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Groups pitch grant requests to Martinsburg Council

February 17, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The Shenandoah Women's Center needs a new furnace and new windows.

A kitchen would be of use at the Boys & Girls Club.

And a few parks that serve mostly low- to moderate-income residents could be improved.

Those and other ideas were pitched last week to Martinsburg City Council members on how best to use the city's Community Development Block Grant funding for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The city is expected to receive $465,139 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last year the city received $495,000, which is being used to repair a sewer system and replace a bridge. Both of those projects are expected to be finished in the next couple of months, said Pat McMillan, local director of the program.

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At last 70 percent of the grant money must be used to help low- to moderate-income residents.

Ann Smith, director of the Shenandoah Women's Center, said funding is needed to replace an old coal-converted oil furnace at the agency's office on Martin Street. She said that project likely will cost $5,000 to $6,000.

Also, she said, windows need to be replaced at the agency's facility for sheltered women, which is in a separate building. That building, an old Victorian home, has numerous windows. She said fixing them likely will cost $11,000 to $12,000.

Fifteen people can be housed at the building at one time. The Shenandoah Women's Center, which was created in 1977, serves women who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or incest, Smith said.

Bonnie Shultz, who sits on the Shenandoah Women's Center's board of directors, said few grants exist to help with facility needs. It's possible, she said, that the old windows in the shelter have lead paint in them. No lead-related problems have arisen, but the potential is there, she said.

Stefani Pierson, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Boys & Girls Club, asked for funding to install a new kitchen at the club's facility, on the corner of Queen and John streets.

During last year's summer program, an average of 100 children attended each day. They were served breakfast and lunch - meals they might not have had if they had remained at home, she said.

A kitchen could not only serve the children, but the community as well. She suggested that during the day, before children arrive, it could be used as a soup kitchen.

Roger Engle, who is on the board of directors of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation, said several parks serve those with low incomes, including Leeland Playground and Martin Luther King Jr. Park, both of which are on West Martin Street.

Engle did not cite specific needs, but said that any possible upgrades would be appreciated.

Glenda Helman, executive director of Community Networks Inc., asked only that the city allocate 15 percent of the funding to public service agencies, as is permitted.

McMillan said a draft plan on how to spend the money will be submitted to the City Council on March 10. A public hearing is scheduled for April 14, and City Council members will either approve or reject the plan on May 12.

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