June 10, 2021
Local municipalities anticipate COVID-19 rescue plan money
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
Boroughs and townships around the coverage area are waiting patiently for the arrival of the American Relief Funds promised by the federal government. On March 11, President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package into law — The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The relief package provides $360 billion for state and local governments, with Pennsylvania receiving $13.722 billion. The breakdown of the relief package shows that the state government will receive $7.5 billion, including a capital project commitment of $279 million. Sixty-six of 67 counties will split $2.8 billion, and municipalities with a population of more than 50,000 will receive $2.3 billion. Philadelphia County will receive in excess of $1 billion in funding. School districts across the country will receive separate amounts of American Rescue Plan funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also will provide Pennsylvania with $4.9 billion in emergency funding to support the long-term work of education recovery. Pennsylvania municipalities with a population of less than 50,000, which includes all townships and boroughs in the coverage area, will split $936 million. The funds, determined by population, for this area rank with a low of $13,248 for Cassandra Borough to a high of $562,855 for Cambria Township, with most
boroughs and townships falling somewhere inbetween. Half of the money for each municipality is estimated to arrive by the end of June. The second half of the funds will be allocated in 2022. Municipalities have until Dec. 31, 2024, to spend these funds. With all government funding, there are strings and limitations to the spending of these funds. There are four basic categories on which municipalities can spend the money. The first is for responding to the COVID-19 emergency or addressing its negative economic impacts. This spending could include non-reimbursed costs for responding to the COVID-19 crisis, as municipal governments were not eligible to receive Personal Paycheck Protection Grants provided to small businesses and nonprofits to offset the loss of income during the pandemic. The funding can also aid households, small businesses, nonprofits, and industries — like tourism and hospitality — to help address the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. Municipal funding can also be directed to volunteer fire departments and nonprofit ambulance companies. Municipal authorities are also eligible to received relief funding from their governing municipality. Secondly, municipal employees needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure and designated essential by the municipality during the pandemic may be eligible for premium pay. Premium pay cannot exceed $13 per hour or SEE MONEY, PAGE 2
Pauline Reese (center), an RN and paramedic with Ebensburg Area EMS, is presented with her name added to the Plaque of Honor by association president Randy Radebach (left) and association vice president Daniel Brodish. Reese is the first employee to have her name added to the plaque, which is typically reserved for members of the board of directors. Submitted photo.
Ready for the parade
Adelyn Hoffman and Karen Kordish wait for the start of Ebensburg Borough’s Memorial Day parade May 31. Photo by Allie Byers.
Ebensburg EMS paramedic Dennis Gresh displays the letter he received from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his and his wife’s work helping an overdose patient by administering naloxone and performing CPR. Submitted photo.
EAAA employees recognized during National EMS Week
By Allie Byers
of Mainline Newspapers
Two Ebensburg Area Ambulance Association employees were recognized during National EMS Week for their dedication and commitment to emergency medical services. Pauline Reese is a registered nurse, prehospital nurse and a paramedic for the Ebensburg Area Ambulance Association. She has worked for over 30 years as a public servant. Reese has been employed in the emergency department, specialized trauma services and other critical patient care areas of local hospitals and trauma centers, even going as far as serving as a flight nurse and ground critical care provider in local ambulance agencies.
