Property Owners Meeting
Failure Of Newberry's Promise Zone

    Ron Frame, Senior Field Representative for Supervisor Robert Lovingood, speaks before the Newberry Springs Property Owners Association's quarterly meeting.

Posted: April 10, 2016

Commentary by Ted Stimpfel, Blotter's coeditor

    The Newberry Springs-Harvard Property Owners Association, held its quarterly general meeting Saturday morning, April 9, 2016, at the Community Services District building.

    Due to poor membership numbers, and vacant board positions, the association has halted its monthly meetings and is now holding quarterly meetings.  The lovable Vickie Paulsen (pictured on the left) acted as chairperson for the meeting.

    During the meeting, Ron Frame spoke about his background and becoming a field representative for Supervisor Robert Lovingood.  As both Frame and Lovingood were newbies to political life, Frame spoke about the many challenges that they both have faced in becoming accustomed to the political landscape.

    While sitting at the board's front table, Margaret Graessle, Secretary for the Property Owners, (pictured) photographs Ron Frame speaking.

    Due to an unusual invitation having been extended to me to attend the meeting, and due to Lorrie Steely being on the agenda, I decided that this would be the first Property Owners Association meeting that I would attend since early 2011.  I have remained absent from the meetings due to the self-serving corruption that I had earlier found on the property owners' board under Spike Lynch and Sandra Brittain, as previously documented at length in the Blotter.

    I had hoped that Lorrie Steely would speak and possibly answer questions regarding the recent self-destructive NSEDA (Newberry Springs Economic Development Association) Promise Zone application.

    Lorrie Steely's appearance at the Property Owners' meeting, however, only dealt with providing information about a federal assistance program for low income property owners to acquire low cost loans to rehab or drill new water wells.

    Lorrie Steely (pictured at left) was not only the grantwriter hired for the Promise Zone application, but she had also stepped forward to take on the responsibility of being the Project Manager for the application.  This involved coordination and fiduciary duties that in my estimation she did not understand, failed to perform, and together with the leadership failure of Paul Deel, who acted as chairman of NSEDA's Promise Zone team, appear as the principle elements that led to the failure of the application being submitted.

    When voted onto the Promise Zone committee on January 7th, I was happy when Paul Deel declared that he wanted to be the committee's chairman.  Knowing the responsibilities of the Chair, I preferred to use my background in a supportive capacity.  This later wasn't allowed.

    Having taken multiple collegiate and non-collegiate courses in recent years on grantwriting, I have a fair understanding of the grant process.

    As the committee got midway into the application process, it became clear that as splendidly as Steely was preparing materials for the grantwriting, she was doing it at the expense of not performing her Project Manager responsibilities.  Repeated communications placed to her for information were being ignored.

    All communications were shared among members of the team, and Deel (shown at right) as chairman, should have been alarmed by the lack of a timetable and the lack of information being provided by Steely.  In Deel's defense, he took-on an executive position that he didn't know anything about.  Both the Chairman and the Project Manager positions isn't about just being a boss, but in developing a collaborative working environment whereby everyone's input is encouraged, recognized, and respected.

    The targeted Promise Zone grant was a complicated project with a very short application window.  Steely has a strong history with aspects of grants, but she reportedly has never previously written one herself.  Deel, likewise, was inexperienced.

    In the grinding struggle of amassing great amounts of data for logical presentation of deserving grant need, the entire NSEDA team did an outstanding job; particularly Lorrie Steely and Holly Shiralipour of the USDA who originally introduced the Promise Zone opportunity.

    Paul Deel did a fabulous job in understanding the federally requested criteria of the application.  However, an application is more than the grunt work of collecting, compiling, and organizing grant data; the process should follow common sense, and the universally recognized grantmaking team procedures.  This wasn't done which facilitated the unnecessary failure of the Promise Zone application that dashed the hopes of people from Hinkley to the Colorado River; and lost tens of millions of potential dollars for Newberry.

    The claim that the application failed because a necessary endorsement could not be acquired from the county's Chief Executive Officer, Gregory Devereaux, is an excuse.  The county's rejection only appears to have been a Red Herring that the Promise Zone team was far too quick to fall for.  The Promise Zone application should have been filed as planned with an emergency meeting scheduled with Devereaux.

    Dirty county politics appear to have been played against the High Desert whereby influencial elements supporting the urban Promise Zone, proposed by the City of San Bernardino, did not want to have a stronger competing rural Promise Zone application from the High Desert.

    The federal government encourages counties to support multiple applications.  The following is taken from the federal HUD Promise Zone website (See Page 8, Question 29, of FAQs):

Q.  Please clarify requirements for support from the chief executive(s) of UGLGs (Unit of General Local Government) for Promise Zone Plans.

A.  Counties and county equivalents (collectively "counties") vi. The chief executive of a county must demonstrate support for any Promise Zone Plan (Plan) that includes an area within the unincorporated boundaries of the county.  The chief executive of a county may support as many Plans as he or she wishes in incorporated areas within the county, but may only support one Plan that includes an area within the unincorporated boundaries of the county. If the chief executive of a county supports multiple Plans, the chief executive must include an explanation of how the county intends to work with multiple designees at the same time and sustain the necessary level of effort, resources, and support for each designee for the full term of each designation.

    The wording is a no brainer.  The county could support multiple Promise Zones for every city within its boundary; and one unincorporated application.  As NSEDA's application was the only application involving an unincorporated area (that can also include incorporated cities), the county had no legal reason to reject it.  NSEDA's Promise Zone was to be managed by the Desert Mountain Resource Conservation & Development Council; subsequently, there would be little county involvement of its resources.

    NSEDA's Promise Zone would greatly benefit the taxpayers of the High Desert that the county's civil servants are obligated to support in a non-discriminatory manner.  A meeting with Devereaux and county counsel, long before the county's rejection, should have taken place with the Project Manager.  The county needed to realize that if it was going to endorse the City of San Bernardino's application, it would not be allowed to discriminate by not supporting NSEDA's application.  It should have been made clear that NSEDA would not tolerate illegal favoritism.

    While the NSEDA team was all too quick to throw in the towel, the Newberry Springs Community Alliance is currently seeking answers from the county and pursuing the matter.

    Deel is calling for a NSEDA General Meeting for Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 5:30 P.M. at the Newberry Springs Community Services District building.  He proposes to publicly update the results of the Promise Zone and introduce proposed Bylaws for a proposed non-profit corporation.  Paul Deel claims that the proposed Bylaws were approved by "your formation committee."  Well, I was elected to be on that committee and Deel didn't even inform me of the vote meeting.  Let it be known, I do not approve of portions of the proposed Bylaws.  The approving committee merely consisted of Paul Deel, his wife, and Vickie Paulsen.

    This commentary is only skimming the surface of NSEDA's problems and questions I have regarding the Promise Zone process that have never been answered.  Like the Property Owners, NSEDA has managerial problems.  Both organizations are in need of greater community involvement if they are to survive and the community prosper.

Should you favor more news blogs,
please visit and LIKE our Facebook site.

Click here to read, "Like,"
comment, or share on:
Newberry Springs

Follow us on Twitter and
be notified of new stories:
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
Home page: