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Agency offered grants to beautify downtown Connellsville

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

Following on the heels of the successful sign/awning/facade program in 2011, downtown Connellsville is offering a second round of beautification projects.

“We have $8,000 available. It's a matching-grant program,” said Michael Edwards, executive director of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority.

Merchants planning to spend at least $1,000 on sign upgrades can qualify for up to $500, Edwards said on Wednesday.

Facade improvements can be reimbursed up to $1,000, if the business spends at least $2,000.

“If they want to (improve) their facade or awning or paint the building, the grant will pay up to $1,000 of that, per building,” Edwards said. “They first have to be approved through us before doing any work.”

He said there is no deadline.

“As we get applications, (the design committee) will review them until the funding runs out,” Edwards said.

Eligible properties must be within the downtown area.

Edwards said a map indicating boundaries is available on the downtown Connellsville website.

Applications are available at the redevelopment authority office at 124 W. Crawford Ave.

Two years ago, businesses sprucing up their exterior appearances through the program included Lizza's Eye Care, DeMuth Florist, Salvatore's Sewing Center, Riverwalk Antiques, Donna Evans Realty and Tina's Hair Nook.

Downtown Connellsville is a locally funded effort, Edwards said.

Nearly 90 organizations, businesses, churches and community members have contributed to the initiative. The goals are making the business area more pedestrian- and visitor-friendly.

Approximately $120,000 was raised through pledges.

“Contributions came from people who wanted to see this initiative,” Edwards said. “It's the fourth year of the program, and we have designated $8,000 in each of those years for a project.” The beautification funding in 2012 went toward the purchase of benches, planters and trash receptacles for Crawford Avenue.

The Redevelopment Authority oversaw a similar project last year along Pittsburgh Street.

“This is all part of the continuing beautification of the downtown area,” Edwards said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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