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City Council OKs vaccination awareness campaign

By MARK MARONEY

mmaroney@sungazette.com

City Council approved funding for A COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign for low to moderate income individuals and a renovated kitchen and outdoor play are at the YWCA

Skip Memmi, director of city economic and community development, presented a health and wellness projects proposal that gets funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The two public service projects were put into one resolution as they are drawn down from the same pot of COVID-19 CARES Act funding.

The first was the Williamsport Vaccination Awareness Campaign in the amount of $49,986.

That enables River Valley Health and Dental and STEP Inc. to development vaccine strategies.

The goal is to educate, through media outlets, about COVID-19 vaccines and identify the vaccination points, Memmi said.

“Any reading material will need to be approved by the city community and economic development department before it is released,” he said.

In addition to developing the campaign, STEP is assisting in the transportation to the site for low to moderate income individuals to receive their vaccinations.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz asked what percentage of people in the area needed to be vaccinated.

“Are we getting to the fullest amount?” she asked.

“There should be very few people not getting vaccinated at this point,” she said.

“I am hoping we have a city that is fully vaccinated and get back to close to normalcy at this point,” Katz said.

Katz asked Memmi whether the River Valley Health and Dental Center, STEP Inc. would be planning mobile vaccination stops, for individuals who are homebound.

Mayor Derek Slaughter said he could not speak for the agencies but said he spoke to them and said he was told they are looking to do mobile units and UPMC mobile units will go to homes and high rises.

The second project is for Williamsport YWCA in the amount of $40,000 for facility renovations.

“These renovations will assist abused children and battered spouses,” Memmi said.

They include finalization of the outdoor play area for children receiving YWCA service, he said.

A kitchen, where many families prepare meals, will be expanded to meet COVID-19 guidelines.

The program has $47,000 in matching dollars from “generous” donations to complete both projects, Memmi said.

Council also approved an amendment to the 2019 annual action plan.

It was for a requirement by Housing and Urban Development to accept a third round of Community Development Block Grant funds in the amount of $228,630.

These funds are for services, including but not limited to, economic sustainability and recovery, employment, education and recreation.

Katz said it will be interesting to see how this funding is going to be dispersed.

Council next approved CDBG Community Development funding from the CARES Act third round through HUD.

The action plan amendment was second item and that is where the funds will come from, Memmi said.

As part of the Williamsport Economic and Sustainability project, the city will receive $228,630 for multiple projects.

These projects will be to recover from the pandemic and to make the community as a whole more resilient for future pandemics and disasters, Memmi said.

Finally, council passed a resolution for fiscal year 2021 annual action plan for CDBG and HOME funding so the city can receive federal funding for afford housing and community development initiatives benefiting primarily low to moderate income residents.

The resolution passed was consistent with priorities and goals set for in fiscal year 2020 to 2024 consolidated plan.

The allocation is $1,048,338 for CDBG and $245,279, or a combined total of $1.2 million.

Memmi said his department did some research requested by the city finance committee after lower than expected population numbers were provided as a result of an American Community Survey.

According to the survey, which is not based on the Census 2020, the city has a population of 28,186 people, which was more than the prior documentation.

Population figures are used in calculations for receiving federal dollars.

Memmi re-introduced council to Chelsea Blair, formerly a city worker who did planning in the prior administration at City Hall.

Blair has taken the position of assistant director of the economic and community development department.

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