Huntingdon County Commissioners approved sending a letter of support to the EBT Foundation Inc. so they can apply for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding through the state.

James Lettiere, director of the Huntingdon County Planning Department, explained the planning department helped to draft the letter of support for the EBT Foundation Inc.

“They are applying for $1.1 million,” he said. “They hope to use these funds, along with the money leveraged through private funds, CARES Act funding and previous RACP funds, totaling $4 million, for the purposes of rehabilitating four miles of track used by the East Broad Top Railroad for tourist trains from 1960-2011, acquire additional land, construct an event facility at Colegate Grove for events that are key to the financial business plan, overhaul the train yard in places that haven’t been rehabbed since it closed prior to 1960 (as an industrial railroad).”

Commissioners were pleased to approve this letter of support.

“It’s amazing how it’s been preserved,” said commissioner Scott Walls. “This is great for the southern end of the county and the whole region. It’s something I’m proud to support.”

Commissioner and chair Mark Sather touted the fact that it’s a living time capsule, and he’s grateful to help bring people to the railroad once again.

Commissioner Jeff Thomas said he’s also looking forward to the day the line will extend from Rockhill to Three Springs and Saltillo once again, which these funds can also help work toward.

In his weekly COVID-19 update, Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency director Joe Thompson acknowledged the county is seeing an uptick in the number of positive cases, which is following the trend in the region and in the state.

However, Thompson also noted that upon discussing with experts on the local, regional and state level, this uptick is not a surge, as some experts keep saying there could be a fourth surge.

“We’ve gone up to substantial, which means there is more of a risk, but the rate given by the state shows ther’s something going on,” he said. “Hospitalizations are only up slightly, as there’s one in the ICU (at Penn Highlands Huntingdon). The last three-day average was about six cases per day, and now the seven-day average is about nine cases per day.”

In good news; however, Thompson noted that nearly 20% of county residents have been fully vaccinated, around 7,200, and there are 4,200 people who have been partially vaccinated.

In other news, Thompson wanted to give kudos to area fire companies for their hard work in battling a salvage yard fire in Clay Township as well as a wildfire on Piney Ridge in Walker Township.

In the salvage yard fire, Thompson said his agency was involved as well as the state Department of Environmental Protection and HAZMAT for precautions.

“This was a huge event, and a lot of good people did a remarkable job in keeping situation that was bad from becoming worse, and there was no off-site contamination in this event.”

Commissioners also approved the execution of the PHARE funding grant for $100,00 for rental assistance, utility assistance and landlord mitigation. With this funding, which will be administered by Center for Community Action, they will serve approximately 17 households.

Approval was given to hire Keri Aurand for the open position of legal assistant in the county public defender’s office.

Two bids were received for a Ford Explorer used by the Huntingdon County Mapping Department, including one from Chris Lalli for $200 and one from Terry Norris for $201. Commissioners approved the bid from Norris.

Commissioners also discussed the fact that the recycling bins have all been removed in Porter Township, Jackson Township, Oneida Township and Dublin Township, so anyone looking to drop off their recycling in those locations can no longer do so.

If anyone leaves their recycling in those locations, it would be considered littering.

Only two official recycling bins remain, including bins in Marklesburg Borough and in Smithfield Township.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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