ARPA funds distribution approved


The distribution of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds for local agencies in West Liberty were individually approved at the city council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 21.

The first amount approved was $120,000 for the West Liberty Ministerial Association for utility bill relief.

Mayor Ethan Anderson told members of Escucha Mi Voz, who are also West Liberty residents, this step was the final step that needed to be taken. This group has asked the city for assistance using the ARPA funds for almost a year.

“Just to clarify for the residents following along, these next three resolutions are what council committed to two weeks ago and these resolutions are the finalization of that,” Mayor Ethan Anderson said, “which includes the signature from the receiving non-profit and city council making final approval today, so this is when you get to really celebrate, this is happening.”

The resolution was passed unanimously by city council.

After the vote was taken, Anderson said members from Escucha Mi Voz reached out to him asking if they could speak about this action.Anderson agreed saying it was important to hear what they had to say.

Edgar Velasquez, a member of Escucha Mi Voz and West Liberty resident that has spoken at city council meetings regarding the ARPA funds many times in the past year, thanked the city council for listening to residents needs.

“This is hard but thank you,” Velasquez said. “Thank you for taking in account and listening to us.”

“And thank you for coming and sharing your thoughts with council,” Anderson replied.

City councilmember Cara McFerren told residents this has been a long time coming.

“But it wasn’t something we thought would happen but it did,” McFerren added.

Maria Diaz also thanked city councilmembers but reminded them they need to continue listening to its residents.

“It’s important you guys see the needs of this town,” Diaz said. “We worked with you and you worked with us and we were able to get a lot done. Thank you. My kids are really thankful.”

Maria Murgia echoed what Diaz and Velasquez said.

“After a long fight, there was moments that were hard for both you and us,” Murgia said. “And it's a blessing and we’re thankful for the help as we continue here in the community.”

Councilmember Dana Dominguez said she would like to recognize the community members who didn’t give up asking the city for assistance using the ARPA funds. She also mentioned asking for help is a hard thing to do.

“I’ve grown up with my tias (aunts) and tios (uncles) and I’ve seen them work really hard and not ever ask for help, not ever complain,” Dominguez said. “My dad as well, and its really hard when you’ve been conditioned for that hard work to not seek support, not seek help and it’s really important that you all stepped up and not take no for an answer. It’s helping so many more in our community than those folks that did the hard work.”

Velasquez asked everyone in attendance at the meeting to give a round of applause for what the city council just did. The attendees did so.

Anderson thanked the residents for their hard work and WeLead Executive Director Ken Brooks, city councilmembers Ashely Smith, Dana Dominguez, Cara McFerren and Father Guillermo Trevino Jr.

“I hope this is something we continue to see,” McFerren said. “There’s nothing more valuable than everybody’s voice.”

Resolutions giving $20,000 to the West Liberty Food Pantry and $10,000 to the West Liberty Community School Foundation were also passed unanimously by city council.

Applications for the holiday box from the West Liberty Food Pantry were also given to residents.