The Huntingdon County Planning Commission (HCPC) heard about the allocation of $166,152 to Huntingdon County through the CARES Act and CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding at its monthly meeting Thursday night, held via teleconferencing.

Stacia-Fe Gillen, the HCPC’s community development administrator, explained the money can address concerns about how COVID-19 has affected communities.

“The funds are meant to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus,” she said, noting that the allocations carry some of the stipulations of CDBG funds but that the state announced the allocation for free entitlement communities, completely separate from the regular CDBG funds.

Of the $166,152, Huntingdon Borough received $69,001 and Smithfield Township received $61,760.

What the funds can be used for is still being determined.

“The issues that we’ve been experiencing so far are what exactly eligible actions would be,” she said. “There has been expressed desire to fund more PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Proving how that meets the requirements of the grant is difficult at this time. We’re still waiting from feedback from our grant managers.”

A possible partnership with the Center for Community Action (CCA) could be in the cards.

“We’ve been approached by the CCA to see if they could submit an application on behalf of those entitlement communities. They are interested in offering potentially rental and mortgage payment assistance, and hotel and motel vouchers. We’re in the process, right now, of reaching out to our entitlement communities to see if they’d like to partner with CCA,” said Gillen.

“Would the EMA outfit have any use of that stuff for any ambulance runners?” asked commission chair Ron Rabena.

“We’ve been in contact with Joe Thompson (EMA executive director). Right now we’re just really struggling to understand what eligible activities are. He asked about PPE for his staff so we’re looking into that,” said Gillen.

Also at the meeting, a resolution was passed to officially acknowledge the work of HCPC’s office manager/secretary Laurie Nearhood over her career at the Huntingdon County Planning & Development Department.

“Laurie has provided outstanding leadership and guidance to the department during the course of her 25-plus year career, particularly over the past 12 months. Whereas Laurie faithfully and with honor, integrity and great distinction has served the department in numerous different capacities including secretary office manager/secretary interim grant administrator and interim planning director,” read Rabena.

“As a token of appreciation, the planning directors have hereby requested to provide this distinguished service proclamation to the Huntington County commissioner and the chief clerk.”

All present agreed.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.

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