CLARION – A Clarion County library is getting some financial help for much needed roof repairs thanks to a new county-funded loan program.
At their meeting Tuesday morning, Commissioners Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley approved an application submitted by the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library in Rimersburg for $10,000 in financial assistance through the Clarion County loan program, a new funding initiative that offers interest-free loans to nonprofits and other county organizations in need of financial assistance for projects.
“It’s a new program that we initiated a couple of months ago,” Tharan explained of the Clarion County Loan Program, noting that the county set aside $100,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to start-up the program.
According to county officials, the loans are available to municipalities, 501(c)3s, authorities, fire and ambulance services and “other entities that are located in Clarion County and serve Clarion County residents.” All loans are granted to recipients interest free for four years in allotments of up to $10,000.
“We had to set a limit because we didn’t know how much money we were going to have or how many people were going to take advantage of it,” Tharan said.
He pointed out that the idea for a loan program actually originated three or four years ago when the county provided financial help to the West Freedom Water Authority in Perry Township.
“We thought that if we did it as an interest free loan, that same money would keep coming back and could help people four, five, six or 10 years down the road,” Tharan said, noting that the commissioners decided to resurrect the loan program in recent months when it was determined that ARP funds could be used as lost revenue.
“What’s nice about it is that we didn’t just spend the money,” he continued, adding that the interest free loans not only help out the recipient, but provide an advantage to the county as a whole. “As they pay it back we’ll have a continual program to keep working with.”
When it comes to applying for the loans, officials said that eligible organizations should email the county a description of the project for which they are seeking funding to start the process.
While there are certain rules and regulations outlined for which organizations are granted loans, county officials said the biggest stipulation is that potential recipients must exhaust all other available funding avenues before applying for the Clarion County Loan Program.
“We don’t want to take the place of a bank,” Brosius said. “If they were disapproved by everyone else, we’re here to help.”
Such was the case with the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library in Rimersburg who approached the county for funding after a failed attempt to procure grant money in 2019.
“The library explored a USDA Rural Development grant when we knew a few areas of the roof were leaking,” library director Rachel Campbell said. She noted, however, that the library was unable to obtain the 45 percent matching funds for the grant. “Soon after, the pandemic hit, and we continued to investigate funding sources as we monitored the condition of the roof.”
Campbell explained that while the building’s main shingled roof was replaced in 2002 or 2003, the flat, rubber membrane roof on the back of the library has never been replaced.
“It’s only been repaired with temporary patches since the building’s construction in 1968,” she said, explaining that Switzer Roofing of Sligo began work on the roof in January as weather permitted. When the weather allows, Campbell said, work will resume on the shingled roof, while work on the rubber roof will have to wait for warmer temperatures.
The total cost of the roof project is $28,000, according to Campbell. And in order to cover the cost, the library and its Friends group have been hosting various fundraisers over the last couple years.
She said the $10,000 loan from the county will enable the library to continue working toward obtaining matching funds to cover any remaining costs.
• Approval was given to Resolution No. 4 of 2022, which fixes Jan. 15 as the deadline for county tax collectors to turn in delinquent taxes.
• The commissioners also approved Resolution No. 5 of 2022, adopting and approving the county’s updated 2022 Comprehensive Plan dated Feb. 7.
• County officials approved the following pay for on-call deputy coroners: chief deputy coroner — $190 per mobile call-out, and $80 per day for phone on-call with an additional $110 if a mobile call-out is required on the same day. Deputy coroners — $160 per mobile call-out, and $80 per day for phone on-call with an additional $80 if a mobile call-out is required on the same day.
• A contract was approved with CBF Contracting Inc. of Sligo to replace an exterior door at the Clarion County Jail at a cost of $9,905. The cost of the door will be paid using the jail’s pass through account.