Two weeks after a trip to Washington D.C., Del Norte County Supervisor Bob Berkowitz told other supervisors his venture was successful in getting local issues before legislators.
Berkowitz traveled to the nation’s capitol Sept. 20- 22 to attend several meetings with state and federal officials.
“After years of struggling to get noticed by the administration in Washington D.C., we were able to put our case for the replacement of Last Chance Grade directly to the White House,” Berkowitz told supervisors at their meeting Tuesday.
Berkowitz said he spent three days in Washington in September presenting issues important to the county to congressional staff along with representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation.
“At my meeting at the White House, I was able to present three issues to William Kirkland the special assistant to the president in the White House,” Berkowitz said. “These issues were Last Chance Grade, reauthorization of the Secure Schools and Rural Communities legislation, which has provided a million dollars to repair Del Norte County roads, at least it did provide it with the previous legislation, along with a similar amount for local schools.”
Berkowitz said he and Kirkland also discussed Essential Air Service (EAS) for the airport.
“I was very encouraged by the results of these talks,” he said. “The White House had not been informed about our issues and were very interested. This administration has only been in office for about nine months. They were looking for infrastructure projects that could implement President Trump’s plan to spend a trillion dollars repairing and replacing the nation’s crumbling roads.”
In an email after his trip, Berkowitz said the proposed Last Chance Grade bypass is his top priority. Berkowitz met with Tim Arnade, the congressional liaison team leader with the Federal Highway Administration. Berkowitz said Arnade told him a risk assessment should be done this March, which will give officials a better idea of how government should proceed.
According to Berkowitz’s itinerary, he also met with officials regarding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and rural business loan forgiveness. Berkowitz said he was not able to get an appointment with Sen Kamala Harris, whose support is needed regarding SB 1027, which now has 23 co-sponsors.
“Harris has not signed on to support this bill,” Berkowitz said, explaining it would extend the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act of 2000. “I would hope this board, at the next meeting, would send a letter urging her to co-sponsor that bill.”
Supervisors Chris Howard and Gerry Hemmingsen made a similar trip in June to hold meetings and discuss Last Chance Grade, EAS and other topics.