One Million Dollars Up For Grabs in Madera County

April 28, 2008 1:57:06 PM PDT
What started out as a bitter dispute between the Chukchansi tribe and Madera County has turned into a golden opportunity for local schools, non-profits, and other county agencies.David Prentice/Madera County Counsel: "The tribe and the county were basically in litigation war for 3 years. The relationships were very strained. It wasn't what anybody wanted."

County Counsel David Prentice says the problems stemmed from disagreements over taxes and jurisdiction between the two sides. But it ended last February with a settlement that allowed for the expansion of Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino and the creation of a nearly 13 million dollar community grant program. The program includes a trust account that will provide one million dollars a year for a total of ten years to a variety of deserving organizations.

Prentice: "We look for applications that are for one time purchases of 25 thousand or more. We're not interested in paying salaries for people or that type of thing."

In its first year, the 25 recipients included the American Legion, Madera Community Hospital, and the Madera Unified School District.

Jake Bragonier/Madera Unified School District: "It's had a great impact for our district, from K through 12. We're talking about playground equipment at some of our schools, it's helped libraries at the elementary level, it's helped our career schools at the high school, a children's museum at an elementary school."

The program also paid for equipment for the District Attorney's office that prevents victims of child abuse from having to testify in open court. And now other local agencies and non-profits have the same opportunity. Applications will be accepted until July first. Then the county and the tribal council will decide which groups hit the jackpot.

Bragonier: "We're certainly going to be lining up at the door to give our application so hopefully we can grab on to some more of the money."


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