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Chambersburg council allocates state block grants

March 16, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council on Monday approved allocations of $246,900 in state Community Development Block Grant funds for 2005, with $69,500 earmarked for projects aimed at benefiting the borough's Hispanic community.

The Chambersburg Hispanic American Center received two grants for the full amount requested. The first was for $37,000, the third installment on $131,000 the center has received in block grant funds to purchase a building at 252-256 S. Main St., according to Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's director of planning.

The center also received $17,500 toward funding of an ongoing full-time position to support multicultural programs, according to the recommendations made to the council.

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The number of clients served by the center rose from 1,785 in 2003 to 2,085 in 2004, according to Diane Martes, the executive director.

Marilyn Ross, the grant writer for the center, said the total budget for this year is $94,000 to support educational, language instruction and translation services. Ross said the organization is working toward becoming more self-sufficient, forming partnerships with the Chambersburg Area School District for an after-school program and the Pennsylvania Association of Latino Organizations for additional funding.

Support also comes from area businesses and churches, Ross said.

More than 6 percent of the borough's population of approximately 17,500 is Hispanic based on the 2000 census, Mayor Thomas Newcomer said recently.

"I would think that's much higher now," Martes said Tuesday. The census put Franklin County's Hispanic population at 2,268, or 1.8 percent, in 2000.

Martes said the center also serves Hispanics living outside Chambersburg.

Franklin County Legal Services applied for and received $15,000 in block grant funding to help pay for salaries for employees to continue outreach and legal services for Hispanic residents.

The council allocated $54,000 to the borough, which had requested $100,000 for improvements to streets on which the majority of residents qualify at low and moderate income. Wolgemuth said the list of streets in the borough that qualify for block grant funds would cost more than $800,000 to repair.

The borough will receive $46,000 that can be used to subsidize the installation of sewer laterals for up to 27 homes along South Main Street and Mill Road where sewer service is being extended. Wolgemuth said the cost for each property owner would average about $5,000 without any subsidy.

The council allocated $35,000 to purchase equipment for a West Washington Street playground.

Another $20,000 will be used by the borough for its ongoing program to make sidewalks handicapped accessible with curb cuts, Wolgemuth said.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. will get $12,400 for emergency exit improvements and stage door expansion at the Capitol Theater Center.

The ESCAPE Parent-Child Center was approved for $10,000 for its child abuse prevention classes.

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