Posted: February 24, 2016
The County of San Bernardino has torpedoed and sunk a grassroots effort by
improverished residents of the High Desert to improve their economic circumstance.
Citizens from the community of Newberry Springs banned together in
early January to file for a federally announced Promise Zone grant. This grant
offers up to 10-years of federal assistance to communities meeting poverty guidelines;
and opens the door to federal opportunities.
The Desert Trails Promise Zone - San Bernardino County
The small community of 2,600 residents, that is scattered-about 25 miles east
of Barstow, soon had other communities joining. The community formed the Newberry Springs
Economic Development Association (NSEDA) that had partners stretching from Hinkley on the west
side, through Barstow to Needles.
To the south of Barstow, the community of Lucerne Valley
joined. To the south of Needles, the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation joined.
Together, a 200-mile corridor was linked together in a collaborative effort to seek
economic improvement through the obtainment of a Promise Zone grant.
Due to the diversification, high proverty rates, the powerful
collaboration between the communities, and the strong support by numerous local organizations,
the partnership felt that they held a winning grant proposal that they named the Desert
Trails Promise Zone - San Bernardino County.
The Desert Trails Promise Zone was supported by the county's
First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, and the Third District Supervisor, James Ramos.
Promise Zones are Obama Administration generated grants given by the
federal government to areas of high poverty. The grants do not provide any direct funding,
but Promise Zone designees receive:
• A federal liaison assigned to help designees navigate federal|
• Preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and
technical assistance from numerous participating federal agencies
• An opportunity to engage five AmeriCorps VISTA members in the
Promise Zone's work
• Promise Zone tax incentives, if enacted by Congress
The targeted broad Goals for the Desert Trails Promise Zone were going to:
(1) Create jobs|
(2) Increase economic activity
(3) Improve education opportunities
(4) Reduce violent crime
(5) Improve community infrastructure
(6) Improve health and wellness
Agencies that review the applications and participate in
assisting Promise Zones include:
• U.S. Department of Agriculture|
• Department of Housing and Urban Developent
• Department of Education
• Department of Justice
• Department of Health and Human Services
• Department of Labor
• Department of Transportation
• Department of Treasury
• Department of Commerce
• Corporation for National and Community Service
• National Endowment for the Arts
• Small Business Administration
Rather than supporting the Desert Trails Promise Zone, a necessity
of the application, the county's Chief Executive Officer, Gregory Devereaux, decided to
solely support another application for a Promise Zone being submitted by the City of
The county's choice Promise Zone,
self-servingly includes many county facilities near the county's Administration Center.
The City of San Bernardino had previously submitted a similar unsuccessful
Promise Zone application during an earlier 2014 submission period. The county apparently
believes that the city's current reapplication has been strengthened by the nationwide sympathy
arising from the terriorist attack within the city on December 2, 2015 that killed 14 and
seriously injured 22.
Some of the government and business interests named in the Memorandum of Understanding
between the city and county as the Leadership Council for Implementation of the city's
proposed Promise Zone includes:
• County of San Bernardino (Greg Devereaux, CEO)|
• City of San Bernardino
• San Bernardino City Unified School District
• Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino
• Loma Linda University
• California State University, San Bernardino
• San Bernardino Valley College
• Inland Valley Development Agency
• Technical Employment Training
• Institute for Public Strategies
• Dignity Health, St. Bernardine Medical Center
• Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire
• The Waterman Gardens Partnership of CORE,
Hope through Housing, and The Clancy Company
The High Desert's Desert Trails Promise Zone consortium of small
cities and communities like Needles, Barstow, Hinkley, Newberry Springs, Lucerne Valley,
the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, et cetera, don't have the political muscle of the above
Those supporting the City of San Bernardino's application claim that
through the city's previous failure, the city was first-in-line and has priority.
But it is the stronger political might of the urban area that has again dominated.
Those supporting the city's application do not want the risk of their grant being
subjected to competitive merit as the national competition would not likely give two grants
to a single county. Therefore, they have prevailed upon the county's
CEO to pull-the-plug on the Desert Trails Promise Zone.
The county is believed by some residents to be continuing a pattern
of discriminatory neglect in its servicing of the rural and improverished communities
of the county. The overriding message is that the county is too big to manage
and the county needs to be split; as there will always be conflicts-of-interests
between the vast differing regions.
Devereaux's judgment will be tested later this Spring when the new Promise
Zones are announced.
Desert Trails Promise Zone Opportunity
Newberry Springs again comes up empty handed.