Bright Horizons – Keep Haskell Beautiful Update – Town Hall Meeting

On March 22, 2017 Keep Haskell Beautiful (KHB) held a Town Hall meeting to discuss with the community ideas for Haskell. A main goal for Keep Haskell Beautiful is to encourage non-profits throughout the community and well as individual volunteers to all work together to beautify, improve and add to Haskell.

During the discussion, KHB wrote down all the ideas that people had for improving our community. At the end of the Town Hall meeting, participants were encouraged to rank the ideas on what they thought were the most important. After the meeting, KHB organized all the ideas into categories. They fit into three main areas of interest: the park, the downtown area and clean-up events.

The city park was the top area of concern. The three main goals for the park and recreation area were to add new park equipment, make repairs around the park area, and to add ADA compliant entrances and equipment.

The next area of concern was the downtown. Citizens were interested in ways to make that area more appealing to the community and to visitors.  Some of the ideas were to revise the lampposts, add planter boxes, and to address vacant storefront windows, to name a few.

The third area of discussion was clean-up events. One idea was to start a program to help the elderly and disabled to clean up areas they may not be able to physically get to anymore.  Another idea was to encourage more people to participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program to keep litter off our streets. There was also discussion of adding new programs such as Adopt-A-Street and Yard of the Month.

The community involvement to improve our community has been exciting. As we move forward, we plan to have additional meetings for all the topics discussed and to invite those interested to come and help plan ways to fund and execute the ideas.  We continue to encourage all organizations, as well as individuals, to come together and make a difference in Haskell.

DCOH TO HOST USDA HOME LOAN MEETING

Edit: This was rescheduled for April 27, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. at the Haskell Jr. High Building.

The Development Corporation of Haskell would like to invite residents, real estate agents, contractors and lenders to learn more about the USDA Direct and Guaranteed Home Loan Programs. The meeting will be held at the Haskell Jr. High Building, Room 96, (north end of the Secondary Campus) on March 28, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will focus on opportunities available for families and individuals to achieve the dream of home ownership. Families that are interested in living in rural communities and owning their own home or existing home owners that need assistance with home repairs should plan to attend.

Representative Cheryl Reed with USDA Rural Development will be available to discuss programs that offer up to 100% financing for a home purchase. Financing is available at a fixed interest rate currently at 3.25%. Very-low income households may quality for payment assistance which brings their effective interest rate to as low as 1%. These affordable rates with no down payment make home ownership affordable and may be less than rent.

If you are wondering if your income meets the requirements, take a look. For Haskell County the direct loan program income requirements are as follows: 1 person: $29,450, 2 persons: $33,700, 3 persons: $37,900, 4 persons: $42,100, 5 persons: $45,450, 6 persons: $48,850. For the guaranteed loan program the limits are as follows: 1 – 4 persons: $75,650, 5 – 8 persons: $99,850.

Rural Development also has home repair loans. For very-low income home owners, the interest rate is 1%. Grants are available for very–low income elderly home owners who are unable to repay a loan for health and safety hazard repairs and handicapped accessibility.

Discussion will also cover the basics of obtaining a loan, how repayment and credit affect loan qualifying, and requirement for purchasing an existing home or new construction.

For more information please contact Jimi Coplen with the DCOH at 940-864-3424 or Cheryl Reed with USDA at 325-690-6162.

Bright Horizons – DCOH Update – Rolling Plains Detention Center

By Jimi Coplen

As many of you have heard, our detention center is set to close on March 24th.  The current employees have been put in limbo while management companies and the federal government figure out what they are going to do next. This has been a frustrating situation for all concerned.

Part of our mission at the DCOH is business retention and expansion. We care about all jobs, especially those we already have in Haskell. And, we know how difficult it is to come up with a business that creates 140 jobs in the community. That is why the DCOH and the county have been working diligently to find solutions to this problem.

We glean new information daily, but no one can give us a straight answer as to why this happened in the first place. Moving forward, here are some of the challenges we are faced with:

  • Management companies want a guarantee they will have detainees before they agree to take over.
  • ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) wants a guarantee they will have a facility fully staffed when they return.
  • Employees are being laid off because there are no detainees at the facility now.
  • And, the federal government has implemented a strenuous background check that makes it almost impossible to get a job at the facility.

One can easily see the predicament we are in.  Our hope is that ICE will make a “deal” with a new management company this week to house their detainees in Haskell. Along with a new management company, we hope ICE will lift the strenuous hiring processes in order to get the facility staffed quickly.

We are cautiously optimistic this will be resolved, but we have no indication how long this process could take. We hope only a few weeks. On Friday, some good news came from one important ICE official in Washington D.C. He told us they have no problems utilizing Haskell, and he is working on getting us something in writing stating they will be bringing ICE detainees back. He is also working on an answer for us in relation to the long hiring process.

In the meantime, we want to brag on each person working at the Rolling Plains Detention Center (RPDC). They have done a fantastic job under very chaotic circumstances this past year. They all deserve to be applauded for their patience, long hours and tough working conditions. We can’t begin to imagine the stress this has caused them. We want to thank them for all they have done to keep the RPDC open and running smoothly.

After the set closing date, you may notice the lights are still on, security is still in place, and the facility is still in operation. There will not be detainees on the property, but it will be kept operational in anticipation of detainees coming back soon and to deter any problems with equipment, etc.