Reese’s passion is to provide excellent and compassionate care. “Many words and thoughts come to my mind when I think of Pauline,” said Barry Blake, executive director of the Ebensburg Area Ambulance Association. “[She is] the most dedicated EMS professional I have ever known who truly and deeply cares about others and would certainly do anything within her means to better the life of a friend or stranger. And this, without any regard for herself or any repay expectations.” According to Blake, Reese will go out of her way to volunteer her time, spending countless hours at the ambulance station making sure opens shifts are covered. “Her humble approach and work ethic is impeccable and she is an employee that
every EMS administration would certainly want to have in their workforce,” Blake said. Reese is also the first employee to ever be added to the association’s plaque of honor, which was previously reserved for current and past board of directors members. Dennis Gresh was also honored for National EMS Week for his heroic action when he and his wife Amy, who is a registered nurse, were traveling through Winchester, Virginia. The duo stopped at Sheetz to put fuel into the vehicle when they were thrust into action with an unconscious overdose patient in the facility’s restroom. Both Dennis and Amy Gresh assisted police with airway control and nasal Narcan administration and
maintained patient care and stabilization prior to and through EMS’s arrival to the scene. “I find this so fitting and appropriate during EMS week to acknowledge these good people who, even on and off-duty time and with no obligation to do so, show the character of true medical professionals and the humanity to help those in need to matter the circumstance,” Blake said. The Greshes received an appreciation letter from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office thanking them for their heroic assistance. National EMS Week was celebrated May 16-22 and is a time to thank paramedics, EMTs and the entire EMS workforce for their service. EMS Week is a way to raise public awareness about the critical role of
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Mayor emeritus and Dauntless Fire Company life member Charles Moyer administers the oath of office to the 2021 Dauntless Fire Company officers. Submitted photo.
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$25,000 per worker. The third category is for the replacement of lost revenue from governmental services due to the COVID-19 emergency. Using 2019 as a base year, municipalities can determine if a decrease liquid fuels money, in real estate tax revenue or other fees resulted from the pandemic and use the American Recuse Plan funding to replace the lost income. The fourth category set under the funding act states that municipalities can make necessary water, sewer and broadband infrastructure investments, however, several municipalities have pointed out that the funding act item does not specify roads and bridges. The funds could be used to provide broadband for residents, such as a “hot spot” at municipal buildings or parks. Municipalities also can transfer funds to a municipal authority for one of these purposes. There are funding prohibitions, especially pointed, were that the
relief funding cannot be used for pension funds or to offset a tax reduction. The most significant string in this funding is that the U.S. Treasury Department has not provided any additional guidance on how the funding can be directed. Several municipalities have already opened separate bank accounts for the relief funds to make accounting and audit spending easier. There have been no
additional regulations issued on reporting expenditures other than the state requirement of periodic reports. The state is required to provide information to the U.S. Treasury Department on the use of the funds. With the lack of guidance and regulations, most municipalities are taking a cautious, careful and deliberate process to spend the relief money. 1 1 1
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Ebensburg Borough Council approves dog park easement
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By Kristin Baudoux
of Mainline Newspapers
Over the past couple years, the Ebensburg Rotary has been working closely with the Ebensburg Borough Council to establish a dog park in town. At the council’s May 24 meeting, the council made more steps toward making the dog park a reality. While most of the park is to be located on boroughowned property near Lake Rowena, a portion of the proposed park will fall on land owned by T5 Properties, also known as the Ebensburg Animal Hospital. T5 Properties has worked with the Rotary and agreed to allow an easement for the park. During the meeting, the council formally approved the easement for the amount of $1. A fence is to be erected along the boundary of the park and the easement, and the easement is revocable by T5 properties upon giving the borough a twoyear notice. If the easement is revoked, the fence will be moved and a part of the park would be lost. In addition, the Rotary and council are looking to obtain grants to build the park. One of these grants is through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The council approved a letter of commitment for the grant application. If the borough receives the grant, it will be responsible for 15 percent of the grant in matching funds. As for the borough’s special committees, the council accepted the resignation of Michael Bradley from the Ebensburg Planning Commission. The council is
in the process of finding a resident to fill the vacancy. Those interested in the position are asked to submit letters of interest for the council to review. On the recreation board, the council appointed Rory Coleman to fill the unexpired term of the late Charles Marcinko. Coleman’s term ends in December 2023. In street matters, the 2021 sidewalk project is on schedule for completion by July 31. Once the sidewalk project is complete the paving project will begin. Bids for the project are to be awarded at the June 28 council meeting. The council also approved the purchase of audible signals for the crosswalk of Center and High streets for $7,787.50. Police chief Terry Wyland also reminds drivers that more children will be outside, since schools are starting to end for summer break. Wyland reminds drivers to use caution, especially in residential neighborhoods where children may be playing. In a final matter, the council advised recreation director Dirk Johnson to allow anyone access to the Ebensburg Swimming Pool this summer. Last year, the board limited access to those who lived in the boundaries of the Central Cambria School District to limit the number of people at the facility to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All capacity restrictions for Pennsylvania lifted as of May 31. Those attending the pool using a one-day pass will be asked to provide contact information, in case an outbreak or other emergency were to occur.
