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Wolf: Pa. counties, cities to benefit from $14.2M in CARES Act grant money | Tuesday Morning Coffee

Projects ranging from broadband expansion in Fayette County to housing rehab in Lawrence County will benefit from the cash

February 15, 2022 7:12 am

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with the press. (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Counties and municipalities across Pennsylvania will benefit from a nearly $14.2 million influx of grant money courtesy of the CARES Act, the Wolf administration said Monday.

The federal aid, approved by Congress, and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2020, comes in the form of a pandemic-tweaked version of the long-standing Community Development Block Grant program, that’s channeled through the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.

All told, the COVID relief law allocated $5 billion to the program, according to the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, which administers it. The money is intended to “enable communities to effectively prepare for, prevent the spread of, and respond to the impacts of coronavirus,” within their borders, the Wolf administration said in a statement.

Under federal rules, “at least 70 percent of every grant must be expended for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income,” individuals, and “[provide] housing, a permanent job, a public service, or access to new or significantly improved infrastructure.”

The balance of the money can be used to address blight or “address an urgent need for which the grantee certifies it has no other funding,” according to HUD.

(Image via pxHere.com)

According to the Wolf administration, here’s a look at where the federal grant money will go:

  • Cameron County: $250,000 for a housing rehabilitation that aims to keep the disabled and the elderly in their homes and out of assisted living centers.
  • City of Pittston, Pa: $1 million for housing rehabilitation for the same population. The money also will benefit “individuals and families with health-related issues that make them susceptible to COVID-19 by providing at-home consultations on COVID mitigation strategies,” the administration said. The program will serve a total of 12 total municipalities in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.
  • Lawrence County: $500,000 for a housing rehabilitation program benefiting the elderly, the disabled, or those with health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the administration said. It will be run in partnership with the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership.
  • Wayne County: $265,000 to address food insecurity and increase food distribution to more households.
  • Fayette County: $1.1 million to support broadband expansion to “extremely underserved areas of the county.” The money, which will extend high-speed broadband lines and build hotspots, aims to increase access to telework, telemedicine and virtual learning in western Fayette County, the administration said.
  • Indiana County: $2 million for broadband expansion to underserved areas in northern Indiana County.
Row houses in Philadelphia (Capital-Star file)

  • Clinton County: $510,962 to improve emergency services radio communication between their 911 center in Flemington borough and the western part of the county. The current system has coverage gaps which keeps first responders from communicating with the 911 center and local hospitals, according to the administration.
  • Northeastern Pennsylvania: $4 million to the NEPA Alliance, administered through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (which serves Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, and Wayne counties) to provide small businesses with grants up to $50,000 and grants of up to $15,000 to ‘micro-enterprises,’ that have been impacted by the pandemic. The Alliance says it believes that the money will result in 150 jobs being retained or created.
  • Lehigh University Small Business Development Center through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance: $1.562 million to pay for grants to businesses, owned by historically disadvantaged individuals, in Lehigh and Northampton counties, that have been hit by supply chain disruptions. The money is expected to save 12 jobs, and create five more.
  •  Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission: $1.94 million, through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (serving Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset counties) which will create jobs in up to 10 childcare centers. The money is intended to help parents looking to return to work obtain care for their children. The money is expected to fund 20 new jobs, according to the administration.
  • The Covation Center Inc.: $1.04 million, through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (serving Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union counties) to pay for grants of up to $85,000 to small businesses, located in low- to moderate-income areas across central Pennsylvania. Officials expect as many as 11 jobs will be created or retained as a result.

The money will “ensure that every Pennsylvanian has the opportunity to get back on their feet and succeed without roadblocks,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement his office released on Monday.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
A Democratic group has filed a federal campaign finance complaint against Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial hopeful Lou Barletta over political spending directed to a rental property formerly owned by him and his wife, Stephen Caruso reports.

The state Departments of Human Services and Corrections have launched a doula program for incarcerated mothers, Marley Parish reports.

Officials at the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are drawing a line under $1.4 billion in infrastructure needs at Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, Cassie Miller reports.

Maria Montaño, formerly of SEIU Healthcare, has been named the new spokesperson to Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. She is the first transgender woman to hold the job, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Alabama’s voting map could reverberate nationwide, a University of Richmond legal scholar writes. And opinion regular, Michael Coard, of the Philadelphia Tribune, introduces you to Black lawyer Robert Morris who fought — sometimes physically — to free the enslaved.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw joins Mayor Jim Kenney, far left (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

Elsewhere.
It’s taking the Philadelphia Police Department about four minutes longer to respond to most calls, the Inquirer reports.

Black community leaders will be celebrated at an event in Greensburg, Pa., the Tribune-Review reports.

Republican state Rep. Barb Gleim will seek a third term for her Cumberland County-based House seat, PennLive reports.

State lawmakers are seeking authority over hospital deals after the closing of two Chester County hospitals disrupted services, the Morning Call reports.

Speaking of which: A Chester County judge has ordered Tower Health to resume the sale of Jennersville and Brandywine hospitals, WHYY-FM reports.

The Luzerne County courthouse will resume normal operations at month’s end, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

The Centre Daily Times runs a roll call of recent votes by members of the region’s congressional delegation.

GoErie has what you need to know about its region’s structurally deficient bridges.

The Observer-Reporter has the details on a pilot program that’s bringing high-speed internet to rural areas of Washington County.

Stateline.org runs down states’ pandemic ‘exit strategies.’

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee is set to vote on nominees who would bring a historic level of diversity to the Federal Reserve BoardRoll Call reports. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is the panel’s ranking GOP member.

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What Goes On
Budget hearings get rolling in the House Appropriations Committee. All meetings are on the House floor. Here’s a look at today’s docket:
10 a.m.: Department of Revenue
1 p.m.: Independent Fiscal Office
3 p.m.: Dept. of Aging
Also:
12 p.m., G50 Irvis: House Democratic Policy Committee
1 p.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate State Government Committee

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 2 p.m. newser in his Reception Room to tout the expansion of high-speed broadband. He’ll be joined by lawmakers and rural stakeholders.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out this morning to PennLive’s Josh Vaughn, who celebrates another trip around the sun today. Congratulations, and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation
For those of you still looking to keep those 90s hip-hop vibes alive from Sunday night, here’s a whole playlist of old school classics to get your Tuesday morning rolling.
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Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Toronto Maple Leafs handily dispatched the struggling Seattle Kraken 6-2 at Scotia Bank Arena on Monday night. The Leafs’ Mitch Marner notched three points on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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