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Fayette County Cultural Trust receives funding

| Saturday, July 19, 2014, 1:15 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | for the Daily Courier
The first of four $25,000 checks was presented to the Fayette County Cultural Trust, which will now be used for revitalization and continued growth in the city. From left are FirstEnergy area manager Terri Knupp, Cultural Trust President Michael Edwards, FirstEnergy Foundation President Dee Lowery and West Penn Power President David McDonald.

West Penn Power President David McDonald said the FirstEnergy Foundation was thrilled to be able to assist the City of Connellsville in its rebirth and revitalization.

McDonald was in town this week to present the Fayette County Cultural Trust with a check for $25,000.

The grant to the city had been announced, but this week the first of four checks was presented to members of the cultural trust.

The money will be used for beautification projects in the city's downtown, as well as for projects to help bring new business into town and to improve facilities.

The cultural trust received a grant for $100,000, said Dee Lowery, FirstEnergy Foundation president.

“The money can be used for the revitalization of the downtown of Connellsville. We are pleased to partner with the trust for the economic development of Connellsville,” Lowery said.

Fayette County Cultural Trust President Michael Edwards said the grant will be used in ways to improve the appearance and the commercial heartbeat of the city.

“This is just overwhelming,” Edwards said. The money will be used to continue beautification projects such as decorative benches, trash receptacles and hanging planters and baskets, and in other areas to boost the economic development of Connellsville.

“It will be used to support the facade improvements and it will also be used to continue the classes that are offered to help to educate and support the local entrepreneurs.”

Edwards was referring to classes that have been offered to local small business owners and potential business developers that focus on areas pertaining to operating their facilities.

The classes, offered through the trust, focus on business operation and areas of finance that are helpful in their educational value and input.

In 2013, the FirstEnergy Foundation awarded more than $5 million in grants in the multi-state area that it serves, with Pennsylvania groups and communities receiving more than $1 million of that allotment.

“It is truly amazing to me what Michael and the cultural trust have been able to do here,” McDonald said. “The growth in the businesses and the helping of the area entrepreneurs will assure that Connellsville will continue to blossom.”

Edwards said that in the six years since the cultural trust was established, 20 businesses have opened and the plans for more growth are there, including a hotel, a wedding venue and a bank.

State Rep. Deb Kula lauded the hard work of the cultural trust.

“This has all been made possible by perseverance, hard work and belief,” Kula said. “This was accomplished by people who are sincere in their vision and who have made Connellsville what it is today.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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