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Fayette tourism projects get $490,000

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 9:38 p.m.

A hotel tax generated enough cash to award $490,196 in grants for nonprofit toursim-related groups in Fayette County.

The amount is the largest ever awarded in the program's four years, said Ronald W. Virag, executive director of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.

"We wish every one of the applicants could have been approved," Virag said, noting that the committee that selected the winners had to choose from 60 requests totaling $1.3 million.

The grant program is funded by half of revenues from the county's 3 percent hotel tax, which went into effect in July 2008. Last year, $353,295 was awarded, according to the bureau. During the past four years, Virag said, $1.5 million has been awarded to nonprofits that promote tourism.

Grants were in amounts ranging from $1,000 to the Brownsville Historical Society to promote Nemacolin Castle to two $25,000 awards to the Fayette Cultural Trust and the Miracle League of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands chapter.

Fayette Cultural Trust will use its $25,000 grant to install an informational kiosk, benches, trash receptacles, pebble-coated planters and perennial plants in Connellsville, according to the Visitors Bureau. The Miracle League, which has baseball teams that include players with physical and mental handicaps, will use its grant for the first phase of renovations to Bailey Park's baseball field in Uniontown.

Some agencies received multiple grants, including Fayette Cultural Trust, which won three. In addition to the $25,000 grant for improvements to Connellsville, the trust received a $20,000 grant for day-to-day operations and a $15,800 grant for a marketing campaign that will feature a yearlong contest for visitors.

The complete list of grants:

• Allegheny Trail Alliance, $5,000, marketing.

• Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp., $7,500, marketing; and $5,000, operations.

• Brownsville Historical Society, $1,000, marketing; and $4,000, Nemacolin Castle floor repairs.

• Carnegie Free Library, $20,000, remodel museum; and $15,000, operations.

• Connellsville Area Historical Society, $15,000, repair Colonel Crawford cabin site; and $10,000, operations.

• Dunbar Historical Society, $10,000, construct building to house motorcar; $1,723, marketing; and $2,400, operations.

• East End Community Center, $5,000, develop tourism education highlighting Baker Alley and the Underground Railroad.

• Fayette County Agricultural Improvement Association, $20,000, remodel fairground offices; and $18,000, marketing.

• Fayette County Community Health Improvement Partnership Healthy Lifestyles Task Force, $2,500, marketing.

• Fayette County Cultural Trust, $25,000, kiosk, etc., in Connellsville; $20,000, operations; and $15,800, marketing.

• Fayette County Historical Society Inc., $9,985, restore Abel Colley Tavern and Museum; and $5,000, purchase projector, lectern, speakers and laptop.

• Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, $20,000, repair walls of former VFW building in Uniontown; and $16,000, advertise farmer's market programs.

• Friends of Ohiopyle State Park, $5,000, marketing.

• Miracle League of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, $25,000, restore Bailey Field in Uniontown.

• Monongahela River, Railroad and Transportation Museum, $1,100, marketing; and $2,763, operations.

• National Road Heritage Corridor, $6,525, marketing; $3,200, establish Sheepskin Trail in Uniontown; $12,500, extend Rotary Walk; and $10,000, operating expenses.

• Ohiopyle Stewart Community Center, $5,000, maintain flower and plants in town.

• Old Trail Lions Club, $12,000, build playground at Lick Hollow State Park.

• The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (River Town Program), $5,000, marketing.

• Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette Inc., $20,000, train 12 low-income residents to work in tourism industry.

• The Progress Fund (Trail Town Program), $8,200, marketing.

• Regional Trail Corporation, $15,000, purchase mower.

• RTC, Whitsett-Fayette Yough Trail Chapter, $10,000, purchase tractor.

• The Redstone Foundation - Fayette County Television, $10,000, operations.

• State Theatre Center for the Arts, $15,000, marketing; and $15,000, operations.

• Touchstone Center for Crafts, $10,000, marketing; $5,500, operations, and $4,500, purchase printing press.

• Uniontown Property Development Corp., $10,000, marketing; and $5,000, Marshall Plaza electrical and landscape upgrades.

• Western Pennsylvania Conservancy -- Fallingwater, $20,000, marketing.

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