VALE — The Malheur County Court will hold off on contributing to a proposed local effort to reopen the county economically with the help of a consultant or consulting group.

The proposal is being put forth by members of Poverty to Prosperity and the city of Ontario.

The city has committed $30,000 to the plan, with the P2P group is committing $15,000. The county was asked to contribute $40,000, but the court is taking a wait-and-see position on the proposal to hire someone or an entity to be a “COVID-19 response coordinator.”

According to a proposed job description, responsibilities would include creating and coordinating an action team to address issues such as health care, education, retail businesses, restaurants and entertainment and agriculture, work with community to gather data, lead the count in requesting relief from restrictions and coordination with other eastern Oregon counties.

Ontario City Manager Adam Brown said in an email, received on Thursday afternoon, the city has gone ahead and contracted with Merchant McIntyre out of Washington, DC, which is, according to its website, a federal government relations agency which works with non-profits and for-profit agencies in areas such as obtaining federal funding. The company will be searching out grants for the city to aid in reopening during a 90-day trial period.

Another route may be considered for working at the state level, Brown said.

He met with the County Court on Wednesday, and said members want to see how successful the company is during the trial period before they make any commitment.

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