County Commissioners discuss language plan

Published 10:59 am Monday, August 1, 2022

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The Decatur County Commissioners met for their second meeting of the month Tuesday evening. Among the items on the agenda was considering approval of a Language Access Plan. This plan is a requirement for the county to receive federal funding for various projects, namely the extension of water and sewage to A1 Roof Trusses and street and drainage improvements for the Philyaw subdivision.

“It’s a requirement by the Department of Community Affairs,” County Administrator Alan Thomas told the Post-Searchlight. “Actually, we’re federally funded through HUD, Housing and Urban Development. So it’s part of a requirement to make sure everyone has equal access. Anyone that has a language barrier, is not proficient in the English language, we have to provide certain services so that they do understand what the project’s about, or if they’re in the target area.”

Specifically, according to official documents, “In accordance with HUD Safe Harbors for LEP, Decatur County will translate written Community Development documents for groups that are at least 5% of the population eligible (and more than 50 persons) or 1,000 persons, whichever is less.” According to the latest census data, of the 24,892 residents of Decatur over 5 years old, 824 speak a language other than English; 290 of those have poor English proficiency. This does not meet the requirements for “translating vital documents or translated written notice of to receive free oral interpretation of documents.”

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“As you’ll notice in that plan, we don’t have anyone in that target area with limited English proficiency,” Thomas said. “But it is a plan, to comply with the federal regulations and requirements for the federal funding.”

In addition to this plan, another item on the agenda was Thomas renewing his position, with commissioner Pete Stephens thanking Thomas. “I’m honored to continue serving for an additional two years,” he said.