Portage Township Supervisors hear solar farm concerns from residents
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Line Newspapers
Several residents of the Germantown portion of Portage Township attended the township supervisors’ meeting June 2 to air various concerns about the start of clearing operations for the more than 400 acres of land planned for Competitive Power Ventures’ (CPV) solar farm. Before the property was sold to CPV, the former owner clearcut all the timber for the property. To clear the remaining limbs and fallen wood pieces, CPV has been burning piles of the remains, which the residents were most upset about. Additionally, supervisor Jeff Kostan acknowledged that several calls were made to the Portage Volunteer Fire Company about the burning operations as possible brush fires. One resident complained about the media release that portrayed the land as a former coal strip and timberland. Chairman Benjamin Selapack said that his words were that the land was a coal mine and stripped timber land. Several slope coal mines from the 1900s to the ‘50s were located on the northwest side of the solar farm property that abuts the Puritan Road side. “We did not want a new use for the ‘coal strip property,’” the resident explained. Selapack explained that the supervisors could not tell people what to do with their property as there are no zoning ordinances in the township. Continuing, Selapack said the supervisors are happy that new businesses are coming to the township, indicating the fiscal benefits of new income from property taxes to help the township provide services to its residents. Another concern was the lack of a visual buffer between residential properties and the proposed solar farm location for energy collectors. The former owner removed the trees right up to the property line. A resident had discussed this with a representative from CPV, who
indicated the supervisors did not negotiate for a tree buffer. The Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection only requires a vegetation buffer such as grass for water runoff control purposes around the perimeter. The supervisors said they will discuss a tree buffer with CPV. There was no mention of residents planting their own tree buffer to block the visual line of sight. In other matters, the supervisors appointed Shawn McCoy to the Tri-Township Water Authority as recommended by the authority to fill an open seat.
Tri-Township Water Authority serves portions of Portage, Summerhill and Croyle townships. The township is also anticipating receiving $331,900 from the American Rescue Act for COVID-19 relief. The amount is based on population and is split into two payments, one this year and the second in 2022. The use of the funding is limited, and it cannot be used to offset a tax reduction or road paving projects. The exact date the funding will be received has not been determined, but it is expected to arrive within the month.
Cambria Township plans for Colver park upgrades
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By Kristin Baudoux
of Mainline Newspapers
During a pre-construction bid meeting May 21, the Cambria Township Supervisors reviewed the plans to make upgrades to A.D. Martin Park in Colver in the coming weeks. The work involves removing the existing trails and pathways and replacing about half of the paths with 6 foot wide,
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible, asphalt paths. These paths will connect from the parking lot to the flagpole, playground, basketball court and pavilion. “Everything will be upgraded to ADA standards,” township engineer Jack Schaffer said. In addition, a new ADA-accessible pathway will extend from the parking lot
past the swing sets to the tennis courts. The parking lot is also slated to be paved and equipped with one handicap-accessible parking space as well as four additional parking spaces. Once the paving is completed, areas disturbed will be restored and reseeded. The pre-construction bid meeting allows contractors to view the construction plans and the site prior to providing
a bid for the project. These upgrades are funded through Community Development Block Grant funds. These funds are provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide decent housing and a sustainable living environment and expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderateSEE PARK, PAGE 7
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Opening of safety crosswalk
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held June 3 to celebrate the opening of the Syberton Road Pedestrian Crossing Project in Loretto. The project began April 12 through a grant obtained by Loretto Borough. Commissioner Scott Hunt, Brian Smith of Keller Engineering Inc., Basilica of St. Michael pastor Fr. John Byrnes, St. Michael Catholic School principal Rhonda Seymour, state Rep. Frank Burns, president county commissioner Tom Chernisky, commissioner B.J. Smith, liaison for state Sen. Wayne Langerholic Jim Miliauskas and PennDOT representative John Pecze cut the ribbon to open this important safety project to provide a dedicated pedestrian crossing on Syberton Road. Photo by Ron Portash.
