Good news came for two local municipalities in the form of a press release issued by the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Monday.
DCED development secretary Dennis Davin announced the approval of $1,306,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for two projects in Huntington County, including a new water storage tank and looping the existing distribution system for the Mapleton Municipal Water Authority, and water and system improvements for the Wood, Broad Top, Wells Joint Municipal Authority.
The CDBG program is federally funded and designed to financially aid smaller communities and rural areas of the state with projects involving housing rehabilitation, public services, community facilities, infrastructure improvement, development and planning.Huntingdon County’s portion was a part of $6.6 million in CDBG funding for projects in Bradford, Centre, Clinton,Forest, Fulton, Huntingdon, Northumberland, Perry and Potter counties.“It’s overwhelming,” said county grants administrator Maureen Safko. “Receiving $1.3 million in one year is unheard of for us. We’ve never had that much money come in at one time.”
“Huntingdon County was the only jurisdiction to have two applications in the competitive round and both were funded,” Safko said. “Out of 15 applications, 11 were funded.”
The Wood, Broad Top, Wells Joint Municipal Authority will receive $750,000 to be put toward updates vital to the water plant’s continued operation.
“We needed to improve our system which is outdated,” said Gary McCavitt, municipal authority chairman. “Our system is 20 years old. We wanted to improve it for our community and for the safety of our employees.”
Safko said the total project cost will come to $1,111,100, to be funded through $76,000 in county CDBG entitlement money, $159,129 in Bedford County CDBG entitlement money (some customers within the municipal authority reside in Bedford County), a line of credit in the amount of $125,971 and the $750,000 in CDBG competitive funding.
“By contributing 11 percent of the total project, they were able to get the other 89 percent for free,” said Safko.
McCavitt credited his predecessor, Rick Rourke ofWood, and other committees within the authority for their hard work in bringing the grant to the communities.
“It’s great. We’re very much surprised. This will help the communities of Robertsdale and Wood. We applied for this a long time ago. It’s like an answered prayer,” McCavitt said. “With the commissioners’ help, we’ll have good, clean water for our communities.”
The Mapleton Municipal Water Authority will receive $556,000 to be used to loop water lines and replace its damaged water tank, improving water service to the community.
“They have nine streets in town where the water lines dead end, so people who live at the end of the line have bad water service. Line looping will connect those lines so the water runs in a continuous circuit and doesn’t get stale at the end of the line,” said Safko. “The borough wanted to do all nine streets, but we knew there wasn’t enough money.”
By utilizing previous grant funds, the authority was able to fund two line looping projects to connect four streets. A year ago, a leak was discovered in the side wall of the water storage tank as well.
“This grant will allow us to do some very much needed repairs and upgrades without having a high rate increase for our customers — a large portion of our citizens are low to moderate income and elderly on a fixed income,” said Mike Corbin, municipal authority chairman. “The projects to be completed are large capital projects and affect not only the quality of the water service, but also public safety and infrastructure within our community.”
Corbin expressed his appreciation to the past and present water authority board members and staff as well as to the county planning department, county commissioners and customers.
“This takes care of all of the line looping, provides a new water tank and rehabilitates the existing water tank so their storage capacity will be doubled,” said Safko. “This will also allow them to install some valves so they can shut off parts of town without shutting off water supply to the whole town for line repairs.”
The funding will also provide for the installation of additional fire hydrants since the community will have more water capacity.
Part of the reason the grant total surpasses that of previous years is that the state increased the maximum competition allocation for CDBG funds from $500,000 to $750,000.
“These funds came to these communities because they invested their time and money and hard work to get the county’s attention and get a plan together in order to be able to submit applications to the state for the funding,” Safko said. “For the Wood, Broad Top, Wells Joint Municipal Authority, only because they invested in the services of an engineer were they able to get a complete picture of what their needs were. In Mapleton, (municipal authority secretary) Cheryl Woods spent so much time with the engineering firm and the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection). When (the DEP) gives away these free engineering services, they require you to go over the books and review operating procedures to make sure everything is as efficient as it can be. She really combed through the books to enable them to get the free engineering services so they could get the money. The people in these communities had to invest a lot of effort to make this happen.”
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