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Franklin block-grant plan focuses on utility construction

February 03, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For several years, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners has favored utility projects in distributing Community Development Block Grant funds, a trend that would continue if the 2000 plan for the $455,929 in federal funds is approved.

"There's nothing more basic to home ownership than being able to turn on your tap and get water that is drinkable, or having a toilet that flushes safely," County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

The county received five requests for funding totaling $913,000. The proposal unveiled Thursday would fund a sewage treatment plant expansion in Mont Alto and water projects in Orrstown and Dry Run, according to County Planner Phil Wolgemuth.

The Mont Alto Sewer Authority would get $194,000 of the $358,000 it requested to complete an expansion of its sewage treatment plant. In past years the authority received $326,775 in Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, funds for the $840,000 project, according to county figures.

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The Dry Run Water Association would get the full $110,000 it requested to complete its water system project. In previous years the county gave the association $695,500 toward the $1.1 million project.

The Orrstown Borough Authority would get $70,000 of $290,000 it requested to finish water system improvements. CDBG funding already paid $280,000 of the project's $366,000 price tag.

"What they asked for is $70,000 to get this phase done. The additional funding was looking toward establishing an additional water source," Wolgemuth said. Orrstown buys water from Shippensburg, Pa., through an aging water line that frequently breaks.

"At least we've got the pipes in and have good, clean water," Orrstown Water Department President John Ferrell said. A new 159,000-gallon tank gives 130 customers a week's capacity in case of a break in the Shippensburg line, Ferrell said.

The improved system replaces lines put in by the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, Ferrell said.

The Dry Run water system was of similar vintage and corroded lines were replaced by 8-inch mains to serve 80 homes, said Dry Run Water Association Treasurer Rick Lauthers.

Lauthers said the village plans include a water tank to create enough pressure for fire hydrants added to the system.

Mont Alto's project includes a 300,000 sludge storage tank, said Maurice Gossert, a contract engineer. "That will free up 150,000 gallons of capacity at the treatment plant," which serves 650 homes, Gossert said.

The Mont Alto and Dry Run projects were both mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, according to the county. All three projects are scheduled for completion later this year, Wolgemuth said.

Mont Alto's request for $125,000 for water system improvements was not funded. A $30,000 request for affordable housing from the Mid-Atlantic Coalition for Housing Opportunities Inc. would not be funded under the proposal.

CDBG funds are distributed to the states through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development then distributes the money to counties and qualified municipalities.

The County Planning Office will accept comments on the plan until Thursday, Feb. 18. A public hearing in the Commissioners Office is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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