The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed in 2009 and extended with additional funding in 2012, provided $840 billion in stimulus funding to mitigate the effects of the 2008 financial crash.
The funding, according to www.recovery.gov, the government website dedicated to tracking and providing information on the funds, was designed to “create new jobs and save existing ones, spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth and foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending.”
The funding was not, in most cases, provided as direct federal grants, but was allocated to individual agencies for program funding and then dispersed at the local level.
Warren County organizations have received $18,181,431 worth of grants in 28 different awards thus far.
By far the biggest local recipient under the act has been the Warren County School District (WCSD). The district has received more than $6.8 million through three grant allocations.
The district’s largest award was an approximately $5.859 million grant of state fiscal stabilization funds. Funds provided seven kindergarten teachers, kindergarten classroom supplies, various teaching positions throughout the district, SMART Boards for classrooms, Destiny library software, computer replacement, a window replacement project, renovation of the Warren County Career Center welding lab, Internet, LAN/WAN connectivity for the district, purchase of inquiry-based science materials, medical assistance aides, tuition reimbursement for teachers, half of a guidance position serving the alternative education program, substitute teachers, general repairs in district buildings, dual enrollment opportunities for students, transportation for dual enrollment students, assistive technology supplies, equipment for special education classrooms, printers, special education classroom supplies, Read 180 intervention program, dropout prevention programming, clinical services for special education students, professional development for special education staff, testing materials for special education.
An additional $770,658 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Education provided funding for “supplemental instructional programs and support,” under Title I, for students at risk of not meeting academic standards.
The district also received $219,000 from the Department of Education for technology improvements. Funds provided, SMART Boards, computers and projects in all science classrooms, and professional development on integration of technology for grades 9 through 12 science teachers.
The Warren Forest Economic Opportunities Council (EOC) received the second largest total amount of funding, a little over $3.5 million.
The lion’s share of it was earmarked to help provide energy cost reductions for low-income households through the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program.
“The big number,” EOC Executive Director Robert Raible said, “was weatherization for Venango, Forest and Warren counties. That money all went to weatherization.
“(It required) a lot of training, everyone needed to be certified. The contractors needed to be certified. We needed to hire extra auditors and inspectors. We hired extra contractors. We used local contractors.”
In all, the funds provided for weatherization of 402 homes.
An additional $449,664 funded a community services block grant which largely went toward the Focus on Forest Futures program, which provides programs for low-income youth.
Finally, $100,926 went to fund cost of living adjustments for Head Start programs over two and a half years.
“We hired staff internally to do some financial literacy programs and to do some housing for us,” Raible recalled. “We hired someone to do work readiness, for preparing people… to get a job.
“All that money is gone. It (the stimulus) was meant to get the money out there… Unfortunately, the economy didn’t pick up and we ended up laying people off. We expanded and then contracted.”
Approximately $2.7 million went to fund Pennsylvania Department of Transportation projects in the county.
The Transit Authority of Warren County (TAWC) received a little more than $2 million in funding.
According to TAWC Director John Aldrich, “We utilized all of these funds for Phase II of our transit facility project.”
The project phase included construction of bus wash and maintenance bays and rehabilitation of the second floor, which now houses the Allegheny Community Center under a lease to Experience, Inc.
The Student Conservation Association, Inc., received just over $1 million for Allegheny National Forest improvement projects in and around Warren County.
The Housing Authority of Warren County received $474,837 in capital improvement funding.
The Brokenstraw Valley Area Authority through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s PA Conservation Works program received $469,130. The program allocates grant funding for entities that will save or conserve a minimum of 25 percent of energy used.
The County of Warren, as an entity, itself received $439,138 through seven grants.
It received $153,800 through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to administer homeless prevention and rapid-rehousing programs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare awarded the county $90,849 for early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
The county received one allocation of $80,746 and another of $25,914 through the ARRA Child Care Development Fund which funds Keystone Babies program projects to improve access for low-income infants and toddlers to the state child care assistance program the fund also helps with staff qualification and professional development.
The county received $80,320 to allocate in Community Development Block Grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency allocated $4,735 to the county through the Justice Assistance Grant program which funds crime control programs based on local need.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture allocated $2,774 to the county through a program to pay costs of distribution of foods donated to the Emergency Food Assistance Program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission received $250,000 for work on Dunham Siding Road.
The City of Warren received $189,528 through two allocations.
Of that, $93,960 was allocated to the city through the Community and Economic Development Grant program for infrastructure work.
The city received one grant for $76,930 to fund implementation of an automated records management system and $18,638 was allocated to the city toward the purchase of a new vehicle.
Experience Inc. received two grants totaling $84,061.
Of that, $43,694 was provided through the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to fund nutrition services in congregate facilities. Specifically, according to Experience Inc. Director Farley Wright, the money was used for equipment and furnishings at the Allegheny Community Center.
An additional $40,367 was used toward funding two hybrid vehicles to be used for home delivered meals, according to Wright. The Department of Aging stipulated the funding was to be used toward providing home-based meals for seniors.
Tidioute Community Charter School received $37,784 to implement instructional programs for students at risk of not meeting academic standards.