Officials OK grant for flood damage

Five Centre properties to receive federal aid

BELLEFONTE — Five properties that were damaged by the October 2016 flooding in Centre County will be receiving assistance from the federal government.

On Tuesday morning, the Centre County Board of Commissioners approved the grant award agreement between the county and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for a total of $152,996.25 in assistance from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. In addition, the commissioners approved emergency permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for water and stream encroachments for the project.

The total cost of the project is $203,995, with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection funding the remaining 25 percent that the federal grant does not cover, according to Commissioner Mark Higgins.

According to Bob Sweitzer, manager of the county conservation district, there will be bid-letting for the three individual projects, one that will cover two properties in Coleville, one that will cover two properties in Julian and one that will cover one property in Howard Township. If the bid amounts come in higher than the cost estimates, there will be the option to apply for more federal assistance. However, the cost estimates that were submitted are believed to be adequate, Sweitzer added.

At a previous meeting, Sweitzer explained that the grant covers flood-affected properties that are located within 50 feet of a stream. After an evaluation of 16 properties that were impacted by last year’s flooding, these five were found to qualify for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

In other business, the Philipsburg Business Incubator has gained a new tenant and its capacity is now at half full. The newest tenant for the county-supported incubator is Fire Pit BBQ, a business which will start out by selling BBQ sauces of varying flavors and will later smoke a broad variety of meats and vegetables. Fire Pit BBQ is hoping to open a retail establishment in the greater Philipsburg area in the near future, Higgins said.

The Philipsburg incubator now has quite the range of startup businesses. Its first tenant, Jade A Consulting, moved into the 220 N. Front St. space last fall, and it does computer consulting and project management for larger companies and health care firms, according to Higgins.

There are now an average of 150 companies that start up in the county each year, with many different types of businesses, thanks to the six business incubators throughout the county. These incubators are fortunate to have the additional aid of the Penn State Small Business Development Center and the SCORE organization to help with business plans and all of the paperwork that is necessary to start a business, Higgins said.

“We’re all working together very well to further job creation in Centre County,” he said.

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