Mercer County will set aside $3 million from its American Rescue Plan Act allocation to assist Mercer municipalities with programs and services aimed at older adults, veterans and people with disabilities, according to Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and County Commissioner Chair Nina D. Melker.
“Commissioner Melker and I are pleased to further support our 12 towns, and these funds for the municipalities will go a long way toward supporting our residents in need,” Hughes said at a news conference at Mercer County’s Hopewell Valley Golf Club on Oct. 25.
Melker added the set-aside grant program is “a win for all of our residents and taxpayers here in Mercer County.”
Specifically, the set-aside must be used to support, create or augment municipal programs and services in the areas of health, social services and transportation. The program will be administered by GrantWorks, the firm managing the county American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation, which provides ARPA program compliance, documentation management and reporting, according to a press release through Mercer County.
Under the federal ARPA, Mercer County received $71.25 million in fiscal recovery funds intended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As decided through a collaborative process, Mercer County plans to distribute our allocation in such a way to ensure we touch as many of our residents as possible, especially those most disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hughes said.
Among the county programs under development are a new grant assistance program for small businesses; more transportation opportunities to job sites; and expungement services to give those who are eligible a fresh start. The county is also creating a more robust health department in response to numerous public health challenges, according to the press release.
“Commissioner Melker and I recognize that meaningful and effective change can only occur when we work together, and we are excited to hear from the mayors about projects, programs and solutions that will strengthen our communities,” Hughes said.
Melker added the collaboration “is a perfect example how together we can work diligently in the best interests of our residents.”
In attendance at the news conference were Mayors Janice Mironov, East Windsor; Bert Steinmann, Ewing; Jeff Martin, Hamilton; Paul Anzano, Hopewell Borough; John Ryan, Lawrence; and Courtney Peters-Manning, Hopewell Township. County Commissioners attending were Lucylle Walter, Terrance Stokes and Samuel Frisby.
Also in attendance were individuals representing the disability and disability rights community including Steve Cook, executive director of The Arc Mercer, along with staff and clients; from the veteran’s community, Larry Rosenthal, New Jersey State Commander of the Jewish War Veterans, and Luddie Austin, State Commander of the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars; and members of the aging community.
In addition to the Mercer County ARPA allocation, municipalities received the following in ARPA funds:
East Windsor: $2,680,560
Hopewell Borough: $187,230
Hopewell Township: $1,741,165
West Windsor: $2,740,187