HONESDALE – The weekly meeting of the Wayne County Commissioners brought with it discussion of a grant that could benefit agriculture in the area.
Human Service Administrator Andrea Whyte was on hand to discuss a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would “help the local agriculture community.”
The Farm to School Grant would help farmers prepare to provide their produce in the school districts.
“This comes in as part of the Wayne Tomorrow initiative,” Whyte said. “We worked with a sub-committee of Wayne Tomorrow. The grant will help the local farming industry have good agriculture processes to make sure their food supply is safe and sanitary.”
She said a food hub is also in the works for the county. It would be used for storage and distribution of food as well as training.
“It would help the agriculture community come together,” Whyte stated.
The commissioners asked if having a food hub would affect farmer's markets, and she said no.
“We're encouraging growers to take part in the food hub,” she said. “The main difference from a farmer's market is a food hub has a place where food can be stored. The farmers bring it in and it can be stored until it is ready to be distributed.”
The grant would also help with youth education in schools.
One aspect will help people with intellectual disabilities.
“It allows these individuals to get out of high school and learn about farming,” Whyte said. “They would even get to work on the farm.”
Representatives from human services would be with these individuals while they are on the farm.
“Their disabilities aren't the focus,” Whyte stated. “Their ability is.”
She added they are asking for $154,237 and there will be a $100,000 match from the state for the federal money.
“The match is required to be 25 percent, but in our case it's at 35 percent,” Whyte stated.
She feels this will help their chances of getting the grant.
The commissioners approved applying for the grant.
Children and Youth
Whyte also talked about a program run through the Department of Public Welfare called the Child Welfare Education for Leadership.
It is a graduate education assistance program that helps caseworkers get their graduate degrees.
Wayne County will be working with Marywood University for the program.
“They go to school part time and work for us [Children and Youth] full time,” Whyte explained. “The students also commit three years post-graduation to the agency. It shouldn't affect their hours or pay.”
She added the salary would be paid as they ordinarily get it. She also stated there is no cost to the county for doing the program.
“If they default on their end it's between them and Marywood,” Whyte said.
She also said Children and Youth get the advantage of having more educated people in the field.
“This is a great opportunity for the caseworkers and for us,” said Commissioner Wendall Kay. “It's a win-win all around.”
The commissioners approved taking part in the program.
Tourism tax and allocation
The annual allocations of tourism funds from the Pocono Mountain Visitor's Bureau (PMVB) were approved.
Chief Clerk Vicky Botjer said three percent of the Hotel Excise Tax for overnight stays is given to the PMVB.
Of those funds, $50,000 is kept within PMVB annually, but the commissioners allocate where funds are distributed.
The funds have to be used for tourism, marketing or events.
The allocations are as follows:
• Friends of Prompton State Park-$1,500
• Roots & Rhythm Music & Arts Festival-$2,500
• Pocono Lake Region 13.1-$2,500
• Greater Honesdale Partnership-$5,000
• Greater Hawley Partnership-$5,000
• GDS Fair-$10,000
• Wayne County Fair-$10,000
• Chamber of the Northern Poconos-$13,500
Twenty percent of the funds given to PMVB are given back to the county.
The allocations for those funds are as follows:
• Roots & Rhythm Music & Arts Festival-$2,500
• Wayne Library Authority-$5,000
• Wayne County Historical Society-$3,500
• Equinunk Historical Society-$1,500
The following job appointments were approved:
• The interagency transfer of Ammie Kellam in the department of Behavioral and Developmental Programs and Early Intervention.
She transferred from the child unit in mental health to a county caseworker 2 administrative case manager. There is no salary change and the transfer is effective April 28.
• Tyler James Cunningham was approved as a summer intern for the Sheriff's Office. The position is effective May 12 and the salary is set at $8.50 an hour.
• Nicholas Gregory was approved as a summer intern in a judicial appointment. The position is effective May 19 and the salary is set at $8.50 an hour.