Com­mis­sion­ers dis­cuss vet­er­ans af­fairs

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­ian Den­nis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

Vet­er­ans af­fairs, trans­porta­tion and the up­com­ing elec­tion were top­ics of dis­cus­sion at the Nov. 2 Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

First on the agenda was a Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Vet­er­ans Day Recog­ni­tion. Dur­ing a short pre­sen­ta­tion, Sean Hal­bom, depart­ment head for Mont­gomery County Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, pre­sented Mont­gomery County’s statis­tics on vet­eran ben­e­fits in­clud­ing the county’s vet­eran trans­porta­tion pro­gram.

“Our mis­sion, like all county VA of­fices, is pri­mar­ily to as­sist vet­er­ans ac­cess­ing VA ben­e­fits and ser­vices,” said Hal­bom. “So far in 2018 we have just un-

der 1200 cases opened, of which about a lit­tle over two thirds have been re­solved.”

Hal­bom went on to ex­plain that Vet­er­ans Af­fairs has as­sisted vet­er­ans in Mont­gomery County this year in just over 100 cases in­volv­ing home­less­ness. Ad­di­tion­ally, the trans­porta­tion pro­gram which helps vet­er­ans get to med­i­cal ap­point­ments and other nec­es­sary places has seen an in­crease in fares over the past year. Hal­bom said in 2018 so far, 527 fares have been counted for vet­er­ans us­ing that ser­vice. He ex­pects that num­ber to climb up to near 650 by year’s end.

A res­o­lu­tion passed dur­ing the Nov. 2 meet­ing also in­cluded ap­proval of ap­pli­cants for fund­ing through the Mont­gomery County Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram.

The pro­gram is a new grant ini­tia­tive that uses rev­enues from the $5 County Ve­hi­cle Reg­is­tra­tion Fee to ex­pand the reach of trans­porta­tion in­vest­ment and achieve the goals of the county’s com­pre­hen­sive plan. The pro­gram makes avail­able $1 mil­lion each year to fund trans­porta­tion pro­jects through­out the county. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can re­ceive up to $100,000 in grant money or up to $200,000 for multi-mu­nic­i­pal ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Back in 2017 the county chose to en­act a $5 ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fee. With that fee we are fund­ing the ex­pe­di­tion of our county bridges and road im­prove­ments. In ad­di­tion, we’ll use about a third of the fund­ing for a com­pet­i­tive grant pro­gram for our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. A third of our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties con­tain no county owned roads or bridges so we felt that it was a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of the funds raised from the $5 fee to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties who own more than 2,700 miles of road in the county, 330 bridges and prac­ti­cally all of the traf­fic in the county,” ex­plained Jody Holton, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the county’s Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

The pro­gram part­ners with PennDOT’s Green Light Go Pro­gram which up­dates sig­nals through­out the county and state. County grants will be used to­ward a 50 per­cent match for pro­jects re­ceiv­ing a Green Light Go Pro­gram award.

Awards were given to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­clud­ing Abing­ton, Hor­sham, Lower Me­rion, Lower More­land, Towamencin, Trappe, Up­per More­land, Whit­pain, East Nor­ri­ton, Hat­boro, Up­per Dublin, Up­per Providence and Worces­ter.

Ad­di­tion­ally, bid ad­ver­tise­ments on be­half of As­sets and In­fra­struc­ture for fence in­stal­la­tion for the Schuylkill River Trail in Pottstown and a re­quest for pro­posal on be­half of the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for a Trail Ac­cess, Di­ver­sity and Aware­ness Plan for the Mont­gomery County Trail Sys­tem were also an­nounced.

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