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Infrastructure projects get boost from state grants

Two projects in Jackson Township will benefit from more than $1.8 million in grant funding from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The funding, announced Friday, includes a $1 million grant to The Buncher Company for its Jackson Pointe Project and $811,250 for the Community Development Corporation of Butler County to complete Phase 2 of the construction of a new fire station for Harmony and neighboring communities.

The grants are intended to promote regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects, according to the state government website.

The grant awarded to The Buncher Company is for Phase 1A of a project to include the installation of infrastructure that will allow the company to expand its presence in Jackson Township, a news release said. The company did not reply to requests for comment.

According to Greg Such, who serves as Harmony Borough Council president, the grant for the fire district can help establish a new fire station without risking too much debt.

Ground on the station is expected to be broken before the end of the year.

“All of these fire departments and local EMS services are struggling financially, so any help they can get is huge,” he said, referring to emergency medical services that people also count on during health crises.

The project also will outfit a new station for Harmony Fire District, which will help bolster response times for firefighters, improve staffing among first responders and better support other services, Harmony Fire District President Kevin Behun said.

The Harmony Fire District serves the boroughs of Harmony and Zelienople, and Jackson and Lancaster townships.

Behun said that while the money can go only toward the actual construction of a new fire station for Harmony, the fire district can then seek reimbursement to cover costs for its services.

“That reimbursement now, of knowing that our long-term loan on this building is decreasing by $811,000, allows us to focus some of those future funds into other areas that are needed — such as apparatus replacement, equipment replacement, solving our staffing problems” and similar projects, he said.

“The additional funds that we receive from the state allow us to focus on the entirety of the purpose of the fire district,” he said. “And continu(e) to fulfill our mission of serving the community.”

Behun stressed that the funds take some of the pressure off of “only focusing on building the building at hand.”

He said building costs have climbed more during the last year than at any other time he can remember. Projected costs for a new fire engine and other fire district expenses have risen, too, he said.

Greg Such said the grants are basically Community Development grants. Zelienople has used other Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants to fund its Main Street modernization program, and Harmony has used a portion of other such grants to upgrade Harmony Square’s sidewalks, curbs and drains, he said.

“So the grants are obviously important,” he said. “It’s work that could not be done without that assistance.”

The Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that fosters economic development throughout the county, played a key role in helping to procure the grant for the borough.

“The Harmony Fire District appreciates the community support that we have that has gone into supporting these grant programs, direct donations and the overall goodwill of the community to ensure that we are able to adequately protect those we serve,” Behun said. “None of this would be possible without the support of our residents.”

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