me as “the Senator”. Susie likes to remind me they rented her car for one scene and it was paid more than I was…
It’s still not clear when or if the Capitol will reopen to the public this session.
The building will be largely shut down once we adjourn for completion of ongoing maintenance projects designed to make it earthquake resistant. This often noisy and disruptive work has been going on during the session, especially on the outside and in the less accessible spaces. Starting in early July, legislators will need to vacate their offices until the end of the year. The chambers themselves will be open for the September special session for redistricting. Scheduled weeks of committee hearings in September and December will again have to again be done virtually. Our main committee hearing rooms will be closed until the 2023 session, so makeshift locations will need to be used for the short 2022 session in February and early March.
Believe it or not, this will actually be less disruptive than was originally suggested. When these plans for seismic and environmental improvements were first being made back in 2016, the original concept was to have us be entirely out of the building and in another location for 2-3 years. This is what’s currently happening next door for the Oregon Supreme Court. The current plan will be full of disruptions and irritations, but much less so than it could have been.
I continue to hear concerns about tourists visiting the Coast from regions or states with higher infections or lower vaccination rates. I’m also hearing from businesses that need those visitors to recover and are concerned about new, ongoing, or changing regulations. The good news is that those of us with vaccinations are safe and cannot spread COVID to others.
Now that we are past the Memorial Day Weekend, we’ll see if there are any upticks in cases from the holiday weekend. With the growing number of vaccinations and the beautiful weather that is making it easier to have lower-risk outdoor gatherings and dining, perhaps we can avoid the past pattern of big holiday outbreaks.
Are we close to the end? Trends of the last month have the Oregon Health Authority predicting that two-thirds of eligible Oregonians will be fully vaccinated before the end of June, and the Governor is planning to lift restrictions when that happens.
Most qualified people who want vaccinations have now received them. What’s needed is for a few more less-willing people to roll up their sleeves. Here’s one new strategy. I’m curious to know how well you think it will work.
If we don’t reach that 65-70% benchmark, I want us to change what we’re asking of our businesses and our communities.
Please stay safe and let me know if you have any questions about information in today’s newsletter.
Thursday, May 27th, I spoke to the Oregon House about Memorial Day. This was our final full gathering before the weekend.
Please take a few short minutes and listen.
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10