AROUND THE SOUTH
Washington County gets housing funding
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency approved recipients of funding for projects to improve the availability and affordability of housing in the Marcellus Shale region of the state.
Washington County was among the major beneficiaries of the funding, being made available through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund and Marcellus Shale impact fees.
A total of $7.6 million is being distributed for 25 housing projects in 19 Pennsylvania counties, including $625,000 to Washington County. That funding will be used by the city of Washington for low-income housing tax credits at the Washington Trust Building.
Greene County is in line to receive $600,000 earmarked for the borough of Waynesburg to offer low-income housing tax credits at the Gateway Senior Housing plan.
With more gas wells than any other county in the state, Bradford County will receive the most funding at $1.275 million.
"Natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has not only provided an economic boost, but the impact fees collected from drilling companies can now be put to work improving the availability and quality of housing for residents in the impacted region," said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Brian A. Hudson Sr.
"The application process for this funding has been guided by local communities telling us the best approaches for investing this funding to improve housing in their towns and counties. We did a lot of listening to arrive at this outstanding group of award recipients, and I think this money can do a lot of good to improve the availability of quality, affordable housing in these affected communities."
A table of recipients for the PHARE and Marcellus Shale impact fee funding is available on the PHFA website at www.phfa.org.
Spelling bee set for tonight
For the past five years the Rotary Club of Bethel Park has given each of the district's third-graders a copy of Webster's Dictionary. Tonight the organization will provide students the perfect opportunity to use their new reference tool: The first third-grade Rotary Club Spelling Bee is set for 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Independence Middle School on Bethel Church Road.
Of the district's 295 third-graders, 90 have signed up to participate,
"This is three times more than I expected," said Rotary coordinator Bonnie Pierce.
Toys R Us gift cards go to the top three spellers; all will receive a ribbon.
"I tried to think of something that would make it worth the effort of studying so hard and participating," Ms. Pierce said. She approached the district with the idea for the districtwide spelling bee and Dorothy Stark, director of elementary education and principal at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School welcomed the idea.
Study word lists are posted on the district's website.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for kids to spend some time on their academic work and get validation," Ms. Stark said.
The local Rotary, organized 17 years ago, also gives scholarships each year to Bethel Park seniors based on community service.
• Getrude Matshe, an inspirational speaker, poet, and author will speak on "The Power of One" at 9:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Otterbein Room at Christ United Methodist Church, 44 Highland Road. The program is free.
Ms. Matshe said that "living in Africa prepares you to live anywhere" and said she speaks as the voice of a typical African woman." She is a director of three corporations, one of which is Africa Alive Education, a program that provides safe homes and education for children who have lost their families to AIDS.
More units OK'd for housing plan
Council voted Monday to approve 12 additional housing units in the Jefferson Estates housing plan on Dana Drive. Developer is Zokaites Properties.
Council Vice President James Weber, who conducted the meeting, said he voted against the extension to the existing plan last month because of residents' concerns about on-street parking and more vehicles in the area.
But the developer offered a bond for paving, he said. The developer also met all the borough codes, and would likely have challenged the borough in court, he said.
Council made these appointments: David Kostanich and Maryjay Rush, civil service commission; Derek Reckard, Christopher J. Haynes, Pervaiz Alvi, planning commission; Thomas Drnach and Holly Schrum, library board; Douglas Wildman, vacancy board; Melissa Steffey, recreation board.
STEEL VALLEY SCHOOLS
District looks at security
An elementary school boy who was supposed to be going to the bathroom instead walked out of Barrett Elementary School Tuesday, school officials confirmed Tuesday night .
Directors said that the boy walked through an unsecured emergency door onto an alley behind the school.
Superintendent Ed Wehrer said he was found about 20 minutes later. He said the boy's classroom teacher noticed he was missing. District officials wouldn't reveal the boy's age.
"It was my understanding we were going to put alarms on those doors," school Director Susan Ballas said.
School board President Beth Cannon said at Franklin Primary Center, when the door opens, an alarm sounds.
"We have to work on getting that in all our buildings," she said.
In response to a question from Munhall resident Donna Dreshman, Mr. Wehrer said Tuesday that a decision has not been made to close the Franklin center. But the board will consider closing the school as part of deliberations over the budget, he said.