By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The Mercer County Regional Council of Governments is seeking $39,000 in state grants to help buy equipment for various public safety departments in the county.
James DeCapua, COG executive director, said $13,000 of that goal is already in place, if the state will allow COG to switch the purpose for which it was granted.
The department of community and economic development had previously approved a $26,000 grant to pay half the cost of buying four thermal imaging cameras in a joint buying project for Farrell, Greenville, Mercer County Emergency Management Agency and Sharon.
Only Farrell and Greenville went through with the project; the Emergency Management Agency and Sharon dropped out, DeCapua said. That left half of the grant -- $13,000 -- unused.
Request: The COG executive board authorized DeCapua on Wednesday to petition the agency for permission to use the money to help buy body armor for the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department and portable radios for Southwest Regional, Shenango Township and Findley Township.
Each project would get half of the $13,000.
DeCapua said the community development department has given him verbal approval for the plan.
The executive board then directed DeCapua to go after a $26,000 Community Revitalization Grant, also administered by the community development department, to reimburse Greenville and the Farrell Volunteer Fire Department for the local share they put up for the thermal imaging cameras. They contributed $6,500 each.
The remaining $13,000 of the second grant would be used for additional portable radios for various public safety departments in the county, DeCapua said.
Beach: In other business, the board authorized DeCapua to seek a $29,000 Community Development Block Grant to provide free access to Chestnut Run Swim Beach on Shenango River Lake for certain low- and moderate-income county residents.
The beach is on land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but is leased by Mercer County and run by COG.
The lease expired in November, and the county has declined to re-sign because it is reluctant to continue putting up $10,000 a year for its operation, DeCapua said.
That revenue could be replaced with the federal grant under a plan to provide free access to the beach to residents of government-subsidized housing in Pymatuning Township, Mercer and Wheatland, he said.
Under the plan, the $29,000 grant would pay for admission and bus transportation from designated housing project sites in those three municipalities to the beach and back for 10 weeks in the summer, he said.
CDBGs can be used to benefit only low- and moderate-income people, and Mercer County gets an annual CDBG allocation each year that it gives to various local projects.
DeCapua said COG's application will seek funds from that pot of money.