Burns: Year-long effort, collaboration yield $55k in state grants

Reade, Patton, Cresson, Keystone Regional benefit

EBENSBURG, Aug. 16 – In a prime example of collaboration leading to success, state Rep. Frank Burns is announcing $55,000 in state grants to fund four projects, made possible through his partnership with the Johnstown-based 1889 Foundation.

Burns, D-Cambria, said since these small-scale projects don’t always qualify for other state aid, the situation required a persistent and creative approach that took more than a year and included $20,000 in additional help from the foundation.

“Because we worked together for the common good, these four projects will not meet the fate of falling between the funding cracks,” Burns said. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In this case, we had the collective will – and the 1889 Foundation was instrumental in helping find a way.”

Burns listed the grant recipients, amounts and projects as:

  • Keystone Regional Fire & Rescue Department -- $21,598 for purchase of a new generator for its fire hall.
  • Reade Township -- $18,120 for recreation area fencing.
  • Patton Park -- $9,440 for a security system for its park and swimming pool.
  • Cresson Lions Club -- $5,842 for a swimming pool water purification/chemical system.

Susan M. Mann, 1889 Foundation president, whose organization supports innovative programs and initiatives that improve and transform the health and wellness of the region, said its members were glad to partner with Burns to secure funds for these community organizations in northern Cambria County.

“Because we’ve developed a pretty good relationship with Representative Burns, he understands the 1889 Foundation and our mission, and felt it was a good fit for us,” Mann said. “He was able to connect those projects with the right areas of funding. He was really the connection that these small organizations needed.”

Mann said that after Burns contacted them about the need, the foundation agreed to be the required grant applicant, serving as an intermediary to disburse the funds, and also agreed to contribute $5,000 for each of the four projects – providing extra dollars to get them underway.

“This was a true partnership between local dollars and state dollars being able to make these projects happen for these smaller communities that sometimes don’t get a chance to get some of these grant funds,” Mann said, noting, “These grants probably wouldn’t have happened without the two of us working together.”

Confident in having done his part, Burns deferred to members of the benefitting organizations for additional comments:

Donna Dunegan, Patton Borough business manager

Dunegan said the park is “the jewel of our community” and it and its pool will now have a brand-new security system with multiple cameras to prevent vandalism and keep people safe.

“We are constantly in contact with Representative Burns, letting him know our needs for our facilities. We’ve been talking to him for over a year about this; it’s been a long time in the making. He helped us partner with the 1889 Foundation and they were wonderful to work with,” Dunegan said.

“Without that collaboration, none of us would have been able to get any grants … It always helps to get your (state) representative behind you. He’s always been willing to lend his support to us.

“Sometimes, you have to apply and apply and apply, because the funding agency thinks somebody else has more of a need. We were fortunate to get this the first time we applied.”

Perry Scarton, Cresson Lions Club immediate past president

Scarton, current vice president of the Lions’ Park Association, said the nonprofit organization’s civic project is its community swimming pool, which averages 75 visitors a day throughout summer. This grant will add a chemical monitoring system to keep the pool in a clean, sanitized condition at all times – and will save the club money over the long term through more efficient chemical use.

“With Frank’s help and with the 1889 Foundation’s help, we’re able to keep our swimming pool in a safe operating condition,” Scarton said. “We really work hard with local governments … everybody works together for the benefit of the citizens of the Cresson area.

“We’re just a small club that struggles year in and year out. Without the help of Frank and the 1889 Foundation – and Cresson Borough and Township – we wouldn’t be able to keep on operating. Everybody has a role to play. We’re so grateful for this. It might not be a large grant, but this $6,000 or $7,000 means everything to us. It really does.”

Eric Hott, Keystone Regional Fire & Rescue Department trustee

“We’re always appreciative of the state funding that Representative Burns has helped steer our way, and this time we welcome the involvement of the 1889 Foundation. Working with both of them – and using their combined expertise -- we were able to secure money for a much-needed generator,” Hott said.

Jim Igou, Reade Township supervisor

“Small-population townships like ours need help, too, but often get lost in the funding shuffle. Thanks to the efforts and know-how of Representative Burns and the willingness of the 1889 Foundation to share its expertise and make a financial contribution, we qualified for a grant to secure our recreation area with fencing,” Igou said.

Burns said the four grants were navigated through the Keystone Communities Program operated by the state Department of Community and Economic Development