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Blair moves slow on rescue spending

County ambulance service would like to purchase seven cardiac monitors

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County’s plans for spending a $23.6 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan remain on hold as requests continue to surface.

At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Hollidaysburg American Legion Ambulance Service Executive Director Jessica Sorge told commissioners that the purchase of “specialized medical equipment” falls within the permitted uses of American Rescue Plan allocations.

She said the ambulance service would like to buy seven cardiac monitors for use when responding to emergencies.

“We have two that are aging,” she said.

Based on information from the U.S. Treasury, Blair County is receiving $23.6 million from a federal $350 billion effort to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and to lay a foundation for recovery.

In early June, representatives of Alleghenies Broadband Inc. attended a county commissioners meeting where commissioners acknowledged interest in devoting American Rescue Plan dollars toward expanded and improving access to high speed internet connections inside the county.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Erb said that he remains interested in that option because of the future economic benefits it can generate for the county.

He also described the pursuit as expensive and unlikely to be afforded without the American Rescue Plan dollars.

The City of Altoona, meanwhile, held a public meeting July 20 to receive requests on proposed uses for its

$19.6 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan. Stormwater improvements to reduce flooding damage were repeated requests. Another meeting is slated for Aug. 16.

Erb said the federal government continues to regularly provide the county with advisory information regarding the use of American Rescue Funds. That information, to date, has assigned broadband infrastructure and improvements to county governments, Erb said.

Other county leaders in Pennsylvania have spoken of that pursuit and others. In Bucks County, leaders there spoke of using American Rescue Plan dollars to rebuild its pre-COVID-19 tourist industry. Other possibilities include improvements to county court and corrections departments.

Delaware County leaders were exploring the option of using American Rescue Plan dollars to augment the county’s lost tax revenue from business closures.

Current guidelines for the latest round of American Rescue Plan dollars indicate that recipients must have their plans for the money in place by 2024. Spending is to be completed by 2026.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay

Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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