Ashville’s Mary Lidwell honored at Memorial Day ceremony
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By Kristin Baudoux
of Mainline Newspapers
When one hears about World War II, one often thinks of the servicemen who fought overseas in the European and Pacific theatres. However, during the war, women also played a vital part in the victory efforts, both on the Homefront and in the service as well. Over 350,000 women served in the U.S. Military during World War II in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), the Navy’s Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES), the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Army and Navy Nurse Corps and the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), according to the National World War II Museum. In addition, more than 310,000 women worked as
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income persons. The supervisors hope to complete the park work in phases if possible to keep the park open during construction. The benches around the flagpole are to be removed and replaced as a separate project to be completed by the township. Bids for the project are to be opened May 27 at 8:30 a.m. at the Cambria County Redevelopment Authority office on Candlelight Drive in Ebensburg, and the contract is to be awarded Thursday, June 10. During the supervisors’ regular meeting held May 19, the supervisors also held a public hearing for two property owners requesting a zoning change. The owners, Dale and Amy Stormer and Susan Stormer, wish to change the zoning of their property from open space to agricultural. Both property owners have farms on their property, but the farms were established prior to the zoning change and were “grandfathered in.” According
“Rosie the Riveters.” These women took traditionally male jobs in factories and shipyards to make aircraft, ships and other necessities for the war effort. One of those women who served at this crucial time was Ashville’s Mary Lidwell, who was honored at Ashville’s Memorial Day Service May 31. Lidwell was presented with a plaque for her service, and accepted it on behalf of all women, both in the service and on the Homefront, during World War II. Lidwell, 98, joined the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve when she was 19. At the time, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was highly selective and only accepted about 20,000 recruits. After attending boot camp at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., she was stationed at Marine Corps Air
to Susan Stormer, the property was zoned agricultural prior to its change in 2013 to open area. “I’m asking you to put it back the way it was,” Susan Stormer said. Unlike open space zoning, agricultural zones permit land owners to keep livestock on the property and use the land for
Station El Toro in California, where she spent her years in the service repairing and maintaining military aircraft. After her time in the service, she retuned to Ashville, where she married and raised a family. “I’m very honored,” Lidwell said upon receiving the award. Presenting the award to her was her grandson, Matthew Lidwell, a Navy veteran who served two deployments on the USS Normandy during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. “She was one of the original Rosie the Riveters and part of the Greatest Generation,” Matthew Lidwell said of his grandmother. Her daughter, Amy Lego, a member of the VFW Auxiliary, was also present for the ceremony honoring her mother. She said it
agricultural purposes. The properties in question are adjacent to agricultural land as well. Township zoning officer Terry Shulsky said there should be no issues with changing the zoning of the property. The supervisors had no issues with changing the properties’ zoning and passed an amend-
took some convincing for her mother to accept the honor. Lego said her mother was always humble about her service, and didn’t want to take away from the valor of those who had served in combat overseas. However, Lego said her mother would accept the plaque on one condition. “She wanted to accept this on behalf of all women who served in anyway,” Lego said. Following the ceremony, many of those in attendance stopped to greet Lidwell and thanked her for her service to the country. In addition to Lidwell, the VFW Post also recognized Charles Samas. Samas, from Lancaster, served on the USS Maddox, a destroyer that was sunk in World War II that took the life of Dysart native Louie Benzie. Samas received the honor to serve as the honorary parade marshal.
ment to change the zoning map to be approved at the supervisors’ next meeting scheduled for June 16. The supervisors are also working on creating a safe exchange zone next to the township building located on Municipal Road. Safe exchange zones are areas where people can meet to pick
up items purchased online through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or areas that can be used for child custody drop offs. The areas will be monitored 24/7, allowing people to exchange goods in a safe, public environment. The safe exchange zone should be ready for use soon.
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