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Somerset County requesting more than $2 million for projects

November 28, 2018

Somerset County is requesting more than $2 million for infrastructure projects across the county.

During the commissioners meeting Tuesday, the board agreed to apply for $831,315 in entitlement funds through the Community Development Block Grant Program and $1.8 million from competitive CDBG programs.

The largest competitive application is for $1 million to install 12,000 feet of water main line to replace deteriorated pipe in Lower Turkeyfoot Township.

Somerset County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Steve Spochart said the line was installed in the late 1800s, and there are 42 households in the area.

“That water main is very old,” he said. “There is up to 50 percent water loss through that line.”

Spochart told state Sen. Pat Stefano, who was at Tuesday’s meeting for another matter, that any support would be appreciated.

“I don’t want to put you on the spot,” Spochart said.

Stefano said he has been talking to residents in that area and was aware of the water problem.

“I’ve been talking to the authority there, too,” he said.

The second competitive grant application is for $800,000 for the installation of a water main line for 11 customers along Coon Ridge Road in Conemaugh Township. Currently, there is no public water in the area. There are nine occupied homes and two vacant properties.

Commissioner John Vatavuk said that public water could raise the values of homes in that area.

“I think it would make it easier to have those occupied,” Vatavuk said.

Spochart said there is a stream crossing under Bens Creek and roadway bore under Somerset Pike.

“It gets expensive real fast,” he said.

The line would eventually be owned by the Greater Johnstown Water Authority, which is paying for the engineering.

“This project is already approved through 2016, 2017 and 2018 entitlement funding,” he said.

Spochart said the grant would allow them to use only their 2016 funding and reallocate other funding for other projects.

“We will keep our fingers crossed,” he said.

While the county waits to hear about the two grants, it will be submitting an application to the state Department of Community & Economic Development for entitlement community funds. The funding contracts should be released this spring.

“This is money the county is getting,” he said. “It is not competitive — it is formula based.”

The amounts are:

• Somerset County — $254,859. $208,985 to be split between a streetscape project in the 400 and 500 blocks of Diamond Street in Berlin Borough ($33,985) and a sewer project in the Broadway, North and 9th streets area in Meyersdale Borough ($175,000) with the remaining $45,874 for administration.

• Conemaugh Township — $120,018. $98,415 toward the Coon Ridge Road water project and $21,603 for administration.

• Jenner Township — $89,650. $73,513 toward the Village of Gray/Que Interconnect Water Project and $16,137 for administration.

• Somerset Borough — $110,380. $90,512 to be split between demolition and site clearance activities ($20,000) and housing rehabilitation ($70,512) and $19,868 for administration.

• Somerset Township — $166,604. $136,616 to be used for demolition and site clearance activities and $29,988 for administration.

• Windber Borough — $89,804. $73,640 to be split between demolition and site clearance activities ($20,000) and housing rehabilitation ($53,640) and $16,164 for administration.

In other business the commissioners approved the following personnel actions:

Resignations/separations from employment:

Area Agency on Aging: Jasmine Winebrenner, of Springs, food service worker I, effective Nov. 15.

Children & Youth Services: Brittany Henry, of Melcroft, caseworker II, effective Dec. 5.

County jail: Gabrielle White, of Somerset, and Brent Berish, of Central City, part-time correctional officer, effective Nov. 2.

Public Defender: John Harvey, of Friedens, investigator, effective Dec. 21.

Somerset district judge: Linda Kennell, of Somerset, clerk, effective Dec. 28.

New employees:

Area Agency on Aging: Rebecca Moore, of Berlin, clerk, $19,500, effective Dec. 10.

Adult probation: Justin Silvis, of South Fork, probation officer I, $27,239, effective Nov. 28.

Clerk of courts: Zora Naron, of Rockwood, clerk, $19,500, effective Dec. 3.

County jail: Sabrina Higgins-Kelly, of Somerset, part-time cook, $10.05 per hour, effective Nov. 27; Shaylea Weaver, of Champion, part-time cook, $10.05 per hour, effective Nov. 28.

Reassignments/promotions:

Tax assessment/Area Agency on Aging: Cynthia Wise, of Somerset, lateral transfer from clerk for tax assessment to clerk for the Area Agency on Aging at the same annual salary of $26,491, effective Dec. 10.

Area Agency on Aging: promote Amy Hankinson, of Friedens, from aging care manager II to aging care management supervisor at an annual salary of $28,300, effective Jan. 2.

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