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Berks congressional delegation secures $7 million for local projects

Federal spending bills that were passed this month will bring a significant chunk of dollars into Berks County.

The $460 billion package of spending bills was signed by President Joe Biden on March 9 after it was approved by Congress in time to avoid a shutdown of many key federal agencies.

And some of that money will find its way to Berks.

The funding will come to the county through the Community Project Funding program, which allows each of the country’s 435 House members to nominate up to 15 projects for federal support. This is the third year the program has been included in the federal budget.

Projects in the county will get about $7.1 million. Local members of Congress lauded the impact that money will have.

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan said she was elated to secure money for 14 projects in her district — five of which are located in Berks.

“With the help of our board of nonpartisan local leaders, we were able to advocate for projects that will positively impact our community and the region at large,” the Chester County Democrat said. “I look forward to seeing these projects make a real, tangible difference in the lives of residents in Berks and Chester counties.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser was an advocate for one project in Berks. The Luzerne County Republican said he was happy to help secure funding for South Heidelberg Township that will allow the municipality to replace the Walters Avenue Bridge.

“Its deteriorating condition has led to public safety and transportation concerns, which can now be addressed,” he said.

Albright College

Amount: $3 million

The project: The money will be used to renovate Albright’s Innovation Corridor Life Science-Based Incubator.

“We are truly grateful that our community leaders are committed to the transformation of the City of Reading and the Albright College campus,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Fetrow, Albright president and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Fetrow said that with the transformation of the Camp Building, Albright is bringing to life a vital component currently missing in Berks — a biological, pharmaceutical and life science-based entrepreneurial and multipurpose community incubator that will utilize the total experience-learning methodology to empower students and community entrepreneurs.

“The incubator … will serve to nurture emerging intellectual property and entrepreneurs of all ages,” she said. “By fostering this entrepreneurial and multipurpose community life science incubator, we are committed to supporting the inventors and innovators of today and tomorrow, paving the way for groundbreaking discoveries and solutions.”

Houlahan added: “Community Project Funding Grants make an enormous difference. This process is one of the best examples I can think of where the federal government is able to directly impact our home districts. And no one knows what is better for our communities than our communities.”

Opportunity House

Amount: $1.9 million

The project: Opportunity House will use this money to repurpose two existing buildings at Oakbrook Homes in Reading into a Neighborhood Services Center and Family Services Complex.

“This will allow us to expand access to crucial services for those facing economic and food insecurity in our community,” Opportunity House President Modesto Fiume said. “With this support, Oakbrook Homes will continue to be a beacon of hope and assistance for families in need, fostering a brighter and more equitable future for all.

Reading Area Communtiy College

Amount: $1 million

The project: RACC will use the money to bolster its workforce development programs.

“Reading Area Community College is honored and grateful to be a recipient of this much needed funding from Congresswoman Houlahan’s office,” President Dr. Susan Looney said. “We will be allocating the funds to enhance the Schmidt Training and Technology Center and Kratz Hall. Improvements to these facilities will further strengthen our workforce training; continuing our commitment to building a strong Berks County workforce.”

Helping Harvest

Amount: $500,000

The project: Helping Harvest will use the funding to build its Community Kitchen.

“The Helping Harvest Community Kitchen will provide heat-and-eat ready meals to low-income seniors and families throughout Berks County while providing culinary arts skill training to residents,” said Jay Worrall, president of Spring Township-based Helping Harvest. “The kitchen is currently under construction, and we will be cooking by year’s end.”

South Heidelberg Township

Amount: $450,000

The project: The funding will be used for the replacement of the Walters Avenue Bridge.

“The township is appreciative of the efforts of Congressman Meuser and his staff for support of the Walters Avenue Bridge Replacement Project,” South Heidelberg Manager Sean McKee said. “The bridge has been a long-standing issue that over time would continue to deteriorate and pose a significant transportation issue within the township.


Amount: $315,500

The project: The borough will use this funding to reduce pollution in the Wyomissing Creek and mitigate a hazardous condition in a residential area.

“With the assistance of this federal funding, the Highbrook Stormwater Channel Stabilization project will realize the goal of eight municipalities coming together for the common good,” Cumru Township Manager Jeanne Johnston said.

Source: Berkshire mont

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