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County narrows grant list to four

February 04, 2002

County narrows grant list to four



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Projects bringing sewer and water service to low- to moderate-income communities will likely receive the majority of the county's 2002 block grant funds.

The Franklin County Planning Department ranked a record 12 applications for $485,510 of available Community Development Block Grant money.

Requests by the local agencies almost doubled what is available, however, so the department is recommending only four groups receive funding.

The groups are the Metal Township Municipal Authority, the Indian Lake Camp Corporation, the St. Thomas Township Fire and Rescue Co. and the St. Thomas Township Municipal Authority.

The planning department rated the applications on a 100-point scale, looking at the seriousness of the problem the project would address, its benefit to low- and moderate-income residents, the readiness of the project to move forward and other criteria.

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It also heavily weighed how a proposed project would fit in with the county's Community Development Plan, including: Projects that direct system improvements and development toward existing communities; public facility projects that address sewer and water needs; affordable housing projects; and architectural barrier removal projects that improve handicap access to public buildings.

The planning department's recommendations are not binding, but Franklin County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said he did not hear any comments at a public hearing Thursday that would make him want to shift any money.

The commissioners will hold a final public hearing Feb. 14 and vote on the grant allocation.

The four projects recommended to receive funding were among the top five ranked requests.

The Metal Township Municipal Authority requested $210,000 to pay for the tap and fee hook-up for low-income home owners. If the commissioners approve the recommended $175,000, that would bring the county's contribution up to $1 million for the $4.5 million project in Fannettsburg, County Planner Phil Wolgemuth said.

The Indian Lake Camp Corporation also received $100,000 last year and likely will receive the same amount in 2002 and 2003 for its water project that will help solve water shortage problems to Fannettsburg, Wolgemuth said.

The St. Thomas Township Fire and Rescue Co. submitted its application for $125,000 with the support of Franklin County Head Start, which uses space in the building for its program, and the St. Thomas Library, which hopes to move into the building.

The planning department recommended allocating $100,000 to install an elevator to make the second floor handicap accessible and for the three groups to work together to raise the remaining funds.

The St. Thomas Municipal Authority asked for $65,100 but will receive $42,000 under the planning department's recommendation to build a sewer system that will eliminate failing on-lot systems that are polluting ground water. The grant funds will pay the tap fee and hook-up for low-income homeowners on Circle Drive.

"At one time the board gave a little money to everyone but nothing was getting done," Elliott said.

Richard Roche, chief of the St. Thomas Township Fire and Rescue Co., said he was elated to hear money was recommended for the elevator project.

He said finding the remaining funds to complete the project won't be a problem with the commitment of the fire department, Head Start and library.

"If we have to hustle ham sandwiches on street corners, we'll do it," Roche said.

The planning department turned down two groups' requests because they did not meet rules set by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the grants, and it encouraged others to apply for funding through other county grant programs next year.

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