A Mount Union resident hoping to establish a haven for teens in need approached borough council Wednesday with a written proposal to use the former Red Cross building as a location.

Toni Welsh said “Some Place Safe,” her proposed rescue mission, will provide a welcoming environment and a listening ear for struggling teenagers.

Welsh first approached council with her idea at their meeting in August and was instructed to put her proposal in writing and to tour the building to make sure the site and her proposal are a good fit.

Welsh said she did a walk-through and believes the building will work out.

In the meantime, Welsh said she going to work on securing nonprofit status for Some Place Safe. She said she’s also researching grant opportunities.

Welsh reported a local business has reached out to possibly provide furnishings for the teen center.

Some Place Safe, Welsh said, is inspired by her own struggles when she was a teen and her more recent experiences helping local youth. She said that while Some Place Safe isn’t opposed to religion, she wants the center to feel welcoming to one and all, regardless of religious belief.

“We want to meet people where they are,” she said.

Council member Gary Kuklo said the borough used to lease the building to the historical society for $1 per year; under that agreement, the society was responsible for utilities and maintenance. Kuklo said utility costs ran about $1,000 per year.

Solicitor Larry Lashinsky said if council decides to lease the property to Welsh, all parties should come up with an agreement that covers all responsibility including who is liable for capital projects in the event a major repairs at the 100-year-old building.

He also advised Welsh that applying for nonprofit status is relatively easy but the 501C process can be daunting. He recommended she at least touch base with an accountant to review requirements.

The building, when constructed served as the business office for General Refractories, one of the three brickyard operating in Mount Union during the first half of the 20th century. The Red Cross occupied the building for decades and most recently it housed an industrial museum operated by the Mount Union Area Historical Society.

The society, which leased the building from the borough, closed its museum last year.

The property, located at the corner of Green and Market streets, includes the single story brick structure, with basement, plus a yard.

The borough has been seeking a tenant for the building since January.

Looking at another structure in the borough, council voted to moved forward with its salt shed project.

Borough engineer Brian Wiser from Keller Engineers presented council with specs and a proposal for service at the October meeting. Wiser is recommending the borough go with a pre-cast system and says its the most cost-effective option.

Keller Engineers will provide a sediment study, small land development plan and construction plan and will provide a pre-bid review and on-site supervision during construction.

Keller’s services will run an estimated $16,000

Speaking Wednesday, Wiser said he expects the project will cost in the $60,000 range but cautioned council that bids always have potential to run over even the best estimates.

Marlee Russell made the motion to move forward with the project. Wayne Querry seconded the motion which passed 8-1. After questioning the project’s cost, Joan Rogers cast a “no” vote.

Lashinsky presented council with proposal for the annual tax anticipation note, which will provide the borough with cash flow from the first of the year until tax revenues arrive in April.

Out of the five banks who submitted proposals, Lashinsky recommended council accept the offer from Mifflin County Savings which offered the lowest interest rate at 2.2 percent on the $100,000 note, with no additional fees.

Russell made the motion which was seconded by Nancy Lynn and received unanimous approval.

Council learned that their cost share for a comprehensive needs-based assessment through the state’s Early Intervention program will run $6,000 after the Department of Community and Economic Development agreed to cover the lion’s share of the cost.

Council was presented with two quotes for the assessment, one at $60,000 and the other at $79,000, at their August meeting.

With only two months left in the year and cash flow at a low, council decided to table the matter until January when, after the TAN going into effect, they’ve have the cash on hand to cover the expense.

The Early Intervention program was designed as a “pre-emptive step” for municipalities facing significant financial concerns.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.


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