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The Marijuana Excise Tax Advisory Board (METAB) hosted a Grant Recipient Celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds honoring the 15 Chaffee County organizations and nonprofits who each received a portion of $111,000 in grant funding.

The grant cycle is in its third year since Chaffee County voters approved a 2.48 percent Marijuana Excise Tax that was proposed by the County Commissioners in November 2016. METAB made their grant recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners in December 2019, with the Commissioners deciding on final notification and announcement of grant awards.

Third Annual METAB Grant Recipients wait to share what they are doing with the money awarded to their organizations (Photo by Taylor Sumners)

Organizations that were eligible for the grant included programs under the supervision of Chaffee County Human Services or Public Health and nonprofits serving the youth of Chaffee County. Others eligible to receive grant funding from METAB include nonprofit organizations providing services in human services, public health, workforce and family housing and government agencies for the regulation of marijuana and other drugs and enforcement of related laws.

County Commissioner Greg Felt provided opening remarks and history on the tax before allowing representatives from each organization to speak, “Before you can give out money, you have to build a system for assessing applications for the grant applications. [METAB] has really done a fantastic job over the years.”

METAB Chairman Molly Walker introduced fellow METAB board members and welcomed the 15 grant recipients for the 16 grants*, “Welcome to all of you. This is our third year of handing out checks, and we have the best job in the world.”

Walker continued, “We had 24 applications this year and $111,000 to distribute. This represents three quarters of the tax revenue. We are hoping there might be more next year. We were able to fund 16 grants partially, some were in full, but primarily partial funding. We are very happy to have been able to fund as many programs as we can.” The METAB board paid recognition to Walker for her service on the board, with her term expiring in 2020. Attendees provided a standing ovation.

The following 15 organizations were awarded grant money from METAB:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chaffee County
  • Mini-Blessings
  • Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ)
  • Chaffee County Boys and Girls Club
  • elevateHER
  • Ark Valley Helping Hands
  • Chaffee Housing Trust
  • Salida Sunshine Rotary
  • Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity
  • Chaffee County Public Health
  • Mindfulness in the Jail
  • Achieve Inc.
  • Family Youth Initiatives (FYI)
  • The Schoolhouse at Poncha Springs
  • Salida Circus

Representatives of each organization spoke and shared what they intend to do with the money awarded to them. Many organizations expressed that they will be able to continue existing. While others, announced their excitement in getting programs for their organizations up and running.

Concluding the speeches from the grant recipients, County Commissioners Greg Felt, Keith Baker and Rusty Granzella introduced an award honoring the late METAB member Jane Whitmer. Commissioner Felt said in announcing the award, “As many of you know, one of the Founding Board members of METAB was lost to us this past year, Jane Whitmer. Probably almost everyone in the room knew Jane or had some experience of her.”

Commissioner Felt continued, “She was someone who was incredibly enthusiastic, and with that, very inspiring. Sometimes it was even in her reaching out. For some of us it was a personal moment that touched us, and for others it was more her dedication to community in the many things she was involved in. So, the METAB board reached out the County Commissioners and asked about an award in her honor.”

The award offers an opportunity for a recipient to receive it each year in addition to a plaque that would commemorate recipients over time. Commissioner Granzella read, “[METAB’s] Jane Whitmer Award is awarded annually to a grant deed exemplifies Jane Whitmer’s passions and community work for children, parents, and the underserved.” The recipient for the inaugural year of ‘The Jane Award’ was awarded to Mindfulness in the Jail.

*NOTE: Two grants were awarded to Chaffee County Public Health for two separate programs that they facilitate.

Link to story announcing the grant applications: