THE MAYOR’S REPORT: Information on grants

Ben Thomas Jr./Greencastle mayor

So, what is an orphan bridge and was there one in Greencastle? More on that in just a few weeks. See if you can research the orphan bridge in Greencastle from, oh, about 40 years ago.

See the pictures:Halloween celebrated with trick-or-treat night in Greencastle

In the community:‘Take Me Out to the Relay!’ will raise money to fight cancer

Sunday afternoon has been breezy. We inventoried our downed leaves as the trees are nearly bare now. We’ll rake the remnants to the curb Monday evening. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me.

You’ve been reading about various grants that Greencastle and other organizations have been the recipients of. What grants are out there and how are they funded? I’ll touch the iceberg of grants at the county, Pennsylvania and federal level. Some grants are 100% funded. Most are matching, typically 50% or 20% by the municipality. You must weigh whether the grant is worth applying for … in other words, can you afford the matching amount? Especially now, with inflation and limited bidders, it is a very challenging time.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

CDBG: Greencastle has been very successful in obtaining Community Development Block Grant funds from Franklin County passed down from the commonwealth (PA Department of Community and Economic Development) and the Federal Housing and Urban Development. Funds are distributed to Franklin County municipalities that qualify based on low to moderate income levels. Cities, counties and larger boroughs are entitlement communities and receive funds on an annual basis. Greencastle is not an entitlement community, so we apply for county funds. Many handicapped access improvements have been made in Greencastle along with the recently rebuilt street, curbs and sidewalks along South Jefferson Street.  

Franklin County also offered ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grant funding opportunities with application deadline Aug. 31, 2022. Fifty percent of matching applications were available to non-profits, municipalities, and municipal authorities.

PennDOT intermodal, Green Light Go, Safe Streets to Schools: Greencastle has or will apply for more of these funds. Years ago, the pedestrian signals on East Baltimore Street were partially funded by a grant to Greencastle and the G-A School District. These are typically 50% or 20% matching.

USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) offers grants to municipalities, from police cars to buildings, however, the borough or township must meet certain income levels from the citizens. Greencastle does not meet the income level, so we are not eligible for grants. Greencastle could apply for a loan, however, as bank loans were very low up until 12 months ago, it was not advantageous to go after a USDA loan with the amount of paperwork and restrictions required.

There are several loans offered by PA Department of Environmental Protection right now from Pennsylvania’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, specifically, for water, sewer and storm water projects. There is a matching grant component to these as well.

Rescue Hose Company has been proactive with grant writing, typically receiving several grants annually. Recently the federal government announced the company will receive a sizeable grant from the firefighter’s assistance program to replace aging self-contained breathing apparatus.

For a 14-year period, Greencastle was an entitlement community and received Federal Revenue Sharing funds. That ended in 1986 due to the early 1980s’ recession and a growing federal deficit. Greencastle used this entitlement in 1982 to construct the borough office wing and remodel the first floor of the existing former fire station at 60 N. Washington St. Funds were also used to demolish and build a new Walter Avenue (Edwin C. Bittner) bridge.

Authoring a grant application can be quite a challenge and time consuming. Often, you must have finite details including engineering and cost estimates for the project. Applications are now completed online with attachments that are typically required. Use of the funds typically expires within two years so budgeting in advance is very important.

Meanwhile, I close with a post-Veterans Day message. My special thank you to Lt. Col. Mike Berriman, his wife Heidi, and their two children for visiting Greencastle this past Friday. Col. Berriman was the guest speaker at ceremonies held at the Greencastle American Legion Post and broadcast live on WRGG.

Here’s my experience in knowing our veterans. You are or were family members, my school teachers, my athletic coaches, farmers, church leaders, doctors, nurses, factory workers, business owners, police officers, firefighters, political leaders (from members of borough council to presidents), friends, veterans’ organization leaders, civic organizers and great Americans. You fill in the veterans in your lives. Thank you for your military service and for serving our Greencastle community. Because of our veterans, we are so blessed.