burrell township bldg sign

BLACK LICK — The hungry people of Burrell Township and the thirsty people of Campbells Mill and Falling Run roads will benefit from government grants as decided Thursday by the township board of supervisors.

Township leaders decided at a public hearing to earmark $55,500 of a community-development block grant awarded for pandemic-related purposes to the Indiana County Community Action Program food bank, with the proviso that the cash be spent in Burrell Township.

It’s a sum that officials said would make a dent in ICCAP’s recently spiraling caseload that now has reached 5,000 people in the county.

At the same time, the supervisors reaffirmed that the township’s 2020 share of traditional CDBG funds, about $96,000 before administrative costs, would be spent to extend public water service by the High Ridge Water Authority to a few dozen properties in the Falling Run and Campbells Mill roads area.

Supervisors Larry Hill, Dan Shacreaw and John Shields met at the township office in Black Lick and virtually with LuAnn Zak, at the Indiana County Office of Planning & Development in Indiana, online with the Zoom app.

The special grant called CDBG-CV is conditional, a sum intended to benefit qualifying low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

“It can only be used for eligible CDBG activities that are for the prevention, to prepare for or to respond to the pandemic,” Zak said.

One set of limits is replaced by another. No money could be spent on infrastructure or housing improvement, but all could be put toward public services, she said.

“There are too many strings, not much you can do with it,” Shacreaw said.

Zak said many other municipalities have decided to give their CDBG-CV funds to food banks.

The regular annual CDBG grant would complete the funding for the waterline project.

Whether the township will be eligible for more grants in support of water or sewage service improvements after this year is uncertain.

With a population of 4,393 in 2010, Burrell Township was one of three municipalities that qualified for an automatic annual grant. But apparent population losses, particularly of students who attended the WyoTech automotive trades school, have local and county leaders worried that the U.S. census won’t show Burrell with 4,000 people needed to remain entitled to a block grant every year.

Zak and the supervisors encouraged township residents who have not yet done so to complete and return their 2020 census forms.

Leaders of the other entitlement communities — Indiana Borough and Center Township — meet next week to decide how to spend their CDBG-CV grants: Indiana at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and Center Township at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Center Township officials, who also have been concerned with missing the 4,000 population threshold this year, also have been strongly encouraging residents’ participation in the U.S. census to assure an accurate count. The township had 4,764 people in 2010.