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Carnegie library in Connellsville gets $150,000 state grant

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

The 110-year-old Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville received some very sweet news on Valentine's Day — a $150,000 Keystone Grant.

“Teeter Associates Inc. helped with the writing of the grant,” library director Casey Sirochman said. “The Greensburg business also fundraises for entities such as the nonprofit Carnegie Free Library, contacting various Pittsburgh foundations.”

Sirochman said the $150,000 is a matching grant. “Teeter Associates has already raised the $150,000 match for us through their efforts, so we have the matching money.”

The money will be used for the roof, windows and lighting.

Sirochman said it took her a month to prepare the grant requirements, like getting bids on costs for these improvements. “I'm new to this. I believe now we will bid out the work, going through a process required by the grant.”

The letter received Thursday congratulates the Carnegie library in Fayette County on being selected as a 2012 Keystone recipient by a team of reviewers from the state Department of Education.

The Corbett administration announced that more than $3.7 million was awarded to 15 public libraries across the state through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, to assist local communities in financing repairs and upgrades.

“Public libraries play an important role in communities across Pennsylvania,” Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said. “This financial assistance provides the much-needed resources to ensure that citizens continue to have access to programs and services at their local library as well as makes each location accessible to all residents.”

Established in 1993, the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund supports improvements to Pennsylvania communities, including public libraries.

Through a competitive grant process, municipal applicants could qualify for up to $500,000 for their local library, which must be matched dollar for dollar.

The department received 28 applications. The funds can be used to pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs in the planning, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public libraries. Eligible projects include Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, new roofing, replacement windows, energy-efficient upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, facility expansion and construction.

The grant money will come through the city. Connellsville council signed the grant application. The money is to be spent in 18 months.

Teeter Associates has been through the process of applying for and executing Keystone grants before with other organizations, so they will guide the Carnegie library.

“Teeter Associates Inc. was known by some library board members. They work with other local organizations and they were also known by my library colleagues in the Washington District,” Sirochman said.

“Teeter Associates Inc. is very happy to be working with the Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville on their fundraising efforts,” Bob Teeter said. “The library has a good project, well-thought-out plan and dedicated people, which is what it takes to raise the necessary funding.”

“Speaking for the board, we are excited about the opportunities that are presented to us with receiving the matching Keystone Grant,” said John Malone, president of the library Board of Directors. “Given our limited budget, it is very difficult to make any capital improvements to this 110-year-old building — and with the building that old, there is always something that breaks or needs repairs. The roof is the No. 1 priority, followed by the windows, museum, and auditorium and lobby areas.

“We as a group are elated that there will be long-awaited substantial improvements to Connellsville's greatest community asset,” he continued. “Moreover, we would like to thank Sen. (Richard) Kasunic and state Rep. (Deberah) Kula for their continued support. The community will see a marked improvement to the edifice brought to our community by Andrew Carnegie.”

Youngwood Area Public Library in Westmoreland County received a $65,950 Keystone Grant.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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