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Group wanted that can spend $80,000

January 09, 2002

Group wanted that can spend $80,000



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Borough Council will try to redistribute $80,000 of state grant money this month or risk losing it if it is not used before the June deadline.

The council originally allocated the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant money to Building Our Pride in Chambersburg (BOPIC) in 1997 to purchase a new building.

BOPIC, which serves low- to middle-income children in the borough with a summer nutrition program and after school computer training, has yet to sign a contract for a building.

If the money is not spent by June 3, the borough stands to lose it all, Borough Planner Gary Norris told the council Monday night.

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Borough nonprofit agencies can apply for the funds at the Chambersburg Borough Hall at 100 S. Second St. The council will hold a public hearing on the matter Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.

Norris said the Department of Community and Economic Development denied his request for a one-year extension on spending the money.

He suggested the council consider using some of the money to improve access for the handicapped at intersections by installing depressed curbs and sidewalks.

Other groups that have received funds in the past include Downtown Chambersburg Inc., which used the money to restore the historic Capitol Theatre, and the ESCAPE Parent/Child Center, which offers training and counseling for at-risk families.

The council is expected to decide quickly where the money will go so it can be used by the deadline.

The council will also hold public hearings on Feb. 13 and 27 for requests for 2002 block grant funds.

This year, the borough can dole out up to $317,368. Of that, the borough can retain 18 percent, or $57,126, to cover the costs of administering the grant.

No more than 15 percent, or $47,605, of the funds can go toward public service projects, including the expansion of existing services or a new service. The rest must be spent on bricks and mortar projects, like a new building or renovations.

The 2002 amount is about $3,000 less than last year's because more communities are in the program sharing the same pool of money, Norris said.

He recommended council come up with a point system to more effectively rank requests. In the past, council members have split over which requests are the most worthwhile.

Council members Ken Gill and Ruth Harbaugh will join Norris, Borough Manager Eric Oyer and Assistant Manager David Finch in hammering out a plan they will present to council prior to the public hearings.

"I think it is important council understand and agree to a process," Oyer said.

Mayor Tom Newcomer agreed.

"I think there has to be a better way than what we've done in the past," he said.

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