campaign election vote casting ballot

Rumor stifling had a place on the agenda for the bimonthly meeting of the Indiana County board of commissioners on Wednesday.

No, voters won’t get more than one ballot.

No, the polling places won’t all be closed.

Chief clerk Robin Maryai, reporting on behalf of the county voter registration office, told an online audience of county officials and residents that political activists have begun direct mail appeals to registered voters in the county and some of the ads have false information.

“The opportunity is there if a voter chooses to vote using a mail-in ballot, but it is the voters’ choice as to whether you want to go to the polls or you want to vote using mail-in ballots,” she said.

One of the mailings says a shortage of poll workers will mean the voting places will be closed.

“That is false information,” Maryai said.

Voters who have requested to vote as absentees need not apply again. Any who apply for more than one would be flagged by the system.

“Two applications cannot be processed for one voter,” she said. “Only one ballot will be mailed out … at the beginning of October.’

The deadline to vote is the same: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, for voters who go to the polls and for those who return the ballots they get by mail.

Anyone with questions should contact the voter registration office at (724) 465-3852, Maryai said.

In other business Wednesday, the commissioners:

• Agreed to accept an award of $1.353 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration to be offered in loans to local small businesses for their response and recovery from losses attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This new revolving loan fund would be available to small businesses for their response to the unusual and compelling urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Byron Staffer, executive director of the planning office. “The EDA invited us to apply for a single supplemental financial assistance award to alleviate sudden and severe economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Indiana County.”

Stauffer said the county is not intending to compete against commercial banks by creating the new loan fund, and that businesses could contact the planning office or Indiana County Center for Economic Operations to apply for funds and learn about other sources of aid.

“People go to banks to borrow money because that’s where the money is,” Stauffer said. “Typically banks don’t do 100 percent of a project, so that money has to come from somewhere. And if a business does not have the equity or other funding, then our program supplements what a bank might do. The county’s low-interest revolving loan funds would subordinate, or take a second lien position behind a bank.”

• Authorized the administration to accept a grant of $30,000 of CARES Act funding through Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport. The award required no match of local funds, Maryai said. Intentions for the funds were not disclosed.

• Approved a series of agreements with local officials in Indiana Borough, Center Township and Burrell Township for the acceptance and expenditure of ordinary community development block grant funds for 2021 and special CDBG grants for expenses connected with the COVID-19 pandemic in those municipalities.

LuAnn Zak of the Office of Planning and Development said the county faces a deadline of Aug. 31 to report the beneficiaries of CDBG-CV funds, and a deadline of Oct. 28 to decide on the community improvement projects intended for the following year.

• Approved a change order with Mid State Construction to deduct $2,005.87 from the Alice Paul House construction project for the elimination of gable end trim work from the front of the building.

• Ratified a series of documents declaring the commissioners’ oversight and pledges of cooperation for reporting annual CDBG awards and spending.

• Designated Lisa Spencer, executive director of Indiana County Department of Human Services, as the coordinator to document the county’s compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

• Adopted a resolution naming Maryai, the chief clerk, as the county’s coordinator of compliance with federal regulations under Section 504.

• Appointed Zak and David Morrow as the officers responsible for the county’s compliance with underlying regulations concerning labor standards and environmental review connected with CDBG grant awards.

• Named Zak as the procurement policy plan coordinator to assure compliance with recent revisions in federal grant program guidelines in the CDBG entitlement communities.

• Approved a contract with the commonwealth for an award of $300,000 through the HOME program to assist permanently disabled residents with accessibility and modifications enabling the residents to remain in their homes and to improve their quality of life.

• Approved a series of contracts between Indiana County Children and Youth Services and various program and service providers for 2020-21 including Alice Paul House, C.A. Hughes and Associates, Dr. John Carosso, Grand Beginnings Child Care Center, Grow ‘N Learn Child Care, Indiana Health Physicians Services, Terry O’Hara, Unity Family Services and Family Care for Children & Youth.