Blairsville Borough Council unanimously approved two grant applications for playground and community center repairs and a road expansion project in a regular voting meeting tuesday.
Borough Manager Michael Baker worked with Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, to apply for a $150,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to expand Veterans Drive in west Blairsville.
“We already have a (grant) for this project for $100,000, and this is the second installment that Senator Pittman has told us about,” Baker said. “It is an amount of $150,000, and the borough would be the beneficiary. We would then provide that money to Trek Development, and Veterans Drive would be extended to accommodate their new build there. They’re adding 15 new duplexes up there, so we’re going to have to add a street…and expand Veterans Drive.
Baker will also apply for an 80/20 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by the Oct. 27 deadline to acquire money for repairs to the community center and playground.
“We have a number of things that we need to invest (the DCNR grant money),” Baker said. “The boiler needs to be replaced in the community center; it’s about $19,000, almost $20,000. In addition to this, the front door needs to be replaced. We have broken glass and windows. We could fix the floor in the gymnasium if we get the funding for it, and then in the playground there is equipment that is in poor condition that needs to be repaired or replaced.
Baker said depending on the amount of grant the borough receives, if any, it will need to work with the recreation department to prioritize how to allocate DCNR funding.
Also on Tuesday, Blairsville Police Chief Louie Sacco said he was trying to secure funding for new police radios and duty weapons for officers. The department’s current radios are outdated and no longer supported by the department’s technology, according to Sacco.
“Right now we’re working with Senator Pittman’s office … to replace our radios, which are badly needed,” Sacco said. “They don’t even make the radios we have anymore, and they won’t fix them if one breaks, and you’re probably looking at around $5,000 (per) portable radio.”
Sacco said other county departments were also struggling to secure funding for the radios. The Blairsville Police Department is looking to purchase 10 new portable radios and three mobile radios, with each portable radio costing more than $5,000, and the mobile radios costing even more, according to Sacco.
“There is (grant) money through PCCD and so on that we are looking at and I think we can qualify,” Sacco said. “One is (a) 100% (subsidy) which would cover the cost of replacing the radios, and the other is 80/20, which is 80% coverage and 20% match.”
The Blairsville Police Department is also looking to provide department-issued weapons to its officers, according to Sacco. Currently, Blairsville officers must carry their own weapons on duty, which Sacco wants to change. “I worked on funding for department-issued weapons,” Sacco said. “(Civilian property confiscation) is kind of what we’re looking at right now with our service weapons.”
In other news Tuesday, council members made a number of announcements, including:
• The Blairsville Borough Police Department has free COVID-19 test kits that residents can pick up at the department office. The department previously limited test kits to two per person, but after receiving a new shipment, residents can pick up up to five free test kits.
“You can get test kits (while supplies last,” Sacco said. “You don’t have to sign up, no questions asked. We just gave them to you. … But if you’re sick, don’t come in. We don’t want to get sick either, but have someone with no symptoms come in and get tested.
• East and West Market Streets will be closed and barricaded beginning approximately 5 p.m. Friday for the River Valley School District Homecoming Parade.
• The borough contracted with Harvey Paving and Excavating for $13,743 to carry out a parking project in front of the community centre.
• Blairsville received its second US bailout payment of $168,000, much of which will go towards stormwater and sewer projects, according to Baker.
• Trick-or-treat will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 30. Residents who wish to participate must turn on their porch lights to notify the trick-or-treaters.
• The Blairsville Fire Department has responded to 238 calls so far this year: 14 fires, 75 rescue, 21 hazard response, 75 service calls and 28 false alarms.
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