Even though it has a much lower profile than during Irene recovery, SALT still has a mission.
Schoharie Area Long Term now works on community development but also stays in place as an organization to rally volunteers in case of a widespread emergency.
SALT coordinated thousands of volunteers to help restore the Schoharie Valley in the years after the 2011 hurricane, but the need for such work now is small, if it exists at all.
“We re-focused,” said Mike Hartzel, SALT’s vice president and also the county director of the Office of Emergency Services.
“After Irene, the need was huge, but needs shrink, funding shrinks. How do we go on?”
Sarah Goodrich, who retired as SALT’s exec last year but is still on the board of directors, agreed with Mr. Hartzel.
“Now there’s a clearer focus of what our role is in the community,” she said.
One of those roles harkens back to SALT’s first years––volunteerism. Tied closely to Mr. Hartzel’s Office of Emergency Services, SALT will handle a volunteer reception center when and if necessary.
There was talk on the board at one point of closing SALT because recovery was nearly complete. But board members felt that the organization––even smaller––should remain in place because of its effectiveness.
“We could be called into manning a volunteer center at any time,” Ms. Goodrich said. “We will always be involved with emergency recovery.”
SALT shifted its second focus into community development a year or two ago, and that effort remains in place. SALT awarded eight small grants last fall for works such as Eagle Scout and 4-H projects, among others.
Ms. Goodrich sees the grants as strengthening communities, one of the goals of consultant Peter Fairweather’s economic development plan for Schoharie County.
“We’re putting money back into the community,” Ms. Goodrich said.
SALT’s next round of grants is coming up, and Mr. Hartzel said the board is seeking home improvement and beautification projects––again in line with Mr. Fairweather’s plan.
“And it doesn’t have to be flood-related,” Mr. Hartzel said. “This is for the county as a whole.”
SALT is also raising funds for those grants. There will be a garden party at Schoharie Valley Farms on July 13 and a harvest dinner in the fall.