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Federal grant funds may improve St. Lawrence County NYSARC trasportation

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CANTON — Recommendations made by the state Department of Transportation for $11.3 million in federal funding could result in the St. Lawrence County chapter of the Association for Retarded Children receiving $207,837 to ramp up their fleet.

The county’s NYSARC chapter is the only north country agency named in the 111 recommendations made by DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald to the Federal Transit Administration for the grant funding.

Chapter Executive Director Daphne A Pickert said she was sure the agency would get the funding, something they have benefitted from in previous years.

“It’s a great program. We apply every year because of the size of our transportation fleet,” Ms. Pickert said. “Our mission is to serve people with developmental disabilities, so we are a natural fit as a recipient for this type of a grant.”

In addition to being a “perfect fit” for the grant, Ms. Pickert said the agency is in need of the funding, with its fleet of buses traveling over two million miles a year throughout St. Lawrence County.

The funding would help replace six of the current buses in the agency’s fleet.

The state DOT administers the funding program on behalf of the FTA. That funding covers 80 percent of the purchase cost of accessible vehicles; grant recipients are required to contribute the remaining 20 percent, leaving NYSARC to cover $51,959 of the purchase cost.

Putting in the 20 percent is well worth it, Ms. Pickert said, in order to keep the agencies fleet current.

“We are definitely in need of this kind of funding,” Ms. Pickert said. “Otherwise, it would be very, very challenging for us to finance the kind of buses that we need.”

In anticipation of grant project approval from FTA, NYSDOT is notifying applicants about the projects selected for funding.

“This program provides mobility to the elderly and individuals with disabilities who cannot access traditional public transportation,” DOT Commissioner McDonald said in a release. “The program also boosts the state’s economy, since several of the vehicles approved for purchase are manufactured and sold in upstate New York, providing well-paying jobs in communities including Penn Yan and Canandaigua.”

The program is open to private, nonprofit organizations incorporated within New York state and public bodies that certify that no nonprofit corporations are readily available to provide services to elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities and none are approved to coordinate these services.

Grant proposal evaluations are performed by the State’s Interagency Review Committee, consisting of representatives in statewide agencies.

Vehicle deliveries will begin this year following the FTA’s approval of the grant recommendations. Funding recipients are required to submit semi-annual reports that demonstrate that the vehicles are being used for their intended purpose. State DOT officials also conduct site visits to ensure appropriate vehicle use.

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