CLARION – COVID-19 relief funding is on the way for Clarion County.
At their regular meeting Tuesday morning, Clarion County Commissioners Wayne Brosius, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley unanimously passed Resolution No. 11, authorizing the county’s application to the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant.
“Every county [in the state] got at least $1 million,” Tharan said, noting that Clarion County qualified for and was awarded $3,471,292 in grant funding. “We applied for the max and got the max.”
According to the resolution, the county’s prorated portion of the money is part of $625 million that is to be distributed to 60 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania through Act 24 of 2020 and the Federal Cares Act.
The money, the resolution states, is to be used to cover any and all expenses related to COVID-19 within the following categories: county or municipality response planning and outreach; grants for small tourism-related businesses with fewer than 100 employees; grants to support CEDOs, LDDs, IRCs, SBDCs and EDCs for assisting businesses during the disaster emergency; behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment services; broadband Internet deployment; and qualifying non-profits.
Noting that the specifics have yet to be determined on how Clarion County will spend its money, the commissioners said they have a meeting scheduled next week with a firm which helped Allegheny County correctly spend its grant allocation.
“It’s all pretty vague at this point, nothing’s final,” Brosius said.
Tharan said the county expects to have the money in hand by July 15, and it must be spent by the end of the year.
In other business at the June 23 meeting, Tharan announced preliminary plans for additional renovations at the courthouse, which include moving Domestic Relations to the building and updating restroom facilities.
“We talked with Bob Wright from Cintech Construction,” he said. “They went through and saw different possibilities.”
Tharan explained that President Judge Sara Seidle-Patton requested that Domestic Relations be moved to the third floor of the courthouse to save costs associated with having sheriff’s deputies travel to the current building three days a week.
“There’s a fairly easy way to get Domestic Relations on the third floor by rearranging and doing a little bit of work,” he said.
In addition to Domestic Relations, Tharan said plans are also in the works to add ADA accessible restrooms to the second floor of the courthouse outside of the main court room, as well as to renovate the restrooms on the basement and third floors.
“This is stuff that should have been done years ago,” he said, noting that the county has saved money over the years to complete the work. “The can has been kicked down the road long enough. It’s time that we get it done.”
• The commissioners approved 15 county vehicles and three coolers to be auctioned off via sealed bids.
Anyone who might be interested in participating in the auction can visit the county’s storage building in Shippenville from 9 to 11 a.m. on July 11 to check out any of the items.
Bids are due July 24 and will be opened July 28.
“We have the right to reject any and all bids,” Tharan said.
• Heasley announced that the June 2 primary election cost the county approximately $77,000, not including equipment.
“We’ve applied for $17,000 in reimbursement from the state,” Heasley said.
With previous elections costing between $45,000 and $50,000, the commissioners said the extra cost could be attributed to the large amount of mail-in ballots submitted this year.
• A request from Foxburg Borough to change its Liquid Fuels project from a double seal coat to a single seal coat on Railroad Street was approved.
• The commissioners also approved a request from DCNR and the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association to waive GIS fees totaling $2,500 for updated parcel information.
• A notice of agreement was approved between Clarion County and Farmington Township to not oppose the vacating of an unnamed alley in Leeper for the Leeper 911 Communication Site.