In the September 26, 2012 front page of the Moorefield Examine, the above the fold article was about the Rig Community Center receiving a $24,000 grant to pave the parking lot. This was funding by a federal grant from the Help America Vote Act of 2010. Out of curiosity, I checked in this weeks (11/14/12) edition of the Moorefield Examiner to see how many folks voted at that poling station. Piecing some numbers together, I come up with a little less than 500 votes were cast there.
The aim of the grant to increase access for voters. Paving the parking lot would allow voters who might be intimidated by a gravel lot to come out and voice their opinion. You might be able to look back at prior voting records in your paper to see if number of votes increased since the parking lot was paved. Even so, if we take the rough number 500 and divided it into the $24,000 grant, this works out to about $48 per vote. Of course, with each subsequent election the return will spread out the expense. And, as you note in your article, the people who use the community center will benefit every day.
However, this begs a question about why we seek federal grants to pay for local concerns. The Help America Vote Act started in 2002, signed by President W. Bush, in response to the mess during Bush vs Gore in Florida in 2000. Remember those hanging chads? The purpose of the act was to replace out of date and unreliable voting machines. As congress is want to do, once a good thing gets started, they find new purposes for the spending. Now we are paving parking lots.
You might argue that $24,000 of federal money is hardly a drop in the bucket of our trillion dollar deficit. However, from what I can find on the internet, the Help America Vote Act of 2010 appropriated around $95 million in such projects. All those drops fill a bucket full. The problem that we have here is that as long as we keep writing grants and asking the federal government to pay for things, we will have deficits. We might want to blame welfare cheats, drug addicts, and immigrants for siphoning off our tax dollars, but we are the ones running up millions of dollars in good ideas which we cannot pay for.
Ironically, of those voting in Rig, I see about 3/4 voted for the candidate who ran on the campaign to eliminate the funding that paved their way to the poles.
Published in the Wednesday November 21, 2012 edition of the Moorefield Examiner
An interesting phenomenon of living in a small community, is that when you send a letter to the editor of the weekly paper, you might get called on for you opinions. This might be someone telling you what-for, or patting you on the back. A week after this letter was published, I answered the phone and someone started going on about this, that, and the other thing, which I finally figured out was the community center in the article and letter. The speaker claimed (not verified by me) that this same community center has received numerous grants to replace the roof, close off and make new entrances, put in ramps, etc. Furthermore, the speaker suggested that what I had pointed out was only the tip of the iceberg. The claim was (not verified by me) that the grants often were for much larger amounts than the work done. Hmmm. Sounds like some investigative reporting to be done. “Keep up the good work” was the parting line of our conversation.